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 AMERICAN FOUR – ’Stay Away’/’You I’ll Be Following’ (Norton 7N7) 2006

This single released by Norton Records collects a couple of pre Love demos from 1965 and is an essential nugget for fans of that superb group. I don’t know how many copies were pressed but I’m sure they’ll still be around.

Both songs are Arthur Lee originals with an interesting run through an earlier take of ’You I’ll Be Following’ when the group were billed as The Grass Roots. Of major interest to 60s garage fans will be the rather crude demo of ’Stay Away’ recorded under the moniker of The American Four.

According to Johnny Echols, the name The American Four was proposed because of the influx of British bands during 1964/65. Arthur Lee wanted it to be known that his band were American which of course went against the then current trend of US combos calling themselves after something English/British.

’Stay Away’ was recorded in Buck Ram’s living room. He was the Manager of The Platters and had a studio set up at his home in North Hollywood. It’s certainly a primitive demo recording and sounds like it was a one take job, especially the guitar break, which is all over the place.

***bonus points to Norton Records for giving this release number 7N7***


THE FANTASTIC DEE-JAYS – ’Love Is Tuff’/’Just A Boy’ (Stone Records 44) 1968

This is the second time out for The Fantastic Dee-Jays on Flower Bomb Songs, read about their ’Get Away Girl’/’Fight Fire’ elsewhere on my blog. According to ’Teenbeat Mayhem’, ’Love Is Tuff’ was released by their former Manager Terry Lee sometime in 1968, although both sides date from 1965.

Two great folk-rock sides are on offer with the mournful jangler ’Love Is Tuff’ just edging out the Beatlesesque ballad ’Just A Boy’ on the flip. I really dig both songs though and I’m pleased to give the single some exposure despite it’s ’bootleg’ status.


SUNNY SYDE EXPRESS – ’Nothing At All’/’Love Hides Inside’ (FBP TFB-891) 1968

I know nothing about Sunny Syde Express but looking at the label I’ll make a sensible guess and say that they were probably from Muskagee, Oklahoma. The music is not 60s garage, or psych, or underground or amazing or anything that trips you out, despite the promising name of the group.

Both sides are slow paced pop, dominated by what I think is a Hammond B-3 but it ain’t got no grooviness I’d associate with a hammond. It sounds like the organ every Working Men’s Social Club in the North East used in the 60s/70s..

’Nothing At All’ was written by Joe Roark, ’Love Hides Inside’ was written by Don Price. About half an hour of research has revealed no information at all. I also did some checks on producer Frank Brock but once again, nothing.

Sunny Syde Express will remain a mystery for now.


THE GUESS WHO? – ’His Girl’/’It’s My Pride’ (King KG 1044) December 1966

From Winnipeg, Canada, The Guess Who? created a fuzztoned rhythm and beat pounder with ’It’s My Pride’ that most likely went unnoticed because it was hidden away on the B-side of a lite soul tinged pop number called ’His Girl’, which incidentally didn’t make the cut for Sundazed’s Guess Who CD retrospective some years ago.

’It’s My Pride’, written by Randy Bachman, has since gained recognition after appearing on many compilations since the mid 80s and is now rightfully regarded as one of the finest garage sides to come out of Canada during the 60s…


THE STREYS – ’She Cools My Mind’/’I’m Feelin’ Lovey’ (B-W Records 635) August 1968

This is an absolute crackin’ 45 by The Streys, a combo from Wooster in Ohio. It turned out to be their one and only release which is a great loss at it’s obvious that they had something really going with these two songs.

’She Cools My Mind’ is an urgent guitar and organ raver with a cool lead guitar break that takes the song to another level. It was originally compiled back in the late 80s on Pebbles Volume 16. I’ve got Freddy Fortune to thank for hippin’ me to a seller who was offering mint copies of the disc for sale last year.

The flip ’I’m Feelin’ Lovey’ is also good, this time though the sound is a little more relaxed with some pumping bass runs and classy organ embellishments. The production adds some echo.   


THE SURF SUNS – ’I Can’t Stop It Now’/’Still In Love With You Baby’ (Ben Records 6745) 1967

I love the name of this group, The Surf Suns, has a fantastic ring to it, but don’t expect surf rock from these boys. Not a great deal has been written about The Surf Suns, although a picture of the group has surfaced on the excellent blog 60s Indiana band szene, and it’s confirmed that New Haven, Indiana is where this group of teenagers hailed from.

’I Can’t Stop Now’ is fragile folk-rock with that magical signature sound of the jangling guitar. I keep expecting it to take off with some fuzz but it’s all very restrained and quite poppy. Instead of harmonies the Surf Suns add ’bah, bah, bah’s…

On the other side of the 45 is a version of The Beau Brummels tune ’Still In Love With You Baby’ which is a good effort. They were certainly a talented group, but this is their one and only release.


THE UNIQUES – ’All I Took Was Love’/’It’s All Over Now’ (Paula Records 299) March 1968

The Uniques were a prolific group for Paula Records and released many records on the label, some of which fall under my radar. They were from Springhill, LA and were a very popular combo in that State during the mid 60s.

On one of their late period singles was an interesting version of ’It’s All Over Now’, originally recorded by The Valentinos then The Rolling Stones in mid 1964. The Stones version is probably the most famous one of course.

The Uniques version adds some fuzz guitar and has a combo organ sound throughout…..neat!


THE WRENCH – ’The Day Is Hard’/’You’ll Understand’ (Dore 824) 1969

Here’s an obscure 45 by The Wrench on the Dore label. Not a great deal has been written about The Wrench (they are not mentioned in ’Fuzz, Acid And Flowers’) and both sides of this release are non compiled. However, MTM notes in his ’Teenbeat Mayhem’ book that they hailed from the State of California.

’The Day Is Hard’ is a crude trippy number with a primitive backbeat laced with jangle guitar and wah-wah. The vocal delivery is languid and has both male and female members taking lead. Both sides were written by Gary Scott, so he may have indeed handled the vocals.

’You’ll Understand’ is similar in sound but is perhaps more melodic with a dreamy almost lysergic sound. It’s the kind of psych ballad that I usually seek out for regular listens.

This is the only record I have that was released on the Dore label but I’ve heard others by The Syndicate, ’My Baby’s Barefoot’ and Opus Five, ’Coming Home’/’Haight (In Haight Ashbury) Street.’ 

Reader comment:

Both sides have been compiled on the 2018 Make Mine Mondo! release on ACE. ”You’ll Understand”, heard without reading the release notes ahead of time, would be hard to distinguish from various lo-fi releases in a similar vein from around the turn of the 21st century. In that sense, it came across to me as far ahead of its time.

Though, rather than this release being ahead of its time, the listening experience more objectively considered demonstrates more recent lo-fi artists’ familiarity with, and hauntologic attempts to invoke, obscure 45s of the original lo-fi era.


MUSIC EMPORIUM – ’Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo’/’Times Like This’ (Sentinel 4-501) November 1968

This four member group from Los Angeles were one of the many underground psychedelic groups from the State of California who seemed to go unnoticed at the time but have gained an enormous reputation since the 60s.

Music Emporium recorded an album of self composed songs during late 1968 at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood. These recordings were only demonstrations with the intention of sending the music to record labels in an attempt to secure a deal.

However, Sentinel Records were so impressed with the demo album they released it in small quantity in 1969. From what I’ve read, the members of the Music Emporium weren’t impressed that the album was released without them having the opportunity to change some things and perhaps re-record the vocals on some of the songs.

In my opinion the record sounds perfect as it is in it’s ’demo’ form. Only 300 LPs were pressed in 1969 but it’s seen many bootlegs over the years. Fortunately, Sundazed Records secured the mastertapes and remastered the music for an official re-issue in 2001.

Sentinel released a single before the album and in November 1968 ’Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo’/’Times Like This’ came out in small quantity. The single is hard to find and isn’t offered for sale that often.

’Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo’ is a blistering organ dominated psych rocker with some mindbending acid lead guitar runs and far out vocals, the buddhist chant like male/female harmonies are particularly impressive.

More information about Music Emporium can be found on The Active Listener.


THE ASCENSIONS – ’All Alone’/’Forget It’ (Gemini G-100) March 1967

Out of Philadelphia, PA came The Ascensions. Little has been written about them, indeed, ’Fuzz, Acid And Flowers’ didn’t even list this combo.

The top side is a soulful ballad with cornball lyrics about a girl. This would have got the boys nowhere fast in Philadelphia I’m sure.

The other side ’All Alone’ is where it’s at and will surprise many who haven’t heard it before especially the persistent fuzz which pounds away. No melody or vocal prowess to write home about, just a kid and a fuzz box, but this scores heavily with the 60s garage fraternity. 


LAWRENCE – ’You Ain’t Tuff’/’Taste Of Honey’ (RBE B520) 196?

I know of three version of the garage punker ’You Ain’t Tuff’, the original recording was by The Uniques and another gritty and equally hip remake was by Lindy Blasky & the Lavells. The other and much more obscure ’You Ain’t Tuff’ was recorded by Lawrence. Which begs the question, who was Lawrence?

According to ’Teenbeat Mayhem’ the recording is from somewhere in Texas but apart from that no other information is provided, not even the year of release which I suspect to be sometime during 1966.

Lawrence delivers a decent version but it’s not in the same league as the one’s we all know. It’s still a good effort though and has some memorable rasping harmonica but the vocal delivery isn’t tuff enough.

The flip is also good, a cover of ’Taste Of Honey’ recorded by many 60s outfits including The Beatles and The Hollies. The song dates from the late 50s and was originally an instrumental piece used in a British play that eventually made it to Broadway. It was then used in a 1961 film of the same title.


THE POP OVERS – ’Time’s Run Out’/’Tar Paper Sack’ (Toppette 45-1020) 196?

I don’t know anything about this group and they appear to be virtual unknowns apart from an entry in ’Teenbeat Mayhem’ which confirms their base as Los Angeles. The indie record label shows a Covina address so maybe they can be pinpointed to that location.

Got to love the label logo and phrase ”Toppette Tops ’Em All!”

’Time’s Run Out’ has a Who like intro that quickly moves into garage pop mode with some swingin’ farfisa and male/female vocal harmonising that recalls some of those Neighb’rhood Childr’n songs. The flip ’Tar Paper Sack’ is ’rock-less’ folk music.

If anyone knows more about this mysterious group please get in touch.


THE FRONT LINE – ’Got Love’/’I Don’t Care’ (Atlantic AT.4057) December 1965

San Rafael, CA was the base for The Front Line, a short lived group of outsiders who only released one single, then were gone….but not forgotten.

I first heard ’Got Love’ back in the 80s on the ’Mayhem & Psychosis’ compilation and thought it was killer. It’s a short (under two minutes) and snappy garage swinger which doesn’t let up from the blistering intro. The fuzztoned guitar and uptempo pace together with the quick vocal responses make for a thrill ride that can be described like the sound of The Yardbirds on some speed pills.

The Front Line were originally called The Turtles and obviously dropped that name when the latter hit the big time and so The Front Line were born. Three recordings exist cut for Trident Recordings. These remained unreleased until Big Beat compiled them on the CD ’Sing Me A Rainbow.’

Earlier takes of ’Got Love’ and ’I Don’t Care’ along with another previously unknown song ’Need You No More’ which sounds great and is something of an R’N’B punker with fierce guitar and harmonica bursts.

Sometime during the Summer of 1965 The Front Line signed with Hollywood duo Charlie Green and Brian Stone (who managed Sonny & Cher) and they re-cut ’Got Love’ and ’I Don’t Care’ during August which became their one and only release.


Gary Phillipet (bass)
Dennis Lanigan (harmonica, organ)
Jim Brewer (rhythm guitar)
Rex Larsen (lead guitar)
Bill Bowen (drums)

After The Front Line called it quits Gary Phillipet continued in the music business with Copperhead followed by Earthquake. Drummer Bill Bowen rattled the skins for The Sons Of Champlin.


THE SHEPPARDS – ’When Johnny Comes Marching Home’/’Poor Man’s Thing’ (Impact Records 1018) August 1966

I first heard ’When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ on a 60s folk-rock collection from the late 80s called ’From The New World’ and it ticked all the right boxes so I needed to buy an original copy of the 45. This proved difficult as it seemed to be quite hard to find, however I managed to secure my copy a couple of months ago.

The top side is an updated folk-rock version of an old song believed to have been written during the American Civil War. The Sheppards add some toughness and jangle, very cool interpretation. It was also compiled on ’Garage Punk Unknowns’ Volume 5.

Another gem can be found on the flip. ’Poor Man’s Thing’ is a tough folk punker with some cutting vocals, this singer is pissed off that his girl has chosen another guy over him. All ain’t lost though as the singer is not gonna hang around and go all wimpy.

Hell no, he’s got another chick lined up already.

”You’ve got another feeding you a line
He’s got money and a car and looks real fine.”

followed by ”I ain’t waiting for you no more.”


THE PONY EXPRESS – ‘(I Dream Of) Pennies’/’What You Done Done’ (Reprise 0650) December 1967

Who were The Pony Express and where did they hail from? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself today and despite some research have failed to solve this little query.

They got a mention in ’Fuzz, Acid & Flowers’ who confirmed that they released at least two singles on Reprise. The first one listed is ’What Is Wrong With Our Love’/’Big Brown Eyes’ (Reprise 0603) from June 1967 and this one reviewed from December 1967.

‘(I Dream Of) Pennies’ is finely balanced on the cusp of innocent naive sunshine pop and psychedelic trippiness. It glides along on a perfectly summery Sesame Street type bouncy rhythm, until you notice the trippy distorted background vocals. Some decent harmony sighs at the start of the break.

The flip ’What You Done Done’ is slightly more beaty with tougher vocals but with sunshine pop ’bah, bah, bah’s…a strange and effective mix of Association pop with garage. I don’t think The Pony Express have been compiled before.

Walt Meskell was associated with the 70’s teen idols the DeFranco Family.


THE GRETTA SPOONE BAND – ’Close Your Eyes’/’I Do Believe You’re Dreaming’ (Pompeii 45-66694) 1968

Here’s another record I bought back in 2005, at the time nothing was known about the weirdly named Gretta Spoone Band but since then group members have been located and their story has been told here.

They were quite an odd-ball Dallas bunch and if this record is anything to go by, sounded nothing like their contemporaries from Texas. In fact I think the lo-fi sound is very unique. Hopelessly uncommercial with little or no chance of any chart success but it’s a personal fave of mine.

’Close Your Eyes’ has a late night pop psychedelic feel to it with it’s floaty charm, hazy melody and metronomic rhythm. Reminds me of the sound on those late 60s Capitol albums by the likes of Gandalf and The Common People.

’I Do Believe You’re Dreaming’ also holds my interest and apparently is about a man who talks to birds.


EDGEWOOD – ’Ain’t Had No Lovin’ (mono/stereo versions) (TMI Records ZS7 9011) 1972

I bought this 45 back in 2005 and was gonna use it on one of those u-spaces compilations but never got around to doing so. Only today I decided to do some research on Edgewood.

They were from Memphis, Tennessee and were around long enough to record an album called ’Ship Of Labor’ so they may have made some waves back in their hometown. ‘Ain’t Had No Lovin’ is laid back west coast style hippie rock circa early 70s and in places goes a bit jazzy which of course reminds me of Spirit.

My record has a mono and stereo version but stock copies have ’Silent’ on the flip.

Three members, David Beaver (keyboards), Steve Spear (bass) and Jim Tarbutton (guitar) were part of a later line-up of The Gentrys. Also in Edgewood were Joel Williams (drums), David Mayo (keyboards/guitar) and Pat Taylor (guitar)…various members took lead vocals on the album.

The album version of ’Ain’t Had No Lovin’ clocks in at 4:40 so the edited single version is over two minutes shorter, no doubt to get radio play.

TMI Records stands for Trans Maximus Inc and was the name of Recording Studios run by Steve Cropper. The record label lasted from 1971-1973.


BOB RAINS and ADMIRAL STRANGE – ’Wastin’ My Time’/’She Feels Like Sunshine’ (Kapp Records K-2098) 1971

Obscure one here by the weirdly named Bob Rains and Admiral Strange, ’Wastin’ My Time’ starts off like Sonny & Cher’s ’The Beat Goes On’ but then quickly turns into a great slab of stompin’ biker psych rock with the addition of some fuzz guitar. Dig the heavy riff too.

The flip ’She Feels Like Sunshine’ is slightlydelic pop and a pleasant sound indeed.

I’ve not been able to find out much about the group, very little information exists in the guide books I have and even less information has been posted online. So for now, Bob Rains and Admiral Strange will remain a mystery.

Production is credited to Dan Dalton who is perhaps better known for his work with the amazing Peppermint Trolley Company.


THE IN-KEEPERS – ’Daily News’/’Everytime’ (RCA 47-9713) 1969

I don’t know much about The In-Keepers apart from knowing that they released two singles on RCA during 1969 that probably didn’t get passed the promo stage.

I’ve did some digging and it appears that the composer of all four Inn-Keepers songs spread across two singles was Steve Burnett.

He was the leader of a male/female folk rock group called The Swingin’ Six who enjoyed some local fame. It’s believed that they hailed from New England.

The Swingin’ Six released a single on Decca called ’Pack Your Bag’ and an album titled ’For The First Time’..

’Daily News’ is an interesting song that will appeal to soft-sike fans…

THE IN-KEEPERS – ’That Was Just His Thing’/’The Cobweb Threads Of Autumn’ (RCA 74-0229) August 1969

”God created man,
God created woman
And they created.”

Religion and late 60s psych collide with this creepy number…trippy Association style la-la-la’s, fuzz, sinister voice, strings and brass flourishes…all this equals ’Flower Bomb Songs’ worthy…

I reckon The In-Keepers would have looked like cool hippies with shortish hair but with black goatie beards in black threads and wearing crimson rosary beads around their necks….

The flip ’The Cobweb Threads Of Autumn’ is a sunshine pop effort that’s real tight and well produced. Curt Boettcher fans will dig this one.

Just out of interest, the producer for both In-Keepers 45s was Pierre Maheu who also produced the garage classic ’Gotta Get Some’ by The Bold.


M.H. ROYALS – ’She’s Gone Forever’/’Tomorrow’s Dread’ (ABC Records 45-10907) March 1967

This is a record I’ve added to my collection this week. I’ve got their second and last 45 on ABC, the jangle beat of ’Old Town’ a personal fave.

M.H. Royals were from Chicago and judging by their records specialized in beat music with jangle. ’She’s Gone Forever’ is a decent mover (compiled on the CD ’Total Raunch) while the flip ’Tomorrow’s Dread’ is a worthwhile pop ballad..


CAST OF THOUSANDS – ’Country Gardens’/’The Cast’s Blues’ (Amy A-11.056) 1969

Wondrous trippy psych from early 1969 by Cast Of Thousands, believed to be from Ardmore, OK…(according to ’Teenbeat Mayhem’ although this 45 is not listed in that Guide).

’Country Gardens’ reminds me of The Byrds for bringing the psychedelic into the country and wouldn’t have sounded out of place on ’Notorious Byrd Brothers.’

It’s a trippy, breathy country pop song with banjo and stoned echoed out vocals. The flip ’The Cast’s Blues’ isn’t really blues at all but a super psychedelic instrumental with rockin’ piano and some turned on echoed twangy sitar or something similar, very exotic.


THE APPLETREE THEATRE – ’What A Way To Go’/’Lotus Flower’ (Verve Forecast KF 5082) 1968

Simply put, ’What A Way To Go’ is one of the most stunning psych pop songs I’ve heard with a melody and vocal harmonies equal to anything within that loose 60s genre. The Appletree Theatre were a hip brotherly duo of Terry & John Boylan from New York who recorded an album called ’Playback’ in late 1967 very much influenced by the psychedelia The Beatles were exploring.

The fab four would have killed for a song as beautiful as this.

Their other 45, ”Hightower Square”/”Who Do I Think I Am” is excellent too. Terrance Boylan would revisit ”Who Do I Think I Am” on his Alias Boona LP.

One of the Boylan brothers also wrote songs that were recorded by Los Angeles group The Hamilton Streetcar.

Keith Bickerton:

This is a fabulous track from a fabulous album, bought from Harrods on a school day trip to London in 1968. I have arranged to have ”What A Way To Go” played at my funeral.

The other song I want to be played at my funeral is ”Remember” by the Association.



Previously known as The Staccatos it seems that they wanted to change their name to something much more hip. They also travelled to Los Angeles sometime in 1968 to record the songs for this obscure and very interesting pop psych album on Capitol.

Most of the songs were written by the talented Les Emmerson, including the marvellously complex ’Five Man Electrical Band’ which is my focus song from the set. I used this song on my series of comps I called Gear! check it out on Volume 1 if you bought a copy.

Excellent vocal harmonies and melody wrapped up in this tune, almost like it’s three songs within one. Imagine The Beach Boys mixing elements of The Association and you’ll get my drift.

Also on this album is an updated take of their classic pop psycher ’Half Past Midnight’.…at least it sounds different to the mono 45 mix from mid 1966. They even perform a cover version of ’You’re Gonna Lose That Girl’, so an album for Beatles completists to check out.


THE COLLECTORS – ’Looking At A Baby’/’Old Man’ (Valiant Records V-760) March 1967

One of the many great groups of the 60s were The Collectors, well at least they are in my world. They don’t appear to have received that much attention in fanzines and the trendy music magazines over the years, many of their vocal harmony pop psych songs have never been compiled before, making them even more of a mystery I suppose.

Back in the mid 80s Edsel put out a ’Best Of’ LP collection but that was almost thirty years ago!

I’ve written about The Collectors before, go here for enlightenment. ’Looking At A Baby’ surfaced on the Rhino CD ’Hallucinations’ back in 2004. What a fabulous compilation that is, I can’t believe it’s almost ten years since this came out. But disheartening that they never dug even deeper in the WEA Vaults for another ’Hallucinations’ set…

According to the liners The Collectors signed to Valiant records in January 1967 and recorded both songs on this disc at Columbia Studios in Los Angeles. ’Looking At A Baby’ was a deserved hit in Canada but no where else.

The flip ’Old Man’ is a reflective psych cut with inspired vocals harmonies. At this point in their career The Collectors were the equal of The Association, a group with similar vocal harmony dynamics.


BIT ’A SWEET – ’Hypnotic 1’ (ABCS-640) LP May 1968

Continuing my infrequent posts from my album collection, I present to the unsuspecting reader ’Hypnotic 1’ by Bit ’A Sweet….They were formally called The Satisfactions and were one of the premier bands in the NY area, mostly known as a blue-eyed soul act…

Their album on ABC is a top $$ find and so expect to pay a premium price for a copy…mine is stereo, I don’t know if any mono albums are out there, quite possibly, but I’ve not seen one.

Bit ’A Sweet’s most famous cut is the psych garage classic ’Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind’ on MGM but it seems that they fully embraced the new psychedelic rock sound for their 1968 album ’Hypnotic 1’ which is full of worthy mind-bending experimentation where the band utilize electric sitar, oscillators, primitive synths and trippy phasing. There is MUCH to please the psych head.

I’ll focus on The Beatles cover version of ’If I Needed Someone’, which is correctly credited to George Harrison on the label but sadly listed as a Lennon-McCartney song on the back cover of the album.

I think it would be difficult to make a bad version of ’If I Needed Someone’ as it’s a stupendous folk-rock tune. Here though, Bit ’A Sweet turn it into a tripped out piece of psych and make it their own. Such a slowed down killer cool version.

No expense seems to have been spared creating this work with assistance by Steve Duboff, who I know from The Changin’ Times, he is listed as providing additional keyboards, percussion and wrote several of the songs on the album. String arrangements by Jimmy ”Wiz” Wisner, I’ve seen his name credited on many releases.
The thick card sleeve includes a neat lyric insert.

I don’t think the album sold in any quantity, it may have done reasonable in NY but not beyond their location. Copies of the album are scarce that’s for sure but I believe there’s been a recent CD reissue.

A white label promo single was taken from ’Hypnotic 1’ with edited versions of ’2086’/’A Second Time’ and is another release for collectors to seek out.

Mitch London (bass, percussion, vocals)
Russell Leslie (drums, vocals)
Dennis DeRespino (keyboards, guitar, vocals)
Jack Mieczkowski (guitars, electric sitar, vocals)


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