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 music magazines.
THE TREES –’Don’t Miss The Turn’/’Your Life’ (Bali-Hi 808) 1968
I wrote about The Trees way back in March 2007 but at that time I didn’t really have much information on them. Since then, I’ve did a little more digging and it’s confirmed via several sources that The Trees hailed from Trenton, New Jersey.
’Don’t Miss The Turn’ is a solid fuzzy punker with moody ambitions. It’s got a weird acid guitar break, a sound I find compelling. Writer credit is Lon Van Eaton on both tracks. This cut appears on the CD 30 Seconds Before The Calico Wall.
”Don’t miss the turn into my mind, Oh! I’m on a one way trip, don’t make the left turn”
The flip ’Your Life’ is 60s pop and has a commercial sound. It remains uncompiled.
Lon Van Eaton (keyboards)
Derrek Van Eaton (vocals)
Tim Case (drums)
Bob Heil (bass)
Michael Kremper (guitar)
After this single on the independent Bali-Hi label The Trees shed members Bob Heil and Michael Kremper and replaced them with Steve Burgh and Bruce Foster then renamed themselves Jacobs Creek and signed to Columbia. An album followed described as late 60s rural rock with progressive moves.
I don’t know for sure as I’ve only heard the 45 ’What You Hear’/’A Love Song’ both written by Lon Van Eaton.
Jacobs Creek appear to have been a successful New York group playing at Andy Warhol’s Factory and supporting The Doors. The Van Eaton brothers were then talent spotted by associates of Apple Records and recorded a 1972 album for Apple with George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
After rubbing shoulders with Rock Music’s elite in the ’70s the Von Eaton brothers more than likely forgot all about their first 45 but nothing they recorded after The Trees can possibly come close to the fabulous acid punker ’Don’t Miss The Turn’….
PHLUPH – ’Ellyptical Machine’ (Verve V6-5054) April 1968
I bought this album many years ago and every so often feel the need to play it in it’s entirety starting from the first cut on Side One ’Doctor Mind’ right through to the end of Side Two ’Patterns.’ As an album I think it works very well with plenty of interesting moves.
Phluph (pronounced fluff) is a strange name for a group but great for searching for information on the internet because there’s no other group around past or present with such a name.
According to the liners on the back of their self titled album Phluph hailed from the Boston area and were (as it turned out) unfortunately lumped in with the ’Bosstown Sound’ groups of 1968.
Unfortunate, as these groups were frowned upon by the hippie select of radio stations and music weeklies that hyped every West Coast group but lambasted the so called ’Bosstown’ outfits or just simply ignored them.
According to the Verve studio archives, Phluph spent three occassions at their New York studio laying down songs from October 1967 to February 1968…..The first Phluph 45 was from their October ’67 session and coupled ’Doctor Mind’/’Another Day.’ Both of these songs appear on the album.
A second single ’Patterns’/’In Her Way’ from their December ’67 session followed shortly after, probably to generate some interest for their album which was released during April 1968.
Phluph may have enjoyed some success locally but it appears that they were virtual unknowns everywhere else. Over the years the compilers have also ignored them but the organ dominated mover ’Doctor Mind’ has recently come under the spotlight of mod DJ’s around the world and as a consequence this 45 has now become quite desirable.
My choice is the psychedelic ’Ellyptical Machine’ with it’s trippy organ and subtle fuzz guitar which I feel is buried too deep in the mix.
JELLY BEAN BANDITS – ’Country Woman’/’Generation’ (Mainstream 674) December 1967
The Jelly Bean Bandits in ’67 were:
Billy Donald (vocals)
Jack Dougherty (guitar)
Fred Buck (bass)
Michael Raab (organ)
Joe Scalfari (drums).
They came from the Newburgh area of New York. Research on the band suggests that they were previously called The Mirror but changed to The Jelly Bean Bandits after signing with Mainstream Records.
The cover of the Mainstream album shows the Jelly Bean Bandits resplendent in cornball bandit outfits (because they were asked to dress like their name for the photo shoot) Three of the band members have also got facial hair. BUT don’t expect to hear hippie music. These bandits made classic garage psych and their best songs are on this 45.
The plug song was the uncompiled ’Country Woman.’ This is a slow paced punkadelic tune with a cool but too short guitar solo. It sounds like freaky blues.
Perhaps their better known song is on the flip. ’Generation’ has been compiled before on Mayhem and Psychosis volume 1.
The opening spoken line ’look to the skies the flying saucers will always be there’ is followed by a groovy backbeat complete with echoey drums and the typical ’67 garage psych guitar noise. I particular love the drum sound as the song reaches it’s climax. Great stuff indeed.
THE PLEASURE FAIR
The Pleasure Fair were a soft rock harmony group based in Los Angeles during the late 60s who released three singles and an album on Uni before members went their seperate ways.
Although commercially unsuccessful they did leave an impression and have recently enjoyed a certain acclaim following their inclusion on a CD series of compilations called ’Soft Sounds For Gentle People.’
The origins of The Pleasure Fair were in the mid 60s when Robb Royer and Tim Hallinan got together as a duo, having met at San Fernando Valley State College. They performed folk-rock standards as Robb & Tim, later adding female singer Michele Cochrane, giving the performers a whole new dimension.
Not long afterwards the trio added a fourth member, a skilled guitarist named Stephen Cohn.
Their sound now became a happening thing and typical of the California harmony outfits of male/female vocal groups.
It is believed that the group were billed as The Inn Group during this period in time, although group members appear to have no recollection of this name. Evidence has appeared though supporting this name in the form of a promotional picture. Maybe this was done by their management without the groups knowledge?
What ever their name at this time, a one off single deal with HBR was secured and the 45 ’Junior Executive’/’I’m Telling It To You’ was released during late 1966 as The Rainy Day People. Both sides were group originals and not really typical of The Pleasure Fair sound to come.
’I’m Telling It To You’ for instance has some subtle fuzz guitar and could have been a real sunset strip swinger had the fuzz been louder, the backbeat slightly quicker and with a farfisa organ solo instead of the horn arrangement.
Although Snuff Garrett is listed as the producer on the HBR record it is believed that Leon Russell and J.J. Cale were at the controls. These two produced a host of cool records during the 1966-67 period in Los Angeles including the The Leathercoated Minds material.
The group signed a recording contract with Uni Records in 1967 and were billed as The Pleasure Fair for the first time, a much more ’in’ moniker for the psychedelic times, with David Gates hired as the arranger and conductor for their self-titled album.
The long-player comprised twelve songs, eight of which were original compositions by Royer, Hallinan and Cohn with outside material by Van Dyke Parks (’Come To The Sunshine’), Graham Gouldman (’East-West’), The Beatles (’The Things We Said Today’) and a version of ’Barefoot In The Park’ from the recent movie of the same name.
The album is a fine release of Californian soft rock with pleasing melodies and harmonies. There is nothing on it that will get the psychedelic ’heads’ turning. I’m not sure how they managed not to have at least one acid drenched song on an album recorded in Los Angeles during 1967 but The Pleasure Fair managed it!
Having said that, the song ’Turnaway’ is a delight with a rather complex harmony part reminiscent of The Association and has some trippy whispered ’turnaway’s’….
If you dig the gentle side of things (like I do) it’s well worth a listen and surely due for a CD re-issue with the addition of the mono 45s (including those as The Rainy Day People).
The Pleasure Fair briefly appeared in ”Tagged For Murder”, an episode of Ironside, aired during October 1967. The group were seen listening to a playback of their song ’Turnaway’ in the studio. I’ve not seen this but you never know, the scene may end up on YouTube one day.
The excellent ’Morning Glory Days’/’Fade In Fade Out’ were taken from the album and released as a single. No big hit followed which is both a shame and a little puzzling as ’Morning Glory Days’ has that flower power sound that would have been all over the radio during 1967/68.
A second single,'(I’m Gonna Have To) Let You Go’/’Today’ followed shortly after but appears to have flopped. The top side does not sound like The Pleasure Fair at all. It appears that this piano dominated ballad was written especially for Michele Cochrane to highlight her vocals and almost feels like a solo release. The flip ’Today’ is far superior and could have come from the album sessions.
Another song that Royer and Hallinan wrote but did not record as The Pleasure Fair was ’Say What You See’, produced by Jimmy Griffin and arranged by David Gates. It was sung by a trio calling themselves The Curtain Calls (Dot 45-17093). The song was also recorded by Lesley Gore.
After the demise of The Pleasure Fair, Robb Royer, Jimmy Griffin and David Gates combined forces as Bread and had major success with a genre of music that is not covered by my site ”Flower Bomb Songs”…
Just an FYI, but by the time of the second single Michele Cochrane had left the band and had been replaced by another girl singer, also named Michele (though no-one connected with the band can recall her second name !!) and its her you can clearly hear in this release.
The Rainy Day People – ’Junior Executive’/’I’m Telling It To You’ (HBR-512) 1966
The Pleasure Fair – ’Morning Glory Days’/’Fade In Fade Out’ (UNI 55016) July 1967
The Pleasure Fair – ‘(I’m Gonna Have To) Let You Go’/’Today’ (UNI 55078) 1968
The Pleasure Fair LP (UNI 73009) October 1967
THE ID – ’The Rake’/’Wild Times’ (RCA Victor 47-9195) 1967
It was thought that The ID were just a ’faceless’ studio outfit from Los Angeles who created exploito psych music but it turns out that The ID were a group of experienced musicians including Jerry Cole, Don Dexter, Glenn Cass, Norm Cass and Rich Clyburn.
Check out their album ’Inner Sounds’ for wild guitars, eastern mysticism and psychedelic experimentation. It really is an undiscovered gem, although Billboard did give it a spotlight pick during in June 1967. It doesn’t seem to have generated much interest as the album and two singles taken from it seem to have left no trace.
The final 45 taken from ’Inner Sounds’ was this pairing with ’Wild Times’ my stand out. The opening riff is similar to ’The Great Airplane Strike’ by Paul Revere and the Raiders before the songs goes off in a whole new psychedelic direction.
THE TRAVEL AGENCY – ’Time’/’Made For You’ (Tanqueray 20102) December 1966
It is believed that The Travel Agency hailed from San Francisco and were originally called Act III releasing a 45 ’Made For You’/’M.F.Y’ on Kookaburra Records in 1966. According to FA&F, the group then re-located to Los Angeles and changed their name to The Travel Agency.
Another release on Kookaburra Records followed combining ’Time’ with an instro of ’Time’ on the flip. Curiously, ’Time’ was also released on Tanqueray backed with ’Made For You’ some weeks later…
’Time’ is an impressive psychedelic rocker which recalls The Byrds circa their ’Younger Than Yesterday’ period. Added into this potent mix is some magical raga guitar and vocal harmonies. ’Made For You’ is much more poppy but still a charmer and a good example of the ’66 L.A. pop sound.
The Travel Agency appear to have been successful in so far as a further 45 and album were released on Viva Records a few years later.
It appears that this bunch evolved into Shanti, whose 1971 self titled album is easily my favourite raga rock album ever. Their drummer Frank Lupica later made the Cosmic Beam Experience album.
THE JOINT EFFORT – ’The Third Eye’/’The Children’ (JE-1) 1967
This Hollywood group were discovered by L.A. scenester Bud Mathis who was also managing The Brain Train at the time. After a debut single they changed their name to Clear Light and signed to Elektra of course.
The Joint Effort worked on the Sunset Strip, eventually becoming regulars at hip club Gazzarri’s in early 1967. Sometime that Summer Bud Mathis and co-manager Barry Cantor financed this 45 on the group’s own label thoughtfully named Joint Effort.
’The Third Eye’ is a blistering psychedelic folk-rocker that could have only come out of Los Angeles. Listen out for a mix of sublime raga guitar & feedback and of course the killer harmonies. The lyrics were written by Bud Mathis and according to the liners of the ’Bud Mathis Sunset Trip’ retrospection LP on Dionysus, he took inspiration from the teachings of a Spiritual Master of the Sound Current who told him about the ’third eye’…
The flip ’The Children’ is yet more stunning raga psych with fuzz and feedback. The Joint Effort could have been contenders but their follow up was nowhere near as good as this.
Dave Callens (vocals/guitar)
Wanda Watkins (vocals)
Edmund Villareal (guitar/vocals)
Clyde Kaye (bass)
Jeff Salisbury (drums)
THE RAINY DAZE -’Snow And Ice And Burning Sand’ (UNI 3002) April 1967
After the success of the single ’That Acapulco Gold’, The Rainy Daze were given the luxury of a studio album which became an underground hit. With several singles and an album to their name I’m a little bit surprised that this group from Denver, Colorado have not had the CD re-issue treatment.
I’ll focus my attention on ’Snow and Ice And Burning Sand’ which did not grace the side of any 45. This cut was the last song on Side 2 and closes the album in fine style with it’s mellow reflection and air of English(esque) psychedelia.
THE DEEP – ’Color Dreams’ (Cameo-Parkway P 7051) November 1966
I’m still on my Rusty Evans trip at the moment and have been diggin’ this 1966 album by The Deep who were a studio based group comprising Rusty and Mark Barkan.
Just check out the cover art with that hallucinatory figure armed with a guitar, the psychedelic font used for the album title is a trip with it’s garish pink, off-set by the sky blue song-titles on a jet black background.
Even if you had never heard of The Deep in ’66, the sleeve alone would have been enough persuasion for the acid munching youth to pick it from the rack to get some of that Deep action.
’Color Dreams’ is an obvious highlight from this long-player but I can’t help but feel that it’s a Kim Fowley ’Trip’ rip-off. But I don’t care about that.
Rusty’s deep gruff vocals again hit the mark just like they did on the Ry Cooper 45 (reviewed last time out). This is psychedelic rapping over fuzz guitars….
“Blue black purple mac
Orange yellow funny fellow
White brown pink town
Orange red pink bed
We’ll pretend yellow man
Jesus saves planet rays
Green red Commie dead
Blue green yellow scream
Spanish fly golden eye
Pearly white outta sight…”
RY COOPER – ’1983’/’The Life Game’ (Musicor MU-1148) February 1966
This was the first and only 45 by Ry Cooper a.k.a. Rusty Evans who went on to release albums (with associates) as The Deep and The Freak Scene. He also had connections with The Nervous Breakdowns and The Third Bardo as a producer….he was very much a psychedelic pioneer although this rare single on Musicor Records is raw folk-rock.
The gruff and pissed off vocals are perfect for this type of protest music. It appears that ’1983’ was the top side as this was the song given a Chart spotlight in Billboard during February 1966.
THE FREAK SCENE – ’A Million Grains Of Sand’ (Columbia CS 9456) April 1967
’Psychedelic Psoul’ was the fascinating and tripped out work of Rusty Evans who had earlier blew the minds of whoever found the time to listen to his earlier recordings as The Deep. Before the latter, Rusty released a far-out punked up folk-rocker as Ry Cooper. Those two releases will be covered on ’Flower Bomb Songs’ in the near future.
’Psychedelic Psoul’ was listed as a new release in Billboard trade magazine during April 1967 but that seems to be about as much exposure as The Freak Scene got despite being on a huge label like Columbia Records.
Even the group members are a mystery, although it is probable that Rusty Evans was aided in the studio by Mark Barkan who is listed on the back of The Deep album. Mark has been mentioned on my site before when I reviewed ’Wait ’Til Tomorrow’, the baroque sunshine pop 45 by The Banana Splits…
’A Million Grains Of Sand’ is an eastern raga psych mindblower that opens Side One of ’Psychedelic Psoul’ and it’s certainly an acid treat. Curiously, Rusty Evans re-recorded the song for his 1969 album released as ”Marcus”
”Like a million grains of sand
Through the fingers of my hand.
Falling grains are just like dreams,
I wish I could understand”
THE LEATHERCOATED MINDS – ’Sunset And Clark’ (Fontana TL.5412) 1967
This is my rare UK copy of The Leathercoated Minds LP ’A Trip Down The Sunset Strip’ on Fontana. It also happens to be the essential mono mix. How this rather obscure and completely ’underground’ album managed to get a release in Britain is unclear….
The album cover is a picture of Roger Tillison and Terrye Newkirk who were a folk-rock duo based in Hollywood. They cut a 45 as The Gypsy Trips.
It is believed, however, that Terrye Newkirk did not perform on The Leathercoated Minds album but Tillison did, along with producer and arranger John J. Cale and sundry musicians employed by Viva Records.
’A Trip Down The Sunset Strip’ is quite a period piece and a tyme capsule of the coloured sights and sounds of the L.A. teen scene circa 1966-67. Unfortunately the cover versions don’t stand well next to the originals but the snippets of conversations and car noises between the tracks recorded on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip are cool.
The instrumentals featured such as ’Sunset And Clark’ are really where it’s at. These were all written by John J. Cale.
This one took me a long time to track down, and I still have yet to hear the mono, but I think it’s a keeper. As far as psychsploitation efforts from the era go, it’s one of the best. Love the version of ”Eight Miles High” in particular.
I’m guessing you realized that John J. Cale would later go on to fame and fortune as J.J. Cale? I think this was his first LP effort in what amounted to a 30+ year career making great music. I’d wager Leon Russell and other members of The Shindogs guested here as well, as they were Okie buddies of Cale’s and Tillitson’s.
He was already J J Cale – ”real” name John Weldon Cale (1938-2013) the J J moniker was created by a venue in LA that hired him around the same time as the Sunset Strip LP. Venue owner wanted to avoid confusion with Cale’s Welsh contemporary, John Cale of the Velvet Underground.
As an aside, I met Cale (JJ) in 94. On telling him I had a copy of the Sunset Strip LP, he advised me, in a slow Tulsa drawl: ”Best thing y’can do wi’ that, my friend, ‘s jus’ throw it away…”. Needless to say, I haven’t obeyed!
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – ’D.C.B.A. – 25′ (RCA Victor LSP-3766) March 1967
It’s been five years this month since I started my website ’Flower Bomb Songs’ and I’m certainly perplexed that I’ve never reviewed any music by one of my all time favourite groups, Jefferson Airplane. I’m not sure why I’ve never discussed their merits, maybe I was too concerned with obscurity.
Jefferson Airplane most definitely were not obscure during their breakthrough year of 1967. Their long player ’Surrealistic Pillow’ peaked at #3 on the Billboard chart in USA and the album stayed there for 56 weeks.
Not that I’ve ever been impressed by such commercial statistics, I’m more interested if the music within the grooves releases my mind to higher elevations and the Jefferson Airplane have been doing just that ever since I discovered their beautiful sounds in the early 80s.
The psych tinged folk-rock genius of ’D.C.B.A – 25’ is an obvious highlight of ’Surrealistic Pillow’. Written by guitarist Paul Kantner, it’s often overlooked whenever I read reviews and articles about the Airplane. Maybe the reason for this is that ’D.C.B.A. – 25’ never graced the side of a 45. I honestly believe it would have made a killer single.
I always thought that ’D.C.B.A. – 25’ was a very strange song title and the meaning didn’t register with me until I read the liners of the RCA stereo CD re-issue of ’Surrealistic Pillow’.
Here, it was explained that Kantner named his melodic folk-rocker in reference to the songs chord progression and the numerical part ’25’ is the designation chemist Albert Hofmann assigned to his best known chemical discovery LSD-25.
The song was recorded at Studio B in RCA’s studio in Hollywood during November 1966.
THE FOLKLORDS – ’Jennifer Lee’ (Lion-LP 104) 1969
Under the spotlight today is this charming acid folk album by The Folklords titled ’Release The Sunshine’. One look at the kaleidoscopic cover with members of The Folklords dressed in their hippie psychedelic garb, the genius title of the album displayed in a tripped out ornamental lace mat and the font used for ”The Folklords” indicate to me that the listener will be in for something special.
The Folklords formed sometime in 1968 in Toronto, Ontario and signed a contract with independent Canadian label Allied Records. The same label as The Plastic Cloud, another obscure but equally appealing psychedelic combo.
At the time of recording ’Release The Sunshine’, The Folklords had no drummer so the eighteen year old son of Allied Records staff producer stepped in. His drumming technique can be described as basic but I feel that only adds to the greatness of the record as a whole.
All twelve songs on the album were group originals, written by bass player Tom Waschkowski and guitarist Paul Seip. The ever-present autoharp played by Martha Johnson adds to the acid dreaminess.
The original album on Allied Records sank without trace but is now highly sought after and exchanges for upward $400. Fortunately, in 2007, Lion Productions re-issued ”Release The Sunshine” on vinyl in a quantity of 700 copies. These were promptly sold out within days and even the re-issue is a hard one to find!
A great piece of acid folk wonderment and the auto harp really makes it. Allied were an excellent label as well as the mighty Plastic Cloud, the 1st Reign Ghost album is pretty fabulous.
THE CHURCHILL DOWNS – ’Don’t Turn The Light Off’ (Shadoks Music 137) 2011
One of the highlights of 2011 was Shadoks LP (limited to 500 copies) release of unreleased tapes by The Churchill Downs who were a popular and hip group in Hollywood during 1967-68. The group even became the house band at the famous Gazzari’s, a notorious club on the Sunset Strip.
For whatever reason, The Churchill Downs failed to secure a recording contract with any label and the music they laid down with producer Gary Paxton during late 1967 to mid 1968 remained unheard.
The earlier recordings are great but as ’67 became ’68 the psychedelic direction and some of the line-up had changed to a more soul rock sound.
The stand out is the Strawberry Alarm Clock influenced ’Don’t Turn The Light Off’, co-written by Don Adey who went onto record an album as Jamme with Keith Adey and some of Hollywood’s finest session players, including Larry Knetchtel and Jim Gordon.
I bought this the other day, paying £32 for it which is very costly for a non vintage LP. Overall I dig the selections on Side One in particular the opener ‘Don’t Turn The Light Off’.
This is a real find and reminds me of Strawberry Alarm Clock. The Cream influenced recordings are not gonna be a big hit with most G45 members but the inclusion of fuzz guitar pleases me.
Most of Side Two was recorded in mid 1968 and is no great shakes. ‘Alfie’ is terrible and I get the impression The Churchill Downs were moving towards a more psych soulful sound which is and will never be my scene.
Too bad they changed direction. Their version of ‘Ostrich People’ can’t compete with The Chocolate Tunnel either. The sound quality is fantastic by the way as is the thick card sleeve.
JACKSON C. FRANK – ’Dialogue’ (Columbia 33SX 1788) December 1965
Folk singer Jackson C. Frank hailed from Buffalo, New York but at the age of twenty decided to travel to London to be part of the growing mid 60s folk scene in England that included Bert Jansch, Ralph McTell, Donovan, John Renbourn, Sandy Denny, Al Stewart and of course fellow countryman Paul Simon who was already active on the English club circuit.
Jackson C. Frank got a recording contract with Columbia Records and was fortunate to meet up with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel who were both blown away by the genius of Jackson’s songs.
Paul Simon offered to produce his recordings financed in part by his royalty earnings from ’Sounds Of Silence’.
The mournful, downbeat and loner folk ’Dialogue’ is from Jackson’s Columbia album which was released in small quantities in December ’65. Few copies sold outside the London folk set and it’s now become a very expensive rarity and still largely unknown.
Few copies ever show up for sale making the Jackson C. Frank CD release ’Blues Run The Game’ a must have addition to anyone’s music collection.
”I want to be alone
I need to touch each stone.
Face the grave that I have grown.
I want to be alone”.
When I went to the London folk clubs (Les Cousins, Bunjies etc) in the early 70’s, many of the regulars said that Frank was the finest performer and songwriter they had ever seen, and he had just disappeared. At that time he had become a tramp living in the Bowery in New York.
Yes that’s right, he was living rough on the streets of New York after his notion of finding old friend Paul Simon. He was also in and out of mental hospitals and lost his left eye after being shot in a drive by shooting. By the end of his life he was a fat and bloated paranoid schizophrenic.