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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.

LARRY & the BLUE NOTES – IT’S YOU ALONE (The Major Bill Tapes – Volume 1)

I used to see this Larry & the Blue Notes compilation all the time in record shops and for sale via mail order lists during the 80s and some of the 90s. Then copies seemed to vanish just at the point when I decided that I needed it! The fact that I didn’t have the album used to play on my mind for years until I managed to find a copy via Discogs last week for £30.

I’m very pleased that I’ve added this piece of vinyl to my collection as it sounds great and the liners are very informative too. It’s a very early Big Beat offering and was released way back in 1985. I consider the mid to late 80s as the ’Glory Years’ for 60s garage vinyl releases, that short window of opportunity before CDs infiltrated the market and record shops started closing.

Anyway, you all will know about Larry & the Blue Notes killer garage punkers ”In And Out” and ”Night Of The Sadist.” This vinyl only comp also boasts an alternate version of the latter, both sides of their single as The Bad as well as several unreleased cuts including ”It’s You Alone” which is their take of The Wailers folk rock nugget.

All hail the mighty Fort Worth, TX teenage band Larry & the Blue Notes.

(28/09/15)

THE MALTEES FOUR – ”You” (The Cicadelic 60s – 1966 Revisited)

I’ve had the only single by The Maltees Four in my eBay search engine for several years and it’s never appeared on the radar apart from listings of the 80s compilation album in my photograph. As such, I’m thinking that the record is very scarce.

According to ”Teenbeat Mayhem” The Maltees Four hailed from La Puente, CA and their single was released on (Pacific Challenger 112 – March 1966). ”You” b/w ”All Of The Time” are beautiful teen folk janglers with harmonies. As you probably know by now, this type of perfection is my domain. One day I will track this record down but until then and with a heavy heart I’m gonna have to make do with their compilation appearance on ”The Cicadelic 60s”

Someone has uploaded a label scan of ”You” to the Discogs site and from that I can garner that the songwriting credits go to four members. Only surnames are provided, those being Egan, Greenberg, Johnson and Saylor. Production credit goes to Angela Egan.

Reader comment: Colin, excellent 45 and one of my favourites. I did manage to score a copy on eBay back in 2012 for the ridiculously low price of $13. In fact, the scan that appears on Discogs is my copy that someone lifted off my blog. Keep your eyes open, I’m sure a copy will turn up.

(27/09/15)

M.F.Q. – ”Don’t You Wonder” / ”I Had A Dream Last Night” (Dunhill D-4137) April 1968

By the time this third and final Dunhill single was released M.F.Q. had already broken up, so perhaps this was a contractual release by Dunhill Records as they had no band to promote it. Chip Douglas was now a member of The Turtles and was working as a Producer for The Monkess.

Drummer Eddie Hoh was now a session drummer, Jerry Yester had joined The Lovin’ Spoonful, Tad Diltz was now working as a photographer and Cyrus Faryar had signed with Elektra Records.

So what of the music on this disc? ”Don’t You Wonder” is a pleasant enough pop song aided with flourishes of what sounds like an early synthesizer. This one reminds me of Sagittarius. The flip, and perhaps more commercial song, is the dreamy harmony pop of ”I Had A Dream Last Night”, also written by Chip Douglas who produced both sides.

(12/09/15)

THE PEPPERMINT TROLLEY COMPANY – ”Peppermint Trolley Company” (ACTA A-38007) 1968

I’m still on my ACTA trip which brings me to this sadly overlooked album by The Peppermint Trolley Company. This one has been a regular on my turntable since I bought the album back in the late 80s from Funhouse Records in Kent.

Basically, if you dig The Left Banke or The Association you need to hear this. Perfect soft psychedelia with harmonies. I’ve mentioned them before of course and I will do so again, I’m sure. Check out the album cut ”Reflections (On A Universal Theme)”for a spoonful of sweet mind medicine.

The music for the album was recorded at C.P. MacGregor Studios & H & R Recording Studios. Produced by Dan Dalton with arrangements by Dan and The Peppermint Trolley Company. Chad Stuart helped out on two cuts ”Trust” and ”Pat’s Song.” 

Line-up: 
Danny FaragherVocals / Clavinet / Organ / Trombone / Piano / Percussion 
Jimmy FaragherVocals / Bass / Percussion 
Greg Tornquist Guitar / Vocals / Percussion 
Casey CunninghamDrums / Percussion

Yesterday I made contact with Danny Faragher via Facebook.

”Hi Colin, this is Danny Faragher (Pictured in red band jacket above. Played keyboards.) Thanks for posting this song. I’m really proud of this recording. I think it is a timeless gem.

We started off with a great song written by my brother Jimmy (Yellow jacket – bass), and Patrick McClure, whom, sadly, we lost last year. With Greg Tornquist, (2nd from right – guitar) the three of us worked up the vocal arrangement in the kitchen of our Silver Lake pad in a 4 hour session as the sun disappeared from the sky, oblivious to the light fading out. Casey Cunningham (on right), was our superb drummer. I played a clavinet on this track. Really going for that baroque sound. So glad you dig it.”

(10/09/15)

THE OTHER HALF – ”Bad Day” / ”What Can I Do For You” (Acta 45-819) February 1968

The first Other Half single release in 1968 was the fast paced fuzztoned rocker ”Bad Day” written by rhythm guitarist Jeff Weston. Quite what the West Coast love and peace hippies thought of this would be good to know. This is a powerful, back to basics assault lasting just over two minutes. Blink and it’s gone but the fuzz will remain in your mind for days.

The other side is a bluesy number and perhaps more in keeping with the ’68 music scene in San Francisco.

(07/09/15)

THE OTHER HALF – ”I Need You” / ”No Doubt About It” (Acta 806X) July 1967

The first ever release on the newly formed Acta label was by The Other Half, a group based in Sherman Oaks, San Francisco. That particular record was ”Wonderful Day / ”Flight Of The Dragon Lady” (Acta 801). I don’t have a copy of that disc but I do have their Yardbirds inspired twin spin under my spotlight today, and it’s the Canadian pressing.

Now on board with The Other Half was lead guitarist Randy Holden who had recently departed The Sons Of Adam. Randy brought with him an abrasive guitar sound and proto-type heavy rock riffage. Check out ”I Need You” for some killer psychedelic rock thrills. The other side ”No Doubt About It” is pure Yardbirds style energy with fuzz.

(06/09/15)

THE BROTHERS CAIN – ”Better Times” / ”Pupil Alexander” (Acta 45-810) September 1967

The Brothers Cain were more than likely a studio based outfit from Los Angeles with strong links to Curt Boettcher. The latter co-wrote ”Better Times” with Lee Mallory, it’s a sunshine pop nugget with brass, in other words a typical Boettcher effort.

”Better Times” was also recorded by The Association in 1967 but never released at the time. Their version has since surfaced on The Association 2 CD set ”Just The Right Sound” released by Warner Bros/Rhino back in 2002. I’ve posted this below.

The other side ”Pupil Alexander” is much different with an almost toy-town psych vibration going on. It’s quite an addictive song and will burrow it’s way inside your mind after repeated plays. This song was written by the Marmelzat – Proffer songwriting team who achieved some success in the 70s working with Tina Turner.

In 1968 another Brothers Cain single was released on Acta 820, ”It Sure Is Groovy” / ”Anyway You Like It” but both songs have a soul sound and fall outside my ”Opulent Conceptions” radar. 

(31/08/15)

THE DOMESTIC HELP – ”A Woman Owns The Biggest Part Of Man” / ”The Bad Seed” (Acta 45-805) June 1967

Continuing my trip through the vaults of Acta Records, a division of Dot Records set up to release records by new and up-coming psychedelic rock bands. Acta didn’t last very long, perhaps three years at the most. They released records from early 1967 to mid 1969.

I don’t know much about The Domestic Help. I do know that they released two singles on Acta in 1967, this one under my spotlight was their first from June 1967. I’ve seen a press release (45cat) showing that they were a four piece, smartly dressed in mod threads with moptop haircuts.

”A Woman Owns The Biggest Part Of Man” is a folk-rock tune, written by Paul Nicodemus. The latter was a staff writer with Acuff Rose & Four Station Music based in Los Angeles. The song would have been perfect for 1965 but it’s way outta time in mid ’67. The flip ”The Bad Seed” is another folk-rock sounding composition. As you know by now I dig folk rock janglers and this record is a jigsaw piece in anyone’s collection.

The Domestic Help released a second and last single at the end of 1967, ”You’re The Potter (I’m The Clay)” b/w ”Try To Forgive Them” (Acta 45-814). I’ve not heard this one. All sides remain uncompiled and virtually unknown.

(30/08/15)

THE AMERICAN BREED – ”I Don’t Think You Know Me” / ”Give Two Young Lovers A Chance” (Acta 45-802) March 1967

Hugely successful MOR pop group from Chicago. Most of their songs are way too brassy for my taste but this folk-rock gem written by the Goffin-King partnership is well worth repeated listens.

This was their debut 45 as The American Breed, they had been previously known as Gary and the Night Lights then simply The Lite Nights before signing to Acta.

’I Don’t Think You Know Me’ was also recorded twice by The Monkees during 1966 but never released. Their first version was recorded on the 25th June 1966 with Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith handling lead vocal duties. This version was meant to be aired during Season 1 of their TV Show but for whatever reason this did not happen.

Their second recording of the song took place on 13th October 1966 with Peter Tork providing lead vocal. Both versions have since been released as extras on those Rhino re-issues from the 90s.

(29/08/15)

THE NEW ORDER – ”You’ve Got Me High” / ”Meet Your Match” (Warner Bros 5816) May 1966

I’ve had all three singles released by The New Order during 1966 in my collection for a number of years but only this morning I decided to remaster them all and conduct some research.

New Order were based in NYC and were the brainchild of successful songwriters Billy Barberis and Bobby Weinstein. Another important member was probably Roger Joyce who has a songwriting credit for all six songs they released on record.

The Barberis – Weinstein partnership had been around for several years before the creation of their group The New Order. They wrote songs for many artists including ”Let The Sunshine In” for Teddy Randazzo, also recorded by Dee Dee Sharp and Georgie Fame. They also wrote ”I’m Lost Without You” recorded by Billy Fury in 1964.

None of The New Order singles appear to have had much acclaim and I can’t find any evidence that any of them charted in America. The first single ”You’ve Got Me High” is a terrific up-tempo fuzztoned rocker with some smooth harmonies. It’s therefore no surprise to learn that the group was comprised of six members. The song comes over like a garage version of The Association.

The flip ”Meet Your Match” is an edgy Dylanesque folk-rocker. Both sides are worthy openers but only ”You’ve Got Me High” has troubled the compilers. I first heard it on ”Psychotic Reactions” in the early 90s. Curiously, Swedish band The Science Poption also recorded the song in 1966 and Bam Caruso picked it up for their Rubble compilation ”Magic Rocking Horse” in the late 80s.

The second New Order single was the equally superb ”Why Can’t I?” which is another vibrant rocker with a happenin’ guitar break. On the other side is a jangly pop song titled ”Pucci Girl.”

The New Order wore Emilio Pucci (fashion designer) clothes so probably wrote the song for him to get free clobber.

The third and final single was in a totally different direction. No longer garage rockin’ but smooth soul pop music. Not my kinda bag but I’m sure many people will dig it. On the label they’re called New Order featuring Roger Joyce. I don’t know the reasoning behind this.

discography:
”You’ve Got Me High” / ”Meet Your Match” (Warner Bros 5816) May 1966
”Why Can’t I?” / ”Pucci Gir” (Warner Bros 5836) July 1966
”Had I Loved Her Less” / ”Sailing Ship” (Warner Bros 5870) November 1966

(27/08/15)

THE ILL WINDS – ”A Letter” / ”I Idolize You” (Reprise 0492) July 1966

The second and final Ill Winds single was the country pop tune ”A Letter” which doesn’t do much at all for me and it appears neither for the kids of ’66 because the single bombed and the group disappeared.

Far superior is the rockin’ ”I Idolize You” on the other side. The song was written and recorded by Ike & Tina Turner. It’s also been done by several other groups in the 60s but perhaps not as groovy as The Ill Winds. They should have used this as their A-Side, perhaps things may have worked out differently for them.

(27/08/15)

THE ILL WINDS – ”(I Won’t Cry) So Be On Your Way” / ”Fear Of The Rain” (Reprise 0423) November 1965

The other day I wrote about The Leaping Ferns disc on X-Panded and confirmed that they were previously called The Chantays. Months after that release the group signed to Reprise and once again decided on a different moniker, this time The Ill Winds.

I feel this was their way of getting away from the surf sound and embracing the more in vogue folk-rock sound as well as encouraging the young hipsters and record buying public to buy their new releases.  

”(I Won’t Cry) So Be On Your Way” is a terrific 12 string jangler, written by guitarist Brian Carman. Sadly Brian died earlier this year from Crohn’s Disease, so he’ll never read this and know that someone is bothering to highlight his unknown songs.
The other side ”Fear Of The Rain” is another folk-rock lament. Both sides were produced by the legendary Lee Hazlewood. It’s certainly an outstanding single to add to your ’folk-rock’ box of records.

(26/08/15)

THE LEAPING FERNS – ”It Never Works Out For Me” / Maybe Baby” (Xpanded Sound X-103) February 1965

This is a very obscure single by a group from Santa Ana, California. Further investigation led me to the famous American surf group The Chantays who had a hit with ”Pipeline.” Yes, they’re the same band but with a more up to date moniker for the fast changing times on the music scene.

”It Never Works Out For Me” could be described as a very early folk-rock jangler, it’s also filled with reverb guitar moves and menacing background vocal harmonies. The sound on this is arguably ahead of it’s time.

The flip is a version of the Buddy Holly tune ”Maybe Baby” and again there is reverb in the guitar. Both sides have yet to trouble the compilers which is probably the reason why The Leaping Ferns are an undiscovered joy.

This was their only single release under this name. Shortly afterwards they signed to Reprise Records and released two singles as The Ill Winds. I’ll focus on those 45s next time.

(22/08/15)

THE RAMRODS – ”Flowers In My Mind” / ”Mary Mary” (Plymouth 2965) 1967

The Rocking Ramrods hailed from Newton, MA and are probably best known for their hot garage rocker ”She Lied” on Bon Bon Records. I first heard this from a recording by Naz Nomad & the Nightmares (The Damned in disguise). Some months later I heard the original on an early volume of Pebbles. I’m thinking that this would be around 1984.

For whatever reason the band decided to drop the ”Rockin” and were simply known as The Ramrods. This single under my spotlight was their final release and is an obscure psychedelic gem. ”Flowers In My Mind” written by Ronn Campisi starts of slow and pedestrian. At first

I thought what is all this about? Then the beat starts movin’ a little quicker and studio effects pour outta the grooves.

It’s as if the band started playing straight then dropped some fast working acid and bingo, we have lift off.

”Mary Mary” reminds me a little of The Lovin’ Spoonful and is also decent.

(06/08/15)

THE STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK – ”Incense And Peppermints” (Pye International NPL 28106) 1967

A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to a local vinyl record dealer’s market stall in Chester-le-Street, County Durham. He’s had a stall there for many years and every time I rummage through his record boxes I always find something of interest.

Imagine my delight when I found this MONO copy of ”Incense And Peppermints.” Not only is this pressing much rarer than the stereo, it also sounds so much better in my opinion. I’ve made do with a stereo re-issue that I bought in the late eighties. I think that was a Greek bootleg. Anyway, I didn’t mind as it meant that I could listen to a long-player by one of my favourite American bands.

Over the years I’ve bought all of their American singles on UNI. Some fellow collectors always mention that the Pye International mono singles sound way superior than the UNI counterparts. I’ve never had any to compare so maybe I’ll look out for the British releases too.

But getting back to this album. What a beauty! It comes housed in a supremely great laminated Garrod & Lofthouse flipback sleeve. The vibrant colours are really far-out which really blows my ’unauthorized’ re-issue away. It cost me £60 by the way which is a steal, flick through the latest Record Collector Price Guide and you’re looking at £200 for a mint copy. This is EX+ and plays like a dream. Anyway, I’ve never been bothered about the price I pay for records. If I can afford a disc I’ll buy it.

(05/08/15)

THE DELRAYS – ”Lollipop Lady” / ”(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me” (Arch Records ARA-1301) 1968

There is quite a substantial amount of information about The Delrays on various websites so I’ll just recap what is known about them with my entry. They hailed from Mascoutah, Illinois and released two singles. This one under the spotlight on Arch Records and another one on Stax. I’ve not heard ”Don’t Let Her Be your Baby” / ”I Want To Do It (Marry You)”

”Lollipop Lady” written by guitarist Tom Bowles was the debut disc on the newly formed Arch Records. It was released sometime in 1968. It’s a brisk affair with elements of bubblegum merging with a heavier sound, just check out that wah-wah. The other side is the famous Bert Bacharach – Hal David tune but it falls flat on my ears and is just not my scene.

line-up:
Tom Bowles (guitar)
Denny Ambry (bass)
Don Biever (drums)
Russ Bono (lead guitar / vocals)
Michael McDonald

(03/08/15)

THE UN-FOUR-GIVEN – ”Cry Cry (Cry, Little Girl)” / ”Love Me To Pieces” (Dot 45-16963) October 1966

This record leaves me with more questions than I can answer. Just who were The Un-Four-Given? Both sides of this disc have never troubled the compilers and the group are not even mentioned in 60s garage book ’Teenbeat Mayhem.’

Both songs were written by Mike Appel. Now I can only assume that this is the same person who was a member of The Balloon Farm who had a 1967 hit with ”A Question Of Temperature.” He then went into Management and Production eventually having success with Bruce Springsteen. Mike Appel produced his first three albums.

So, perhaps The Un-Four-Given were Mike Appel’s teenage garage band before he was a member of The Balloon Farm? Anyway, ”Cry Cry (Cry, Little Girl)” is a fabulous piece of psych tinged pop with a trippy guitar sound. The other side ”Love Me To Pieces” is pleasant sixties pop.

(24/07/15)

THE TRIPPERS – ”Dance With Me” / ”Keep A Knockin” (Dot 45-16947) August 1966

Onwards with my Dot Records reviews brings me to The Trippers who are believed to come from the State of California, probably based in Los Angeles. A few sites indicate Hollywood. Wherever they were based ”Dance With Me” / ”Keep A Knockin” was first released on the small Ruby-Do label then picked up by Dot Records for a wider distribution.

”Keep A Knockin” is a happenin’ version of the Little Richard rocker. The Trippers add a raunchy guitar sound and a chugging beat. The vocals are determined, almost a shout. The song has been recorded by many outfits including Johnny Rivers, Everly Brothers, Dave Clark Five, The Outlaws and The Rivieras.

”Dance With Me” does not have the same excitement for me, the pace is quite slow with a boogaloo beat. Both sides remain uncompiled. By the way, it appears that the single has recently been bootlegged in Greece with a limited run of 200.

The Trippers released a second and final single months later, again on Ruby-Do. ”Taking Care Of Business” / ”Charlena.” It was then picked up by GNP Crescendo for a wider distribution. I have a copy.  

I have found a couple of European picture sleeves uploaded to the internet on eBay and I’ve decided to post them here. I don’t normally do this but have done so in this instance because nothing much is known about the combo and they  indicate that The Trippers were a trio. I have yet to determine their full names.

(24/07/15)

THE SYNDICATE – ”The Egyptian Thing” / ”She Haunts You” (Dot 45-16807) December 1965

If you dig harp wailin’ wild and savage R&B then this 45 by The Syndicate should be on your wants list. I don’t have an original, expect to pay several hundred dollars if you’re ever lucky enough to be offered one. What I do have though, is a beautifully done reproduction which plays and sounds superb.

The Syndicate hailed from Long Beach, CA and released two singles before disappearing into the ether. That was until recently when Break-A-Way Records in Germany located and released an album’s worth of unreleased Syndicate ACTion (including all four single sides).

I don’t have this but I’m sure it sounds outasite. ”The Egyptian Thing” deals with the typical angst of male teens. His girl says she loves him and will always be true only to find that she’s been playing with another.

So, the top side is an absolute garage classic and obtained a score of ”10” in ’Teenbeat Mayhem’ which is no mean feat. The other side ”She Haunts You” brings the pace right down. It’s a moody nugget with tremolo guitar and worth repeated blasts on the turntable.

”The Egyptian Thing” was compiled on ’Chosen Few’ and ’Back From The Grave #7”

(24/07/15)

THE SURFARIS – ”Search” / ”Shake” (Dot 45-17008) March 1967

This is perhaps the most difficult Surfaris single to find but I did just that a couple of years ago when a fellow record collector tipped me off –  thanks Mans P. Mansson – check out his new psychedelic group The Flight Reaction.

Anyway, back to this rather splendid Surfaris record. ”Search” was their final fling at success after their smash ”Wipe Out” but sadly no one was listening. ”Search” is a terrific fuzzy psych thriller with a rockin’ beat and harmonica. In a perfect world this would have made the Charts and would consequently be a lot easier to find.

The other side is a up-tempo fuzztoned version of Sam Cooke’s ”Shake”

(23/07/15)

THE SURFARIS – ”Chicago Green” / ”Show Biz” (Dot 45-16966) October 1966

By the time The Surfaris quit playing surf music and got with the ”IN” sound of folk-rock and R&B no one seems to have been listening as they encountered flop after flop. It’s a shame that ”Chicago Green” appears to have been ignored because it’s a raunchy harmonica driven R&B mover with fuzz guitar.

”Chicago Green” was composed by short time bass guitarist Jack Oldham who spent 1966/67 with The Surfaris before disappearing from trace. I’ve conducted some research but can find nothing else of note.

The other side ”Show Biz” sounds rather corny and dated in comparison to the greatness of ”Chicago Green”

(23/07/15)

THE SURFARIS – ”Wipe Out” / ”Surfer Joe” (Dot 45-144) July 1970

The Surfaris have been highlighted before here and anyway ”Wipe Out” needs no introduction as everyone will know this one. According to an online source ”Wipe Out” was released three times on Dot Records so it was obviously a decent seller for them.

The first release on Dot was during April 1965 on the better known black label, the second reissue or repress was during June 1966, then five years later a third and final repress on this colourful label. Some copies are on the white label.

So, the record has had some mileage and it’s still well known today. Perhaps one of the most played surf tunes of all time.

(23/07/15)

THE SOUNDS OF DAWN – ”Walkin’ Out On You” / ”Stephanie Says” (Dot 45-17025) July 1967

According to FA&F The Sounds Of Dawn were based in Chicago and apart from this solitary single on Dot released three more on Twin Stacks. I’ve heard the odd clip of some of these songs and they have a soul pop sound, confirmed in the aforementioned book.

”Walkin’ Out On You” is a decent jangly pop song with a catchy beat. The song was written by Joey Stec who around about the time of release moved to Los Angeles and joined harmony psych outfit The Millennium. He also had some involvement with Sagittarius.

”Stephanie Says” on the other side is light pop.

(22/07/15)

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