PREVIOUSLY ARCHIVED RECORD REVIEWS FROM MY OLD BLOG
Here are some of my random thoughts and words about obscure and in-demand ’60s garage and psychedelic singles over the years. All of the original blog posts on my old website have since been deleted so no label scans or picture sleeves are available. Instead, I’ve used images scanned from teen music magazines.
H.P. LOVECRAFT – ”Mobius Trip” (Philip 6336 213) 1968
I bought a copy of ”This is H.P. Lovecraft Vol 2” last week for a bargain price. It’s the budget release on Philips which I believe was issued some time during 1970 and sounds monumental in stereo, such a fabulous album.
The song I’ll focus on is the tripped-out flower folk-rock of ”Mobius Trip” written by George Edwards. The song starts with a fluttering noise of keyboard sounds, this butterfly has awoken and is ready to fly free on some kinda trip – mobius trip.
Enter acoustics, dreamy lead and harmony vocals, echoes of wonderment, pitta-patta jazzy drums, far-out lyrics, probably about tripping to another Galaxy, sweet aural soundscapes washing my mind. But suddenly the psychedelic butterfly has flown away to feed on another flower and we’re onto the next track on the album, ”High Flying Bird.”
”Walking down the street I feel like crashing
Everybody’s groovy all their eyes are flashing.
Do you feel that this could be the time,
If the world behind the pantomime
Well everybody’s really feelin’ fine
A thought like that would really blow my mind.”
THE PAINTED FACES – ”I Want You” / ”Things We See” (Qualicon QU-5005) April 1967
It seems years ago since I reviewed The Painted Faces second single ”Anxious Color” and I’ve had this, their debut disc, for quite some time but have never researched it until today.
”I Want You” is a superb 12 string folk jangler and is indeed a Beau Brummels cover version. It’s no use trying to compare the two because the latter are in a league of their own but I must say that The Painted Faces lovingly reproduce Ron Elliott’s angst filled moody ballad to perfection.
The line-up is identical to the one that recorded their acid psych thriller ”Anxious Color” some months later. The flip, ”Things We See” was used as the B-Side of the former when released on the Manhattan label.
Jack O’Neill (vocals)
Harry Bragg (drums)
Jerry Turano (guitar)
John McKinney (bass)
H.P. LOVECRAFT – ”Anyway That You Want Me” / ”It’s All Over For You” (Philips 40465) June 1967
This record was the debut disc by H.P. Lovecraft, the top side being a decent version of ”Anyway That You Want Me” which had recently been a hit for The Troggs in Britain. According to the liners of the Rev-Ola CD retrospective, this song was helped along with assistance from local Chicago group The Rovin’ Kind.
The George Edwards penned ”It’s All Over For You” on the flip is a dead ringer for Dylan’s ”It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Perhaps the reason for hiding this cut on the B-Side. This was actually a solo recording from 1966 and explains why it sounds like a remnant of the earlier folk-rock era. My guess is that ”It’s All Over For You” was recorded during the same sessions for his Dunwich single.
I reviewed his disc ”Norwegian Wood” / ”Never Mind, I’m Freezing” way back in 2011.
UNITED SONS OF AMERICA – ”We’ve Only Just Begun” (Mercury 6338036) November 1970
”We’ve Only Just Begun” from the United Sons Of America is a long way from the mid 60s teenbeat of The Avengers. This was Gerry Blake’s group later in the decade. Their album was released November 1970 and got a favourable short review in Billboard magazine.
This particular song was a hit for The Carpenters.
Members of the United Sons Of America included Jerry Ritchey on bass guitar who was a member of The Chocolate Tunnel. Songs remixed by Gary S. Paxton who also produced The Avengers records and co-wrote their best known song ”Be A Cave Man.”
Gerry Blake (electric piano, organ and vocals)
Jerry Ritchey (bass)
Steve Woods (vocals and percussion)
Mike Huestis (drums and percussion)
Richard Freeman (guitars)
strings and sax provided by the Los Angeles String Quartet
extract from my interview with Gerry Blake in 2007
After The Avengers you formed The United Sons Of America with ex Chocolate Tunnel bass player Jerry Ritchie. An LP was released on Mercury in 1970.
Did The USA perform live? How did the album come about and were you pleased with the outcome?
Yes, USA performed live many times. Eventually, as with some groups, disagreements and drugs played a large part in the demise of USA.
The album came about = We had formed a group to mostly play clubs and maybe some concerts. We were using an old bank building that had been converted into a studio to practice in. I honestly don’t remember how we managed to get permission to practice there but the studio part was run by, Gary A Paxton.
Paxton actually wasn’t around much. But one day while we were rehearsing, I saw Gary and a couple of people, I figured buyers, in the control booth. We were breaking down our stuff and Gary came out and asked what the last song was we were playing. I told it it was ours.
Next thing we knew, Bob Todd from Mercury Records came there and listened to us. Well, actually, some very young lady that was with him was listening. After our set.
He just stood looking important and glanced down at his lady-friend and she looked up and slightly grinned and nodded her head yes. He looked at us and asked, ”Would you guys like to sign with Mercury Records?” That’s a true story. I suppose had she not liked us it would had turned out differently. The story gets even more twisted. Remind me to tell you about ”The rest of the story”
THE FORUM QUORUM – ”Girl Make Up Your Mind” (Decca DL75030) 1968
The truth about The Forum Quorum is stranger than all the gimmicky stories yet to be dreamed up by unborn generations of rock group promoters. So, in introducing the group’s first album, let’s forget all the adjectives and stick to straight, simple information.
First, what’s The Forum Quorum?
Take five boys of mixed Greek and Italian background, all living within walking distance of each other in Astoria, New York City. Give them musical backgrounds and a desire to be top professionals in rock ’n’ roll. Add an electrified bouzouki, the Greek classical guitar, plus an amplified flute for the shepherd’s sound, over a driving rock beat.
Drop in a father young enough to know rock, and talented enough to be the chairman of a music department in a New York Junior High School. Mix with an advertising man who grew up in the music business. That’s The Forum Quorum.
”No More Tears” / ”Your Turn To Cry” (Decca 32340) June 1968
”Misery” / ”Just The Same” (Decca 32425) December 1968
THE HOBBITS – ”Treats” (Decca DL74920) October 1967
The Hobbits were a studio outfit led by Jimmy Curtiss. I wrote about his solo single ”Psychedelic Situation” maybe ten years ago. Anyway, I’ve had all of The Hobbits records for quite some time but have never seemed to get around spending that much time with them, until this weekend.
”Down To Middle Earth” is a strong pop album with some psychedelic touches in the production, use of sitar on the title track and some subtle fuzz guitar. I won’t go into the album in any detail mainly because I prefer to focus my attention on a song that was never given single status, either A or B-Side.
Check out the bubblegum pop raver ”Treats” hidden away as the last track on Side 2. Man, this should have been a single, it could have caught on and been a hit with it’s catchy beat and lyrics about mind ’treats’ and New York Village cats reading their poetry and complaining all the time.
It doesn’t take long to work out that the ’treats’ are some kind of psychedelic stimulant.
”Hey baby little treats can turn you on,
And you know those little treats can get you gone.”
”Sunny Day Girl” / ”Daffodil Days” (the Affection Song) (Decca) 11/67
”Pretty Young Thing” / ”Strawberry Children” (Decca) 3/68
THE FUN AND GAMES – ”Sadie” (UNI 73042) 1968
The album ”Elephant Candy” by The Fun and Games is one of those discs that I’ve had in my collection for many years and enjoying regular spins on my Stanton ST-150 turntable. But somehow, until today, I’ve never spent an afternoon with it and remastered my vinyl to the digital format.
The Fun And Games were from Houston, TX and basically grew out of the ashes of a ravin’ garage band called The Six Pents / The Sixpentz. Some members dropped out and were replaced and a name change to The Fun And Games Commission followed, then shortened to The Fun And Games.
By mid 1968, The Fun And Games were operating and releasing records on the UNI label with this album as their pinnacle. It’s such a memorable collection of songs, a mix of The Beach Boys, The Association and perhaps Sagittarius. Each song has it’s merits, loads of first rate harmonies and production values, no fuzz only wonderful vocalised pop.
Rev-Ola re-issue the album on CD some years back which I didn’t think I needed because I had most of their records but now I regret that decision. The CD is scarce and rarely shows up and is already much rarer than the original vinyl records!
Check out ”Sadie” the opener on Side One. This cut is album only and was never released on any single. The lyrics about marrying a girl called ”Sadie” are corny but the music and harmonies are most definitely my scene.
Discography as The Fun And Games:
”Elephant Candy” / ”The Way She Smiles” (UNI)
”Grooviest Girl In The World” / ”It Must Have Been The Wind” (UNI)
”We Gotta Say Goodbye” / ”We” (UNI)
CIRCUS MAXIMUS – ”How’s Your Sky, Straight Guy Spy” (Vanguard VSD-79274) 1968
This group are believed to have formed in Austin, TX sometime in 1967 but then relocated to NYC. There is a wiki page detailing some information about the group and releases etc.
The jazzy/psychedelic rock album ”Neverland Revisited” was their long-player, recorded late 1967 and released sometime in the Spring of ’68. A single from the disc emerged from the set ”Lonely Man” / ”Negative Dreamer Girl” (Vanguard VRS-35063) so that’s worth obtaining for the set.
My pick is the psychedelic rocker ”How’s Your Sky, Straight Guy Spy” with fast talkin’ lyrics, kind of like a late 60s hippie rap. Probably about squares invading their scene. Plenty of fuzz on this cut with go-go organ. A real neat one with plenty of action going on.
THE BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD – ”For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey What’s That Sound)” / ”Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It” (Atco 45-6459) December 1966
This Buffalo Springfield single was released in USA during late December, 1966. However, it wasn’t given a British outing until March, 1967. Here’s what Disc & Music Echo reviewer Penny Valentine had to say about the record.
One of the new American groups we should all, according to them that know, be taking notice of. If this record is anything to go by it may be advice well taken. A piece of expert understatement about the state of life. They have a careful professionalism that shines through the record and there’s some nice high guitar sound.
Strangely, and perhaps because it is so well made, I don’t see these sort of records making it here, though I hope I’m wrong.
UK Chart Position: None
THE CHARLES – ”Motorcycle” / ”Down By The Riverside” (Calliope 138) January 1970
According to ’Teenbeat Mayhem’, The Charles hailed from Williamsville, NY. There are a few YT uploads and some other information on the internet advising that the record was released in 1966. This is wrong. The recordings took place sometime in 1969.
”Motorcycle” is a tough rocker with heavy organ, decent guitar leads, harmonies and what I like best ”handclaps.” The song portrays a biker gang, one of them murders someone, then they take off on their bikes.
The flip, ”Down By The Riverside” is a very different sound altogether, reminding me very much of The Lovin’ Spoonful. Both sides are decent and it’s a record to look out for. ”Motorcycle” has been compiled on ”Scum Of The Earth”
John Valby from The Charles still performs today.
SALVATION – ”Hollywood 1923” (ABCS-653) 1968
Having watched Salvation at work on it’s two albums for ABC, I can readily understand why they should be a San Francisco favourite. Trying to put these evanescent reasons into black and white is something else again. Musicianship may be part of it – listen to the keyboard wizard U.S. of Arthur’s Coltrane/jazz-rooted soloing on ”Handles Of Care” and ”What’ll I Do” – but it is only a part, and not necessarily the most important one at that.
Then is it the songs and singing? Perhaps. But I have to confess that, beyond the bare observation that most of the songs are semi-autobiographical in nature (i.e. refer to experiences either of the whole band or chief writers Al Linde and Joe Tate), I can’t claim to ’understand’ each and every word. I cannot, that is, provide you with a literal, line-by-line translation, shovelling the songs, as Bob Dylan once put it, into the ditch of what each one means.
Musicianship, songs, singing – all are necessary, none sufficient. Add them up, and you still haven’t hit on the missing ingredient that makes Salvation such a joy to be around. If that sounds like the preface to a cliche – ’the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ – rest assured, it is.
SALVATION – ”Think Twice” / ”Love Comes In Funny Packages” (ABC 45-11025) March 1968
That there is something unique about the San Francisco music scene has been obvious for some time now. One after another, a succession of great bands – The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Country Joe & the Fish, Big Brother & the Holding Co. – have emerged from what the rock generation has called ”the Liverpool of the U.S.” and more are coming.
”Music is different here,” says Joe Tate, lead guitarist of Salvation, latest in the succession of San Francisco bands to emerge on the national scene. ”Tastefully, it’s different. It has a flavour that hasn’t been heard before. ”I would use the word pure,” interjected Al Linde, his songwriting / singing associate in Salvation. ”Music is purer here. If you’re shucking, they know it!”
Salvation emerged this past year in San Francisco. For weeks the band was a feature at the free concerts in Golden Gate Park given every Sunday by local bands under the wing of The Diggers, the Monks of Haight Ashbury who provided free food and concerts all summer.
Salvation loved the concerts in the park. ”It’s our business to entertain.” Linde says. ”We’d play for Ed Sullivan, President Johnson’s press party, any place, if they’d ask us. It’s good for music to be there where people are and it’s good for them for us to be there.”
Salvation began when Al Linde, a former harpoon sharpener and garbage collector at the University of Washington in Seattle, met Joe Tate, a cesspool diver and former student at the School of Mining & Minerology of the University of Missouri.
”Al and I were running around with a tape we had made and we got a call for a job at the Roaring 20s that started in nine days. So we learned twenty songs and went to work and stayed there three months.” Teddy Stewart, the group’s drummer, met Joe outside a bar in Sausalito and U.S. of Arthur (his real name is Arthur Resnick and he went to the University of Minnesota with Bob Dylan) and bassist Artie McLean joined later.
”We’re growing,” says Linde, ”but we change all the time. The thing to do is to all grow at the same pace. We have depth and we’re growing with each other. We haven’t really even delved into what we COULD do yet. We haven’t even scratched the surface of each other’s talent.”
The music on the album is a good cross section of what Salvation does. Al Linde refers to it as ”the music we’ve listened to all our lives. Super product. Super square.” It took them three days in three four hour sessions to cut the album and all the songs are written by Al and Joe. The music, Al says, ”Is earthy, commercial, what just comes out of our mouths and souls.”
Of the songs on the album, Al wrote ”Love Comes In Funny Packages” on ”a riverboat in Seattle. It’s in B-flat. It’s just a corny cat digging a chick on the street.”
”Cinderella” (one of the group’s most successful songs in performance) is ”a true rock ’n roll song, Al says. ”The lyrics are cute.” Joe Tate adds, ”It’s a knock-out rock ’n roll song.”
”More Than It Seems” ”is our answer to Motown,” Joe says. ”This shows another side of Joe’s guitar playing,” Al adds.
”Getting My Hat” ”is kind of rhythm and blues variation of everything we’ve ever heard. It’s one of our true songs and has ’fours’ in it and is dedicated to all those groups that have ever done fours in jazz.” Al says ”G.I. Joe” is a rock-and-rollee! It is good time music. I was talking to myself. I didn’t write it or anything. I just sat down and played the whole song through once and I just knew it! I never had to do anything to it after that.”
”Think Twice” ”is a very free song. Every musician gets a chance to express himself in it and it ends in a jam.” Joe points out that Al plays harmonica on this one.
”She Said Yeah” ”is real hard rock. It’s really fun.” ”The Village Shuck” is ”a good time song, a happy go lucky song. Joe plays electric mandolin on it. It’s bizarre,” Al adds, ”I sing it in an English-Western accent, like something out of the 30s, the Victorian times.”
”What Does An Indian Look Like” is a fun song, too. ”It’s the next thing between rock ’n roll and Village Shuck.” Joe says.
As the album was being released, Salvation was in New York and planning on driving back to San Francisco in their bus, ”a 24 passenger 1963 Ford school bus.” It used to belong to a church and the band has transformed it from it’s original image quite successfully. Joe designed the big metal hand which is one of it’s salient features. Some of the pictures Jim Marshall took of the group followed a mad bus ride in Los Angeles. The deepest conviction of Salvation is that they are guarded by the mighty hand of God in all driving adventures. Like their music, the bus is impromptu and joyous.
THE L.A. TEENS – ’I’m Gonna Get You’ / ’I’ll Come Running Back’ (Decca 31763) May 1965
The L.A. Teens only released two singles, this one under review being their first from May 1965. My previous blog entry when their second 45 ”Saturday’s Child” was reviewed has been updated.
”I’m Gonna Get You” is a hard edged beat mover with some wild pounding and eerie organ. The other side is a lot more tamer and was probably the chosen side to play on the radio. ”I’ll Come Running Back” falls into the British Invasion bag and is reminiscent of The Searchers. It’s commercial sounding up-tempo jangle beat.
I’d love to know more about The L.A. Teens but information is scant and as far as I’m aware no group pix have ever surfaced on the internet. Three / all of the group members were possibly Ronald Weiser, James Weiser and William Schneed.
SHIVA’S HEAD BAND – ”Kaleidescoptic” / ”Song For Peace” (Ignite H-681) 1968
Austin, Texas was the home of cosmic hippie group Shiva’s Head Band. They were the house band for a while for the famous Vulcan Gas Company and were in high demand, earning large amounts of money for gigs.
Shiva’s Head Band secured a deal with Capitol Records and eventually released a 1969 album titled ”Take Me To The Mountains.” I’ve never heard the latter but I’ve read that it’s a mixture of roots rock, country and psychedelia. For the time being I’ll just stick with their first single on Ignite Records.
I understand that the first recording of ”Kaleidescoptic” was unsatisfactory so they re-recorded the song again at Pecan Street Studios under the supervision of producer Bruce Hooper, with a Summer of 1968 release. The song is a perfect blend of counter-culture sounds, loping rhythms, electric violin and an hallucinatory groove.
THE OXFORD WATCHBAND – ”Diagnosis (One Way Empty & Down)” / ”Welcome To The World” (Hand Records 496) August 1969
This group is a mystery to me, I know very little and scant information is available online. Someone left a message on YouTube years ago and suggested that The Oxford Watchband hailed from Rochester, USA.
”Diagnosis (One Way Empty & Down)” is an aural assault on the mind, I don’t have a clue what the song is about but who cares when it’s as way-out as this. The production by John Linde is certainly impressive, no expense has been spared. It’s a full on race until the end with sound FX, shouting, pounding beats and fuzz which then ebbs away into a realm of bewilderment.
EDDIE HODGES – ”Shadows And Reflexions” / ”Love Could Rule The World” (Sunburst 773) November 1967
This is the second time out for Eddie Hodges on my blog, this time it’s his version of ”Shadows And Reflexions” which was also recorded by The Lownly Crowde, The Action and The Byzantine Empire.
The song was co-written by his friend Tandym Almer who’s famous for being the author of ”Along Comes Mary”, the big hit for The Association. I first became aware of his song ”Shadows And Reflections” (without the ”X”) via English mod group The Action. I must admit being a little surprised when I heard that it had also been recorded by early 1960s teenage pop star Eddie Hodges.
This particular take has that typical late 1967 American baroque pop feel and is superbly produced by the team responsible for much of The Chocolate Watch Band output, including Ed Cobb and Richard Podolor.
FRIDAYS KEEPERS – ”Take Me For A Ride” / ”Sorrow At My Door” (Momentum 676) 196?
I sadly failed to win this incredible tripped out and dreamy psychedelic disc on eBay the other day. Copies seldom appear for sale, this one sold to the highest bidder for $225.
Dig the acid mind blowing vibrations of ”Take Me For A Ride.” This kind of dreamy psychedelia with vocal harmonies, strings, orchestration and backwards guitar is a joy to hear. The other side is ”Sorrow At My Door” which I’ve not heard.
Probably from Los Angeles. It’s only ever appeared on one compilation over the years – on ”Psychedelic Unknowns” Volume 6
”Take me for a ride
On the river in your mind.
Take me for a ride
Let me see what I can find.”
THE CHERRY SLUSH – ”I Cannot Stop You” / ”Don’t Walk Away” (U.S.A. Records 895) January 1968
A group of teenagers from Saginaw, MI almost hit the big time with this single which was written and produced by Dick Wagner. ”I Cannot Stop You” is a memorable and very commercial sounding disc with lots of hammond organ frills and brass instrumentation.
The single had seen an earlier release on local label Coconut Groove during November 1967 and the re-release on U.S.A Records almost broke The Cherry Slush nationally. The record was even released in Germany on Cornet Records and came housed in a picture sleeve.
I was surprised to find that several websites cover the Cherry Slush and there is even a Facebook page devoted to the group.
THE COWSILLS – ”The Prophecy Of Daniel And John The Devine (Six-Six-Six)” / ”Gotta Get Away From It All” (MGM 1484) June 1969
This is an incredible single by The Cowsills and a new discovery for me. I dig it so much that I immediately sought UK and US pressings on MGM. I’d always had the image in my head that The Cowsills were a goodie, all-American kiddie family of musicians who only recorded pop songs for the teen market. How wrong I was.
”The Prophecy Of Daniel And John The Devine (Six-Six-Six)” is both creative and ambitious in equal measure. The classy arrangement and beautiful harmonies teases the brain into thinking that the song is one of those pleasant sunshine pop songs but they’re singing about the occult. The song is seemingly inspired by ”The Book Of Revelations” and all of that religious mumbo-jumbo that was rife with the late 60s hippies. Forget all of that and marvel at the spooky organ, the eastern instrumentation and clever use of spoken passages.
This extraordinary recording is particularly uncommercial and was a strange choice for a single. However, the record still sold in decent quantities, eventually reaching #75 in the Billboard Chart.
No Chart action in Britain and perhaps another reason why this psychedelic rock song is a new find for me.
THE IDES OF MARCH – ”Roller Coaster” / ”Things Aren’t Always What They Seem” (Parrot 310) September 1966
The Ides Of March are probably best remembered in America for their late 60s horn rock exploits which for my particular taste is not my scene but this early ’66 single is most definitely one to add to your collection.
They started as a teenage group playing British Invasion covers but then began writing their own material. Soon after they got noticed at their local Berwyn, Chicago gigs. This particular record was their second and perhaps best.
”Roller Coaster” is a jangle pounder, heavy on The Who inspiration with fab backing vocals and drum fills. It reached Top 20 in Chicago and entered the lower reaches of the Billboard Chart. Not bad for a bunch of late teens.
Larry Millas: ”We recorded the song in about an hour and packed up and headed for home as it was being mixed. As soon as it was done, our Manager took the acetate over to WCFL. The program director loved it so much that he put it on air immediately. An hour after recording it we heard ”Roller Coaster” on the radio as we were pulling into my driveway. It was so unbelievable and exciting.” (from the ”Ideology” Sundazed CD liner notes)
Jim Peterik who wrote ”Roller Coaster” would later co-write the famous ”Rocky” theme ”Eye Of The Tiger” recorded by Survivor.
Bob Bergland (bass)
Jim Peterik (vocals, guitar)
Mike Borch (drums)
Larry Millas (guitar)