PREVIOUSLY ARCHIVED RECORD REVIEWS FROM MY OLD BLOG 'FLOWER BOMB SONGS'
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 GUILLOTEENS – ’I Don’t Believe’/’Hey You!’ ((HBR 446) August 1965
This entry is the first in a three part look at The Guilloteens HBR singles. They hailed from Memphis and were fortunate to have ’The King’ as a supporter who used his contacts to get them a regular booking at the Red Velvet Club in Hollywood.
Now that they were in Folk-Rock City and making money and meeting girls, the next step was to find a record label to release their sounds. This came in the unlikely form of HBR, a recently formed label mainly associated with cartoons.
The Lewis Paul Jr original ’I Don’t Believe’ was their first 45 and sold well in Los Angeles. The song is notable for it’s dense production and solid lead vocals by Lewis.
It’s interesting to note that The Guilloteens recorded an earlier demo of ’I Don’t Believe’ with help from Phil Spector. This version was never completed when the group signed to HBR.
The Moonrakers released their version of ’I Don’t Believe’ on Tower Records.
The flip ’Hey You!’ written and sung by Laddie Hutcherson is a solid Kinks style guitar rocker. The Guilloteens performed this song on Los Angeles TV Show Shiveree.
THE GUILLOTEENS – ’For My Own’/’Don’t Let The Rain Get You Down’ (HBR 451) October 1965
The Guilloteens follow up to ’I Don’t Believe’ was the superb punk jangler ’For My Own’…HBR even sent out some copies resplendent in a psychedelic picture cover. ’For My Own’ was, in my opinion, their finest two and a bit seconds of coolness. Strong vocals, chiming guitars, clattering tambourine and uncluttered production equals greatness in my book.
The flip ’Don’t Let The Rain Get You Down’ is a Brit Invasion ballad and is similar in sound and style to the slow paced ballads The Searchers churned out.
It was therefore no surprise to learn from Mike Markesich’s sleeve notes from The Guilloteens ’Complete Singles Collection’ released on Misty Lane Records, that the Memphis trio performed with The Searchers on TV Show Shindig playing the R’n’B standard ’I Got My Mojo Working’ and by all accounts out performed them.
THE GUILLOTEENS – ’I Sit And Cry’/’Crying All Over My Time’ (HBR 486) July 1966
Lead guitarist and main vocalist Lewis Paul Jr quit The Guilloteens in 1966 and the group also left Hollywood and returned to Memphis.
According to Laddie Hutcherson ”He was frustrated with the management.”
Budd Delaney was brought in on bass guitar and Laddie Hutcherson switched to lead guitar. Drummer, Joe Davis continued as the enigmatic sticksman.
Their third and final HBR release was the rockin’ garage bliss ’I Sit And Cry’ written by new member Delaney. This one pounds away at the senses from beginning to end. The flip ’Crying All Over My Time’ ain’t no slouch either and was compiled on Highs In The Mid Sixties – Volume 8.
Laddie Hutcherson died 2009
Joe Davis died 2008
THE THOMAS GROUP – ’Penny Arcade’/’Ordinary Girl’ (Dunhill 45-D-4027) March 1966
The Thomas Group, for whatever reason, have rarely been compiled and are unknowns to most. They were a group of clean cut teenagers that formed in 1965 at Beverley Hills High School, their style of play was not influenced by the so called Brit Invasion but pure pop with surf and folk rock overtones.
They were talent spotted by Dunhill Records and put under the tutorage of famed songwriters P.F. Sloan & Steve Barri who wrote, arranged and produced most of their material. The Los Angeles ’Wrecking Crew’ of Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborne (bass) and Larry Knechtel (keyboards) laid down the backbeats. What The Thomas Group contributed in the studio is therefore unclear, probably just the vocals.
Curiously no Thomas Group songs were compiled on the recent Sloan & Barri CD collection released by Ace in 2010.
Both sides are sunshine pop charmers, well written and executed as you would expect. The falsetto on the chorus of ’Penny Arcade’ is P.F. Sloan.
I had this 45 when I was a kid (DJ 45 just like the one pictured) and while I knew it wasn’t a hit, it may as well have been as many spins as it got on my record player back then.
The fact that it’s virtually unknown is criminal. Another fun fact I haven’t seen mentioned here is that drummer Tony Thomas is the son of actor Danny Thomas.
Yo, Bubblegum Skinny-A real pleasure to hear that you enjoyed this record back when!!Thank you for your comment. It’s way cool. Greg Gilford THOMAS GROUP
Frank Young: I was the project creator of the Ace Records Sloan-Barri CD. I’d originally hoped it would include a lot more Dunhill material. Alas, the evil Universal/MCA monster own all the Dunhill masters.
Their exorbitant licensing fees lessened our ability to have Dunhill material on the disc. Ace Records hasn’t spoken to me since the CD came out, so I assume it hasn’t sold well.
They won’t answer my e-mails and I’ve quite frankly given up on pursuing more projects in the CD realm.
THE THOMAS GROUP – ’Autumn’/’Don’t Start Me Talkin’ ’Bout My Baby’ (Dunhill 45-D-4030) May 1966
The second Thomas Group 45 was released a few months after their debut and sold well in some markets. Their profile was raised when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and performed ’Autumn’…Dear ’Old Ed’ introduced them as having a ’groovy, smooth rock sound’….
Once again P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri wrote and produced both sides adding background vocals. The sound of ’Autumn’ is uplifting pure pop and should have been a massive hit, especially with the Ed Sullivan Show exposure.
Autumn is one of Sloan/Barri’s most beautiful songs. Sloan’s own demo of it, also beautiful, is available on the PF Sloan fan group at http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/pfsloan.You have to register and look around a bit to find it. Trivia: the drummer in The Autumn Group is now a Hollywood lawyer who earned a shout out from Jeff Bridges when he accepted an oscar for Crazy Heart. Just discovered this site, really like it. AP
I am really digging the Thomas Group, both ”Autumn” and ”I’ve Got No More To Say” were new for me. As ever Colin I am deeply in your debt!
Really cool to see comments from Anonymous & Keith B. Thank you. Just for the record, the drummer in Thomas Group is the son of Danny Thomas, an ultra successful actor/producer in Hollywood, 1950s-1990s. Tony, the drummer, went on to produce numerous smash TV shows. The ‘Hollywood’ lawyer of the group: Robert Wallerstein. So thanks- Greg Gilford, Thomas Group.
THE THOMAS GROUP – ’I’ve Got No More To Say’/’Then It Begins’ (RCA Victor D-4062) January 1967 (Canadian release)
The third Thomas Group single was released during the first month of 1967, some copies were housed in a picture sleeve. The back of the sleeve contained information about the group and it’s members. It also confirmed that P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri were writing and producing exclusively for The Thomas Group. As it turned out, this 45 would be the last one written by the famous songwriting duo.
’I’ve Got No More To Say’ has a passing Beatles influence and is probably the only song they recorded with an ’English’ sound. The flip ’Then It Begins’ comes across like a clever re-write of ’Red Rubber Ball’.
Tony Thomas (drums)
Greg Gilford (organ/lead vocals)
Marty Howard (lead guitar)
Robert Wallerstein (rhythm guitar)
David Goldsmith (bass)
In late 1967, Steven Gaines replaced Marty Howard on lead guitar.
Amazing to see this! Incredible that there’s a copy of this around, still! From the lead singer, Thomas Group- Greg Gilford. Thank you for posting!!
THE THOMAS GROUP – ’Is Happy This Way’/’Ordinary Girl’ (Dunhill D-4117) November 1967
The final Thomas Group single was the sunshine pop tune ’Is Happy This Way’ written by Susan Haber who wrote ’Please Don’t Ever Leave Me’ for The Cyrkle. This time around the lead vocals from Greg Gilford were blended with Steve Barri’s.
The single flopped and although The Thomas Group recorded other songs for possible future release the record label dropped them thus ending the career of a promising pop group that had sadly failed to sell 45s in any significant quantity.
Back in 1988 Big Beat released a pair of cool vinyl comps ”Dunhill Folk Rock Vol 1 had ”Is Happy This Way” whilst Vol 2 had ”Penny Arcade” along side MFQ, Jerry Yester, Terry Black, the Iguanas and The Lamp Of Childhood and many others
I got both of those Dunhill LP comps back in the 80s. They’re such a brilliant collection, full of classy folk rock and other oddities.
Hopefully one day The Thomas Group will get a collection released with those unreleased songs. An albums worth of material lies in the vaults somewhere.
I know that last year Gear Fab Records was in discussions to produce a Thomas Group comp. I don’t know what the current status is; it’d be more than welcomed…
The deal fell apart but it’d be cool to bring the idea back. I’ve got a proposal for an 18 song CD comp of the complete THOMAS GROUP recorded collection. Contact me at Greg.Gilford@Gmail.com
Indeed. I have an 18 song complete collected recordings of THOMAS GROUP, which Gear Fab was considering doing. Universal Music Group controls the Dunhill and ABC/Dunill masters.
They can be very problematic in the licensing of their sound recording copyrights. So, even without Universal, THOMAS GROUP has 11 recordings ready for CD comp release! Contact Greg.Gilford@Gmail.com
THE BLUES MAGOOS – ’So I’m Wrong And You Are Right’/’The People Had No Faces’ (Verve Folkways KF-5044) Feb 1967
Sometime in 1964 a teen band from Bronx, NY calling themselves The Trenchcoats were formed by schoolmates Ralph Scala (vocals/keyboards) and Ronnie Gilbert (bass). They were joined by John Finnegan (drums), Dennis Lapore (guitar) and Emil ’Peppy’ Theilhelm (guitar).
Noteworthy gigs in Greenwich Village at the Cafe Wha? and the Nite Owl followed. By now they had been renamed The Bloos Magoos. In September 1965, the group recorded some tracks including both songs on this disc that were written and produced by Rick Shorter.
According to the liners of the official Mercury CD ’The Best Of The Blues Magoos – Kaleidoscopic Compendium’ this record remained in the can until it’s release during February 1967, seemingly as a cash in on the big success the group were having with the classic 45 ‘(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet’.
Those familiar with The Blues Magoos music will no doubt be surprised that ’So I’m Wrong And You Are Right’ and indeed the flip ’The People Had No Faces’ are folk rock tunes with Jaggeresque vocals.
Their famous farfisa groove and hard psychedelic guitar sound was clearly not in evidence on these early recordings.
This was initially released in early January, 1966. It’s on Verve-Folkways #5006, credited as the Bloos Magoos A Record World magazine announcement by the label stated this 45 and a few others would be issued the first week of January.
Of course, the label tried to cash-in once ”Nothin’ Yet” was quickly ascending to the Top Ten nationally. So in February 1967, it was re-released, on Verve-Folkways 5044, with the updated group name. On a side note, it would be great if you, or someone could find Rick Shorter and get his story! MopTopMike
THE BLUES MAGOOS – ’Tobacco Road’ (Fontana LP TL.5402) 1966
The Blues Magoos made the switch from Verve Folkways to Mercury in early ’66 and started work on material which would become their studio album ’Psychedelic Lollipop’.
A slight line-up change also occurred with Geoff Daking taking over on drums.
In England the album was released on Fontana and simply named ’Blues Magoos. No need for the cringeworthy American title.
The first Blues Magoos single to be released was ’Tobacco Road’/’Sometimes I Think About’ on (Mercury 72590) in June 1966. It’s a single that doesn’t often come up for sale and one that I don’t have in my archives..
The Blues Magoos probably heard this song from The Nashville Teens who had a top 10 hit in England with it in June 1964. The Blues Magoos version keeps a similar beat/tempo but a freak out mid section is introduced employing tape delay with some psych noise effects to achieve a psychotic/lysergic throb, but at over 4 minutes long the 45 had no chance of being played on the radio and it sank.
I picked up my mono copy on Fontana from a long gone record shop in Camden Town, London back in 1987 for £20. A lot of money for me in those days but I simply had to have it.
THE BLUES MAGOOS – ‘(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet’/’Gotta Get Away’ (Mercury 72622) Nov 1966
The garage anthem that is ‘(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet’ was written in mid ’66 in the basement at the Albert Hotel, NYC where The Blues Magoos used to practice. Little did they know at the time that this song would propel the group into the Top 5 on Billboard and the associated fame and glory.
At just over 2 minutes long ‘(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet’ is a swirling mass of organ, trippy lead guitar and pounding bass. The sound was just right for late 1966 and with their super cool image and bowl haircuts, well, The Blues Magoos had the sound, the look and plenty of swagger.
The flip ’Gotta Get Away’ is equally as good and could easily have been a hit in it’s own right. The record got exposure in France and Holland with copies coming housed in fab picture sleeves. It also got a release in England but failed to dent the charts.
THE AMERICAN BEETLES – ’Say You Do’/’I Wish You Everything’ (Yorey Records Y-1001) 1965
This group from Florida had a very unfortunate name, some would say an appalling one. Just what were they thinking of? Fortunately by 1966 they had the good sense to rename themselves The Razer’s Edge.
Soundwise The American Beetles had a very raw British Invasion approach with the flip ’Say You Do’ being a prime example of their undiluted teenbeat punch.
The A-Side ’I Wish You Everything’ is a slow beat ballad with some sweet harmonies and is pretty much mainstream radio fodder.
New York producer Bob Yorey was responsible for getting The American Beetles sound down on tape for this release and I’m guessing that Yorey Records was his label.
The American Beetles performed at my Dad’s nightclub in the mid 60’s I got to play my first song ever on stage with them…Twist & Shout…way cool on my first electric guitar a Futurama !
I performed with The American Beetles in the mid 60s at the 40 Thieves Club in Bermuda. It was my first song I ever played with a band! We sand Twist and Shout….I wonder where these guys are now…Billy, Tom & Victor were 3 of the guys names….
I believe this is the band I saw several times in the 60’s at Frenchy’s, Hayward California!! Dave Heironymus, drummer!?
I saw the American Beetles in hayward, ca during the 60’s
THE AMERICAN BEETLES – ’Hey Hey Girl’/’School Days’ (Roulette R-4559) 1964
Here’s another great single by The American Beetles and again both sides are produced by Bob Yorey. He is even responsible for writing the energetic Invasion style rocker ’Hey Hey Girl’….it has to be said that there’s a big nod to The Dave Clark Five on this cut with it’s thumping bass lines and primitive drums pounding away in the background.
The flip is a cover of ’School Days’ by Chuck Berry.
Victor is my fave uncle. He’s doing great! I’ll never forget the first time he came up in that getup. me and my little girlfriends like to have died at his feet! he’s awesome
THE BUNDLES – ’Mark My Words’ (unreleased Autumn Records recording 1965)
Another group who sadly failed to release anything on Autumn Records despite recording for the label were The Bundles. Little is known about them or why label owners Tom Donahue and Bobby Mitchell did not release the solid two sides of ’Mark My Words’ and ’Watch Me Girl’ that were left in the Autumn Records vaults.
’Mark My Words’ is a memorable folk rock jangler with fuzz guitar and would have made a stunning 45 release. It took almost thirty years to be heard but once again we have Big Beat to thank for rescuing The Bundles music. Both sides were compiled on ’Dance With Me’…
THE US – ’Just Me’ (unreleased Autumn Records recording 1965)
I’ve been playing the Big Beat CD ’Dance With Me’ sub title ’The Autumn Teen Sound’ daily for the past week and it’s an absolute delight full of obscure releases on Autumn Records as well as recordings that were left in their vaults.
One such previously unreleased Autumn Records recording is the folk rock coolness of ’Just Me’/’How Can I Tell Her’. According to the liners, this single was shelved when The Us fell out with label owner Tom Donahue and Autumn Records producer Sly Stewart.
They felt that the songs needed a string arrangement but The Us leader Bob Segarini refused his songs being ’sweetened’ in such a way. A tough stance to have when your group hasn’t even released a record.
Neither side backed down and this stalemate meant that the proposed 45 was never released and despite huge promise, The Us broke up soon after.
During their short lifespan The Us were based in San Francisco, although they were regulars to the Sunset Strip during the folk rock boom of 1965. The picture above shows them outside hip club London Fog on Sunset Blvd.
Bob Segarini formed The Family Tree following the demise of The Us.
GILES STRANGE – ’Watch The People Dance’/’You’re Goin’ Up To The Bottom’ (Boom 45-60.022) Nov 1966
The Strangeloves hit big in mid 1965 with the classic ’I Want Candy’ and had a couple of hits afterwards but by the turn of ’66 the trio of Bob Feldman, Richard Gottehrer and Jerry Goldstein were mainly writing songs and undertaking production work for other bands.
An exception was this cool two sided winner from Giles Strange a.k.a. Jerry Goldstein that had all of the right commercial moves but went nowhere.
He wrote, arranged and produced both sides of the disc and in a perfect world it would have been a smash. It’s quite a difficult record to locate and is relatively unknown and uncompiled.
The 45 was also released in England in December 1966 (Stateside SS 570) but missed the charts and probably never got near a radio playlist.
love the subject matter in this song – how hard life on the road is; the monotony, the adoring girls boyfriends dirty looks, the lack of creativeness!! No wonder the Strangeloves sent out impostors to be them whilst they stayed in the studio.
THE OTHER FOUR – ’Searching For My Love’/’Why?’ (Musette Records 6517) 1965
According to the liners of ’Fuzz, Flaykes & Shakes – Vol 2’, The Other Four were a group of teenagers from San Diego. They had previously called themselves The Man-Dells and had released a 45 ’Oh No’/’Bonnie’ for the Dandy label. I’ve not heard this but it gets a decent review in the tome ’Fuzz, Acid & Flowers’.
The A-Side ’Why?’ is excellent teen garage with some stabbing organ work by a kid called Rick Randle. The flip ’Searching For My Love’ is where it’s at though. I love this Beatleseque jangle folk rocker and heartfelt lyrics of lost love. Fragile and charming in equal measure.
This is a great track, both Man-Dells tracks and 6 by the Other Four (including Searching For My Love) are added on to the Brain Police CD on Normal Records.
THE OTHER FOUR – ’Once And For All Girl’/’These Are The Words’ (P.L.A.Y. Records 711) 1966
The next Other Four release was this pop charmer on the obscure P.L.A.Y. label with the jangle beat and harmonies of the top side ’Once And For All Girl’ being an obvious stand out. There’s some adventurous organ work on this side, an all round cool song. It’s more pop than garage and something The Monkees would have had a hit with.
The flip ’These Are The Words’ is a pleasant lyte pop song with more gorgeous harmonies.
THE BANANA – ’She’s Gone’ (Norton ED-289) rec 1967
The Norton label vinyl comp ’Aliens, Psychos and Wild Things’ is an essential release full of rare and unissued Virginia garage from 1964-67. The real find for me is an acetate by The Banana on which they have crudely recorded The Velvet Underground’s ’There She Goes Again’ and a memorable folk jangler called ’She’s Gone’.
The fascinating story behind The Banana can be found in Ugly Things #24. Amazingly, the group were a combo assembled from American soldiers serving in Vietnam during 1966-67. Leader Dean Kohler had previously performed in a Portsmouth group called The Satellites but then got drafted to kill the yellow man.
While in Vietnam he some how cobbled together a group, pitched a tent and hooked the instruments up with a generator and proceeded to record some songs live using bamboo microphone stands.
’She’s Gone’ is a sublime Kohler original and a fitting reminder of The Banana’s ingenuity.
THE SATANS – ’Makin’ Deals’/’Lines And Squares’ (Manhattan 801) May 1966
Absolute genius record by a group that has so far avoided much recognition, I’m sure that would change if information was known about them. It appears that The Satans hailed from Fullerton, California and were produced by Sidewalk Records guy Bob Sommers who also produced records by The Sweets, The Unforscene and 18th Century Concepts (I’m sure there’s more).
With a name like The Satans and a song about selling your soul to the Devil I’m not sure that ’Makin’ Deals’ would get much radio play. But it’s such a strange world that 45 years later I’m posting it on my blog without such unnecessary censorship.
When I checked the £ to the $ rate this morning (something I do everyday since I buy records from USA) it was 1.666. Now that was surely a sign to write about The Satans.
check out these lyrics from ’Makin’ Deals’
”Like I said before
I’m the man that makes the deals.
I make them for your soul
Whatever you feel.
So sign your name
On the dotted line
Give you what you want
But your soul is mine.”
The flip ’Lines And Squares’ is less intimidating but it’s still a cool folk rocker and well worth hearing.
The Fullerton, CA connection was sourced from me back in the mid 90s. I tried to find these guys for over a decade. The only names I have are Mike Murphy and Randy Stewart. Both resided in Fullerton, CA. ”Makin’ Deals” got a Record World pick to click mention.
I always had it that these cars were a Louisiana band thanks to the Eva comp and the distribution address on the label. What’s the chance that these cats were a studio creation? I’m guessing pretty high.
THE NIGHTCRAWLERS – ’A Basket Of Flowers’/’Washboard’ (Kapp K-746) Feb 1966
The Nightcrawlers from Daytona Beach, Florida, had a sizeable hit with their first record ’The Little Black Egg’. Their second single was the Byrdsian 12 string folk rockin’ tambourine bashin’ ’A Basket Of Flowers’, first on the local label Marlin, then released throughout USA on Kapp Records.
Here’s what Nightcrawlers lead guitarist Sylvan Wells had to say about ’A Basket Of Flowers’. *
”The lyric idea for ’A Basket Of Flowers’ was Rapunzel in the tower. It was really written around the chord progression which I came up with then vocalist Charlie Conlon and I finished it off. The chords are very complicated for a rock ’n’ roll song.
I used a Mosrite 12 string guitar that we would borrow from the music store in Sanford. We did like The Byrds and all that stuff”.
(* quote taken from the Big Beat liners of The Nightcrawlers CD)