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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 a 1965 Parade magazine.

THE HELLO PEOPLE – ’If I Should Sing Too Softly’/’Pray For Rain’ (Philips 40572) Nov 1968

The Hello People were a manufactured group put together by producer Lew Futterman and based in New York. He had the grand idea to merge musicians with mime to create a new sound; that at least was the concept, although the flower pop of ’If I Should Sing Too Softly’ is pure 1968 both in sound and production. The song remains uncompiled.

At their gigs The Hello People would perform in weird clothing and wear mime make-up. They would not talk to the audience between songs instead perform short mime acts.

This concept and the quality of their music may have extended their lifespan as group. They released several singles and three studio albums before the decade ended.

Ex Remains drummer Norman Smart is known to have performed with The Hello People and is believed to have played percussion on their records.

They performed on some TV Shows notably The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Johnny Carson Tonight Show and these performances can be located on You Tube.

(12/02/11)

THE SUNSHINE COMPANY – ’Back On The Street Again’/’A Year Of Janie Time’ (Liberty 15034) Oct 1967

The phrase sunshine pop couldn’t be any more apt to describe the lyte flower power sounds of the classic ’Back On The Street Again’…. The Sunshine Company formed in Los Angeles during 1967 and combined their soft vocal harmonies with the folk rock sound to produce two and a bit minutes of perfect harmony pop.

You may note that this German release is an edited version with a faded outro.

Comparisons with The Mamas And The Papas were inevitable but the group were quick to distance themselves from that outfit during an interview with KRLA Beat.

Leader Maury Manseau stated:

”I think the comparison is valid only in the fact that both of us are vocal groups. But then – it’s not really that either, because we do our own instrumentals all the time, and they have a band behind them. I think we’ve got our own thing and it’s different.” 

’Back On The Streets Again’ was a hit and work poured in. They appeared on TV Shows Joey Bishop, Woody Woodbury and The Laugh In. Maybe one day tapes of these performances will show up on You Tube.

The Sunshine Company also recorded a vocal backing for a Clairol TV Commercial.

Compilation appearances have been rare (they won’t appeal to the fuzz and farfisa crowd) but this song surfaced on Nuggets Volume 10 (Rhino Records) back in the mid 80s.

Guitarist Douglas Mark was previously a member of The Grains Of Sand.

(12/02/11)

KATFISH – ’Dear Prudence’/’Street Walkin’ (Big Tree Records BTS-16045) 1975

Sometimes the 70s threw up some strange curios, records that belonged in another time. Take this 45 from Katfish who were believed to be from Lewiston, Maine. They probably went into the studio to record gig favourite ’Dear Prudence’ but it came out at the other end sounding like a record from late 1969 thanks in every way to producer Bob Herne’s psychedelic studio tricks.

He served his time well in the late 60s producing for The Flat Earth Society and Lazy Smoke.

”Dear Prudence won’t you come out to play,
Dear Prudence greet the brand new day”

There’s a picture cover of this release and it shows a four piece group in daft ’70s clobber so it doesn’t look like Katfish were on some kind of ’60s revival trip. The flip ’Street Walkin’ is a typical ’70s rocker and probably a good indication of what they sounded like most of the time.

Readers comments:
We saw Katfish in the early 70’s be fore they opened for Aerosmith in Lewiston and they were a great band to bad for bad management I miss going to the bars and clubs to hear them play Best wishes boys. spear.mike@ymail.com

Yes, we were from Lewiston Maine. We recorded these tunes at EAB Studios, and Bobby Hearne engineered and produced us. The owner of EAB, Ed Boucher loved the Beatles and encouraged us to record this, and at his expense, we did. Being the confident, cocky 19 year old’s we were, we thought an up-tempo cover of this great Beatle tune would be kool.

It caught the ear of the president of BIg Tree Records and they released it nation wide the summer of 1975, it got as high as 63 on the Billboard Hot 100, if memory serves, and stayed on the charts for 8 weeks.

It got us the opportunity to open for the likes of, Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels, Brownsville Station to name a few.

We had a heady, glorious short lived run, but what a blast! Not too shabby for 4 nobody’s from a a little mill town in Maine. We all still perform and record to this day in our various own musical projects and are all still friends.

Katfish was:
Nick Knowlton, vocals
Jeff Wright, guitar
Maurice McKenna, bass, vocals 
John G. Hart, drums – Rock on! (*John sent this update)

Hello John: I really loved that song when I was a kid, I was 13 when it was out. I remember the store and the other 45 I got with dear prudence – it was ABBA – S.O.S. Played the shit out of both 45s – A-side and B-side of both.

I just played ”Dear Prudence” and I wondered ”Did they have a follow-up single?

Did a search on ”google” and found this article. So, Did you guys have any other records? Maybe a local single? I would like to hear it.

Tried searching on eBay and I found a local pressing of ”Dear Prudence” on Gonad, with picture sleeve – bought it! There were a couple of Big tree pressings but no other single. Just wanted you to know I still love that version of the song. As far as I am concerned it is the best version. Good Job!! Later Ed S

Nick knowliton the singer/vocals still preforms for fusions at the Ramada inn in Lewiston he has his own business the music connection sings for weddings and events he’s still a awesome singer.

Did you guys play in Portland at Deering Oaks in the late 70’s? If so, I remember it being awesome. I had been trying to find more info over the years but I thought it was ”Catfish”

Hey Rick, yes we did. It was a promotion (if memory serves …been a few decades bro) by a popular Portland Maine Top 40 radio station then called WJBQ. We set up in the middle of Deering Oaks as I recall on top of a flatbed truck trailer.

We just rolled up one nice summer afternoon. We set our own gear up. In those primitive days, bands even brought their own P.A Systems.

We just cranked old school from the stage with our Marshall Stack for guitar, Univox for bass, Lead singer screaming thru the P.A, and me bashing my Ludwig kit with baseball bats for sticks and let her rip!! It had a crazy turnout as I recall.

It was promoted heavily by one radio station. No, social media back then man, just peeps that listened to good radio, and starved for great free rock that we were glad to deliver.

It would be called a flash mob now I guess? I even have pics from that show if you want them just contact me at drummers@maine.rr.com. I am only on this site tonight because I stumbled on it due to my wife watching boring gardening shows and I was learning some new blues licks and migrated here some how.!! Too funny!.

John, This goes back, but wanted to express to you how much I liked this cover and *still* like it more than the The Beatles original! I remember when your version came out in Maine.

It did get some good airplay on radio stations like WJBQ (and a lot of requests). I bought the 45 and still have it, what, some 40 or so years and 10 moves in 5 states ago! Was there ever an LP? I know I saw you guys a few times.

Listened to Aerosmith a lot back then and thought you opened for them maybe at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, no? If not, there was a place in L.A called The Bird I sometimes went to, which closed some years ago, I think, so maybe it was there.

I gather Lewiston has changed a lot in recent years. Is WBLM still there? Glad to hear you’re all still doing music, and wonder if you’ve ever considered, just for kicks, a reunion to record another great cover? Technology has made audio/video easier, faster, and cheaper, ya know… Best wishes to you all. W.L.

So sorry, I just learned Nick Knowlton passed away in 2017.

(12/02/11)

THE BANANA SPLITS – ’Wait Til Tomorrow’/’We’re The Banana Splits’ (Decca 32391) September 1968

Unknown but hip session musicians drop some acid and turn on their minds and create the lush baroque sunshine pop masterpiece ’Wait Til Tomorrow’ complete with some tripped out harpsichord. Too bad the tune was intended for kids TV Show The Banana Splits and was ignored at the time then forgotten.

But were they unknown but hip session musicians? They were probably unknown to most but they were professionals.

Co-Writers Ritchie Adams and Mark Barkan wrote many of the songs ’performed’ by The Banana Splits and The Archies.

Dig a little deeper and it transpires that Mark Barkan produced The Deep album ’Psychedelic Moods’ and co-wrote two songs from that set ’Crystal Nite’ and ’Trip #76’.

He also released a 45 in his own right ’A Great Day For The Clown’/’Pity The Woman’ on December Records. ’Pity The Woman’ is a fantastic mod dancer just waiting to be re-discovered.

Mark Barkan also produced the incredible psych killer ’The Life Game’ for Ry Cooper released on Musicor Records and wrote songs for The Monkees and lots of other performers that fall under the radar of my blog. 

(11/02/11)

THE HIGHER ELEVATION – ’Summer Skies’/’Country Club Affair’ (Liberty 56035) 1968

’Summer Skies’ is a perfect up-tempo pop song to listen to especially during these cold English Winter nights. The Higher Elevation were previously called The Monocles and were a big hit in their locale of Colorado.

During mid 1967 the group decided to give themselves a ’hipper’ name and so they changed to The Higher Elevation and relocated to Los Angeles.

They hooked up with producer Frank Slay who has been mentioned on my blog before (he also produced The Yankee Dollar & Strawberry Alarm Clock) and recorded this perfect sunshine pop number at Sunset Studios in Hollywood Blvd. Both sides of this disc were written by song writing team John Carter and Tim Gilbert.

In a perfect world this would have been a huge hit but the record sank without much trace…..

(10/02/11)

THE MAGICIANS – ’Lady Fingers’/’Double Good Feeling’ (Columbia 4-44061) 1967

New York group The Magicians are perhaps best known for their classic ’An Invitation To Cry’ but even the greatness of that recording failed to give them the hit it deserved. Thankfully many more people were able to hear the song via the original Nuggets LP.

One of THEE very best psych tinged folk rock records was ’Lady Fingers’ recorded in January 1967 and released as their final single on Columbia (after it flopped The Magicians were dropped by the label).

Written by Magicians Alan Gordon and Garry Bonner ’Lady Fingers’ is an absolute jewel complete with complex and sublime harmonies.

(10/02/11)

DON AND THE GOODTIMES – ’I Could Be So Good To You’/’And It’s So Good’ (Epic 5-10145) April 1967

This combo were originally from Portland but relocated to Los Angeles in October 1966 and quickly established themselves as a hot new teen act on the Sunset Strip. They were often on TV during this time frame appearing on shows including Lloyd Thaxton, Joey Bishop, Woody Woodbury, Hollywood A Go Go and becoming a house band on Where The Action Is.

’I Could Be So Good To You’ sees the group trading in their tuff North West punk sound for a commercial sunshine pop approach. The Beach Boys/Association influence is in evidence on this classy hit 45.

Members Don Galluci, Jeff Hawkes and Joey Newman formed Touch when Don and the Goodtimes faded from the scene.

Thanks. It’s also notable that Don Galucci went on to produce for Elektra Records, one of his noted productions being Fun House by the Stooges.

(09/02/11)

THE YELLOW PAYGES – ’Crowd Pleaser’/’You’re Just What I Was Looking For Today’ (UNI 55089) Nov 1968

To start off my blog entries of  sunshine lyte winners how about this uncompiled and forgotten nugget by The Yellow Payges. The top side of the 45 is the Cream like wah wah rocker ’Crowd Pleaser’ but flip it over for the flower pop of ’You’re Just What I Was Looking For Today’.

The Yellow Payges began life as The Driftones but a change of name and a little bit of luck saw them becoming the houseband at The Hullabaloo on the Sunset Strip.

Indeed they played most nights during ’66-’67 at one of L.A’s various hip joints and were a very popular group but national success never came.

’You’re Just What I Was Looking For Today’ was written by the famous song writing team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin and this cut was produced at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood by in demand L.A producer Norm Ratner who had previously worked with luminaries such as The Bees, The Leaves, The Regents, The Hook and my favourites W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band.

The single was a Billboard Spotlight pick in November 1968 but went nowhere.

’You’re Just What I Was Looking For Today’ was also recorded by Them, you can find their take on the album ’Now And Them’…. 

(08/02/11)

THE FIVE BUCKS – ’Now You’re Gone’/’No Use In Tryin’ (Afton Records 1701) April 1966

This teenage garage band formed at the University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor during August 1965. All group members had played in earlier outfits before relocating to Michigan and were all solid musicians. That tightness is in evidence with their debut single on Afton Records, released some eight months after their formation.

The top side ’Now You’re Gone’ is a wonderful moody ballad with some great vocals and mournful organ. The flip ’No Use In Tryin’ is one of the best ’66 punkers to come out of Michigan and is notable for it’s superb vocal harmonies and killer farfisa break.

By 1967 The Five Bucks had changed their name to Byzantine Empire and were releasing quality Association style harmony pop on Amy Records.

(25/01/11)

THE LOST CHORDS – ’I Won’t Have To Worry’/’I Want To Be Her Man’ (Vaughn Ltd VA-725) March 1966

I’ve taken a day off work and I’m stuck in the house waiting for a delivery hence the reason that I’m adding a few blog entries today. I promised Mr Messis that I’d add some of his favourite teen angst and desperate cuts. He really digs the beyond great folk rock whine of ’I Want To Be Her Man’.…check it out on ’Class Of 66’….

’I Won’t Have To Worry’ is a blatant steal of ’You Won’t Have To Cry’ by The Byrds but who cares about that when this young garage outfit from Birmingham, Alabama fondly re-write the tune and the words and call the song their own. Listen out for the crude guitar break and harmonies.

The Lost Chords have found their rightful place on my blog with their heartfelt genius. Gene Clark would have been all smiles.

Readers comments:
my grandfather is Jimmy Whitworth. he is the one on the record.

If this record is the one that list j Whitworth above the name of the group. I would love to buy it. also interested in pics of the group. I can be contacted at lacynajarro@yahoo.com

trying to put something together. my dad was j Whitworth. lacynajarro@yahoo.com. do u have any photos

(25/01/11)

THE TYRANNIES – ’She’s A Queen’/’Little Girl’ (Watch Records 45-1903) June 1965

Not a great deal of information is known about The Tyrannies who put out this obscure folk rock gem in the Summer of 1965. According to Fuzz, Acid and Flowers they hailed from Abita Springs, Louisiana and this was their only release. Surprisingly, they don’t get a mention in Barry Wickham’s Price Guide?

’She’s A Queen’ is a minor key lament of a lost love. The singer has been dumped by his girl but to him she’s still his Queen. You’ll find this song on the compilation ’Class Of 66’ but the flip and more up-tempo folk rock jangler ’Little Girl’ has been overlooked by compilers.

The Tyrannies were a very good Garage band in the Covington, Louisiana area back in the 60s. The late Thurman Lytell was the leader of the band.

(25/01/11)

RON GRAY – ’Hold Back The Sunrise’ /’The Shake’ (HBR 488) July 1966

This obscure record by Ron Gray on the collectable Hanna Barbera label is currently flavour of the month amongst mod collectors and/or 60s Club Scene DJs. There is no predicting at the moment just how many $$ it could go for, at least upward of $400…

’Hold Back The Sunrise’ has been known for some time though, way before the trendy mods caught wind of this minor key moody masterpiece. Way cool, inspirational organ and fuzz garage sound on this one.

It certainly merits it’s status. The record got a small advert in Billboard magazine – August 1966.

The flip ’The Shake’ sounds like it could have come from a much earlier period. Some solid guitar on this rocker.

But what about Ron Gray? According to Barry Wickham’s garage records price guide he hailed from Monroe, Louisiana and released another 45 on N-Joy Records.

Gary Gray: Ron Gray was my father and I remember in the mid 60’s when he recorded this song, and others. I still have a 45 of it in my home. Ron is still alive, lives in the Dallas Texas area.

He did live in Monroe for a time, but he was raised in Springhill, Louisiana and that is where I was born also. I have several of the original 45’s he made and still remember the music very well.

(10/11/10)

EMBRYO INFINITY REBIRTH – ’Walls’/’Let Me Tell You A Story’ (Way Out Records W 105) 1971

Here’s a very strange and obscure record from 1971… First of all what a fantastic name for a band, Embryo Infinity Rebirth…what the hell does that mean? The downer psych sound is pure 67/68 period, maybe the songs on this disc were recorded then but released some years later.

Way Out Records were a small independent label operating out of Cleveland, Ohio. Some sources suggest that this is where the group hailed from, but information from the Buckeye Beat website places Embryo Infinity Rebirth from Pittsburgh.

’Walls’ is a tripped out acid drenched stoner, haunting and sparse in equal measure. The production is not the best but get past the muddiness and it’s a killer.

The flip ’Let Me Tell You A Story’ sounds like a bunch of hippies singing around a camp fire with everyone joining in, including the hand clappin’ woman who heats the big pan of beans and sausages.

(08/11/10)

THE GUYS WHO CAME UP FROM DOWNSTAIRS – ’Growth’/’Nothing We Can Do!’ (Disc-Guys 6836) 1968

’Growth’ is a pounding fuzz and farfisa punk tune by a combo of teens with one of the worst group names of the 60s. They arrived at the name because they used to practice downstairs in the basement at drummer Chuck Farnum’s house (natch)…

The Guys….hailed from Iowa and may have even been stars in their own street. The flip ’Nothing We Can Do!’ is a jangly sad lament that could have been superb with some clattering tambourine.

line-up:
Chuck Farnum (vocals/drums)
Mark Hanchar (guitar)
Jack Goodenow (farfisa)
Rod Reynolds (bass)

That’s my dad’s band, how funny. They made it onto the TV show, Happening ’68. Guess they were not ”Happening” enough they lost. You should see the picture I have!

(19/10/10)

THE SATYRS – ’Yesterday’s Hero’/’Marie’ (Spectrum 2668) 1968

This all time classic garage single was released by a bunch of teens from Haddon Heights, New Jersey in 1968. According to Bob Agnew, guitarist from the group, they were a gigging unit for about a year competing in ’Battle Of The Bands’ contests and the other low key performances like teen dances etc.

They did get to support a couple of bigger name bands in Philadelphia namely, The Ultimate Spinach and Mandrake Memorial but other than that and this great one sided disc, The Satyrs drifted away just like so many groups did back in those days.

According to Bob Agnew both sides were recorded at Admiral Wilson Blvd Studio in Camden on a two track unit.

Only 400 records were pressed making it a difficult 45 to track down and when it does come up for sale it’s usually sought after. Shame my copy has ”Mike” and ”843” written on the label, this could indicate that it came from a local radio station….

line-up:
Bob Agnew (guitar)
Mike Doerr (vocals)
Craig Morrill (bass/vocals)
Andy Madajewski (drums)
Kenny Reibel (organ)

(18/10/10)

A LITTLE BIT OF SOUND – ’Incense And Peppermints’/’I Want You To Know’ (Carole Records 1002) October 1967

Carole Records, a division of Sidewalk Records were a small Los Angeles label distributed by GNP Crescendo but who & why & where obscurities A Little Bit Of Sound came from is unknown. Perhaps they were a studio based group of hipsters put together by L.A songwriter/producer Jerry Styner.

Mr Styner’s usual line of mischief involved working with Mike Curb on movie scores for exploito flicks put out by Sidewalk Productions and producing records for the likes of The Second Time, Boston Tea Party and this combo.

I did a random search on google and his name appeared as a born again Reverend out in some Californian desert area. Talk about a career change!

’Incense And Peppermints’ is a loose and rougher version of the big hit in the Summer of ’67 by Strawberry Alarm Clock. It certainly doesn’t have the same polish as the original but who cares cos this less refined punker with a cheapo organ break is killer.

The flip ’I Want You To Know’ has plenty of fuzz but maybe could have done with that cheapo organ sound instead of what sounds like a beat up bontempi. Still coolsville though.

update from Billy Goodnick:

Billy Goodnick here, drummer for A Little Bit of Sound. We did win the Pepsi Boss Battle of the Bands, but our contract was with Uni Records and it never amounted to anything. They were not required to negotiate the stock contract and we decided to pass.

Jerry Styner ”discovered” our band playing a backyard party at Dale Korngold’s house in Sherman Oaks. He lived up the block. He asked if we wanted to do a recording and ’Incense and Peppermints’ was the result.

The instrumental track was waiting for us when we got there – Hollywood heavyweights link Hal Blaine on drums had already laid down the tracks. 

We learned the lyrics, made up the harmonies and recorded the vocals in one day. Then we did the B-side, written by the band (no time to go upstairs and look at the vinyl).

Other group members were Steve Diamond (now a multi-grammy-winning song-writer), Ron Ziskin (creator of the original American Gladiators TV show and now a film producer), Scott Whitman and Mike Abramson. We all went to Van Nuys High School together and played for about 3 years.

(10/10/10)

THE MOVING SIDEWALKS – ’99th Floor’/’What Are You Going To Do’ (Wand 1156) 1967

Years before ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons grew his beard longer than one of Queen Lizzy’s plush rugs at Buck Pal he was singing and playing lead guitar in The Moving Sidewalks.

They made a name for themselves in Houston, Texas playing psychedelic blues rock but it’s their stonewall ’60s garage punk classic ’99th Floor’ that they’re best known for amongst garage fanatics (like myself).

’99th Floor’ is a punk killer with pumped up teenage attitude, wild guitars, thrilling combo organ and fuzz then one of THEE greatest punkoid gee’tar breaks of all time. I’ve seen a picture of The Moving Sidewalks looking thrilled that they’re with their idol Jimi Hendrix.

Well Mr Hendrix never came up with anything as stunningly glorious as ’99th Floor’…he probably was just as pleased to meet them…..I think he was cos Jimi gave Billy one of his guitars after a gig when they supported The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The 45 was first released on the local Tantara label, sales were strong and it got a further release on Wand. My copy is on the latter but instead of uploading the music from the single I’ve used the previously unreleased and longer version that appeared on the fabulous Big Beat collection ’Uptight Tonight’.…..

(05/10/10)

THE McCOYS – ’Fever’/’Sorrow’ (Immediate IM 021) Nov 1965

Teen group The McCoys from Union City, Indiana followed up their big hit ’Hang On Sloopy’ with ’Fever’. This one’s got a cool guitar break and is commercial enough, but for me it’s the folk rock flip ’Sorrow’ that flips my switch.

’Fever’ only charted at number 44 in England and so The McCoys were forever labelled with the ’one hit’ wonder tag. ’Sorrow’ was noticed by The Merseys (see last blog entry) and they had a big hit with it. Maybe The McCoys picked the wrong song to promote!

(25/09/10)

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