L.A. SOUNDS 1965 – 1969: REVIEWS

THE EPICENTRE OF JANGLE - 12 STRING JANGLERS, FUZZ AND FARFISA COMBOS, PROTEST SINGERS AND FOLK ROCKERS.

 

THE BYRDS – ’All I Really Want To Do’/’I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better’ (CBS 201796) Aug 1965

The second Byrds 45 coupled a Bob Dylan composition ’All I Really Want To Do’ with the all time folk rock classic ’I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better’ by Gene Clark and I think it’s only right that this Byrds monster is number 1 on my L.A. mix.

’All I Really Want To Do’ is a different mix than the one that appeared on the LP ’Mr Tambourine Man’. Surprisingly, this 45 sold poorly in America especially after the million selling debut record. Soon after the single was released the B-Side was promoted as the A-Side with DJ copies issued on red vinyl. Maybe because Cher’s version of ’All I Really Want To Do’ was out selling The Byrds version?

The British seemed to dig it more and it reached number 4.

LOVE – ’7 And 7 Is’/’No. Fourteen’ (Elektra EK-45605) July 1966

The last ever recording session with the original line up of Love resulted in the cataclysmic ’7 And 7 Is’.
Arthur Lee wrote the song at the Colonial Apartments in Hollywood after rising early one morning while the rest of his cohorts were still asleep. The mystifying lyrics seem to touch on his childhood but I’ve read in some liners that it’s a song about an old girlfriend.

Johnny Echols once described ’7 And 7 Is’ as ”controlled chaos” and I must say I can hear why. The backbeat is so fast that drummer Alban Snoopy Pfisterer had to make over 20 takes to get it right.

When I was still a teenager (early 80s) I somehow discovered the music of Love and excitedly took the LP ’da capo’ to my friends house who was havin’ a beer and dope party. Everyone hated the record especially ’Orange Skies’, She Comes In Colors’ and ’7 And 7 Is’ because this piece of greatness had the improvised jazzy fade. The muppets just didn’t get it. Side Two never got played!

THE DOVERS – ’I Could Be Happy’/’People Ask Me Why’ (Reprise 0439) Nov 1965

The Dovers from Santa Barbara were virtually ignored back in the mid 60s and their fragile sounding folk rock was probably never heard by anyone except their loyal fanbase (if they had one). Lack of any promotion and decent gigs meant that The Dovers’ perfect moody teen jangle wouldn’t even be a footnote in the history books.

This twin spin, recorded at the famous Gold Star Studios was first released on the tiny Miramar label based in Hollywood. It was released on Reprise some weeks later. Frontman and songwriter Tim Granada had the talent and his band of Dovers had thee sound but it seems that Los Angeles and the important movers and shakers in the record industry were oblivious.

THE STANDELLS – ’Why Pick On Me’/’Mr. Nobody’ (Tower 282) Sept 1966

During 1966 The Standells could do no wrong with a big hit in ’Dirty Water’ and a sell out tour supporting The Rolling Stones. Their final release of ’66 was this great two sided punk gem, full of attitude and full of fuzz and that’s two of the main ingredients that ’Flower Bomb Songs’ constantly craves.

However, flip the hit ’Why Pick On Me’ over and become charmed by the instant raunchy fuzz punk of ’Mr Nobody’. This record has been an ever present on my turntable since the 80s. Being the outsider loner type I pretty much embraced ’Mr Nobody’ as my personal 60s punk anthem. I was that guy – Mr Nobody.

I know all of The Standells music has been re-issued and is easy to get but I’m surprised that ’Mr Nobody’ was never compiled (still hasn’t) back in the 80s heyday of garage compilations.

THE BONNIWELL MUSIC MACHINE – ’The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly’ (Warner Bros 1732) 1967

Pictured is my 80s bootleg LP of the second Music Machine album simply titled ’The Bonniwell Music Machine’. It’s a perfectly sounding copy in stereo, so much so that I’ve never felt the need to upgrade to an original.

The killer tune from said artifact is the breathtaking and innovative garage rock of ’The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly’ which is apparently about world poverty. Not only was Sean Bonniwell ahead of the game with his music he was 20 years ahead of Sir Bob Geldof’s ’Feed The World’ shindig.

’The Eagle’ has everything that any lysergically minded hipster would want from three minutes of music, pounding bass (natch), fuzztoned guitars (absa fuckin’ lutely), eerie organ (too right) and manic vocals (oh yeah!).

This great song was recorded by the original line-up of The Music Machine but after the band signed to Warner Bros, Bonniwell must have decided to apply his surname to proceedings.

”The eagle never hunts the fly,
Listen and I’ll tell you why.
Lives on the bottom of the sky,
That’s why”

THE SEEDS – ’Mr Farmer’/’Up In Her Room’ (GNP Crescendo 383) Jan 1967

Most copies of this Seeds release came with ’No Escape’ on the flip but this version had ’Up In Her Room’ on the other side of ’Mr Farmer’ as well as a picture sleeve if you were lucky.

Whenever I’ve seen clips of The Seeds on You Tube from various 60s TV Shows I’ve always been surprised at how weird Sky Saxon is. His performances and movements are strange to say the least. Maybe this was the appeal of The Seeds to many. I just knew he was different and The Seeds sound coloured my world back in the 80s.

Everyone knows their big hit ’Pushin’ Too Hard’, some may be even aware that ’Mr Farmer’ is the coolest but has anyone ever noticed or realised just how GREAT ’Up In Her Room’ is? The whole of The Doors first album appears to based on the bluesy ’organ heavy’ rush of this classic.

THE HUMAN EXPRESSION – ’Optical Sound’/’Calm Me Down’ (Accent AC 1226) Sept 1967

Having formed an alliance back in Westminster High School, south of Los Angeles, The Human Expression were still teenagers when they recorded their three classic 45s. ’Optical Sound’ was their follow up to ’Love At Psychedelic Velocity’.

’Optical Sound’ shows this teen band at the very limits of their capability, each musician stretching themselves as far as their ability will take them. The result is a magnificent broody acid psych masterpiece, full of strange and weird waves of sound, reverb and other worldly experimentation.  

The Human Expression did not play that many gigs. According to the liners of the Collectables CD, they played the odd set at Gazzari’s on the Sunset Strip and a ’Battle Of The Bands’ contest.

THE SONS OF ADAM – ’Tomorrow’s  Gonna Be Another Day’/’Take My Hand’ (Decca 31887) Dec 1965

The Sons Of Adam could have been serious contenders for the Los Angeles royal throne had they stayed together longer than the brief period that they were a recording act. Guitarist and singer Randy Holden would quit the Sons after an argument (according to his website) and the band eventually fizzled out with drummer Michael Stuart turning up in a future line-up of Love. Holden of course went on to The Other Half then progressed to Blue Cheer.

’Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day’ captures The Sons Of Adam in rockin’ mood. The flip ’Take My Hand’ is another cool side with a neat guitar break which should have been a whole lot louder.

Although they were based in Los Angeles, The Sons Of Adam were regular visitors to San Francisco and gigged often at the Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom playing with the likes of Love, The Charlatans, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

THE BEES – ’Leave Me Be’/’She’s An Artist (She Belongs To Me)’ (Mirwood 5503) August 1965

Here’s a rather nice double sided folk rock 45 to track down on Mirwood Records. Both sides are perfect examples of this genre and really it’s where it was at in L.A. circa 1965 after The Byrds and The Turtles started hitting big. 

The Bees came from Los Angeles, California and became quite a popular live attraction around the L.A area playing local venues and private parties. They even were broadcast on TV show ’Hollywood A Go Go’ but I don’t know what song they played, so if anyone knows let me know.

Members of The Bees included George Caldwell and Robert Zinner who would go on to form W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band, John York played bass (he was in a later line up of The Byrds), Cary Slavin played drums (he later played in The Factory), Ron Reynolds (12 string guitar) and Peter Ferst.

The top side of their first 45 was the uncompiled ’Leave Me Be’ written by Robert Zinner. This one is a very pleasant up beat folk rocker with jangle. The flip is an excellent cover of the Bob Dylan song ’She’s An Artist” (She Belongs To Me). This has been covered many times before of course and perhaps my favourite ever version is by English band The Masterminds. Their version can be found on the Sequel CD An ’Immediate Alternative’.The Bees version can be found on Ya Gotta Have Moxie Volume 1. Produced by Norm Ratner.

A reader sent me the following update about The Bees… I have been doing a lot of research on the HOLLYWOOD A GO GO TV show and have the answer as to what songs the Bees performed on their only show performance on Nov. 9, 1965.

The second and third numbers they performed were ”She’s An Artist” and ”Leave Me Be” which were the A and B sides of their 45 single on Mirwood 5003. The first song they sang was the George Caldwell penned ”Mimi’s Song” which is of interest because George married Mimi who was a Gazzarri go-go dancer on the show.

THE ELECTRIC PRUNES – ’Get Me To The World On Time’/’Are You Lovin’ Me More (But Enjoying It Less) (Reprise 0564) April 1967

The third single by The Electric Prunes and follow up to the smash hit ’I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)’ was the ultra catchy ’Get Me To The World On Time’ – which is basically psychedelic effects (mind bending oscillations and tremolo) over a Bo Diddley beat.
For once this greatness was rewarded with another hit record. It even managed to climb the charts to number 42 in England.

The flip ’Are You Lovin’ Me More (But Enjoying It Less’ is just as good and has always been a firm EXPO67 favourite. Unless I get injected with monkey gland serum, change personality and start buying techno records, I should think that The Electric Prunes will remain in my top 5 groups of all time. Surprisingly, since I started ’Flower Bomb Songs’ in March 2007, this is their debut entry on my blog.

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