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.
THE KINGSMEN – ’Louie Louie’ / ’Haunted Castle’ (Pye International 7N.25231) December 1963
Here’s a pic of my UK copy of The Kingsmen 45 ’Louie Louie’, such an iconic record and one that influenced the young Ray Davies. In USA it was released on Jerden Records a few months earlier.
’Louie Louie’ is primitive with echoed guitar and organ bursts….when frat turned into what we now know as the ’garage sound’ The flip is also good if you dig crude instros.
The single reached #26 in the British charts.
THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS – ’The White Cliffs Of Dover’ / ’Baby She’s Mine’ (London HL 10086) October 1966
This duo are not my scene and I only own one record by them and this is it. Forget about the top side and go immediately to the crackin’ flip ’Baby She’s Mine’ written by Bobby Hatfield.
Really happenin’ rhythm & blues with outstanding hammond organ bursts. This one is a winner. In USA the title was ’She’s Mine, All Mine’, don’t know why there was a need for a re-title.
Recorded in Hollywood in 1966. It seems that The Righteous Brothers were as influenced with the ’now sound’ just as much as anyone.
THE GREEK FOUNTAINS – ’I’m A Boy’ / ’She Does It’ (Pacemaker Records PM-250) January 1967
This is the second time on ’Flower Bomb Songs for The Greek Fountains.
’I’m A Boy’ is their straight ahead cover of The Who classic with a fade-out ending. The flip ’She Does It’ has a soul pop sound and is the direction the group would further explore when they changed their name to The Greek Fountain River Front Band later in 1967.
Both sides on this disc have yet to be compiled.
Pacemaker Records from Pasadena, Texas also released noteworthy singles by Gaylon Ladd, Johnny Winter, The Triumphs and Yesterday’s Obsession.
THE BEACH BOYS – ’Party!’ (Capitol T-2398) November 1965
This was the third Beach Boys album of 1965 and very much a ’cash-in’ long player for Christmas. Back in the 60s records were big sellers during the festive period and this ’live’ album in the studio broke into the top ten in both USA and Britain and as such was considered a success.
There isn’t much on this to please the casual Beach Boys listener. Fans no doubt lapped it up but if I was a teenager back then I’d be a bit pissed off with the material on ’Party!’ as it just sounds like they’re busking, the background noises from girls ’partying’ is annoying.
The most interesting cut for me is ’Barbara Ann’ which was a cover of a song written by The Regents. The opener ’Hully Gully’ is decent enough.
THE BEACH BOYS – ’Summer Days (And Summer Nights)’ July 1965
This was The Beach Boys ninth studio album. Can you believe that? It’s only mid 1965 and they’re onto their ninth studio album. No wonder writer, arranger and producer Brian Wilson was starting to have mental health issues. That’s a lot of weight and responsibility on a young guy.
This album is regarded as something of a Beach Boys benchmark but I find songs like ’Amusement Parks U.S.A’, ’I’m Bugged At My Ol’ Man’ and ’And You Dreams Come True’ annoying. They’re just not my scene.
My personal favourite song on the album is ’Girl Don’t Tell Me’, which has a lead vocal by Carl Wilson. They should have stayed with this kind of sound a little more.
The re-recorded ’Help Me Rhonda’ and ’California Girls’ are also highlights. Both have complex vocal arrangements and a progressive production for 1965. No one sounded quite like The Beach Boys when they were firing from both barrels. The ’sound’ on ’California Girls’ was a signal for things to come on the 1966 album ’Pet Sounds.’
This album was another success reaching #2 in USA behind The Rolling Stones ’Out Of Our Heads’…in Great Britain it reached Top 5.
A message from Brian Wilson:
As I’m writing this, Carl, Ron Swallow (our travelin’ buddy and wardrobe man) and three girls along with Earl Leaf are sitting around the coffee table singing Beatles songs.
But my mind is somewhere else right now. I’m still working on ideas for this album.
We had an unbelievable hassle trying to finish up the songs, especially after a three week tour.
You should have seen Mike diggin’ his own voice when we played back ’The Girl From New York City’ in the studio last week. He was movin’ and groovin’ like he used to in the locker room at Dorsey High, I’m glad I finally wrote a song Carl dug singin’.
I thought Al pulled off ’Then I Kissed Her’ purty good too. And then there’s Denny who fell asleep in his camper truck parked outside the studio he was supposed to sing a lead. Hope you like our efforts this time. Thanks. ….
THE BEACH BOYS – ’Today!’ (Capitol T-2269) March 1965
About a year ago I bought three Beach Boys albums dating from 1965 but it’s only now that I’ve taken them off the shelves for a spin. They’re all in great shape, they’re all my preferred mono recordings and better still I bought all three for about £10. Win!, win!, win!!!
The material recorded for ’Today!’ was put to tape during October and December 1964. Some songs were recorded in January 1965. There’s not a hint of any British Invasion sound, The Beach Boys stuck to their own pop style with layered harmonies.
Most of side one showcases their more up-tempo tunes, especially the catchy ’Do You Wanna Dance?’ while on ’Help Me Ronda’ the complex wall of sound production is quite evident. The latter was re-recorded as ’Help Me Rhonda’ and reached #1 in May 1965.
Side two is ballads and love songs with the filler ’Bull Session With The Big Daddy’ which is a snippet of an interview.
a message from Dick Clark:
When fame came to The Beach Boys, it came in a big way and almost overnight. They began with talent, a lot of it, and some avid interests that they turned into hit songs. And soon their first recordings were helping to shape the big trend in surfing music.
A little later they did the same thing again with their big hot rod hits. And now they are themselves a trend – important leaders in today’s music industry. Their records and personal appearances have been consistent triumphs, and many of Brian Wilson’s compositions have become teen ”classics.”
Today they still care about the same things their audiences care about. Fame is important to them, but not as important as their music and their teen fans, toward whom they feel a true allegiance.
It is a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to pay tribute to these great young guys, for we in the entertainment industry are proud of their success…proud because they and their music deserve it.
Bubble Puppy didn’t last very long as a group in the 60s, despite having a big hit single with ’Hot Smoke & Sasafrass’ during the early months of 1969 but they did leave behind four brilliant singles.
’Hot Smoke & Sasafrass’ / ’Lonely’ (IA-128) November 1968
’If I Had A Reason’ / ’Beginning’ (IA-133) May 1969
’Days Of Our Time’ / ’Thinkin’ About Thinkin’ (IA-136) October 1969
’What Do You See’ / ’Hurry Sundown’ (ia-138) May 1970
Their debut 45 was a surprise hit after DJs in Houston flipped the record over and started playing ’Hot Smoke & Sasafrass.’ Apparently, ’Lonely’ was initially thought of as the top side by The Bubble Puppy. Both sides were also included on their album ’A Gathering Of Promises.’
’Hot Smoke’ has a hard rockin’ intro laced with feedback. The time changes give the song a mesmerizing feel to it, quite hypnotic. Dig those psych leads and layered vocal harmonies. Very much a West Coast sound. It proved to be International Artists biggest selling record.
Bubble Puppy were in such demand at this point that they appeared on American Bandstand lip-synching their hit.
IA didn’t hear any more potential hit singles on the albums worth of material they had recorded so were asked to come up with another song. They returned to the studio and recorded the countryish ’If I Had A Reason’, this was backed with a longer version of ’Beginning’, which incidentally, is my favourite Bubble Puppy song…
Their third single brought together two non-album cuts ’Days Of Our Time’ / ’Thinkin’ About Thinkin’…both were cool psych rockers with some amazing psych leads and those Moby Grape type layered harmonies.
Their final single was the non-album ’What Do You See’ which was a snarling fuzz fest backed with the West Coast psych rock ’Hurry Sundown.’ This cut featured on the studio album from a year earlier but this mono 45 is a different / shorter mix. My copy is green vinyl.
BUBBLE PUPPY – ’A Gathering Of Promises’ (International Artists) 1969
Bubble Puppy were IA’s last commercial fling, and indeed they scraped a fleeting hit with ’Hot Smoke & Sasafrass’ in early 1969. Although based in Houston, the roots of the group were in Corpus Christi, where Rod Prince led The Bad Seeds. They cut three singles for the local label J-Beck outlet.
’Taste Of The Same’ / ’I’m A King Bee’
’Zilch Part One’ / ’Zilch Part Two’
’All Night Long’ / ’Sick And Tired’
Punkers all, the last ’A’ side was, in fact, a cover of The Elevators ’Tried To Hide’ but with an earlier lyric. Roy Cox joined the group, and it was he and Prince, along with Todd Potter, who put Bubble Puppy together. Several other musicians including Tommy Smith and Clayton Pulley were also in the group, and later David Fore.
’A Gathering Of Promises’ reflected the more measured changes which affected Texas music. Despite their suitably paisley garb, Bubble Puppy were closer to mainstream rock than most of their label mates. Professional rather than inspirational, they somehow crossed the hard rock of Jimi Hendrix with the massed harmonies of Moby Grape or early Doobie Brothers. It’s fresh, it’s undoubtedly well played, but it lacks the perverse mystery of The Golden Dawn or even Lost And Found.
That album aside, Bubble Puppy also cut several other tracks. ’If I Had A Reason’ appeared on the flip of ’Beginning’, while both sides of their third 45, ’Days Of Our Life’ and ’Thinkin’ About Thinkin’ were non-album, as was ’What Do You See’, the top side of their final IA release.
Having toured with Steppenwolf, and with their own label flagging, Bubble Puppy moved to ABC/Dunhill and mutated into Demian. From there on in there’s been a succession of changes, with versions of the band resurfacing on various occasions, as well as in off-shoot groups such as Sirius.
(Strange Things magazine August 1988)
THE HUMAN ZOO – ’The Human Zoo’ (Accent ACS 5055) 1970
The Human Zoo hailed from the Los Angeles suburb, Westminster and were discovered playing local gigs by Jim Foster, who was a member of acid punkers The Human Expression. Don’t expect The Human Zoo to be any where near as good as the latter though.
First time I played this album I was disappointed, it didn’t really tick that many boxes in my mynd. However a couple of plays later I started digging some of the songs. The album opener ’It’s Got To Be’ is a good psych rocker with some cool organ. My favourite cut is ’Na-Na’ which is essentially an instrumental with plenty of na-na’s thrown in for good measure.
The rest of side one is decent late 60s rock ’n’ roll, with some really tasty psych leads, powerful drum action and mostly macho style vocals. Not really my bag but I’m sure others will dig it. ’Funny’ for instance, starts off all psych rock then goes a bit too funky for me…
Most of side two has that late 60s funk psych sound with brass, there’s also cringe-worthy county & western with ’When Papa Started Drinkin’…..the album picks up once more with the freaky ’The Human Zoo’, which has some immense fuzz and pounding drums but the over macho vocals spoils the song somewhat.
What the sales sticker on the front of the album says:
For the first time since it’s original release in 1970, an exact re-issue of The Human Zoo album, taken from the master tapes, with all artwork faithfully replicated!
A quirky and unexpected blend of psychedelic, garage and funky music. The musical diversity, once the cause of the band’s failure is the records greatest asset in this age of one song downloadable wonderment. The band had chops, and could put together a damn good song.
Limited edition of 500 copies.
HAMILTON CAMP – ’Here’s To You’ (Warner Bros WS 1737) 1968
This weeks trip through my LP collection continues with this 1968 obscurity by Hamilton Camp. He was an early 60s folkie who played the coffee houses in Greenwich Village and was in his thirties by the time he recorded the songs on this album ’Here’s To You.’ He must have looked ancient back then to all of the teens and twenties hipsters.
Hamilton’s single ’Here’s to You’ / ’Anyhow’ (Warner Bros 7165) was released during May 1968 and was a hit, reaching #78 on the Billboard Chart. This song is quite lyte sunshine folk and perhaps just right for the times. There are better songs on the album though, including a version of ’Travelin’ In The Dark’ which was also recorded by Bo Grumpus and Mountain.
The song was written by Mountain bass player Felix Pappalardi, who also produced the music on ’Here’s To You.’ ’Lonely Place’ is the most trippy cut here, a really superb song with a haunting vibe.
Another single was released in the Summer of 1968, ’This Wheels On Fire’ is a non album cut and was probably recorded at the same time but omitted for unknown reasons backed with ’A Lot Can Happen In A Day’ (Warner Bros 7203) which can be found on the album.
’Here’s To You’ featured the cream of the crop L.A. session players including Earl Palmer (drums), Van Dyke Parks (piano, organ), Jerry Scheff (bass), Hal Blaine (drums) and Larry Knetchtel (piano). It was recorded at H.R. Recording Studios, Hollywood.
Perhaps his most famous song is ’Pride Of Man’ which was also recorded West Coast hippies Quicksilver Messenger Service. Hamilton Camp died of a heart attack on 02/10/05.
THE NATIONAL GALLERY – ’The National Gallery’ (Philips PHS 600-266) 1968
This is one of those weird and wonderful albums from the sixties that somehow got a release on a major label. I’m not even sure if The National Gallery were a group as such, they were probably Roger Karshner and Charles Mangione with assorted session players. On the back of the album is a small picture of The National Gallery, but this was most likely taken for a publicity purposes.
The song under my spotlight, ’Long Hair Soulful’ was released as a 45 on Philips in October 1967 billed as The Bhagavad Gita. The flip of this disc is an instrumental of ’Long Hair Soulful’…I dig that name and in my opinion they should have kept it for the album.
Maybe the moniker The Bhagavad Gita didn’t fit with their idea of the musical concept they had of conceiving songs around the abstract expressionist paintings of Switzerland / German artist Paul Klee. Roger Karshner described his songs as ’electronic paintings’, hence the name for this experiment The National Gallery, to house his sonic delights.
Description from back of album cover:
This unique recording is the result of the successful melding of three separate art forms. First is fine art – the paintings of Paul Klee. Inspired by Klee’s imagination, power and subtlety, producer director Roger Karshner and his collaborator, Charles Mangione, have created superb musical compositions to fit the moods of ten Klee paintings.
And, under Karshner’s direction, The National Gallery have, by their amazing vocal talent, transformed the music into, what Karshner calls ”rock-art.” You may have your own name for it, but you’ll admit that it’s a haunting and unforgettable sound.
An added touch with the album is that it came with a colour brochure showing the paintings of Paul Klee and song lyrics.
ANDY ROBINSON – ’Patterns Of Reality’ (Philips SBL-7887) 1968
I bought this album last year but it’s only today that I’ve found some time to enjoy it and remaster the vinyl to the digital format. I’ve checked around various sites and it seems that ’Patterns Of Reality’ is one of the few late 60s albums still waiting for a re-issue.
There is not a lot of information on-line about Andy Robinson, some sources claim that he hailed from Philadelphia but I’ve not found any hard evidence to confirm that this is correct.
Others claim that he played gigs with John Denver.
The album was recorded during October 1968 at T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Some noteworthy session players helped create the sounds including Artie Butler (piano / organ), Jimmy Gordon (drums), David Cohen (guitars) and Carol Kaye (bass).
All songs were written by Andy Robinson. His songs are rather typical of the singer/songwriter hippie types of the late 60s but unlike most of his contemporaries this outsider folk hipster appears to have got lost or ignored in the shuffle.
All of his songs are quite listenable and laid back loner type soft rock with touches of orchestration here and there. I dig it and hope one day that the album gets wider recognition, although judging by auction sales online over the past couple of years it appears that collectors are willing to dig deep into their pockets for a copy.
A follow up album ’Break Out Of The City’ was released in 1970 on Janus Records JLS-3013.
JACKS WILD – ”What Do You Expect” / ”So Fine” (Lyn-Tone 101) November 1965
This is such a brilliant compilation of lo-fi teen janglers in pretty good sound quality throughout. It was released on Worst Records in the late 90s and sounds like all of the cuts were ’needle-drops’ from original 45s with no modern day remastering.
The records that were used are very obscure, most have hardly ever hit the radar, but most are worth listening to. Out of all the selections used I’ve only got ’Done It Again’ by The Advantes.
One of the records I’ve been after for a few years is ’What Do You Expect’ by Jacks Wild. This record was offered for sale on eBay early in 2013 but sadly I missed out on it!
I’ll just have to make do with hearing the song on ’I Can Hear Raindrops’ for now. According to ’Teenbeat Mayhem’, Jacks Wild hailed from Cookeville, Tennessee. I don’t know whether Jacks Wild was a solo performer or if it was the unusual name for a combo.
The record was released on a local label, Lyn-Tone Records, during November 1965. ’What Do You Expect’ is a terrific moody folk-jangler with mournful vocals and killer drum action. I just love the patterns the drummer weaves throughout…
***** update *****
since I wrote my review back in March 2014 I have obtained a mint condition copy of the record and it sounds fabulous. I have added a label scan. The other side is a version of ”So Fine” which is also very good. More beat and less jangle on this one.
That bass player on the front is Tom ”Goober” Vaughn from the Aquinos, western Illinois seminarians that cut two records for IT label. Photo flipped so he’s now a lefty. Bob
EMERGENCY EXIT – ’Maybe Too Late’ / ’Why Girl’ (Dunhill D-4060) February 1967
I’ve had this 45 for years and have been meaning to write about it for just as long but somehow it never made it’s way out of my record box until now. The Emergency Exit hailed from Seattle, WA and were active during most of 1966 and until mid/late 1967.
Two previously unreleased songs ”Happy Song” and ”Why Girl” can be found on a couple of volumes of the Big Beat CD comps ”North West Battle Of The Bands”. The version of ’Why Girl’ is an earlier take from March 1966 and sounds more like a demo than a fully fledged studio cut.
’Happy Girl’ has a rough British Invasion style and probably dates from around the same time.
Their first 45 ’Maybe Too Late’ / ’Why Girl’ was released on the local label Ru-Ro Records during December 1966, and must have impressed someone at Dunhill Records as they were signed to the label. A couple of months later the Dunhill pressing was released and is arguably the labels toughest ever release.
’Maybe Too Late’ is a wonderful jangle beat pounder with reverb and blended harmonies. I really dig this side, although it scores lower than ’Why Girl’ in ”Teenbeat Mayhem”.
’Why Girl’ has a throbbing beat with weird echo FX making it a ’way-out’ teen punk record. It was compiled back in the 80s on a Boulders comp but since then has been missing in action.
A second Dunhill record followed in June 1967, ’It’s Too Late Baby’ / ’You’ve Been Changing Your Mind’ but it’s a record that I’ve not heard before.
Jim Walters (guitar)
Paul Goldsmith (guitar) * briefly a member of The Wailers
Luther Rabb (bass)
Bill Leyritz (drums)
MYSTIC SIVA – ’Same’ (World In Sound RFR-002) 1970
This album by a group of teenagers is rare, try to find an original copy. If you do, you’re likely to have to delve deeper into your pockets than ever before to purchase some black gold.
If you dig laid back rockin’ with tripped out lead guitar, wah-wah and Hammond B3 organ, this record is for you. Not only that, but obscure re-issue label ”World In Sound” have located the master tapes and have really gone to some extremes to bring the psych head a mind bending package, the very thick card sleeve is heavy, nearly as heavy as some of the guitar riffs by Al Tozzi….
Each and every song on the album has an eerie psych quality but ”Supernatural Mind” is a dark burst of psych that will leave you mesmerized…hard to believe that the kids that made up Mystic Siva were all in their mid-teens….that’s enough to blow your mind alone!
FIFTH PIPE DREAM (Relics 3027) 2013
CURRENTLY PLAYING THIS RECENT PURCHASE ON A CD RELEASED ON RELICS LATE LAST YEAR. DON’T KNOW WHY IT’S TAKEN ME SO LONG TO ADD THIS TO MY COLLECTION…..
FEATURING IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY, TRIPSICHORD MUSIC BOX, INDIAN PUDDIN & PIPE* AND BLACK SWAN, THIS HIGHLY COLLECTABLE COMPILATION IS A PERFECT DISTILLATION OF THE ACID DRENCHED SF SOUND OF THE LATE 1960S.
*THEY’RE LISTED ON THE ALBUM AS INDIAN PUDDIN’ & PIPE BUT I’VE READ THAT THEY WERE CALLED ”WEST COAST NATURAL GAS”
GREAT SOUNDS, A TOTAL TRIP WINNER…PERHAPS MY FAVE RAVE IS ”HASHISH” BY INDIAN PUDDIN’ & PIPE…..TURN ON YOUR MYND TO OUTSIDER POSSIBILITIES…..OH YEAH, ”FAMILY SONG” BY TRIPSICHORD MUSIC BOX IS AN EPIC MINDBLOWER.
HILTON VALENTINE – ’All In Your Head’ (Grapefruit CD) LP released 1970
Ex Animals guitarist, Hilton Valentine, relocated to Los Angeles in late 1969 and recorded an album of self-penned psych folk gems, some with pop arrangements that sweeten those songs.
As Hilton was heavily into LSD and Donovan at the time (the influences are quite clear) his album is possibly a great lost acid casualty treasure and comes highly recommended by me.
The music is full of gentle psychedelic folk interludes that could have been contenders if only they had been promoted by Capitol Records in 1970….after all it was the era of singer/songwriters, but they didn’t even release a promo 45 from it and the LP bombed…….NOT on ’Flower Bomb Songs’ though!
HAL & THE PROPHETS – ’Shame Shame Shame’/’She’s Doing Fine’ (Scepter Records 1287) November 1964
Here’s an outfit who have remained elusive for decades, as far as I know, no information about them has ever surfaced. Their location was even left blank in ’Teenbeat Mayhem’, so hopefully someone reading this entry will contact me with any relevant information or facts regarding the obscure beat group called Hal & the Prophets.
’Shame Shame Shame’ is an R&B mover with some rockin’ guitar and tuff vocals. The Jimmy Reed original was released on the Stateside label in Great Britain during 1963. The song was obviously still fresh in the memory as according to reference guides, this cover on Scepter Records came out in November 1964.
’She’s Doing Fine’ is a slow ballad that’s just too tame for my tastes.
Hal & the Prophets were produced by Joe Venneri who worked with The Blues Magoos and many other Mercury acts.
*** heavyweight collectors Jeff Lemilich and Max Myndblown have confirmed that Hal was a misprint. It’s Pal Rakes & The Prophets, the same guy who later recorded for Verve and Columbia.
P.S. Now that Jeff’s pointed out that they should have been billed as Pal & The Prophets, more becomes clear. First off, Pal and his pals WERE from Philly after all (and were originally known as Little Pal & His Pals). Secondly there are other releases, albeit appealing to the Northern Soul crowd …
(as Pal Rakes & The Prophets) Can’t Deny The Hurt / Old Shep (Verve VK-10576) Apr 1968.
Can’t Deny The Hurt is regarded as a Northern classic
EASTFIELD MEADOWS – ’Travelin’ Salesman’/’Helpless Is A Feeling’ (VMC V-736) 1968
The Eastfield Meadows are believed to have come from California and I’d guess they were likely a Los Angeles group. I’m not sure if they had any success with any of their releases which was a studio album and three singles, all on the collectable VMC label.
The 45 under my spotlight was their second single, both songs can be found on their album which covered the musical spectrum of psych rock, country and pop with great vocal harmonies. None better than ’Helpless Is A Feeling’ which is laid back Association style harmony rock with a Buffalo Springfield edge.
The other side ’Travelin’ Salesman’ is decent enough country, if that’s your bag, which reminds me of those Mike Nesmith tunes he recorded post Monkees.
Just out of interest other groups who released records on the VMC label that are ’Flower Bomb Songs’ worthy were The David, Paper Fortress, Pacific Ocean, Magnum Opus and The Morning Sun.
line-up of Eastfield Meadows
BOOK A TRIP – VOLUME 2 (Now Sounds CRNOW 46) 2013
Once more, Now Sounds raids the Capitol Records vaults in Hollywood for late 60s psychedelic pop/sunshine pop obscurities and unearths even more first time on CD gems. All sourced from original masters, these original Capitol singles are circa 1965 – 1970.
Productions by the likes of Michael Lloyd collide with arrangements by Mort Garson and Gene Page and compositions by Harry Nillson, Donovan and Kim Fowley and performances by many legendary Wrecking Crew members, proving why Capitol Records was the undisputed leader of pop during this pivotal era.
The full colour booklet also includes rare, unpublished photos and extensive track-by-track liner notes that feature the participation of many original band members, songwriters and producers.
(from the CD liners)