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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 a 1967 Playboy  magazine.

SPRING FEVER – ”Sand” / ”Give Me Some Time” (Splitsound Records SSDG- 8-1) June 1968

”Sand” 1968 eastern tinged psychedelic dreamer with fuzz, harmonies, finger cymbals, trippy-ness, sunset strip sounds, The Grodes with a female singer, Lee Hazlewood song – basically has it all, total greatness.

extract from Manny Freiser’s website:

The band was really starting to disintegrate by the spring of ‘68. Lead guitarist, Dale Smith aka Packy Pecker, hated me. Even bassist Rick Cota Robles aka CR, who was usually pretty good-natured and tended to be the mediator between me and Smith, was giving me a bad time. They were challenging what they saw as my unfair control of the band.

In the early days, they never cared about any of that stuff. There were no ‘leaders’ or ‘followers’ – just ‘us.’ Now that we saw the band might be going somewhere, everybody wanted to hold the steering wheel. There were endless arguments about every piece of band business: what songs to play, what songs to record, what jobs to take — even about who would sing lead on which song.

It became bitter. Smith saw the band as consisting of two factions — and he called the bad one ”Freiser’s people.”. Patti would soon unknowingly enter this war zone and become one of ”Freiser’s people.” Keith Craig had, by this time, replaced Rick Lust. Rick had moved on to join the Air Force. He’s now a senior American Airlines jumbo jet captain.

Keith Craig was kind of a laid back guy, known as the Grinch because of his look. He was an excellent keyboard player who owned a Farfisa, and played Light My Fire exactly like the Doors.

Dan came to me one day and told me he had seen a young girl singer who was amazing. She was singing at the time for a band of very young brothers whose construction worker father had spent about $10,000 to buy musical equipment that the kids couldn’t even play. She’d be easy to steal away. We ought to listen to her, he recommended. I dismissed his suggestion out of hand — ”we don’t need a girl singer; that’s not our sound.”

Dan persisted, and one day a 16-year old Patti McCarron and her father came my place to audition. When she started singing, it was all over! She joined the Grodes and became our featured singer.

Her first job with us was at a battle of the bands which included the biggest bands in Tucson: Dearly Beloved, The Grodes, Lewallen Brothers. We hadn’t had time to work out a full set with Patti — and in fact we wanted to do just a couple of songs to see the crowd reaction. Just before we went on, she told me she was nervous.

When she got up on stage, she was anything but nervous. When we unveiled our secret weapon singing Stop In The Name of Love and To Sir With Love, it changed our band — and the Tucson music scene — for good. Patti Grode, as local DJ’s called her, became the darling of Tucson with the release of Sand. One DJ on KIKX, Dino Day, totally smitten with her, started an Ode to Patti Grode contest.

He always said on the air that he wanted to meet and interview her, so we brought her to the station against her will — and just a little drunk — late one night after a job. Dino gushed — Patti owned Tucson.  In spring of ’68, I had written two prophetic songs: On To L.A. and Chandelier (my friend, Paul Malanga, co-wrote Chandelier). When I played them to the person who inspired them. Patti said ”you’re so good. You should do music. We should go to L.A.” We started daydreaming constantly about going to L.A. 

In early summer, 1968, the band changed its name to Spring Fever. It felt necessary because the band with Patti in it was really a different group. We recorded Sand at Copper State. I was surprised we got such a good sound out the newly improved studio. It was eerie how much the lyrics of Sand reflected what Patti and I were experiencing at the time. Sand came out, went Top 10, and yet it all seemed way beside the point. On top of all the personal politics, a major difference in philosophy brought the Grodes to an end.

(12/03/17)

THE SUNSHINE COMPANY – ”Back On The Street Again” / ”I Just Want To Be Your Friend” (Liberty LIF 66260F) October 1967

Here is my copy of the rare French release housed within a unique picture cover. The phrase sunshine pop couldn’t be any more apt to describe the lyte flower power sounds of the classic ’Back On The Street Again’. The Sunshine Company formed in Los Angeles during 1967 and combined their soft vocal harmonies with the folk rock sound to produce two and a bit minutes of perfect harmony pop.
 
Comparisons with The Mamas And The Papas were inevitable but the group were quick to distance themselves from that outfit during an interview with KRLA Beat.

Leader Maury Manseau stated:

”I think the comparison is valid only in the fact that both of us are vocal groups. But then – it’s not really that either, because we do our own instrumentals all the time, and they have a band behind them. I think we’ve got our own thing and it’s different.” 

’Back On The Streets Again’ was a hit and work poured in. They appeared on TV Shows Joey Bishop, Woody Woodbury and The Laugh In. Maybe one day tapes of these performances will show up on You Tube. The Sunshine Company also recorded a vocal backing for a Clairol TV Commercial.

Compilation appearances have been rare (they won’t appeal to the fuzz and farfisa crowd) but this song surfaced on Nuggets Volume 10 (Rhino Records) back in the mid 80s.

The B-Side, and the song highlighted today is ”I Just Want To Be Your Friend” which was written by Curt Boettcher and also recorded by his late 60s group The Millenium.

Guitarist Douglas Mark was previously a member of The Grains Of Sand.

(10/01/16)

THE SUNSHINE COMPANY – ”Happy” / ”Blue May” (Imperial IM-6351) June 1967

I’ve recently highlighted Hollywood group The Sunshine Company on my blog choosing a couple of obscure album cuts that weren’t used as single sides. So I thought it a good idea to post their first single from mid 1967.

”Happy” was given A-Side status and it delivered them an instant summer of love hippie hit.

Also of interest is their supreme flip ”Blue May” written by their lead vocalist Maury Manseau. It’s a classic jangle folk-pop tune with a wonderful melody and exquisite harmonies.

Listen out for their Byrds homage mid way through the song when they throw their ”The World Turns All Around Her” in the mix.

”Blue May” was easily good enough for a single in it’s own right but was sadly hidden away on the other side of ”Happy”

(31/12/15)

CHER – ”Come And Stay With Me” (Liberty LBV-3058) October 1965

Cher’s debut solo album featured numerous contemporary cover versions and a couple of Sonny Bono originals. The sound is folk-rock based and recorded using the cream of L.A’s studio musicians at the famous Gold Star Studios in Hollywood.

There are plenty of tunes to pick as a taster but I’ll go for Cher’s interpretation of ”Come Stay With Me” written and also recorded by Jackie DeShannon.

Marianne Faithfull released her single version of the song during February 1965 on Decca and had a Top 5 hit with it.

I’m particularly charmed by Cher’s deep vocal delivery over the folk-pop rhythms and all too short guitar break.

(30/12/15)

STEVE MILLER BAND – ”Mercury Blues” (United Artists UAS-5185) June 1968

Next time you use the word revolution you’d better include in your concept a beautiful blonde who went to San Francisco and illegally changed her name from Louise to Today.

Today panhandles and sells underground newspapers with an equal sense of absurdity. Today enjoys cooking and sewing and judo. Today believes that napalm is more harmful than LSD. Today learns more from talking with a little black kid on Haight Street than she did in school.

(23/12/15)

THE UNFOLDING – ”Play Your Game” (Audio Fidelity AFSD-6184) December 1967

This is ”Electric Mind Sound” by The Unfolding, so it says on the album sleeve and I’m not gonna argue. I don’t think the original albums on Audio Fidelity are that difficult to find but if owning original LPs is no big deal then locate this limited edition re-press on Wah Wah Records from 2012.
They even include a copy of the original insert.

Perhaps the most ’commercial’ sounding song of the whole set is the Byrds flavoured ”Play Your Game” and at just over two and a half minutes would have been the obvious choice for a single. Sadly, no promo 45s from the album were ever released.

”Play Your Game” has a lovely melody with cosmic stoned drone vibe throughout.  The vocals are way off on the right channel, the drummer is inspired, and someone’s playing with the pitch shift again mid-song.  An excellent tune, absolutely top-notch psych pop.

From ’Ken’, the guitarist. This is on a YT clip of the full album: I can’t believe this thing is here; I haven’t thought about it in over 40 years. I was the lead guitarist on this record. I was the co-founder, with my friend Peter Gitlin of a band originally called ’Rhinoceros’, later called ’Hmmm’. 

The story goes like this: A rock magazine writer named David Dalton heard Rhinoceros playing at Cheetah, the first ’discotheque’, i.e. ’disco’ in New York. We opened for the Grateful Dead, which is not as impossible as it might seem — they only had one album at that time.

Dalton hired us to set his lyrics to music. We hated his lyrics, but since we needed the money, we wrote the music (for the first 3 songs only; David Dalton somehow obtained other weird music for the ’poetry’ at the end of the album). The music was recorded at some studio on 42nd Street. All the wacky audio effects were added by the recording engineer there – we hated that also. 

None of us wanted our names on the album, but they persuaded us to put our first names only on it. I’m ’Ken’. I’m still a musician, and I still don’t make any money, but if you’re wondering what might have become of a guy like the lead guitarist on this record.

The bass player was Bo Peck, who eventually quit music and went into politics. Bo now lives in Israel. The drummer was Gary Bailey, who also quit music. Gary became a cop in Southern California, now retired. That’s funny – when we were in Rhinoceros, it was US whom the cops were after, to see what we had hidden in the glove compartment of our battered psychedelic van.

(20/12/15)

SYNDICATE OF SOUND – ”Little Girl” / ”You” (Stateside SS-523) June 1966

This fabulous group quickly earned a happenin’ reputation in San Jose during the mid 60s and broke through Nationally with their memorable folk-jangle beat winner ”Little Girl.” The single was originally released on the tiny Hush label in small quantity but the 45 was picked up by Bell Records and re-released in April 1966.

The record went Top #10 and footage exists of them performing this song on a TV Show. The record even got a UK release on Stateside some months later in June but it went no where fast.

”Little Girl” got a new lease of life during the punk rock era with releases by The Banned who had a Top 40 hit at the back end of 1977. The Dead Boys also released a live version on the B-Side of ”Sonic Reducer” in December 1977.

(18/12/15)

THE BARBARIANS – ”Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl” / ”Take It Or Leave It” (Laurie 3308) July 1965

The Barbarians second single ”Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl” released in July 1965 was a statement of defiance that also poked fun at the whole ’hair controversy’ of the day with lines like ”You’re either a girl, or you come from Liverpool.”

Musically, it’s a Rolling Stones inspired rocker with a simple beat, a great guitar break and a ’barbarian’ scream. The other side ”Take It Or Leave It” ain’t too shabby either.

(15/12/15)

GIANT CRAB – ”E.S.P.” / ”Hot Line Conversation” (UNI 509) September 1969

Giant Crab, from Santa Barbara, CA are very well represented on the internet so I won’t delve too deeply into their history. An excellent reference point is here. I have all of their vinyl records, and there are many, they come with my recommendation if you’re likely to dig late 60s sounds, with brass and a heavy progressive style of rock ’n roll.

I’m currently researching the song ”E.S.P.” and my past and more recent posts have examined the groups who have recorded this obscure tune from it’s original composition ”£.s.d” by The Pretty Things right up to the 1970 version by Big Brother featuring Ernie Joseph.

Giant Crab’s version was recorded sometime in mid 1969. It’s a real heavy outing with blistering fuzz guitar, pounding drums, brass and an overdose of phasing. I believe that it’s a very popular disc to spin at ”60s Nights” but that’s just what I’ve read elsewhere. I wouldn’t know for sure because I don’t go to these events.

My copy pictured is a rare UK pressing on the UNI label. I don’t suppose that there will be that many of these in circulation.

RAIN – ”E.S.P.” / ”Outta My Life” (A.P.I. Records 336) November 1966

Hollywood group Rain ’borrowed’ The Pretty Things ”£.s.d” and renamed it ”E.S.P” but gave themselves writing credits.

I don’t think their story/history has ever been told or if any members have come forward with information and photos. Quite the mystery group. Produced by Brian Ross who worked with The Music Machine of course.

The single was re-released on London Records during January 1967 but it’s a weaker version omitting the guitar feedback and effects. The other side ”Outta My Life” rips off Them’s ”I Can Only Give You Everything” making Rain quite the magpies.

The known recordings of the song ”E.S.P.” including The Pretty Things – Phil May / Dick Taylor penned ”£.s.d.”

PRETTY THINGS – ”£.s.d.” ***** B-Side of ”Come See Me” – (Fontana April 1966)

RAIN – ”E.S.P.” ***** other side ”Outta My Life” (A.P.I. Records November 1966) – this single was re-mixed and released on London Records in January 1967

BEAVER PATROL – ”E.S.P.” ***** B-Side of ”Just Like A Lady” (Columbia May 1967)

GIANT CRAB – ”E.S.P.” ***** other side ”Hot Line Conversation” (UNI Records September 1969)

BIG BROTHER featuring Ernie Joseph – ”E.S.P.” ***** other side ”Brother, Where Are You” (All American July 1970)

(12/12/15)

THE GRAINS OF SAND –”Passing Through The Night” / ”The Castaway Of Capt. Haze” (AMM 008) 1967

Following on from yesterday’s Grand Prees update here’s their second and final disc. For this outing on American Music Makers they changed their name to The Grains Of Sand and explored an introspective psychedelic sound. Both sides are worthy and have been compiled in the past. The best place is on Burghers #1.

”The Castaway Of Capt. Haze” is a slow burner, quite mellow and laid back, a teen psych tripper that ends in a haze of stunning farfisa organ.
I can’t help but think about ”Scarecrow” by Pink Floyd when I hear this, it’s very early Floyd…. magical.

(09/12/15)

GRAND PREES – ”This Lonely Day” / ”No Time To Lose” (Scotty GQP 825) April 1966

This combo were from Pittsburgh, PA releasing this double sided lo-fi teen punker in 1966. Both sides are very basic beat numbers with crude guitar and high pitched organ.

”This Lonely Day” is a fast movin’ swinger and gets my vote over the pedestrian ”No Time To Lose” which was the chosen side to plug.

”This Lonely Day” has seen compilation action on Wyld Sydes #7

After this release The Grand Prees changed their name to The Grains Of Sand. I’ll focus on their second single next time.  

(08/12/15)

MATTHEW MOORE – ”Face In The Crowd” / ”St James Infirmary” (Capitol CL 15467) September 1966

Matthew Moore was raised in Rupert, Idaho then relocated to Los Angeles forming his combo The Matthew Moore Plus Four. Here they enjoyed a successful career on the Sunset Strip scene releasing a couple of singles ”I’ve Been Lonely Before” / ”I Know You Girl” on GNP Crescendo and the amazing ”Codyne (She’s Real)” / ”You’ve Never Loved Before” on White Whale.

I’m unsure whether the Plus Four were still backing him at the time he recorded for Capitol Records, only his name appears on the label. Another curio on the label is the songwriting credit for ”Face In The Crowd” which is given as Gerry Goffin and Jack Keller. I believe that the song was composed by David Gates and was also recorded by Gary Lewis & the Playboys then Glenn Yarbrough in 1968.

The other side of this disc is a decent version of ”St James Infirmary” which remains uncompiled.

Co-production by Dan Dalton who did some fine work with The Peppermint Trolley Company and The Plymouth Rockers. Following his short stint with Capitol Records, Matthew Moore formed The Moon with ex Beach Boys member David Marks and they recorded two pleasant but unsuccessful albums for Liberty Records.

These are not without merit and were re-issued on Rev-Ola back in 2002. This particular disc is now sought after but out of print. It also includes singles.  

(05/12/15)

TOMMY T’S FEDERAL RESERVE – ”Take The Midnight Train” / ”Grow Up Someday” (Cadet 5584) November 1967

This combo from Des Moines, Iowa were previously on IGL Records and released some 45s under the name of Tommy Tucker & The Esquires. They then moved to Cadet and released two singles, this being the first, under the name of Tommy T’s Federal Reserve.

They were a well known act in Iowa and have been inducted in their Rock ’n’ Roll ”Hall Of Fame”

Perhaps their most well known cut in 60s garage circles is the teenbeat gem ”Don’t Tell Me Lies.”  (IGL 121). Check it out on the compilation ’Monsters Of The Mid-West #2’ 

Here are some snippets of information taken from the liners of the ”IGL Rock Story – Part One (1965 – 67)”

Who was Tommy Tucker?

”Tommy had more ambition and could get himself into more problems than anyone we ever had in the studio. One time in particular he was coming up from Des Moines and his mother packed him a lunch with some hard boiled eggs, so Tommy said. ”What do you do with eggs you don’t like? Naturally you throw them at another car.” He did, and ended up at the police station. The police in Spencer called me and I had to get Tommy and his band out of jail before they could come up and record.

He wrote a song and had a problem with the copyright because of his name.

Apparently ”Tommy Tucker” was already copyrighted so he had to show proof with his birth certificate that it was his actual name.

As with a lot of little bands from around here, The Esquires drove a used hearse, which was a big vehicle that could hold all their equipment along with four or five guys. 

Tommy Tucker later went on to build a recording facility in Des Moines called Triad Studio and then left to become one of the head engineers at Paisley Park in Minneapolis.”
(Cliff Plagman – IGL Records)

(29/11/15)

1910 FRUITGUM CO – ”Hip Hip Hip Urrah!” / ”(Poor Old) Mr Jensen” (Buddah Records BD-75.018) April 1968

Sifting through the bubblegum hits of the Buddah Records label brings me to this little known obscurity by 1910 Fruitgum Co. On the other side of the ”Hip Hip Hip Urrah!” is the soothing mellowness of”(Poor Old) Mr Jensen”.

The Italians didn’t even bother putting the title of this B-Side on the fab sleeve of their release, instead making room to mention that they were the ”1,2,3 Red Light” hit makers.

”(Poor Old) Mr Jensen” is notable for it’s inclusion of the piccolo trumpet and baroque feel throughout. It’s like a mini and cheaper produced version of something like ”Penny Lane”

Groups like these of course didn’t have the luxury of spending weeks in Abbey Road Studios.

The song was also released as a B-Side by Jerry & Jeff. Check it out on the B-Side of ”Sweet Sweet Lovin’ You” on Super K from December 1968. It’s only an instrumental version though.

It was also recorded by The Katz-Kasenetz Orchestral Circus Singers.

The instrumental track of ”Poor Old Mr. Jensen” (minus the piccolo trumpet), played in reverse, was re-released on another Buddha records single. Re-titled ”Zig Zag”, and credited to ”Ohio Express”, it’s the B-side to ”Yummy Yummy Yummy” (you know the one, ”I’ve got love in my tummy”).

(29/11/15)

THE SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET – ”The Story Of John Hardy” / ”In Time” (London HLU 10001) November 1965

There is plenty of information elsewhere about The Sir Douglas Quintet so this will be a brief entry. It’s all about introducing this greatness – an obscure B-Side by the Sir Douglas Quintet from the back end of 1965 with their moody beat, British Invasion style – diggin’ the Vox Continental organ sound.

The other side ”The Story Of John Hardy” is more in keeping with the hip sound of ’65 folk-rock.

(25/11/15)

GORDON ALEXANDER – ”Thinking In Indian Again” (Columbia CS 9693) 1968

It’s back to finding some long lost nuggets on albums and here’s a very interesting one by obscure late 60s singer songwriter Gordon Alexander. ”Gordon’s Buster” is not one of those immediate albums that blows your mind, it will take a couple of plays over a day or two before the songs and rhythms start sinking in and making sense.

It’s a very diverse collection of freak rock, psych tinged folk with jazzy & blues touches.

Checking out the cover information reveals that renowned Producer Curt Boettcher worked on three songs ”Looking For The Sun” ”Windy Wednesday” and ”Miss Mary” – all of these cuts have his unmistakable soft psych touches. I’ve read elsewhere that members of his own band The Millenium also helped with instrumentation throughout.

The other songs on the album, including my highlight ”Thinking In Indian Again” were produced by Sonny Knight with arrangements by David Angel fresh from his work with Fever Tree and Love’s ”Forever Changes”

”Thinking In Indian Again” is a short burst of psychedelia notable for the way-out and trippy guitar sound.

”How is your mind bending, how is your mind bending.
I like to fly using my middle eye on a beam to the end of the brain.”

One single was taken from the album as a promo sent to radio stations ”One Real Spins Free” ”Topango” during July 1968.

(22/11/15)

THE LINCOLN’S – ”Come Along And Dream” / ”Smile Baby Smile” (Tripp Records 45-1000) March 1969

According to ’Teenbeat Mayhem’ The Lincoln’s hailed from the North Bonneville – Stevenson area of Washington in USA. I’ve read elsewhere that they’ve been incorrectly attributed to Vancouver in Canada.

The name on this label is probably a typo because they’re The Lincolns on other releases. Perhaps their most well known is the organ/sax punker ”We Got Some” on Dot Records in 1966.

This record dates from early 1969 but the music sounds like it’s come from at least a year earlier. ”Come Along And Dream” is a fast paced fuzz and hammond organ-a-go-go rocker that ends in a barrage of psychedelic studio effects. It was compiled on ”Highs In The Mid Sixties #7’

The other side ”Smile Baby Smile” is a jaunty beatsville mover sounding not unlike some of those beaty Monkees numbers. Love the twangin’ guitar on this one. Currently uncompiled.

(14/11/15)

TEDDY AND HIS PATCHES –”Haight Ashbury” / ”It Ain’t Nothin” (Chance 669) June 1967

I wrote about their first disc ”Suzy Creamcheese” back in 2007 and here I am some eight years later picking up where I left off with their fabulous second and final 45 ”Haight Ashbury”.

Teddy and his Patches were a short lived outfit from San Jose but they certainly left their mark on the garage psych collector scene with their vinyl output.

”Haight Ashbury” written by members Teddy Flores and lead guitarist Bernard Pearson is a punkedelic classic with it’s moody opening beat and pissed off rant about the cops and the low-lives of the hippie scene. Mid way through, the pace quickens and the psychedelic effects take the listener on another trip altogether. This time it’s an Eastern raga colouring the pictures. Let your mind wander while taking in the trippy guitar break,  such a fantastic sound, pure ’67 mind tripper.

For such a talented group and one that was very active with gigs on the West Coast it’s a shame that they recorded a dismal kazoo led vaudeville indiscretion for the flip. I’m sure they would have had a superior song in their repertoire.

(08/11/15)

PUBLIC NUISANCE – ”7 or 10” (Third Man Records) 2012

Today’s spin is the late 1968 early 1969 recordings by Public Nuisance.

They were from Sacramento, CA. Their producer was Terry Melcher but the album was shelved after the Manson Family murders took place at his property which had been leased to Roman Polanski.
After a couple of plays this one has really burrowed it’s way into my mind.

Difficult to describe and categorize – bits of Love, Lollipop Shoppe, weirdness, baroque psychedelia and a gentle love ballad ”7 or 10”

(05/11/15)

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