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 music magazine “Intro”.
THE FLAT EARTH SOCIETY – ’When You’re There’ (Fleetwood FCLP 3027) 1968
When I first heard The Flat Earth Society LP in the 80s via a bootleg vinyl copy it immediately became a fixture on my turntable. The album ’Waleeco’ came housed in a psychedelic collage sleeve with a small picture of the group, they looked very young and at the time of recording the music these boys were all still teenagers.
The album opener ’Feelin’ Much Better’ is a classic psych rocker with it’s stoned guitar moves over some folk-rock tambourine frills. That song more than any, became my favourite Flat Earth Society song and still is.
After all of these years I still feel the need to play ’Waleeco’ on a regular basis and it’s an album I always play from beginning to end; as a studio album it has so many different moves from psych rock, folk, raga and even medieval. Remarkable considering the age of the group members.
In Boston, Massachusetts where The Flat Earth Society hailed from they were probably complete unknowns. I don’t think the album was actually sold through record stores but only by mail order.
In 1968 it would cost the buyer $1.50 plus six Waleeco candy bar wrappers. Mint copies of the LP will now set you back about $500. Unwanted copies were thrown away in 1974 when Fleetwood Records had a clear out.
My bootleg vinyl copy I obtained in the 80s was sold when I bought the stereo version Arf Arf released in the early 90s. The surviving mastertapes were used and it’s a re-issue I strongly advise you to purchase.
THE ROGUES – ’Lawdy Miss Clawdy’/’Take Ten’ (Rogue) 1965
There must have been hundreds of groups in the 60s calling themselves The Rogues and here’s another one of them who managed to record a 45. I don’t know anything about these Rogues, not a great deal of information is on the label so it may have been a vanity pressing of a few hundred discs.
’Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ is the timeless rock ’n’ roll tune, this one’s got a neat guitar sound and at 2:00 minutes long is a short, sharp shock of coolness.
THE JESTERS III – ’Say That I’m The One’/’Pledge Of Love’ (Coulee C45-114) April 1965
I’ve seen a publicity photo of The Jesters III and unsurprisingly they’re a three piece combo with smart jackets and neat haircuts. On the pic they’re billed as The Jesters Three.
They’re thought to have been from La Crosse, Wisconsin but other than an entry in Barry Wickham’s Garage 45 Price Guide nothing has been written about them. ’Say That I’m The One’ did turn up on a recent Gravel CD so maybe that release has some liner notes about the group?
’Say That I’m The One’ was the B-side and has a beat sound with a singer obviously influenced by Buddy Holly. Clocking in at 1:46 the song doesn’t really get going. Would have been better with a guitar break.
’Pledge of Love’ is a love ballad.
Here is some information from Gary E. Myers book about Wisconsin Rock/Pop, ”Do You Hear That Beat.” The Jesters III were in fact from La Crosse, Wisconsin.
They existed from 1963-1969. Band members were Wayne McKibbin on guitar, Jim Burkhardt on bass, and Tom Eisenman on drums. Wayne McKibbin helped form the group Hope, who recorded for Coulee and A&M in the 70’s.
Tom L. Eisenman moved to California and became an Evangelical Covenant Church pastor, author and speaker.
Wayne Carlyle McKibbin moved to California and became a Presbyterian minister and prison chaplain. Died July 4, 2005 (brain cancer, age 59).
F. Burkhart moved to Colorado and became Chair of the UCCS Physics Department.
My father was Wayne C. Mckibbin, and yes the band was from Wisconsin. After that the band Hope was formed and signed with A&M records.
THE CINDERMEN – ’Think Of Me’/’I’m Happy’ (Moonglow M-5002) 1965
Last year I made contact with Cindermen drummer Sam Sinopoli and he furnished me with much needed information about his teenage beat group from Fresno, California.
At the time I did not have their debut 45 ’Think Of Me’ in my collection but since then I’ve added it to my stash of records so I thought I’d give it some exposure. (My copy has been signed by group members)
’Think Of Me’ written by Cindermen lead singer Fred Perry is a noteworthy Brit Invasion influenced jangly pop song with an equal measure of The Beatles and The Searchers. It’s such a commercial sounding disc and should have been a massive seller.
FISH ’N’ CHIPS – ’Four Times Faster’/’The Whole Thing Is Getting Out Of Hand’ (Joy Records 45k-297) May 1965
This group of teenagers from Bergen County, New Jersey certainly have that Brit Invasion beat sound with their commercial sounding ’Four Times Faster.’ Don’t know if it was a hit or anything but Fish ’n’ Chips appear to have been successful in their own region often supporting bigger name groups.
The producer, Tommy Kaye may be known to some as a songwriter having been the composer of ’Hey Little Bird’ performed by The Barbarians (also for Joy Records).
Steve Mann (guitar)
Rich Klechner (bass/vocals)
Don Swicker (drums)
Pete Trugiani (guitar)
Bruce Herring (vocals)
Tommy Kaye went on to produce Gene Clark – he was calling himself Thomas Jefferson Kaye by that time. He also recorded in his own right -a couple of good albums on Dunhill that managed to get issued in the UK. (Davie)
This is a great little track with it’s harpsichord and massed voices. I wonder if Tommy Kaye is Thomas Jefferson Kaye who recorded some very Byrdsian tracks on his solo albums, and went on to produce the epic ”No Other” for Gene Clark?
Four Times Faster was a Top 40 hit in the NYC area, getting considerable air time on both WABC and WMCA. The group did Saturday afternoon matinees at Palisades Park with Cousin Brucie while also opening for the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Rascals, Mitch Ryder, The Dave Clark Five and others. Sadly, my brother Rich passed away suddenly in September of ’07.
I was in 10th grade when this tune came on WABC at lunch in Bergenfield H.S. cafeteria and the room went nuts; Rich and I looked at each other and smiled-one of those unforgettable moments!
PAWNEE DRIVE – ’Break My Mind’/’Ride’ (Forward Records F-103) May 1969
Probably a studio outfit from Los Angeles, Austin Roberts, the singer/songwriter of ’Ride’ had links with the Hanna-Barbera cartoon enterprise.
’Ride’ is hard driving bubblegum and had the potential to be a smash but was lost on the flip of ’Break My Mind’. Shame, as this one really rocks and the suggestive lyrics are a hoot.
Austin Roberts was also the lead singer here. This also was released under the band name ”River Deep”, as the B-side of the cool Zombies-influenced ”Shelley Tell Me Why”.
Thanks Jeffers – when I was doing some research on the record I found a message written by Austin Roberts on spectropop back in 2006. As his memory seemed a bit hazy I didn’t include it in my write-up:From spectropop
Re: ”Ride” by Pawnee Drive Austin Roberts wrote: I wrote Ride as the B side to Shelly Tell Me Why (which many have never heard of, I’m sure).
There was another version of it cut with Buddy Randall as lead singer (lead vocalist of the Knickerbockers) which was the A side of the Pawnee Drive single though George Tobin may have left my demo vocal on it, I honestly don’t know).
Joe Nelson (hi Joe) knows a lot more about things that I was involved in than I can remember. I’m gettin’ old I guess (62).Thanks!
Poking around this morning, I notice there was another Pawnee Drive 45 out, ”Little Girl” c/w ”Homeward Bound”
It appears that the Pawnee Drive were the Knickerbockers who recorded under this name for legal concerns with their previous label …
ACID VISIONS (Voxx VHM 200.008) 1983
I started buying 60s garage compilations in 1984 and my earliest experience into the world of comps were Acid Visions, Attack Of The Jersey Teens and the first two volumes of Back From The Grave.
Throughout the 80s I kept a diary and notes of any records that I bought, so I’m hoping those will reveal the exact date and vinyl bought from Funhouse Records, a mail order records emporium, who, during that time used to get a monthly order from me.
My insatiable thirst for 60s garage and psych LPs had to be curtailed with a small budget because during 1984 to 1988 I was either unemployed or spending life as a student. Money was tight but I somehow always found spare cash for compilations.
’Acid Visions’ on Voxx Records was the one comp that truly opened my mind to a whole new sound. Those Texas groups with their wild fuzztoned noise really appealed to my senses.
This LP was on heavy rotation and has been a constant thrill for nearly 30 years. Strangely, I’ve never got any of the songs compiled on an original 45. Some of them will be within my budget but I’m thinking that records by A-440, The Stoics and Satori will be outta my price range (if they ever did show up for sale)
Over the years I’ve downloaded hundreds of label scans from fellow collectors and the scans that appear with this article are from the collections of Rich Strauss and Mark Taylor who both have stellar garage collections.
A couple of the scans come from popsike. Of course the ’Acid Visions’ label and back cover pics come from my treasured vinyl copy of the latter.
The edited liners that make up the bulk of this article were written by Peter Buesnell and are the words that appeared on the back cover of ’Acid Visions.’
Side One opens with ’Comin’ Up Fast, Part 1’, by The Great Believers out of Houston. Originally known as Amos Boynton & the ABCs, the group consisted of Johnny and Edgar Winter, Amos Boynton and Dave Russell.
A great fuzz bass pumps along with everybody shouting and talking to provide a great party atmosphere. Johnny laments about not being able to grow up in the mid 60s, missing out on mini-dresses and the like. (I’m hoping Buesnell means that Johnny wanted to see mini-dresses on girls not to actually wear them himself).
Out of Fort Worth, came The Scotty McKay Quintet. McKay opened for The Yardbirds and was befriended by Jimmy Page. He sent Page a tape of ’Train Kept A-Rollin’, Page sent it back with his lead guitar dubbed in. The result is one of the best versions you’re likely to ever hear.
A-440, Rock Romano of The Fun and Games played guitar for A-440, who were from Houston. ’Torture’ is a great psychedelic punker with a raw vocal singing about death and other great subjects while a voice whispers the song title over and over behind the music. The drummer bangs unmercifully at the kit while a Bubble Puppy style lead guitar and thick Farfisa organ chords fill it out.
The Things were from Houston but little else is known. Their recordings never made it to vinyl, which is a shame, as they were a great Farfisa based band. A nice fuzz guitar interweaves through both of their songs.
’I Don’t Believe It’ and ’In Your Soul’ originate from tapes.
The Stoics have one of the most interesting stories of all the bands here. Comprised of Bill Ash, later in The Children on lead guitar, Al Acosta lead vocals, Sam Allen drums, Roy Quillan on rhythm guitar and Mike Marachal on bass, they came from San Antonio.
The Stoics had become favourites of a Mexican gang called ’Capinch’. They always won all the ’Battle Of The Bands’ in San Antonio. It seems that the ’Capinch’ would always be present during the voting to make sure all the kids picked The Stoics. Nothing more than friendly persuasion, of course.
’Enough Of What I Need’ was also recorded by The Children (on Laramie Records), could have been a big hit but the KTSA Radio Station in San Antonio banned it because of the line:
”Remember all the nights you kissed my lips
And the pleasure of my fingertips”
As a result of no airplay, there were no sales and no need to press more than 150 copies, thus a very rare record. The flip side ’Hate’ is also a very strong tune, being originally credited on the 45 to Jay Ketira, leader of the ’Capinch’, even though he didn’t write it. Always helps to keep your friends happy.
Satori was a one man group from Houston. Dennis Warkentin played everything in sight for this one. The song featured on ’Acid Visions’ is ’Time Machine’, the B-side of the single is ’1000 Micrograms of Love’.
’Time Machine’ is one of the most frantic all out rockers of the 60s, much like ’7 & 7 Is’ by Love. The lead guitar has a high trebly sound that eats at you through the whole song and doesn’t let up. Truly one of the most unique things out of Texas, collectors will be looking hard for this one.
The Ramadas was one of Neal Ford’s bands before he formed The Fanatics. ’Life Is So Tough’ is almost a parody of all the white boy plays the blues bands. This actually sounds like white boys playing the blues with almost easy listening vocals over a nice bluesy pattern.
Listening to these guys singing about how tough life is will definitely give you a lift.
Although Roy Head is currently pursuing a country career, at one time he was a great rock’n’roll singer. ’Easy Lovin’ Girl’ written by Johnny Winter, is one of Roy’s great rockin’ cuts.
The Great Believers are the back-up band with Johnny Winter providing some great fuzz guitar and with, we presume, Edgar Winter playing some wild vibraphone. Roy Head shows off some fine rhythm ’n’ blues vocalizing on this tune.
’Easy Lovin’ Girl’ is from tapes and previously unreleased.
Besides his work with The Believers, almost all of Johnny Winter’s output has been the blues. One of the exceptions to this is the B-side of ’Leavin’ Blues’. ’Birds Can’t Row Boats,’ a Byrds/Blue Things like guitar rings throughout with Johnny doing his best impression of Mouse imitating Dylan. The lyrics are worth the price of admission alone.
”Ugly are the spiders of the mind
The reality of you turns them on”
The comp used an album version of ’Birds Can’t Row Boats’ which is a slightly different take/mix of the single released on Pacemaker Records.
The Pandas were a five man combo from Alamo City, San Antonio. Originally called The Centurys, they released a version of ’Whole Lot Of Shakin’ in 1965. This single ’Walk’ is one of the best Texas ravers.
It features incredible fuzz lead/rhythm guitar and a bass riff that pulsates so much you’ll want to get up and dance before you realise what’s happening. The Pandas later became The Giant Smiling Dogs, with no known recordings.
Since ’Acid Visions’ was released in 1983 it has been confirmed that The Bad Roads hailed from Lake Charles, Louisiana and were a six piece outfit. Members were Buzz Clark (vocals), Terry Green (lead guitar), Brian Smith (rhythm guitar), Mike Hicks (bass), Kenny Cooley (tambourine) and Danny Kimball (drums).
’Blue Girl’ is one of those instantly addictive songs with a great fuzz lead, punky sneering vocals and Farfisa pumping along in the background. It has a memorable guitar breaks in the middle of the song. Killer!!
It was originally assumed that The Bad Roads were from Texas however, this was untrue. They did travel to Houston in 1967 to appear on a The Larry Kane Show, a local TV music programme to lip-sync two songs. I wonder if the tape still exists?
The Bad Roads had all four of their songs re-issued by Sundazed in 1999 on a must have EP.
Closing out the album is Amos Boynton & The ABCs, the earlier incarnation of The Great Believers. This is a different version of ’Comin’ Up Fast’ with different lyrics, vocalists and a much heavier fuzz guitar line. This version was recorded in Tyler, Texas.
Records used on ’Acid Visions’:
THE GREAT BELIEVERS
’Comin’ Up Fast Part 1’/’Comin’ Up Fast Part 2’ (Cascade 365) January 1970 *see comment from MTM*
SCOTTY McKAY QUINTET
’The Train Kept A’Rollin’/’The Theme From The Black Cat’ (Falcon FIC-101) 1967
’Torture’/’It’s Just Your Mind’ (Sona USA-103) May 1967
’Enough Of What I Need’/’Hate’ (Brams Records BM-101) January 1967
’Time Machine’/’1000 Micrograms Of Love’ (Stefek Records S-621) June 1967
’Life Is So Tough’/’The Very First Time’ (New World 2008) 1965
’Walk’/’Girl From New York City’ (Swingtime SW-1001/2) 1966
THE BAD ROADS
’Blue Girl’/’Too Bad’ (JIN 45-210) September 1966
’Leavin’ Blues’/’Birds Can’t Row Boats’ (Pacemaker Records PM-243) 1966
**album take used on Acid Visions**
MTM: The Bad Roads single was released in September 1966.
The Great Believers 45 was released in January, 1970, likely as one of those ”cash-in” type deals, since Johnny was recording for Columbia Records at that time.
In my rather motley 45 collection, I do have the Stoics 45, bought from Doug Hanners after he found a box of them in a Texan warehouse and sold them for $12.00 each in the late 70’s. My copy was rather battered (but playable)and was autographed by W. Ash!
Paul Messis: Johnny Winters influenced my own ‘Why’, this LP was equally of an importance to me, it was one of my first garage comps I found around the age of 16.
The liners are wrong about ”Birds Can’t Row Boats.” It is not a ”slightly different take” but the music track overdubbed with a completely different vocal (not by Winter) and rewritten as ”The Statue.”
About Johnny Winter’s song: The text isn’t ”The reality of you turns them on”, but ”The reality of Hewitt turns them on” Hewitt was an Irish author, much beloved by Bod Dylan and the song ”Birds can’t row boats” is supposed to be written and sung in an exaggerated Dylan-style.
KEITH EVERETT – ’The Chant’/’Light Bulb’ (Mercury 72854) 1968
Keith Everett, real name Keith Gravenhorst had a big hit in Chicago on TMP-Ting Records ’Don’t You Know’/’Conscientious Objector’ and a follow up on the same label followed. However, his music career stalled somewhat when he was posted to Vietnam shortly after ’Don’t You Know’ started to make inroads on the charts. Presumably, the follow up was released whilst he was fighting the yellow man.
The Mercury release from 1968 is scarce but well worth tracking down. ’The Chant’ is hard driving bubblegum pop with fuzz about a runaway slave and his eventual murder by his captives after being shot in the ribs….nice…. Not a subject that would encourage radio airplay.
THE FANTASTIC ZOO – ’Midnight Snack’/’This Calls For A Celebration’ (Double Shot 105) November 1966
When The Fogcutters from Denver, Colorado relocated to Los Angeles sometime during 1966 they got a deal with the fledgling Hollywood label Double Shot who had just scored a big hit with ’Psychotic Reaction’ by The Count Five.
But for some insane reason ’Midnight Snack’ was deemed the potential hit and was thus The Fantastic Zoo’s debut A-Side. The song is tedious after a couple of listens, pretty much a Lovin’ Spoonful influenced novelty. Far superior is the flip ’This Calls For A Celebration’ which perfectly encapsulates L.A folk rock merging with the new sound of psychedelia.
THE MYSTERIES – ’Please Agree’/’I Find It’s True Love’ (Manhattan 815) November 1967
According to FA&F The Mysterians were a trio from Orlando in Florida who released three 45s during their existence, ’Please Agree’/’I Find It’s True Love’ was their second.
Releases on the Mike Curb/Sidewalk connection label Manhattan Records raise my interest as the latter also released 45s by garage greats The Painted Faces and The Satans but ’Please Agree’ is uptempo pop music in reality. Having said that it does have a somewhat unique sound and was a top ten hit in Orlando during January 1968.
Tom Bennett (drums)
Henry Seymour (bass)
Tom Zackton (guitar)
The Mysteries played around the Naples-Ft. Myers area as well… which is where they came to the attention of Wally Fredrickson Sr., whose son was a member of the Jesters. Fredrickson had connections to Harley Hatcher and Mike Curb, which is how the Jesters, Painted Faces, and Mysteries all wound up on Manhattan or Sidewalk.
FRONT PAGE NEWS – ’Thoughts’/’You Better Behave’ (Dial 4052) January 1967
’Thoughts’ has been comped several times over the years most recently on the Sundazed series Garage Beat ’66 from the mastertapes but that version is different with more fuzz action at the intro and outro, it also sounds slightly slower. The single release version on Dial is shorter and much more dynamic.
It was thought that Front Page News hailed from Fort Worth in Texas but according to the liners of Garage Beat ’66 – Volume 5, it seems that the group went to Fort Worth from Tulsa, Oklahoma to record their music under the name of The New Imperials. However, for reasons unknown their name was changed to Front Page News for the 45 release.
’Thoughts’ is a cool fuzz and tambourine bash with the kind of tune that hangs around in your mind for days. Needless to say it remained in obscurity.
THE DESCENDANTS – ’Garden Of Eden’/’Lela’ (MTA Records 112) November 1966
The gentle and soothing soft psychedelia of ’Garden Of Eden’ by New York group The Descendants has escaped the compilers over the years so I was pleased to put that right on my recent Cavestones series. ’Garden Of Eden’ is the type of song I’d imagine Simon & Garfunkel to come up with had they ever started to ease their minds with lysergia.
On the other side ’Lela’ is a fabulous burst of Bo Diddley shuffling energy and has cropped up several times on lame sounding compilations. Curiously, this 45 saw a release in England on CBS Records during January 1967.
I actually wrote Lela. We did that in one take. The drum solo could have been recorded better. We spent 7 days doing Garden of Eden, then had 1 hour to do Lela. I copied the feel etc from the rolling Stones song MONA.
In New Zealand this single was released on the Salem label: XS.119
THE HIGHER ELEVATION – ‘The Diamond Mine’/’Crazy Bicycle’ (Chicory Records CH-408) 1967
This is the second time out for The Higher Elevation on Flower Bomb songs.
’The Diamond Mine’ was written and performed by Dave Diamond, a Los Angeles DJ who played underground psych rock to the LA teens and no doubt influenced many people along the way with his airplay obscurities. His backing band on ’The Diamond Mine’ is The Higher Elevation.
’Crazy Bicycle’ has a very ’67 English mod sound with it’s Who/Action style background vocals and brass. More Rubble than Pebbles. An earlier incarnation of The Higher Elevation was The Monocles and their ’Spider And The Fly’/’On The Other Side Of Happiness’ was also released on Chicory Records, CH-407.
Both ’Spider And The Fly’ and ’The Diamond Mine’ were part of Pebbles Volume 3, ”The Acid Gallery”.
John Carter, the co writer of ‘Crazy Bicycle’ is the same John Carter who was one half of the Carter/Gilbert song writing team.
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH – ’Hard Woman’/ ‘Things Of The Past’ (Sur-Speed 223) 1967
This particular group/artist is not to be confused with The Fountain Of Youth who recorded for Colgems but one listen to this raw garage blast and I’m sure you’ll hear the difference anyway.
It is thought that this Fountain Of Youth were from Tennessee, although that conclusion is probably based on the location of the Sur-Speed label. The latter was owned and run by Nashville producer Red Wortham who also owned Bullet Records and Delta Records.
’Hard Woman’ is a hot garage rocker with a great surf guitar riff. The vocals are buried in the mix and the drums are primitive and cool, sounding like the guy is tapping away on monkey skulls. Listen out for the killer psych guitar break that ends the performance.
Forget about the flip ’Things Of The Past’ which is an early 60s teener ballad.