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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 of The Avengers.

SOMEBODY’S CHYLDREN – ”I’m Going Back To New York City” / ”Shadows” (Uptown 727) April 1966

I covered ”I’m Going Back To New York City” back in 2010 when I selected this David Allen’s garage pop scorcher in my list of Los Angeles nuggets. But what about the flip?

”Shadows” was also written by David Allen, who was in his mid teens at the time of recording. As a matter of fact the Somebody’s Chyldren were still quite literally children. ”Shadows” is my perfect noise, all moody 12 string Rickenbacker jangle and nerve tingling harmonies.

No one has ever deemed it worthy enough to compile and it remains more or less unknown. BUT not in my world, it’s simply BOSS!

MAE WEST with SOMEBODY’S CHYLDREN – ”Way Out West” (Capitol T-6190) June 1966

Don’t say I never bring you some weird and wonderful records to my blog, take this one for instance by Hollywood actress Mae West called ”Way Out West” where she teams up with a teenbeat group called Somebody’s Children and together they come up with the goods.

By 1966 Mae West was in her early seventies so it must have been such a surprise in Los Angeles to hear her singing/talking/purring her way through an albums worth of rock ’n roll hits of the day including a cover of The Beatles ”Day Tripper”, John Lee Hooker’s ”Boom Boom” and this one under my spotlight ”Shakin’ All Over” by Johnny Kidd & the Pirates.

”Shakin’ All Over” really moves courtesy of a terrific and vibrant backbeat by The Somebody’s Children. They’ve featured on my site several times before with their monstrous ”I’m Going Back To New York City” from May 1966, released on Uptown Records.

In this album, Mae rocks and rolls to an especially selected repertoire of the latest rock ’n’ roll hits, backed by the dynamic young group Somebody’s Chyldren. Her voice is torrid. Her beat is sensational. Her rhythm is like no other rhythm in the business. When she sings these emotional lyrics, they take on a deep and feeling-full meaning. It’s as though Mae was made for rock ’n’ roll, and rock ’n’ roll was made for Mae. (liners)

BUMP – ”Winston Built The Bridge” / ”Sing Into The Wind” (Pioneer PRSD-2147) 1969

Here’s a record I first heard way back in the mid 80s on a compilation called ”Colour Dreams” and it’s held my curiosity ever since. ”Winston Built The Bridge” also turned up on ”Rubble #20” and ”Mindblowers.” Strangely, the flip ”Sing Into The Wind” written by drummer Jerome Greenberg remains uncompiled but I believe it’s on their 1970 album ”Bump” which I don’t have and haven’t even heard!

”Winston Built The Bridge” has a UK psych sound circa 1967 with an ever-present farfisa organ giving the song an early Pink Floyd vibe and the throwaway child-like lyrics recall something Syd would have on his mind. The tune is bouncy and memorable ending in a frenzy of noise and phlange effects.

I have done a little research and found an online obituary confirming the death of Paul Lupien, the keyboard player and songwriter of ”Winston.” He died in 2009, aged 62.

line-up:
Paul Lupien (keyboards)
Jerome Greenberg (drums)
Alan Goldman (guitar)
George Runyan (bass / vocals)

THE YANKEE DOLLAR – ”Sanctuary” / ”City Sidewalks” (Dot 45-17123) July 1968

The first Yankee Dollar 45 coupled two John Carter – Tim Gilbert songs from the album. ”Sanctuary” is a farfisa organ led Sunset Strip swinger with immediate appeal.

The flip ”City Sidewalks” has a slower pace with trippy guitar and is typical of the psychedelic folk-rock sound from Los Angeles based groups during this era.

The Yankee Dollar made waves on the East Coast with this record and according to ARSA (the radio survey archive) the record hit the top 10 in some areas. It was particularly strong in Buffalo, NY and hit number 1 in Canton, New Jersey.

Both songs were recorded by Hardwater.

THE YANKEE DOLLAR – ”Reflections Of A Shattered Mind” / ”Mucky Truckee River” (Dot 45-17213) March 1969

By the time Dot Records released this impressive 45 by The Yankee Dollar the group had probably already disbanded. As Greg Likins pointed out in our interview, these two songs were the only fruits of their aborted second album sessions.

’Reflections Of A Shattered Mind’ hints at what could have been. This cut still retains the psychedelic folk element with the male/female harmonizing but is a much tougher sound overall. There is no evidence of the swirling farfisa organ that dominated much of the music from their earlier recordings. The piece ends with some trippy studio trickery harking back to ’67.

The flip ’Mucky Truckee River’ is a mournful hippie folk tune with orchestration. Both songs were again produced by Frank Slay.

THE AVENGERS – ”Strange Faces” / ”Softly (I Say To You)” (American Records 101) January 1967

The fifth and final Avengers single was the super cool ’Strange Faces’. This 45 rarely shows up anywhere (eBay and dealer lists) and is perhaps the most difficult Avengers record to find. I bought my copy from Greg Likins in 2010.

The tough up-tempo garage sound from previous releases like ’Be A Cave Man’ and ’Shipwrecked’ had been replaced on this release by a more sophisticated psychedelic sound. ’Strange Faces’ is indeed a forgotten gem with it’s mesmerizing sitar-esque tinged Byrdsian guitar sound. The background vocal harmonies are a delight.

The flip ’Softly (I Say To You)’ is a Brit Invasion influenced ballad with ringing guitar work.

Both songs credited to Gerry Blake – Henry Gonzales.

The Avengers were undoubtedly a highly talented combo who wrote and performed their own material. They’re certainly a group in need of a collective retrospection re-issue release. All five singles would make a wonderful set.

This unpublished promo picture of The Avengers is from the archives of member Kenneth Zigoures. It was taken at Beale Park Amphitheater, Bakersfield. 

THE AVENGERS 1966: Clockwise: Kenneth Zigoures, Gerry Blake, John Paisley, Greg Likins, Gary Bernard

THE AVENGERS – ”It’s Hard To Hide” / ”Open Your Eyes” (Current Records C-1001) July 1966

’Open Your Eyes” was written by rhythm guitarist Henry Gonzales although the song writing credit on the record label is Gerry Blake. He confirmed to me via email that it was a label error.

The song is a great fuzzy jangle tripper with an unusual organ sound. I asked Gerry how he achieved this on his Farfisa organ.

”Yes, I did use a Farfisa organ during the recording of this song. The leg push bar on the bottom of the keyboard was how I got the sound on ’Open Your Eyes’ (The song I didn’t write ) and a couple of others. You can really hear it on the lead in that song. I did have a Vox Continental for a short time but I never used it.”

’It’s Hard To Hide’ was written by lead guitarist Greg Likins and has that distinctive Los Angeles  shimmering jangle sound. Bakersfield was the home of The Avengers but they did all of their recording in L.A.

The production credit for both sides of this disc are John Fisher. He owned Current Records and produced most if not all of the songs released on his label during the mid 60s.

The song is well produced and has a very unusual organ sound, kind of reverb. What ever it is I dig it. This track has been compiled a few times on Highs In The Mid Sixties Volume 20 and Pebbles CD Volume 8.

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’ve highlighted the other side ”I Told You So” previously so I’ll concentrate on ”Shipwrecked” during this post.

”Shipwrecked” is a tough punker dominated by a farfisa organ sound by Gerry Blake. To my ears it sounds heavily influenced by Northern Ireland band Them, the vocal delivery is pure Van Morrison.

The song was written by the mysterious William Powell. He co-wrote the previous single ”Be A Cave Man” with Gary S. Paxton. If anyone knows who the songwriter William Powell is please let me know.

According to ”Teenbeat Mayhem” the ”Shipwrecked” is indicated a a cover version of a song originally recorded by Cookie & His Cupcakes. However, my research has led nowhere and I’ve found no evidence to confirm this.

THE AVENGERS – ”Be A Cave Man” / ”Broken Hearts Ahead” (Star-burst Records 125) November 1965

At the tail end of 1965 The Avengers released their second single on the hip Star-burst label that operated out of Hollywood, Los Angeles. I’ve wrote many times on my site about this ultra fab Bakersfield combo and interviewed key members who have supplied excellent information and previously unpublished photographs.

’Be A Cave Man’ is a winner all the way with it’s up-tempo teen beat groove and ’put down’ lyrics….”Be a cave man – keep her in line”…the boys would have the woman’s liberation after them these days of course….But who cares? this was 1965, when men were men.

Here’s what Gerry Blake said about ’Be A Cave Man’

”I’m not sure we even thought about how politically incorrect Caveman was. We just liked the song. It would get people dancing for sure. I don’t think the girls thought much about it either.

It was a different time back then. It was just music. We weren’t dragging any girls behind the stage by the hair. Although some of them might have gone for it!

By the way, the ”monkey” sounds was one of us trying to make monkey sounds. Didn’t cut it. So Gary S Paxton just looped it and sped the recording up. I was the Tarzan yell.”

The flip ’Broken Hearts Ahead’ is a pleasant tune that reminds me of the country influenced folk rockers Mike Nesmith wrote for The Monkees.

Footnote: I bought my copy of ’Be A Cave Man’  from Avengers guitarist Greg Likins in 2010…

THE AVENGERS – ”When It’s Over” / ”You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” (F-G Records 104) May 1965

Fifty years ago this month The Avengers released their first teenbeat single inspired by The Beatles. Prior to this they played surf music but with the British Invasion in full swing and the boys all digging the merseybeat sound it was only natural to start playing it themselves albeit in Bakersfield, California of course.

I’ve previously written about the top side ”When It’s Over” so here’s some information about ”You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” on the flip. The song was written by Kenny Johnson who wrote two other Avengers tunes namely ”Broken Hearts Ahead and ”I Told You So”. He then released a very obscure single as The Chocolate Tunnel, a record I’ve covered on my website previously.

”You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” is a forceful mersey pop tune with a keen guitar break sounding perfect for the time.

”When It’s Over” written by Henry Gonzales and Gerry Blake is an up-tempo merseybeat mover with some tasty guitar and Beatlesesque vocal delivery.

Gerry Blake: ”We played a club in Los Angeles (It was an afternoon gig). On the bill with us was a group called Sky Saxon and the Celtics (They went on to have a big hit with ’Pushin’ Too Hard’ under the moniker of The Seeds of course) who were a little older than us and thought we were great (we thought they were outstanding).

They had long hair of which we were highly jealous of. Anyway, although at the time we didn’t understand it (remember, we were a bunch of 16-17 yr old kids). Looking back it was a ”showcase” for some people who were there.

One of which was Bob Hudson a DJ with KRLA radio in Los Angeles. KRLA was the biggest station in LA. After our set, we went over to meet Hudson and he told us he really liked our sound and was going to play our single ”When It’s Over” on the Station and help push it and we would probably really make it! We were flabbergasted. On our way out of LA we actually heard ’When It’s Over’ being played on the air. We thought we had arrived!”

THE CHILDREN – ”Rebirth” (Atco SD 33-271) December 1968

The Children left Los Angeles sometime in early 1968 and travelled to Houston, TX, signing a deal with Cinema Records. They quickly began recording songs, these cuts would become ”Rebirth.”
The album was recorded at Andrus Studios and produced by Lelan Rogers of International Artists fame and is full of orchestrated psychedelic pop songs with commercial appeal.

The release on Cinema Records during the Summer of 1968 sold quite well throughout Houston and San Antonio leading to a release on the major label Atco Records at the end of the year.

”Maypole” b/w ”I’ll Be Your Sunshine” were chosen as an Atco single to promote the album. 

My pick from the album is ”Beautiful” a heavily orchestrated piece of psychedelia with a wonderfully psychotic mid section that will make your mind go all weird. The song was written by Louis Cabaza – Stephen Perron.

line-up:
Stephen Perron (rhythm guitar / vocals)
Louis Cabaza (organ / bass)
Bill Ash (lead guitar)
Andy Zsuch (drums)
Cassell Webb (vocals)

THE CHILDREN – ”Picture Me” / ”Enough Of What I Need” (Laramie L-666) July 1967

As mentioned in my post yesterday The Children were previously called The Mind’s Eye. They got a deal from Davy Jones to record some songs at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood and they subsequently cut the Bill Ash – Mike Marechal penned ”Picture Me” ”I’ll Be Your Sunshine” and a remake of ”Enough Of What I Need” recorded by the duo’s teenage group The Stoics. 

The Children’s version of ”Enough Of What I Need” is a psychedelic fuzz ripper with tough guitars, swirling organ and complete with a caveman Roky Erickson styled scream. Sadly, the deal with Davy Jones to release records never materialized because his Manager embezzled funds while he was on Tour with The Monkees.

A single from the Gold Star Studio recordings did come out though on the Hollywood label Laramie but in a small quantity of 300 – 600 discs according to band member Chris Holzhaus.

I’ve had this single by The Children for a couple of years and it’s only now that I’ve decided to research the group, their origins and history which I’ll write over the next few blog entries.

An excellent source of information is within the booklet of The Children ”Rebirth” CD re-issue on Gear Fab.

The Children hailed from San Antonio, Texas, releasing several singles and the aforementioned ”Rebirth” album on the local label Cinema in a classy gatefold sleeve. The album was then released throughout USA on Dot Records. They had undergone a couple of name changes from The Argyles then to The Mind’s Eye before settling on The Children.

Before becoming a member of these groups Bill Ash and Mike Marechal were the rhythm section of The Stoics. 

The Mind’s Eye had earlier released the psychedelic ”Help, I’m Lost” on Jox Records. The latter was recorded at Abe Epstein Studios in San Antonio during February 1967. More about The Mind’s Eye another time.

I found an interesting message from Chris Holzhaus on TheTexas60sMusicRefuge from 2002. Chris was lead guitarist with The Argyles, eventually being replaced by Bill Ash. I’ll post it here for future reference.

”After reading the not fade away articles on The Stoics / Children, I can tell Bill Ash was involved in the interview. Too bad, most of it had been tweaked to fit Bill as always. Bill Ash and Roy Quinlen were kicked out of The Stoics because Bill’s mother gave the rest of the band shit on a regular basis.

Bill’s Mom (Mrs. Col Ash) was scared that if Bill played any longer with The Stoics, he would be corrupted.

She really wanted Sam Allen, Mike Marechal and Al Acosta to cut their hair. If you notice in the pics, Roy and Bill simply combed their hair down over their eyes when mom wasn’t around (Roy’s dad was a district judge, Bill’s dad an air force col.).

The other three grew their hair out and wore it that way. The band was pissed off at them because their parents were getting too involved (it got nasty, poor against the rich).

I was in The Argyles and went to Jefferson High where Mike, Al and Sam went to school. When Max Range (The Laughing Kind) called Mike Marechal looking for a drummer, lead guitar and bass, Mike called Sam and I, we tried out and got the job at the dunes.

After the Summer was over and the max gig, I returned to San Antonio. Steve Perron called me up very pissed off at Bill. He asked me to come back to the group now called The Mind’s Eye and record with them. Seems Bill was put on restriction by Col Mom for getting caught smoking a doobie. So, I was resurrected with Galen Niles for the Jox recording sessions.

Later when Steve couldn’t talk Galen into joining the band, Bill came back as the rhythm guitar to my dismay (more Col Mom shit).

The story about Ben Treiber knowing Davy Jones is horseshit too. My girlfriend (and later my wife of 23 years) at the time went to John Marshall High with Mike Nesmith’s cousin Adria Adair. Mike Nesmith came into San Antonio to visit the Adair family and Adria called my girlfriend.

I went with her over to the Adair’s with the 45 we cut of  ”Picture Me”/ “Help I’m Lost” for Jox in hand. Mike called Davy on the spot and told him I have a new act for your label. He invited me to his place in Hollywood and I took Ben Treiber with me (his grandfather loaned us two credit cards to make the trip since I was broke).

We got a deal with Davy, went back to Texas, packed the band and returned. When we started to record, Ben couldn’t cut it and Davy told us to fire him.

That’s when I called Mike Marechal in to replace Ben. Bill wouldn’t call Mike because he knew Mike had a problem with him from The Stoics days (they hardly spoke during this time).

After the sessions at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood, Davy was patting us on the back stating, you people are going to be stars! He left on tour (with Jimi Hendrix opening) and we sat around for two months waiting for our record to come out.

The story about Laramie Records is close to what happened. Davy’s Manager screwed him/us out of a future. Embezzled all the running capital while Davy was on tour. It seems like most of the stuff written about these two bands was taken from Bill Ash’s memory… I wish it would have been somebody else for history’s sake.

Maybe someday the true story will be told, I’ve been chasing Bill’s shitty interviews for years. We didn’t see eye to eye (left me out of everything) and since he wasn’t an original from The Argyles days I don’t think he was qualified to divulge information to start with.

He was pissed at me for years, I told his mom to fuck off one time and he never got over it. When we practiced, she would show up unannounced and sniff around like some dam drug dog.” 

misc notes:
Steve Perron (died from a drug overdose 1973)
Bill Ash (died from a heart attack 2001)
Chris Holzhaus (died from colon cancer July 2008)  

”TOBACCO A GO-GO” – Various Artists (Blue Mold Records 101) 1984

Here’s a long gone compilation from the early 80s called ”Tobacco A-Go-Go” which has it’s focus on North Carolina’s garage rock and psychedelic releases from 1965-69.

Groups include The Bondsmen ravin’ through a version of The Five Americans hit ”I See The Light”, The Barracudas ”Not Fade Away” taken from their sought after album ”A Plane View”, The Si-Dells ”Watch Out Mother” and a teenage James Taylor features in a group called The Corsayers. They perform a version of ”Money” – several more of course, but for me, none better than The Young Ones ”Too Much Lovin” from late 1966.

”Too Much Lovin” is where’s it’s at, with it’s infectious jangle beat and high pitched organ, they sound like a ramshackle teenaged version of The Monkees…. and I mean that as a huge compliment. This one smokes in my world.

So who were The Young Ones?

They were a teenage combo hailing from Lumberton, North Carolina. They won a ”Battle of the Bands” competition for North & South Carolina bringing them to the attention of thousands of teens.

Soon afterward The Young Ones released their first single ”Too Much Lovin” / ”Harbor Melon” during December 1966 which was a local success climbing to the top ten in several Cities in Carolina.

This was the bands first recording. Twenty-Sixth Street refers to Dicky Britt’s house. At the beginning, the sound is Dicky shaking the reverb on the farfisa organ while Carlton Warwick slides his pick down the guitar strings.

The Young Ones broke up soon after their second single was released. Jimmy Sossamon would then form a new group called The Cykle. 

line-up:
Carlton Warwick (lead guitar, lead vocals)
Johnny Hayes (bass, vocals)
Ronnie Baxley (rhythm guitar, vocals)
Jimmy Sossamon (drums)
Dicky Britt (organ)

MORTIMER – ”Mortimer” (Philips PHS 600-267) April 1968

This group from New York are most definitely ’Opulent Conceptions’ favourites. I’ve highlighted their work several times on my site, including their earlier recordings when they were called The Teddy Boys and their mindblowing psychedelic single as Pinnochio & the Puppets. Check out my archives.

Mortimer’s only album comes highly recommended. It’s quite a brilliant laid back affair, largely acoustic based and full of pure pop harmonies. The songs have depth and interest. It was recently re-issued on CD from the master tapes (I don’t have this by the way).

My pick from the album is ”Where The Dragons Guard The Doors” which is three minutes of delightful pop psych and reminds me of post ’Syd’ Pink Floyd’s more dreamy mind trips. Hang onto your coloured dreamscapes and prepare for lift-off.

FORD THEATRE – ”Time Changes” (Stateside SSL 10288) June 1969

There are several sites on the internet with information about Ford Theatre, a psychedelic rock group from Boston, USA, so I’ll be brief and just concentrate on ”I Feel Uncertain” which was an album track and never released as a single.

The Album ”Time Changes” by the way is the story of a young man named Clifford Smothergill and his search for meaning and significance in life. It’s a musical tale based on the very life of a very real person, whose true identity is a matter for very careful consideration, significant as it is.

”I Feel Uncertain”

Who can survive too long a journey such as this? Clifford Smothergill can only take it so long, and eventually he decides to return to Mary Jane and to resume the love affair. Mary Jane receives him gladly (after having gone through some pretty heavy changes herself), and now Clifford is left once again with haunting feelings of insecurity.

line-up:
John Mazzarelli (organ, pianos, vocals)
Harry Palmer (guitars, percussion)
Joey Scott (bass, vocals)
Robert Tamagni (drums, percussion, vocals)
Arthur ’Butch’ Webster (guitars)

DANNY WARNER – ”Go ’Way Little Girl” / ”Bright Colors” (Smash S-2110) September 1967

I’ve drawn a complete blank here. Who was Danny Warner? What I do know is that he released two previous 45s on Reprise during 1966 aided and produced by Lee Hazelwood. Those songs are in the soul or crooner style and not ’flower bomb song’ worthy.

His first single for Smash Records and presumably his last was ”Go ’Way Little Girl” a fuzztoned groovin’ version of the Janis Ian classic, also recorded in England by mod psych group The Shame. Check out my earlier posting for their classy take.

The flip ”Bright Colors” is bouncy pop, tinged with some psych moves and a big helping of brass to ’colour’ the song.

discography:
”(You Got) The Power Of Love” / ”Love Is You” (Reprise 0459) 04/66
”It Hurts” / ”Not The Lovin’ Kind” (Reprise 0505) 08/66
”Go ’Way Little Girl” / ”Bright Colors” (Smash S-2110) 09/67

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