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 ’60s youth magazine “Intro”.
THE NEW COLONY SIX – ’Power Of Love’ (Sentar ST-3001) September 1966
I’ve been writing about my records and ephemera since March 2007 and surprisingly I’ve never focused on The New Colony Six before. The other day I bought iZotope RX2 for $350. This is easily the best audio repair toolkit I’ve ever used. You may say at $350 it’s got to be!
Anyway, I decided to test iZotope RX2 on my mono LP of ’Colonization’ and the results almost made me fall off my chair, they were so good. So it seems a good time to write about The New Colony Six.
They released many singles during their existence which I won’t dwell on here with this entry as I intend to write about some of those 45s at a later time. At the moment I’m concentrating on my albums collection.
’Power Of Love’ is a cut from ’Colonization’ and was also used as a B-Side to ’Elf Song (Ballad of the Wingbat Marmaduke)’ released during September 1966.
’Power Of Love’ is what I consider a ’Flower Bomb Song’ because it’s a lovely jangly pop song and folk-rock janglers and anything 12 string Rickenbacker is my business….It’s a shame that this powerful pop jangler wasn’t the plug side of that single as ’Elf Song’ bombed. This would have been a much better bet for a hit.
MAX FROST & THE TROOPERS – ’A Change Is Gonna Come’ (Tower ST-5147) November 1968
Just who were Max Frost & the Troopers? I’ve been thinking about this question for the past couple of days. My theory is that they were a studio combo of Tower/Sidewalk employees who were making incidental music and writing and playing songs for exploito movie soundtracks that said labels released at will in the late 60s.
I’ve read that Davie Allan & the Arrows were responsible, Michael Lloyd claims that it was him and other members of West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band in an interview he did for Shindig magazine.
I’ve also read on 60sgaragebands.com that it was ex members of The American Revolution. Max Frost was probably a mix of them all just laying down instrumentation and adding vocals etc.
’Shape Of Things To Come’ became a surprise hit for Tower Records when the song was released as a taster for the film ’Wild In The Streets’ This prompted the label to release a full album of Max Frost & the Troopers material at the back end of 1968.
I think it’s an excellent album with some absolute gems such as the previously mentioned ’Shape Of Things To Come’, ’Lonely Man’, ’Try To Make Up Your Mind’ and my favourite ’A Change Is Gonna Come.’
’A Change Is Gonna Come’ has that special psych rock sound of Hollywood with it’s exciting groove, relentless backbeat and Association style harmony and flower power ’bah bah bah’s’…add into the mix some trippy organ interplay and it’s an instant psychedelic classic.
FARGO – ’Promises Of Love’ (RCA Victor LSP-4178) 1969
Here’s an updated entry I wrote about Fargo back in March 2008.
Fargo were a duo made up of Dean Wilden and Tony Decker based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Their album ’I See It Now’ on RCA Victor is a pop psych delight. Strong and memorable melodies and hooks run throughout the entire set of self penned songs.
Tony Decker had previously been in a group called The Tuesday Club.
The Fargo album was recorded at Al Casey’s Music Room in Hollywood, California with help on guitar from Rick Cunha and on bass by Terry Paul.
Listening to the album they sound like a psychedelic Everly Brothers with their clever pop psych interludes with great musicianship, harmonies and jangle.
More people need to hear Fargo.
FEDERAL DUCK – ’Circus In The Sea’ (Musicor MM2162) August 1968
This is a fine album by a group of students from Pennsylvania that mixes elements of jazz, country and ’68 style progressive psychedelia. They never did have any singles released from the album as a promotional taster, so when it was released it no doubt went under the radar as very little seems to have been written about Federal Duck.
Musicor were a newish label based in New York and I found a clipping from Billboard confirming that they had moved into the rock group field after some years of releasing safe MOR. Federal Duck recorded their album at Groove Sound Studios, NYC.
’Circus In The Sea’ closes the album and is a quirky piece of psychedelia notable for it’s fairground noise intro. Most of the material was written by George Stavis.
Such groovy artwork! Some years ago I was looking for a humorous book to read on holiday and found ‘Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits’ – just a series of funny observations on life by this American guy. Turns out he was the lead guitarist for Federal Duck!
He mentions a bit about it in a piece he writes about getting another guitar for himself at the age of 38.
He talks a bit about making the album and how his ”…band career ended late in my senior year when John Cooper and I threw my amplifier out the dormitory window…” etc.
It’s a good book anyway (published by Pan) but it added an extra dimension knowing he was in the band!
I always found the Federal Duck to be an excellent album, but very low key and slightly ”downer”. George Stavis later made a strange heavily psychedelic banjo album for Vanguard (”Labyrinths” 1969) with Tim Ackerman the Duck’s drummer, and then formed Oganookie with most of Federal Duck in Brookdale, California and they released a privately pressed live album.
ALL OF THUS – ’It’s Alright With Me’ (Century 27916) 1966 (re-issue Rockadelic RRLP 11.5)
I’ve read that All Of Thus were a group of teenagers from the New York area who were still at school when their album was cut and pressed in a small quantity of only 200 copies making it a very rare and sought after disc. Rockadelic Records re-issued the album in 1994 and even those are scarce and command a price tag of $50+
The album is a must for garage fans with teen punk versions of ’Walk On By’, ’Keep On Running’, a unique treatment of ’Bells Of Rhymney’ and group originals written by leader John Johnston.
One of the highlights is the pounding teen blast of ’It’s Alright With Me’ which absolutely slays the original by The Zombies. This barely controlled raver would have made a fantastic 45 with ’Bye Bye Baby’ on the flip. All Of Thus never did release any singles and it’s probably why they rarely get talked about.
After all, 60s garage freaks mainly collect 45s.
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION – ’Opus #1’ (Flick Disc FLS-45.002) July 1968
I’m currently taking a trip alphabetically through my LP collection and pulled out this one by The American Revolution on Flick Disc. They were previously called the rather dubious The Band Without A Name and even started recording this album under that moniker but by the end of the sessions they had been renamed The American Revolution.
One of the songs on the LP was written and produced by Michael Lloyd of WCPAEB fame. His ’Cold Wisconsin Nights’ could easily have fit on The Smoke album he worked on as it has that similar orchestrated pop psych sound.
Most of The American Revolution music contained on this disc is indeed sugar coated orchestrated pop with a hint of Los Angeles psychedelia. Mike Duggo interviewed bassist John Keith for his site.
It’s interesting to read that the group played very little part with the music as the instrumentation was laid down by heavyweight session players Carol Kaye (bass), Larry Knetchel (piano), James Burton (guitar) and Hal Blaine (drums).
Perhaps the best and most overtly psychedelic cut is ’Opus #1’ co-written by John Keith and singer Richard Barcelona. This is a pure Sgt Pepper trip with John Lennon style vocals, and laid back spacey vibes. What a cool song.
THE CHANGING TIMES – ’Cry’/’I’m Alone’ (Mark VII D-1013) 1967
This weekend I’ve had a mammoth listening interlude immersing myself in all six volumes of ’Texas Flashbacks’ on Antar. These compilations were released at the height of my vinyl comp collecting period 1986/87 and were re-releases of the same series that appeared on the Flashback label in dodgy graphics back in 1980.
I’ve not got any of the original vinyl LPs on Flashback but understand from various collectors that the sound quality was significantly improved on the Antar releases.
What isn’t something to debate amount is the actual music contained on this discs from Texas which is a mind-blowing brew of primal ’66 garage fuzz punkers and ’67 acid psychers with, you guessed it, fuzz.
It seems that every Texan teenage group had discovered a fuzztone and would use it to enhance their work.
Almost every song throughout the six volume set is loud unadulterated garage punk and psych apart from a little gem of a folk-rocker by The Changing Times called ’Cry.’ I wish I owned this 45 as it’s perfect in every way and is what I’d call a ’Flower Bomb Song’…
The Changing Times hailed from Waco, TX and ’Cry’/’I’m Alone’ was released on Mark VII sometime during 1967. It’s a fabulous folk jangler with fuzz guitar. This record would likely take at least $300 to secure providing one is offered for sale which doesn’t appear to be that often. Only one copy appears on popsike.
The Mark VII label also released records by The Knights Bridge Quintet, The Roks, The Twilighters and The Society. It would be a dream come true if someone was ever to release a Mark VII retrospective…
This particular Changing Times may have released an earlier single, ’Free As The Wind’/’We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’
THE FUGITIVES – ’Mean Woman’/’I’ll Be A Man’ (Columbia 4-43261) April 1965
There were many groups in the 60s calling themselves The Fugitives so researching this particular combo with such a common name proved a little tricky. It turns out that they were based in New York, some reference guides even suggest that group members came from Manhattan.
’Mean Woman’ has certainly got the ’new sound’ of the teenage beat group mixing Brit Invasion with some surf styled guitar leads. It’s a shame that this particular aural brew wasn’t produced more often as I think it’s very exciting, but as you know folk-rock was just around the corner (’Mr Tambourine Man’ by The Byrds was released during the same month/year) and the jangle/tambourine/harmony sound would be everywhere throughout 1965 and into ’66.
The flip ’I’ll Be A Man’ is straight ahead beat ballad that lacks the energy and punch of the fabulous ’Mean Woman.’ I found a small article in Billboard from March 1965 indicating that The Fugitives had been signed to Columbia Records but as it turned out only one 45 was ever released on this label by the band.
The Fugitives then had a small hit record with ’Your Girl’s A Woman’ on Mala, with their new label even taking out a full page advert in Billboard. Both sides of this disc is pleasant pop and I can hear how the tune would be such a radio friendly sound during mid ’66.
Footnote: Brothers Evan and Ray Charmatz were members of The Fugitives. I’m fairly certain (after extensive research) that they changed their surname to Chandler at some point in time.
Evan Chandler left the music business, probably before the 60s were out, and became a successful dentist to ’the stars’ in Hollywood during the 80s and early 90s. He even found time to screen-write and co-wrote the hit comedy film ’Robin Hood: Men In Tights.’
In 1993 Evan Chandler became embroiled with Michael Jackson after he accused him of sexual misconduct with his 13 year old son Jordan. There is mountains of information about this on the internet so I wont go into it on my blog. After all, it’s Evan’s 60s group The Fugitives that interests me.
Sadly Evan committed suicide in 2009 in his luxury apartment in New Jersey.
THE SOUP GREENS – ’That’s Too Bad’/’Like A Rolling Stone’ (Golden Rule GR5000) September 1965
This is one of those legendary garage 45s released by an obscure band whose exact details were lost in time. That was until MTM tracked them down recently and organised The Soup Greens material, including unreleased acetates, to be re-issued on Misty Lane Records operating out of Italy. (This is exactly what I did with The Roosters by the way, only I linked those guys up with Break-A-Way Records from Germany).
Anyway, back to The Soup Greens. It turns out that they were a three piece based in Brooklyn, New York. For so long they had been unknowns and only came to worldwide acclaim via Pebbles Vol 1. ’Like A Rolling Stone’ was the opener on side one of that compilation and many thousands of people would finally be aware of The Soup Greens and hear their teenage garage assault on Bob Dylan’s song.
This was in fact the B-Side of the only Soup Greens 45, released during late Summer in 1965. According to Dave Eagle, the flip ’That’s Too Bad’ was their chosen side for fame for fortune but despite a mention in Billboard and Cashbox trade journals as well as a handful of plays on local New York radio, it appears that few copies of the record sold and the boys would remain in obscurity.
Lenny Matlin (farfisa)
Steve Tennenbaum (drums)
Dave Eagle (guitar/lead vocals)
THE SHAPRELS – ’Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn’/’Rock-A-Boo’ (Chess 1993) June 1967
The Shaprels were a five man combo from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who have enjoyed several compilation appearances over the years with their debut 1966 merseybeat jangler ’A Fool For Your Lies’ and ’Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn’ from 1967.
The group seem to have been complete unknowns outside of Milwaukee despite this release on Chess. According to information from ’Do You Hear That Beat’, The Shaprels never mingled much with their contemporaries around town.
’Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn’ is a moody psychedelic blast with fuzz, tambourine shake and downcast lyrics about a lost love. The recorder (or whatever it is) gives the song a weird ’red indian’ vibe, kinda strange but I dig it.
The flip ’Rock-A-Boo’ is more of a garage rocker and can be found on a CD release called ’Die Today’. Both sides were produced by Chess staff producer Ralph Bass who also worked with label mates The Baroques.
Jimmy Meier (vocals)
Bob Sczweda (lead guitar)
Tom Richards (rhythm guitar)
Bob Mehring (bass/organ)
Don Hrnjak (drums)
I remember Bob we lived next door in Greenfield Wisconsin. Use to listen to them when I was a kid, his Dad was the manager and they practiced in the basement did not have a garage. I remember a fool for your lies. Tom
BLOOMSBURY PEOPLE – ’Witch Helen’/’Gingerbread Man’ (MGM K14158) July 1970
The Bloomsbury People were formed sometime in 1968 at the University of Wisconsin in Waukesha. Their first of two 45s was cut at Raynard and came out on Page Records during 1969. ’Have You Seen Them Cry’/’Madeline’ were both written by keyboard player Sigmund Snopek III and both cuts display psych prog moves, a sound becoming increasingly popular in the late 60s, especially in England due to groups like Cream and The Nice.
After appearing at the 1969 Midwest Rock Festival in West Allis they were talent spotted by Jim Croce who was managing The Carpenters and Randy Newman at the time. This led to a deal with MGM Records.
The Bloomsbury People cut enough songs for an album at Audio Finishers Studios in Chicago on 17th April 1970 and according to MGM’s studio records the songs were mixed at their L.A. studios where strings and horns were added, arranged by Dave Kennedy, who produced their first single on Page. It appears that the legendary Michael Lloyd was the A&R coordinator for the release.
An album followed during the Summer of 1970 with ’Witch Helen’/’Gingerberead Man’ selected as the single to represent the long-player.
’Witch Helen’ is a tasty psych rock effort with some strong lead guitar. Once again there is a definite progressive rock influence.
The Bloomsbury People don’t appear to have been around for that long after the release of the LP with no other releases on MGM. Sigmund Snopek III went on to record several solo albums then became a member of The Violent Femmes during the mid 80s.
Sigmund Snopek III (harpsichord/piano)
Jon Wyderka (vocals)
Dennis Lanting (lead guitar)
Greg Janick (organ/sax)
Michael Du Jardin (bass)
Rick Harris (drums)
I really appreciate your site’s notes about each band’s geographic background. As a former Wisconsinite, I love this story of Waukesha’s Bloomsbury People. I would like to make one clarification, however.
Although Snopek has played keyboards or other instruments on some of their tours and recording sessions, the members of The Violent Femmes are Brian Ritchie, Victor de Lorenzo and Gordon Gano, with Guy Hoffman replacing de Lorenzo for a while during the 90’s. Excellent website!
”Witch Helen” was written about a professor at UW-Waukesha.
SIDEWALK SKIPPER BAND – ’Strawberry Tuesday’/’Cynthia At The Garden’ (Capitol 2127) March 1968
Although The Sidewalk Skipper Band only released three singles during their short lifetime in the late 60s they are rightfully regarded with high esteem among collectors of psychedelic records, especially the all time great psych pop mover ’Strawberry Tuesday.’
They hailed from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and first attracted attention at Marquette University where they had regular gigs.
They managed to secure a recording contract with Capitol Records, who as a major label, had the necessary clout to get the group to a higher level but despite some promotion including a full colour sleeve showing The Sidewalk Skipper Band in their finest psychedelic gear, the record appears to have sank.
Despite this, a second 45 appeared on Capitol ’Seventeenth Summer’/'(Would You Believe) It’s Raining Flowers In My House’ during May 1968.
According to information from an entry in Billboard, all four songs were recorded in February 1968 at Universal Recording Studios, Chicago.
All four songs were written by members Dave McDowell (lead guitar/vocals) and Rick Novak (12 string guitar).
Other members included Brian Ballestrieri (hammond B3 organ) Joe Ballestrieri (bass) and Tom Jukem (drums)…
Recently and acetate of unreleased recordings has surfaced on the collectors market so they may be released at some point in time.
Also, a recording of Sidewalk Skipper Band playing live on ’Night Talk’, a radio show hosted by Doug Dahlgen is currently on YouTube. The group sound much ’heavier’ with a more prominent hammond organ sound. It probably dates from 1969.
The Ballestrieri brothers also discuss the new business enterprise at their club called The Stone Toad.
This later line-up is without songwriters McDowell and Novak as well as drummer Tom Jukem as Bob West (guitar) and Marc Balzac (drums) are listed in their place.
According to reference guide ’Do You Hear That Beat’ a third Sidewalk Skipper Band 45 was released in 1969 on Teen Town ’Sidewalk Skipper’/’Jeannie At The Circus’.
All four Capitol SSB sides can be found on Now Sounds’ ”Book A Trip: The Psych Pop Sounds of Capitol Records.” The CD sourced all of the tracks from the original master tapes.
THE TROPHIES – ’Baby Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’/’Everywhere I Go’ (Kapp K-714) November 1965
I’ve had both Kapp 45s by The Trophies for years but it’s only recently that I decided to research the group because not a great deal has been written about them and they seem to have side-stepped the compilers.
The Trophies hailed from Brattleboro, Vermont and got together sometime in 1963, before the British Invasion in other words. Their first outing on vinyl was ’Walking The Dog’/’Somethin’ Else’ on (Nork Records 79907/8) recorded in early 1964. It was a very popular record in their locale reaching the #1 spot on both WBZ and WMEX in Boston.
This local hit record obviously created a buzz and The Trophies were signed to Kapp Records and Laurence Weiss became their producer. The first Kapp release was the group original ’Baby Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’/’Everywhere I Go’ – all members of The Trophies were given a song-writing credit on the label.
’Baby Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ is an up-tempo beat mover driven along by harmonica and a Ringo style backbeat. According to Richard Erikson (who informed me by email) this song was written by Tom Howes who played lead guitar. He also dubbed in the harmonica part.
Tom passed on in 2006.
The flip ’Everywhere I Go’ brings the pace down somewhat and is a pleasant beat ballad.
The Trophies final release on Kapp was ’Leave My Girl Alone’ a classy pop hit in the making, only I think it sank without trace.
The song was covered by the Everly Brothers and was the B-Side of their ‘(You Got) The Power Of Love’ 45 on Warner Brothers. The song was co-written by Kenny Lynch who enjoyed some success in England during the mid ’60s.
’You’re the Queen’ on the flip of The Trophies record was written by member Tom Howes and has a beaty sound with a controlled guitar break and tambourine. The Who like background harmonies add an English edge.
THE ONION RINGS – ’I Feel Teardrops’/’She’s Gonna Cry’ (Blue Onion BO-102) 1967
The Blue Onion label owner was Dale Davis and he wrote both songs on offer on this beautifully haunting double sider by The Onion Rings. So, perhaps the latter were in fact Dale’s own group.
Whatever the precise details The Onion Rings were likely to be from Cleveland, Ohio.
Strangely, they didn’t warrant a mention in FA&F and information in other publications I’ve researched and also the internet have not provided me with any facts.
’I Feel Teardrops’ is a fine folk-rock interlude tinged with psychedelia. The addition of brass enhances the sound in this instance producing a moody lysergic soundscape. Both songs were compiled on my Gear! Volume 6 compilation years ago.
UNCLE SAM & the WAR MACHINE – ’Spy Girl’/’Hold On’ (Blue Onion BO-103) September 1967
It is believed that the fabulously named outfit Uncle Sam & the War Machine hailed from Massachusetts and as far as I know this was their one and only shot at stardom – not that any kind of recognition appears to have been forthcoming.
The A-Side was ’Spy Girl’, a rather neat psychedelic pop tune with bubblegum intent. The lyrics indicate that the ’spy girl’ in question was possibly Emma Peel from British TV Show The Avengers.
’Hold On’ is an immaculate slow paced and mournful folk-rocker. I’d like to know more about this combo but information is scant to say the least. Thankfully, the Blue Onion label were around to release such a gem of a 45.
Followed your post on YouTube…..hoping to hear Spy Girl here, I’ll keep looking….I used to follow this band back in the mid Sixties when they were called the Challengers, from Springfield MA. They were primarily a cover band (a very talented and tasty cover band) and apparently changed their name when they released this record.
THE WILD THINGS – ’Summer’s Gone’/’I’ll Taste Your Lips’ (Blue Onion BO-101) 1967
The Wild Things are believed to have hailed from Willoughby, Cleveland, Ohio and released two singles on the short lived independent label Blue Onion. Check out the distinctive logo on the label with tears coming from the onion’s eyes…neat!
’Summer’s Gone’ was the first release on Blue Onion. I’m not sure why they chose this slow ballad as the ’A’ side because the moody folk-rock of the flip ’I’ll Taste Her Lips’ is clearly the superior song.
Other releases on Blue Onion were by The Onion Rings, Uncle Sam & The War Machine, The Road and a second 45 by The Wild Things. Their ’A.C.I.D’ can be found on Psychedelic Experience Volume 3.
THE WOODS – ’Can’t Seem To Get Over You’/’Broken Marionette’ (Triumph Records 62) 1965
This is a very obscure disc with no mention in FA&F or BW’s Garage Price Guide but I’ve done some digging and it seems likely that The Challengers drummer, Richard Delvy had some input along with The Clee-Shays lead guitarist, Ed Fournier. The latter wrote the wonderful moody folk-rocker ’Can’t Seem To Get Over You’
Producer, Richard Delvy also worked with several Los Angeles outfits during the mid 60s including The Ashes, The Starfires, The Clee-Shays, The Other Half, Colours, Hamilton Streetcar and other outfits such as The Outsiders, Grateful Dead and The Great Scots. I’m sure there will be many more.
Triumph Records also released 45s by The Starfires, The Clee-Shays and The Great Scots. But who were The Woods? Maybe someone will get in touch with details. The flip ’Broken Marionette’ by the way is light beat pop and was written by Arthur Resnick and Kenny Young.
Update from Surfcityproductions: (Richard George)
The WOODS were Richard George, John Mead, and Ray Duron and performed under the personal management of Richard Delvy.
They also recorded (with Jim Crouch) under the names of the WOODIES and the SPARTANS, as well as providing vocals for the CHALLENGERS and SAM RIDDLE.
SESSION INFORMATION Year: 1965 Label: Triumph (a subsidiary of Richard Delvy Productions) Studio: Sunset Sound, Hollywood Engineer: Brian Ross-Myring Producer: Richard Delvy Vocal Arrangement: Richard George Orchestral Arrangement: Richard Delvy Writer: Ed Fournier Flip Side: “Broken Marionette”
Other Recordings by the WOODS: “Ninth Street Beat” (TV theme) “Hawaii” (“Aloha a Go Go”) As the WOODIES: “Go Go, Little Scrambler” (Triumph) “Poor Boy” (Triumph) “Do You Wanna Dance?” (GNP Crescendo) “Count Me In” (GNP) “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter (GNP) “Tired of Waiting For You” (GNP) “Summer Sams” (Sam Riddle commercial) The Challengers at the Teen-Age Fair (GNP) As the SPARTANS: “Count Me In” (Polydor) “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” (Polydor)
The WOODS performed extensively on TV (including KHJ’s “Ninth Street West”, “KCBQ Rocks”, and the nationally syndicated shows “Ninth Street Beat” and “Aloha a Go-Go”) as well as live concerts in Southern California (including the First Annual Surfers’ Stomp, the Hollywood Palladium, the Redondo Beach Pier, and the Teenage Fair).