L.A. SOUNDS 1965 – 1969: REVIEWS



PETER FONDA – ’November Night’/’Catch The Wind’ (Chisa CH 004) March 1967

Here’s an obscure single by actor Peter Fonda on the equally obscure Chisa label set up by jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine. Both had a hand in producing some Peter Fonda sessions and enough material was recorded for an album, although only these two songs were ever released.

’November Night’ was written by Gram Parsons and can be found on ’Where The Action Is’, the 4 CD release of Los Angeles nuggets on Rhino. The other side is a cover of Donovan’s ’Catch The Wind’.

SONNY AND CHER – ’I’ve Got You Babe’/’It’s Gonna Rain’ (Atlantic AT 4035) July 1965

A Los Angeles retrospective would be laughed at without the inclusion of a Sonny & Cher song so flip over the mega hit ’I’ve Got You Babe’ and spin the B-Side ’It’s Gonna Rain’. The latter has a wonderfully incessant bass line that bursts through my JAMO dynamic d4e speakers and Bono’s gruff folk punk vocals really shine.

THE NO-NA-MEE’S – ’Gotta Hold On’/’Just Wanna Be Myself’ (Era Records 3153) Nov 1965

Fantastic double sided garage mayhem from The No-Na-Mee’s who are thought to hail from the Los Angeles area although that could be down to the label they were signed to. Era Records were a small indie label located in Hollywood and of course released genre defining moments by The Lyrics and Ty Wagner as well as lesser known delights by The Chocolate Tunnel and The Wizards.

information from a reader: My brother, Cliff Davis was in this band, he played rhythm guitar. Other members were Clayton Ice on keyboards, Rod Williams on drums, Doug Wareham on lead guitar, his brother Duane Wareham on bass. I hope I spelled everyone’s name correctly after all these years.

Yes they were from Modesto California. I remember how excited they were when they got back from L.A. after this recording. A highlight of this trip was when they were eating lunch and in walked Sonny and Cher! They also did a recording around this time as backup players for a duo, Jerry and Jan. I have all these records.

Judy Raney: Doug and Duane Wareham are my cousins. I spent many times either sitting in on their practices and going to performances. They were from the Modesto, CA area. I just chatted with Doug 2 days ago. They were an extremely talented group of musicians.

STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK – ’Sea Shell’/’Paxton’s Back Street Carnival’ (UNI 55093) Nov 1968

By late ’68 their turned on pop hits had all but dried up but Strawberry Alarm Clock continued to release records but with less fanfare than before and of course lower sales. That didn’t mean the quality of their music had dipped. I really dig the smooth vocals and sunshine pop of ’Sea Shell’ but this 45 is a must have for the flip ’Paxton’s Back Street Carnival’.

’Paxton’s’ was recorded back in 1967 as part of the album sessions after the big hit ’Incense And Peppermints’. For some strange and lazy reason it was resurrected as the B-Side for this 1968 flop. I say strange because Strawberry Alarm Clock had moved on musically and their personnel had undergone some changes, so using old material was a tad regressive.

’Sea Shell’ must have been a major none seller because it’s probably the most difficult SAC 45 to find. But you gotta seek it out for the mono flip. Way better that the stereo cut on the debut album.
’Paxton’s’ is a pure celebration of a psychedelic street carnival, the lyrics describing the trippy atmosphere and spirit of the hippie mood and frame of mind.

”Your eyes are sparkling
Your mind is moving fast
No need to hurry
The world won’t be floating past.
It will wait for you.”

THE GIRLS – ’Chico’s Girl’/’Dumb Song’ (Capitol 5675) 1965

It’s time for some girl garage action and none better than East Los Angeles combo The Girls who were teenage sisters ’discovered’ by Capitol Records and sponsored by Fender guitars.

They caused quite a stir in and around Hollywood with their tuff rock sound and played several high profile birthday gigs for ’A’ list celebs. The right contacts also enabled them to appear on TV Shows Hullabaloo and Hollywood A Go Go but sadly no tapes of these performances have surfaced on You Tube yet.

’Chico’s Girl’ has got a full production, it could be said that it’s a garage ’wall of sound’. The subtle use of fuzz is a great touch. The song was written by New York songwriting couple Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

THE AVENGERS – ”I Told You So” / ”Shipwrecked” (Star-burst Records 128) March 1966

One of the many delights of having a music blog, mostly dedicated to 60s garage and psychedelic groups, is that sometimes one of the members of a 45 I review gets in touch with me. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have made contact with Greg Likins, Gerry Blake and Gary Bernard from the mighty Avengers.

The Avengers were from Bakersfield but recorded most of their music at Gary S. Paxton’s home studio in Los Angeles. ’I Told You So’ is a catchy garage rocker and deserved to be a hit. The label indicates a B-Side but the song appears to have been the favoured side. It was listed on the KAFY radio chart. It was written by Kenny Johnson who went on to form The Chocolate Tunnel.

’Shipwrecked’ sounds heavily influenced by Northern Ireland band Them, the vocal delivery is pure Van Morrison.

THE FLOWER CHILDREN – ’Mini-Skirt Blues’/’Marching Lovers’ (Castil Records 101) March 1967

With a group name like The Flower Children one would expect ’Mini-Skirt Blues’ to be soft flower pop with perhaps male/female harmonies. WRONG; these Flower Children, led by Simon Stokes have a punked up protest anthem on their hands, heavy on the organ, making the whole sonic concoction sound very Seeds like.

Mr Stokes has got his mini-skirt blues real bad. He’s almost spitting out the words in this rant. The flip ’Marching Lovers’ is more Sunset Strip groove with dumb lyrics and spooky organ.

The 45 also got a release on Allied Records. My copy on Castil Records shows 6 March 1967 stamped on the label. March ’67 may not have been the release date but it shows the record was clearly doing the rounds as early as this.

GYPSY TRIPS – ’Ain’t It Hard’/’Rock ’N Roll Gypsies’ (World Pacific 77809) Nov 1965

The Gypsy Trips were a folk rock duo comprising singer songwriter Roger Tillison and his vocal partner and sunset strip babe Terrye Newkirk. They both relocated from dullsville Oklahoma to the bright lights of L.A. and soon after cut the classic psych tinged folk rock winner ’Ain’t It Hard’ featuring the tripped out lyric:

”And your brother’s in the bathroom with acid in his head,
And there’s no place to go cos the town’s all dead.”

(I’ve read elsewhere that the lyric is ’acid in his hand’ but that’s not what Roger is singing in my mind)

’Ain’t It Hard’ was recorded by The Electric Prunes and released as their first 45 in May 1966.

OPUS 1 – ’Back Seat ’38 Dodge’/’In My Mind’ (Mustang 3017) May 1966

The cryptically named Opus 1 were a short lived, one single shot group outta Long Beach. Their star shone briefly over Los Angeles and their management even took out a full page advert announcing the release of ’Back Seat ’38 Dodge’ in a May 1966 edition of KRLA Beat.

This advert describes the new 45 on Mustang as ”Bewitching” and I can see why. It’s a swirling surf and garage punk mix with maximum echo in the production.

The flip ’In My Mind’ is just as good but this psychedelic medication is not as immediate. In the end though it didn’t matter because the single failed to sell in large quantities and today remains a sought after disc by 60s garage archivists.

Here’s a picture of a nonchalant looking Sonny Bono from the cover of KRLA Beat May 1966. He’s looking every inch the King of the Sunset Strip as he sits knowingly on his throne. Cher positions herself next to her master on the floor. He pats her head like he would a faithful companion. What a guy!

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