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 a photo of The Green Telescope.
44. THE FRED BISON FIVE – Beat Roots (Woronzow WOO 19) 1992
An obscure and hard to find Nick Saloman release, The Fred Bison Five album ‘Beat Roots’ was his garage psych album recorded over a weekend. All instruments were played by himself and produced with a back to basics approach after his acid guitar psych exploits under the name Bevis Frond.
Incidentally, the name Fred Bison Five is an anagram of Bevis Frond (Fred Bison V)…..Nick Saloman also gives himself three pseudonyms, Fred Bison, Ray Dean and Graham Mills-Wainwright and dresses up differently for each one for the photos used for the cover. Not sure who Candice Hostettler is, maybe she’s Fred Bison’s milk maid.
45. THE BOGEYMEN – ’You’ve Got No Scruples’/’Let Me Give You My Love’/’Gimme A Little Sign’ (Detour Records DR 008) Nov 1993
I wrote about the very first Bogeymen 45 ’You Are My Friend’/’Candy’ on my blog ages ago and if you want to read about it and check out the cover just follow the labels below.
This three song single was their third 45 and it contains three excellent mod cuts with a reverential nod to The Small Faces. ’You’ve Got No Scruples’ being the stand out.
Detour Records had the good grace to release this sought after disc in a period style cover. Full marks to the designer because it suits the band’s style perfectly.
They pressed an initial 1000 copies with a second pressing of 500 shortly after.
46. JAMES TAYLOR QUARTET – The Moneyspyder (Re Elect The President Records) 1987
When The Prisoners disbanded in the mid 80s James Taylor (organ) and Alan Crockford (bass) formed instro au go go band The James Taylor Quartet with an emphasis on groovy 60s style spy music and hammond organ swingers.
After the initial two albums I lost track and I think the band moved more in a jazz funk direction which obviously filled me with horror. So I just stuck with the early stuff and ’The Moneyspyder’ is a good place to start. By the way, their version of ’Blow Up’ from the movie of the same name really smokes and is way better than the original.
47. THE THANES – ’World Of Stone’ (Screaming Apple SCACD 147) 2002
I’m a long time fan of The Thanes and just could not believe my ears when I first played their album ’Downbeat and Folked Up’ because it was simply the best jangle beat music since the mid 60s.
’World Of Stone’ is an Angus McPake original from said album and I think you’ll agree it’s stunning. In a perfect world The Thanes would be superstars but they sadly remain unknown outside the garage beat alumni.
48. THE RUTLES – ’I Must Be In Love’ / ’Cheese And Onions’/’A Girl Like You’ (Warner Bros. Records K 17125) March 1978
Debut single by the pre-fab four and when Dirk McQuickly, Ron Nasty, Stig O’Hara and Barry Wom get together they create that wonderful merseybeat music.
They had the Nehru jackets, they had the teeth and hair, they had the loveable cheeky grins and cuff-links in their shirt sleeves but still, they weren’t as big as The Beatles.
49. HURRAH! – ’The Sun Shines Here’ / ’I’ll Be Your Surprise’ (Kitchenware Records SK2) April 1982
In my mid teens I was quick off the blocks to get into the early indie guitar bands, mostly because almost everything else didn’t thrill me and this was before I’d discovered 60s garage.
Anyway, Hurrah! came from my local City of Newcastle so I was clearly interested especially after reading a review of the record in one of the music weeklies (could have been either Sounds, NME or Melody Maker).
Even after all of these years ’The Sun Shines Here’ still has a certain charm with it’s edgy jangling guitar and sparse production. This of course became the template for most of the English indie guitar bands that followed. This record was released in April 1982 so it’s one of the first of the genre.
I remember seeing them perform live at a local Night Club in Sunderland (probably 1983) and talked to singer/guitarist David Hughes about 60s stuff. At that time he sported a mental haircut with a fringe some two inches away from his eyebrows. It was one of those psychiatric hospital inmate cuts possibly fashioned by a blind and thumb free barber.
”Woke up to the smell of fresh cut grass,
The jangling guitars in my ears”….
50. PLASTICLAND – ’Color Appreciation’ / ’Mushroom Hill’ (Scadillac Records SC-1002) April 1982
This psychedelic band from Milwaukee were one of the few bands from the 80s to go with the English psych sound from ’67 and I’m talking about the Carnaby Street flipped out and new progressive style of music by The Pretty Things, Tomorrow and Pink Floyd.
Plasticland brought those coloured sights and sounds back in ’82
This 45 came out on their own label Scadillac Records, I’m not sure how many were pressed but it can’t have been that many. This was Plasticland’s third release.
line-up on this disc:
Glenn Rehse (vocals)
John Frankovic (bass)
Bob DuBlon (drums)
Brian Ritchie (guitar)
It was to become a short lived line-up as Brian Ritchie left in late 1982 to form The Violent Femmes.
THE ROADRUNNERS – ’Payback Time’ / ’Love Me As I Am’ (Beluga 005) 1999
I wrote about Örebro based Roadrunners in May 2008 when I reviewed their debut CD single. That release was a purist R&B approach and the band pulled it off in great style.
This record on a small label out of Sweden probably had a run of 1000 copies and they of course are now long gone. In years to come these underground neo garage/psych 45s will be as sought after as some of those original 60s garage singles.
This time around The Roadrunners have discovered fuzztoned guitars on ’Payback Time’ and have left the R&B sound in favour of stripped down garage moves. The production is excellent and thankfully no instruments are buried in the mix. The bass guitar runs from Kristofer Mossberg are a particular stand out.
500 copies were pressed of the Roadrunners single. (I still have a few copies in my warehouse). Trevor (Beluga) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE OTHERS – ’Goin’ Around’ EP (Misty Lane Records 027) May 1995
The Others were legends in their own street in Rome but unlike their famous forefathers from 2000 years ago, these particular Romans failed to invade any other boundaries or crucify Jesus for that matter.
The Others seemed to be on a hot streak of records in the mid 90s and this four song EP could be one of their best. All songs were written by Massimo Del Pozzo except ’That’s All She Wrote’ originally released by The Love-Ins.
’Goin’ Around’ is a fine example of jangly garage with of course resplendent farfisa organ.
songs on EP:
Love And Care
That’s All She Wrote
Won’t Let Her Go
THE CHURCH – ’Tear It All Away’ (Carrere CAL 130) 1981
Aussie band The Church became an obsession of mine in the early 80s mainly because they had a glorious 12 string Rickenbacker jangle and wore paisley shirts.
Steve Kilbey also wrote some amazing songs and none were better than ’Tear It All Away’ which was part of their debut LP, simply called The Church (in England) or ’Of Skins And Heart’ (in Australia).
Listen to the sparkling Marty Willson-Piper jangle nirvana and Peter Koppes’ faultless lead guitar solo that elevates this song way up among the best post punk songs of the 80s.
The Church were simply ahead of their time.
My favorite band of all time. don’t know if you have lost touch with them but they are still going strong. their latest, ”untitled 23” is getting rave reviews. i have been a follower of the band since 85 and this latest has had the best reviews, by far, of any of their releases.
Anyway, unlike most 30 year old bands, the church are still releasing relevant, awe inspiring material. check em out again. ‘Tear It All Away’ along with ‘too fast for you’ was a double a-side, their third single and first with new drummer, richard ploog (he has been out of the band since 90-91). Both of these tracks feature the chiming ricks and Kilbey’s obtuse, surreal lyrics.
The band can still churn these types of tunes out in their sleep but have moved onto a more psychedelic, dreamy sound. it’s really hard to tag. btw, if you are into reading rock bio’s, there is a kilbey biography titled ‘no certainty attached’ that’s a pretty good read. author is robert lurie.
Great blog, glad i stumbled across it. i have been on a rediscover or just discover obscure 60’s music kick lately (resulting in my buying about 200 vinyl lp’s in the past few months!) and your blog here is a great source. thankshd2d
ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN – ’Rescue’ / ’Simple Stuff’ (Korova KOW1) May 1980
Formed in Liverpool in the late 70s (with a drum machine called Echo) they quickly established themselves as a band to watch. Thankfully, by the time of ’Rescue’ they had dropped the drum machine in favour of a real drummer called Pete De Freitas.
’Simple Stuff’ was a non LP B-Side and showed The Bunnymen’s darker, psychedelic guitar rock side.
THE JAM – ’In The Crowd’ (Polydor POLD 5008) Nov 1978
’In The Crowd’ was The Jam’s first foray into psychedelia, a genre they would visit now and again until their split in ’82.
This particular song was part of the successful ’All Mod Cons’ LP released in November 1978. It’s notable for it’s change in tempo midway through the song from a pop ballad to something much more manic with reverberation, a backwards guitar solo and eerie spoken words buried in the mix.
RADIO STARS – ’Stop It’ EP (Chiswick Records SW 17) 1977
Singer Andy Ellison had been the frontman in 60s mod band John’s Children. He then formed a glam rock band called Jet with songwriter Martin Ellison. After a couple of flop singles Jet reformed under the name of Radio Stars adding Ian Macleod on guitar and Paul Simon on drums.
Radio Stars got lumped in with the punk movement but they sounded more like a new wave band to me and I’m thinking along the lines of XTC. ’No Russians In Russia’ is one of those songs that seems to get in your head the more times you hear it.
The other cuts on the EP border on power pop/pub rock/new wave but definately not punk rock.
The record was engineered by Vic Maile who also went on to produce for The Inmates, Motorhead, Dr Feelgood and The Godfathers.
Looking at the pic of Radio Stars I get the impression that they weren’t over keen squeezing into the (too small) muscle vests for the promo shots. Ian Macleod still has his mullett(esque) glam rock haircut for fucksake.
THE RAMONES – ’Rock ’N’ Roll High School’ / Do You Wanna Dance?’ (Sire SRE 1051) Sept 1979
This was the last Ramones single of any relevance before the quality control dipped and irritating 80s production values reared it’s head along with Phil Spector who got a credit on this record for remixing the production by Ed Stassium.
’Rock ’N’ Roll High School’ mixes surf with punk in a great way (similar to early Barracudas). The flip is a loud live version of ’Do You Wanna Dance?’…..a worthy two sider.
CORNFLAKE ZOO – ’Hey Conductor’ / ’I See You’ (Tracks On Wax 004) 1985
Another interesting band from Sweden were Stockholm’s Cornflake Zoo probably named after the Andy Ellison song. I don’t know the names of the band members on this 45 so if anyone knows be sure to leave a comment.
’Hey Conductor’ is a cover of the Sonny Flaherty punk swinger, here Cornflake Zoo retain the farfisa buzz of the original.
The flip ’I See You’ is a band original and is notable for a pretty good guitar break.
Subsequent releases sounded a bit too modern for my tastes so stick with this 45 and stay in the garage.
THE WYLDE MAMMOTHS – ’I Can’t Go Without You’ (CH 002) 1987
As I continue my excavation of the underground garage scene in the 80s I’ve come across this flexi-disc single by The Wylde Mammoths from Sweden. This was given away free with German fanzine Splendid Issue 3. I very much doubt many would have survived.
I’m not sure if any of the two songs have appeared anywhere else. So they could be exclusive to this one off flexi disc. ’I Can’t Go Without You’ is the best song, sounding like a rough Euro garage beat outfit from twenty years earlier.
The Wylde Mammoths were:
Peter Maniette (guitar/vocals) ex Crimson Shadows
Pelle Wannerberg (rhythm guitar)
Patrick Emt (bass)
Per Wannerberg (drums) ex Highspeed 5
These guys hit the NYC garage scene in ’87 or ’88 just as ”garage” was turning into ”rock n’ roll” (when The Stooges and MC5 were replacing The Chocolate Watchband and The Byrds as influences) and turned everybody on. The chicks screamed and the guys tapped their feet.
THE BARRACUDAS – ’Summer Fun’ / ’Chevy Baby’ (Z5) 1980
’Summer Fun’ penned by Robin Wills is glorious surf punk with a contagious beat and harmonies. Nothing sounded like this before or since in England. There have been imitators but none came close to this slice of Summer fun. I’m still not quite sure how The Barracudas were not regulars in the charts. This one scraped in to the top 40 back in 1980.
They even got to appear on TOTPs and the action is on YouTube if you care to look. I still haven’t figured out what Jeremy Gluck was on during the performance. Too many purple hearts at once or was it just plain euphoria?
The Barracudas certainly got their fair share of column inches in the English music press probably down to the clout of EMI.
These two articles have been taken from my copy of Smash Hits, issue June 26-July 9, 1980. Smash Hits was a very popular teen magazine in those days and they covered plenty of punk and new wave bands in the late 70s to early 80s.
I wonder if anyone won the surf board? Or for that matter the 2nd and 3rd prize and had a night out in London with The Barracudas….
Robin Wills: Hi Colin Yes, there was a winner for the first prize in any case. I remember presenting a surfboard to the lucky winner at the EMI offices in Manchester Square…For the 2nd and 3rd prize…can’t remember!
Hello. I bought the surfboard back in 1993 off a workmate whose brother had won it in a competition. I learnt to surf on it. It’s been sitting in my mum garage for years.
I’m now going to turn it into a bench for my back garden. I was telling my wife about it and found this article about it. How strange.
THE GREEN TELESCOPE – Two By Two EP (Imaginary Records 001) 1985
The Wump Records single by The Green Telescope was neo primal American 60s garage mayhem but this four song EP released in 1985 catches the future Cawdor lairds wearing their Dutch beat influences on their sleeves.
The first side compiles two Lenny Helsing originals titled ’Two By Two’ and ’A Glimpse’. Both of course are laden with attitude or should I say beatitude. The opener on side two is the quite marvellous ’Make Me Stay’ written by Alan McLean. This is surely one of the very best neo garage beat tunes of the 80s revival.
’Got no love, make me stay’…
The other song on the EP is a cover of ’Thinkin’ About Today’ a 1966 wailer originally recorded by The Outsiders. A great song and thankfully The Green Telescope give a thrilling interpretation.
A while ago Lenny confirmed the line-up as follows:
Lenny Helsing (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica)
Bruce Lyall (organ)
Alan McLean (bass)
Gavin Henderson (drums, backing vocals)
CHRIS SUCH and his SAVAGES – Leave My Kitten Alone (Chaos Records 3) 1989
Chris Such and his Savages were really The Headless Horsemen. I wrote about this talented band previously (check out the labels down the right hand side of my blog).
It turned out to be their final release and was a fitting end to their brief existence.
This four song EP recorded in glorious mono and released on Chaos Records in ’89 was very much a ’back to basics’ early 60s rock and roll beat approach delivered in the usual Horsemen style.
Back in June 2008 I was contacted by Peter Kohman (Stuart) who usually played bass guitar and sang in the band. I asked him about this four track EP and this is what Peter had to say.
Can you shed any light on the Chris Such and his Savages 12” EP…I’ve read that this is really The Headless Horsemen?
Yes, that’s us, plain and simple…just doing some stage favorites. We used to do a lot of that stuff in our extended sets (I’m a huge 50’s R+R and Merseybeat fan) and finally started doing whole shows!
As we wanted to keep the Headless Horsemen a primarily original band, at least on record, we created an alter ego band. ”Such”was a mutilation of ”Cush” he picked up somewhere.
Someone gave us a ridiculously small amount of $ and we cut the whole thing in a day or two at Coyote Studios. I think it was about the last thing we did. It was supposed to be a 7” and the mix got all screwed up, folded from stereo to mono.
Elan Portnoy played piano and I played some guitar on ”Hog”. There’s a lost 5th track, Arthur Alexander’s ”Girl That Radiates The Charm”, a great song but it didn’t quite fit with the others.
Overall, it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done…quick, dirty, ragged but right. I couldn’t get the vocal right on ”Stupidity” somehow, tho, that still bothers me.
Everything else, I like…especially the bass, it was a Burns Sonic thru an SVT.
Songs on EP:
Sick And Tired
Leave My Kitten Alone
I’m A Hog For You
I could be wrong but I could swear seeing these guys in ’88 or so with Tom Ward (Gravedigger V/Nashville Ramblers/Blackmores/etc) playing or singing with them. NYC in the late 80’s was a dismal place musically. Most of the area garage bands made the next logical progression from “garage” to Stooges/MC5-land and the Headless Horsemen were the last ones to let go.
Yes, that’s correct…Tom did ONE show with us! He played bass and sang, so I could play my little Rickenbacker way up high and concentrate on singing. I was keen to get him into the band full time but he had already decided to go back to the left coast. That would have been 1989… And we never Stooged it on my watch… Cheers Peter Stuart
We finally recut ”girl that radiates that charm” this year 2013. i would love to get this ep re-released (Chris Such)
This track by The Tell Tale Hearts is only available on a flexi-disc given away free with Ron Rimsite’s 99th Floor fanzine. The fanzine in question was edition 7 and is now quite a hard one to track down.
The music on it sounds perfectly fine and is recorded in mono. I’ve remastered it in my usual way to bring out the best of this fine tune written by Joe Meek and released as a single by Heinz in 1963.’I Get Up In The Morning’ was recorded at the same 1985 sessions that resulted in the six song mini LP titled ’The Now Sound Of The Tell Tale Hearts’…
Hey, for your information this song also appears on a compilation LP, ”Oh God My Mom’s On Channel 10” released in Canada in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Greetings, Marc
RAINY DAY – John Riley (Rough Trade Records 70) 1984
This album by Rainy Day on Rough Trade is sought after and still has not been re-issued on CD. It was a studio project made up of musicians from various guitar groups namely The Rain Parade, The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles and The Three O’Clock.
All tracks are cover versions and as an album it still certainly pushes my buttons. The track I’ve chosen to highlight is one of my favourite folk rock tunes ’John Riley’.
This version is quite clearly influenced by The Byrds who covered the song on placed it on Fifth Dimension. Listen to the exquisite 12 string guitar jangles mixed with some mournful violin. How could anyone not be moved by this gem?
The musicians on ’John Riley’ were Matthew Piucci on acoustic 12 string, David Roback on electric 12 string, Will Glenn on violin (all from The Rain Parade), Dennis Duck played drums (from The Dream Syndicate, he also performed with The Rain Parade at some gigs) and the vocal duties were performed by Michael Quercio (from The Three O’Clock).
So it’s virtually a long lost Rain Parade song and it would have certainly dove-tailed nicely on the album ’Explosions In The Glass Palace.’
The Mystery Machine hailed from San Diego and as far as I know this is the only song they recorded. ’She’s Not Mine’ was written by Carl Rusk and compiled on Battle Of The Garages Volume 3 released on Voxx back in the glory days of the garage revival…we’re talking 1984.
When Carl Rusk split from the band the remaining members stayed together and became The Tell Tale Hearts with the addition of Mike Stax on bass.
The above Mystery Machine photograph was taken from the Che Underground, a rather cool site detailing San Diego’s underground music scene of the 80s and the two below were submitted by member Ray Brandes… http://cheunderground.com/blog
Although I am a great fan of Mike Stax’s writing, I prefer this great track to anything that the Tell-Tale Hearts ever did. What ever happened to Carl Rusk?
Hey Keith-This is David K, drummer of the Mystery Machine & TTHs. You may be happy to learn that even though Carl lives in NY, The Mystery Machine is getting ready to re-emerge after a 30 some year hiatus, with all the original members (Carl,Ray, Mark & me) except Dave Fleminger replacing Bill Calhoun on keys.
We’ll be recording & performing some shows in the US & maybe Europe. here’s the MM story in all its glory: http://cheunderground.com/blog/?page_id=161
THE SOMELOVES – ’It’s My Time’ / ’Don’t Talk About Us’ (Citadel 018) 1986
This was the first single by The Some Loves. Note that at this point the band were called The Some Loves (two separate words) and not yet known as The Someloves. Small point I know but I like to be thorough. It was recorded in 1985 but not given a release until a year later.
The Some Loves were Dom Mariani and Gary Chambers (ex Stems), Darryl Mather (ex Lime Spiders) and Christian Houllemare (ex Bad Brains).
Here the song writing team of Mariani/Mather deliver two power pop nuggets with perhaps the B-Side ’Don’t Talk About Us’ taking the top prize. This song would easily be a single in it’s own right for most other bands.
Recently The Someloves got the re-issue treatment on a double CD rounding up all tracks recorded. I’ve posted a review of this release below
The Someloves – ”Don’t Talk About Us” dbl CD (Half A Cow) In the extensive liner notes for this album, the author states that the Someloves’ only album, ”Something Or Other”, is one of the ten best power pop records ever released; that’s a statement I can wholeheartedly agree with, and I would additionally include their single, ”Know You Now”, in the top ten power pop singles of all time.
It’s sound is classic and timeless, and pretty much every song is a perfect pop song. I have been anxiously awaiting this compilation (which includes the album, as well as a bonus disc of singles and b-sides – basically everything the band recorded during their brief career) ever since Half a Cow announced it a few years ago; and it was definitely worth the wait!
Composed of Dom Mariani (ex-Stems, pre-DM3) and Darryl Mather (ex-Lime Spiders, pre-Orange Humble Band), the duo released the ”It’s My Time” 7” in 1986, followed by another in 1988 and finally the album in 1990 (which spawned a pair of singles).
While the album was originally released to unanimously rave reviews, the band refused to play live, for which the label dropped them, essentially killing the band (and driving a wedge between the two friends in the process).
Old wounds have since healed, and we are now presented with a grand package of power pop, and possibly the best reissue of the year!
JAMES BAKER EXPERIENCE – ’I Can’t Control Myself’ / ’Born To Be Punched’ (Red Eye Records 1) 1985
I’ve decided that 60s garage rock and psychedelia sucks and for the rest of this month Renaissance Fair dips it’s cuban heels into the 80s underground garage scene. This was the soundtrack of my youth and it’s all still perfectly valid in my own little mixed up world 20 years and more later.
This is James Baker’s band or hired guns after leaving or as I’ve read ’fired’ from The Hoodoo Gurus. He also played in several Aussie punk bands before becoming the drummer for the Gurus.
On this 45, recorded in Feb/March 1985 James Baker ’sings’ his way through The Troggs all time great ’I Can’t Control Myself’.…He sounds utterly pissed, probably on Fosters lager. But at least he washed behind his ears and put on his best three button mod jacket and tie for the sleeve photo shoot.