Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Canada Spotlight: The Free-For-All - Show Me The Way/Blue Monday

Day four of the Canada Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Nova Scotia, Canada. Seriously. We definitely don't know of any other garage bands from Nova Scotia. 

The band name on the label says The Free-For-All but the band is really the Halifax, Nova Scotia band, The Great Scots. The Great Scots recorded a number of solid records in their native land for London Records and Epic Records before they made their way to LA to try to hit the big time. The band seemed to be on the edge of success when they ran into a brick wall. Maybe it was their silly Kilt outfits and coordinated dances. Or maybe it was their tight cut non-Beatle hair that held them back. Who knows? But in an effort to trick jaundiced radio programmers, the band released Show Me The Way (which is actually the Flip-Side of the record) under the name The Free-For-All. Show Me The Way just soars. Catchy melody and a great guitar riff. How was this not the A-Side?

The A-Side was the more pedestrian blues number, Blue Monday, a rewrite of T-Bone Walker's often covered number, Stormy Monday Blues

The single was released on Challenge Records in the Summer of 1966. Ultimately the prestidigitation didn't work and the record went nowhere, despite it's inherent quality. Then the Canucks got a rude awakening. Dave Isnor was conscripted into the US Army and sent off to Vietnam. Yep, when you were here on a working visa, you could be drafted. Whoops. The remaining members, Gerry Archer, Bill Schnare, Rick McNeil. and Wayne Forrest high-tailed it back to Nova Scotia on the first dog sled out and their chance at stardom was lost. Luckily they left us this gem before they got lost in the snow drifts of time.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Canada Spotlight: The Painted Ship - Little White Lies/Frustration

Day three of our Canada spotlight takes us to Vancouver, British Columbia. I believe this is our first stop in that fine, fine town.

The Painted Ship kicked out two records in their brief career. Today we spin their first record, released in December of 1966 on London Records.

Little White Lies gets the A-Side and it is a humdinger of a song. It turns the lying cheating no good lover story around. In this approach our singer, William Hay, admits that he is a lying, cheating, no-good scoundrel. Cool guitar work, hushed whispers of "white lies" makes this a unique song. We love the end of the song as our protagonist seems to really enjoy his rogue role.

The flip-side is Frustration. Another cool number with some squeaky Vox Continental organ backing up Hay's understated approach.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Canada Spotlight: The Haunted - 1-2-5/Eight O'Clock This Morning

Day 2 of our Canada Battle of the Garage Bands has us visiting Montreal, Canada. In this hip town we find a band called The Haunted. The band was formed in 1965 by gutiarist Jurgen Peter and grew to include Bob Burgess on vocals, Al Birmingham on lead, Mason Shea on bass and Dave Wynne on drums. The Haunted immediately became THEE band in Montreal and opened for the Stones, Them and a host of other cool cats.

The band cut their first single for Quality Records in May of 1966. We feature that number today. The released version of 1-2-5 required a recut as the record company deemed the lyrics too risqué for the French-Canadian audience. Ironically, the original version, which is not nearly as good as this recording, saw the light of day in the puritanical US on Amy Records. Now that is a hard record to find! 1-2-5 tells the tale of a boy just strolling down the street with five bucks burning a hole in his pocket. Who does he see but Mary Jane, a local prostitute. Exchange of cash, and then she is pulling down the shades.

The flip-side is Eight O'Clock This Morning. Composed by Burgess and Birmingham, this proves the band knew what they were doing. Great bass, great vocals, great guitar. All great.

1-2-5, replete with snarly vocals, edgy lyrics, a brilliant bass line and a killer guitar lead, broke nationally and made the band a household name across the great white north. But whose name? You'll note from the picture above that the band's name was misprinted on the first pressing of the single as The Hunted. These record companies did this so frickin' often back then it is really hard to imagine who they had editing their work.

The sound sample above apparently comes from the LP, with a different singer, than either of the released single versions, which are linked below.

The USA release.
The first Canadian release
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Canada Spotlight: The Ugly Ducklings - Just In Case You Wonder/That's Just A Thought I Had In My Mind

Our regional Battle of the Garage Bands heads to the great White North. The Ugly Ducklings hailed from the suburbs of Toronto Canada in the town of Yorkville Village. 

The Ugly Ducklings were Dave Byngham on vocals and harmonica, Glynn Bell on rhythm guitar, Roger Mayne on lead, John Read on bass and Robin Boers on drums. The group released six singles in their heyday of '66 and '67 on Yorktown Records and Yorkville Records. Today's double sided feature is their third single: Just In Case You Wonder/That's Just A Thought I Has In My Mind.
Just In Case You Wonder (misprinted on the first releases as Just In Case You're Wondering) is a standout of the entire garage genre and makes a strong argument for the best Canadian garage record of all time. Roger Mayne's fuzzed out guitar work gives the song a strong backbone without getting to the point of ridiculous fuzz (as was sometimes too often the case with garage bands). It's nicely complimented by Bell's distinct jangly rhythm work. The song is written by Byngham and Bell and our singer lays it out clear that he's psychologically damaged by a mean, nasty girl. 
Just in case you wonder
Why I'm feeling blue
There's no need to ponder
It's all because of you 
I'm sitting at home
Sitting alone
I'm waiting for you to come back
Knowing that you won't 
Just in case you wonder
Baby where I'm at
I'm in the basement yonder
counting all the rats!
Yeah baby! One rat, two rat. Then we go into a very impressive extended lead from Roger Mayne. 

That's Just a Thought I Had In My Mind is a solid Flip-Side. Much different from the A-side, more straight out pop, but I think you'll agree, it deserves a little love from us today. The flip was written by Byngham and Mayne. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

And The Winner of the Pacific Northwest Battle of the Garage Bands Is...

We have a winner in our Pacific Northwest Battle of the Garage Bands!
I don't think anybody is surprised that The Sonics have unanimously won the coveted Pacific Northwest Battle of the Garage Bands competition. Quite frankly, we could have put up three of their earliest singles and any of them would likely have won the top spot. That's how good they are. A little more surprising is how high The Daily Flash finished. We love the record, but that is quite the honor to get ahead of The Wailers and The Kingsmen, two of the most influential bands in the region.

The Sonics are now the kings of the last United States region. That's 11 regions in all!  But we're not done. We so love our brothers to the north that we are going to include Canada for the next round. A lot of geography for just a few singles, but I think it will be worth it. Plus, it will give us an even number for our bracket system that will soon pit the winner of each region against the winner of another region. We'll battle each band against each other until we can crown one big winner in the coveted Battle of the Garage Bands. Dare we say, crown one single as THEE greatest North American garage single ever!

So, The Sonics take a breather and wait to see what Canada can give us. That will start tomorrow. Until then, enjoy a cut from all eleven winners.

Pacific Northwest: The Sonics - Cinderella/Louie Louie

Northern California: The Chocolate Watchband - Are You Gonna Be There/No Way Out 
Southern California: The Misunderstood - Children Of The Sun/I Unseen
Rocky Mountains: Phil and the Frantics: Say That You Will/'Till You Get What You Want
Mid-West: The Litter with Action Woman/Legal Matter

Texas: The 13th Floor Elevators with You're Gonna Miss Me/Tried To Hide

New England: The Squires with Going All The Way and Go Ahead

The South: The Bad Roads with Too Bad/Blue Girl

Great Lakes: The Shadows of Knight with Bad Little Woman/Gospel Zone

The Mid-Atlantic: The Enfields with She Already Has Somebody/I'm For Things You Do

New York: The Blues Magoos with We Ain't Got Nothing Yet/Gotta Get Away
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: The Bards - Light of Love/Never Too Much Love

Final day of our Pacific Northwest Battle of the Garage Band singles takes us to the small town of Moses Lake, Washington. There we find four cats calling themselves The Bards. This band espouses love on every side.

The Bards were Mike Blazotti, Bob Galloway, Mardig Sheridan and Chuck Warren. The band's discography is a bit of a mess with a-sides and flip-sides being issued in numerous forms. Regardless, we feature today their third single. Released in September of 1967 for Picadilly Records. As you know we like to do here, we start by flipping sides.

Light Of Love was written by the keyboardist and the guitarist and showcases the band's mousy vocal talent. Great bass work by Chuck Warren abounds. We really love the last :25 of the record as the band does a nice little vocal coda to finish the song off.

We have more love on the other side of the record. The A-side is a cover of the Curtis Mayfield number, Never Too Much Love. This side is a little scratchy, true. It does demonstrate that this band was not your typical garage band. A little jazzy, a little soul, a whole lot of vocal talent. The band would soon get picked up by Capitol Records for national distribution and would soldier on into the 70s. Dig that photo below. Stonecringe.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: The Bootmen - Ain't It The Truth Babe/Wherever You Hide.

Day 9 of our Pacific Northwest Battle of the Garage Bands has us spinning another 45 from Riverton Records, the Etiquette subsidiary.

The Bootmen hailed from Tacoma, Washington and released three singles in their brief career. The first was a pair of instrumentals on Etiquette Records and then two more singles, with vocals and all, for Riverton. We focus today on their swan song of a single, Ain't It The Truth Babe with Wherever You Hide, released in March of 1966.

The band appeared to change members quickly but it looks like a core of the band was Duane McCaslin on bass, Neil Anderson on guitar, Barry Bellandi on drums and Mike Moore on organ and Ron Gardner on vocals. But we can't swear that is the lineup here.

We don't know too much more about them expect Dickerson, Moore and McCaslin penned the excellent a-side, Ain't It The Truth Babe. Vocals are awash in reverb. Dig that guitar solo.

The flip-side is pretty amazing as well. Wherever You Hide has a nice snappy rhythm to it and, to this listener, sounds like it would fit in with some of the great Aussie singles featured on Ugly Things. Now that I listen closer, it sounds like they may have been listening to Questions I Can't Answer, by Heinz.

Photo below is courtesy of Pacific Northwest Bands website.
 Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: Paul Bearer and the Hearsemen - I've Been Thinking/Route 66

This is why we love garage music. From the small town of Albany, Oregon, a town not too far from the college town of Corvalis, comes the brilliantly named Paul Bearer and the Hearsemen. Yeah, baby.

Paul Bearer and the Hearsemen released one single in July of 1966. It was released on Riverton Records, a subsidiary of the Seattle based Etiquette Records.

Flipping this record over, as usual, we are going to start with I've Been Thinking. The 2:40 second blitzkrieg was composed by the band's guitarist, Ed Westby. Ed, along with his brother, Jim, who is on vocals here, Marshall Adams on bass, Peter Brown on drums and Gary Snyder on organ, created one of the most manic, aggressive records ever. And it came out in 1966. Holy crap.

The A-side is a brilliant cover of Bobby Troup's standard, Route 66.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: The Daily Flash - Jack of Diamonds/Queen Jane Approximately

Back to our Pacific Northwest Spotlight as we determine, region by region, the greatest garage single ever.

Today we spin a band out of Seattle, Washington. The Daily Flash started in the folk clubs of the PNW town and eventually would make their way down to the hipster scene of LA and then San Francisco. The band was guitarist and lead singer, Steve Lalor, guitarist Doug Hastings, Don MacAllister on bass and Jon Keliehor on drums. 

The band recorded only two singles in their brief existence. Today we feature their debut single, and, as usual, we flip the record over to start on the superior flip-side. The record was released in July of 1966 on Parrot Records.

The flip-side is the brilliant Jack of Diamonds. It opens with a wall of feedback before it gives way to a rolling bass line and wailing harp. The hard charging arrangement is never better than at the ever so brief, incendiary guitar break led by Doug Hastings. Dig that bass work behind the lead. The song gets writing credit from the band. However, that is a bit suspect. The song dates back to at least 1926 when Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded the number in Texas. The Daily Flash give it a pretty wild reinvention, but let's be honest, they rearranged it, they didn't write it. 

The A-side is a great cover of Bob Dylan's Queen Jane Approximately. It showcases the band's folk roots brilliantly. Truly one of the best Dylan covers from the era. Another great guitar solo and some real fine harmonies. Now if Dylan just hadn't written that number with the awkward sentence that ends improperly in a preposition, I would have nothing about which to complain.

The band released one more single, on Uni Records, in January of 1967 and is well worth seeking out. We wrote about here back in 2013.

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Pacific Northewest Spotlight: The Kingsmen - Louie Louie/The Haunted Castle

Day six of our Pacific Northwest Battle of the Garage Bands finds us still kicking it around Portland, Oregon.

I could make a very strong argument that The Kingsmen's Louie Louie was both the most important and influential recording in rock history.

It was in 1963, Portland, Oregon, that the The Kingsmen paid $36 to record this number at a small radio studio with only two mics: One for the drums, one for the rest of the band, including the vocalist. The band banged it out and released it on the Seattle based Jerden Records in the Summer of 1963. From there Wand Records picked it up and released it nationally in October of that year.

The record spread like a wild fire and even launched a Justice Department investigation to determine if the lyrics were obscene (the answer was, "we can't tell") and was banned by one midwestern Governor who thought his state's impressionable teens should not undulate to the suggestive beat.

But the record persevered. This rag-tag stutter rhythm recording would soon be replicated by every garage and frat rock band in America. And when Pye Records released it in the UK in December of 1963, the Brit bands would be jumping on board as well. Bands like The Kinks, The Who, The Eyes and The Troggs would soon be pounding out their own interpretations of this rhythm and selling it back to the Americans who started it.

At the time of recording, the Kingsmen were comprised of Jack Ely on vocals, Lynn Easton on Drums, Mike Mitchell on guitar, Bob Nordby on bass and Don Gallucci on keyboards. Two notable moments to listen for in this recording. At :54, Lynn Easton yells "fuck!" (how the Justice Department missed this is beyond me) after breaking a drum stick. At 1:58, Jack Ely jumps in early and starts the next line before aborting and starting again.

Jack Ely would be forced from the band by Lynn Easton who wanted center stage. His mom trademarked the name and the Easton family began cleaning house.  That's the drummer, Easton, in the 1000 lip-synched versions you've seen on YouTube. Don Gallucci would be the next casualty with him being forced from the band as he was too young to tour.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: Don and the Goodtimes - Little Sally Tease/Little Green Thing

Day five of our Pacific Northwest spotlight takes us to Portland, Oregon. Here we find a band called Don and the Goodtimes. Lame name. Not lame music.

Don Gallucci had been the organ player for The Kingsmen. That's him that opens the legendary recording of Louie Louie. But after that song hit it big, The Kingsmen went in to upheaval as the drummer and his parents smelled money and began pushing everyone out of the band to assert control. Don was one of those casualties as was singer Jack Ely. Ely apparently served as the earliest singer of Don Gallucci's band, but I am not clear if that is him singing in this record. I assume it is Don Gallucci singing.

Today we spin the a-side of the band's second single, released in 1965 on the Seattle based Jerden Records. Little Sally Tease was written by the band's guitarist, Jim Valley. The number only gained modest local attention, but it was enough to get Dunhill Records to release it nationally in August of 1965. Little Sally Tease tells the tale of a young gal who liked to lead the boys on and had all the skills to get what she wants. The number would later be picked up by The Standells for their 1966 LP, Dirty Water. As fine as that more famous recording is, we prefer this, the original version.

The initial release on Jerden came with a cover of the Rogers and Hammerstein number, You'll Never Walk Alone. I can't seem to find that so I will share a YouTube vid of the flip-side of the Dunhill Release, Little Green Thing.
Members of Don and The Goodtimes would swap spots with members of The Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders often. The Kingsmen would even go on to record Little Sally Tease with a particularly banal version released on Wand Records in 1966. They also did a rendition of Little Green Thing as the flip-side of their third release of Louie Louie, in 1965. 
The photo above was taken from the website, Pacific Northwest Bands and has a credit of Trisha Nerney. 

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: The Wailers - Out Of Our Tree/I Got Me

Day four of our PNW region of the Battle of the Garage Bands gives us a record that one Gladys Smith appeared to have owned at one point. Luckily Gladys decided this record was too rockin' for her sensitive ears and it eventually found itself falling into my record collection. Now you get to hear it.

The Wailers hailed from the same blue collar town as yesterday's submission, The Sonics, as well as the hugely influential instrumental band, The Ventures. The Wailers really bridge the gap between those two bands and, thus, between two very important musical contributions from America. Surf music and garage punk. The Wailers released their first single in 1958 and became a powerful presence on the frat party circuit immediately. Then, in 1961, they made an amazingly huge, but largely unknown, contribution to the history of Rock-n-Roll. They teamed with a singer from a rival band and rearranged a calypso/doo wop song called Louie Louie. That song would soon become the signature tune for every band coming out of the PNW. It was billed under the name of Rockin' Robin Roberts as the band was trying to break from a restrictive contract with The Golden Crest Label and form their own label, Etiquette Records.

The band would become a revolving cast of characters anchored by Richard Dangell on guitar, Kent Morrill on organ and vocals and John Ormsby on bass. It is those three who composed today's A-side.

Out Of Our Tree was released on Etiquette Records in October of 1965. It just flat out rocks. Pounding drums, a solid bedrock of organ, roving bass lines, a growl of vocals, fuzzed guitar and a catch phrase of "Out Of Our Tree". It's got it all, baby. It's so, so, so...Pacific Northwest!

The flip-side, I Got Me, was composed by Dangell and Morill. I believe it is Dangell singing on this recording. It's a damn nice tune that fails to get comped properly.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Northwest Spotlight: The Sonics - Cinderella/Louie Louie

We return today with more on our Pacific Northwest Battle of the Garage Bands. Today we travel to Tacoma, Washington where we have the garage legends of all garage legends, The Sonics.

The Sonics were Gerry Roslie, Andy Parypa, Larry Parypa, Rob Lind, Bob Bennett. The five Tacoma boys recorded for Bill Wiley at the Griffith Studios and recorded for Etiquette Records, based on the second floor of a tiny building at 2442 NW Market Street in Seattle.

So much has been written about them, and so much about their songs that I'll just say this. The Sonics were a tour de force. Our songs from them today are their 5th single (actually 4.5 release) and came out in November of 1965.

The A-side, Cinderella, was composed by singer and organ player, Gerry Roslie. The flip-side is a great rewrite of the PNW standard, Louie Louie.

The Sonics are touring North America as I type. Go see them!
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: The Talismen - I Know A Girl/I'll Take A Walk

Day 2 of our Pacific Northwest entrant in our region by region Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Wenatchee, Washington, a small town smack dab in the middle of the state. For a very brief moment the town became a hotbed of garage rock. That's because a local DJ by the name of Don Julian Bernier founded his own label and started going around the local high school, middle school and dances to sign acts. And boy did he get some good ones.

One of the two best acts he picked up was a local high school band calling themselves The Talismen. The Talismen were John Wood on guitar and, I believe, lead vocals, Jack Cooper on guitar and vocals, Loren Bolinger doing double duty on guitar and keyboards, Leon Jeffreys on bass and Joe Britt on the drums. The Talismen released only three songs (they got only one side of one record) in their brief two year career. Today we focus on their second, and final single. You know, the one where they got both sides of the record.

I'll Take A Walk/I Know A Girl was released on Julian Records in 1966. As we so often do, we are going to flip the record over and start with the flip-side. Sadly our copy of this rare disc has a bit of surface noise on it. Bare with us, please.

I Know A Girl is a raver in the first order. Raving vocals, repeated bass breaks that are marvelous and a guitar solo that makes you stand up and take notice of the teens from little old Wenatchee! It's very reminiscent of the guitar work done on the Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels' records. Of course the solo ends with a bass break. We love the ending as John screams into the microphone and Loren Bollinger pushes his farfisa organ to the max. The original composition was penned by Wood and Cooper.

Sure, I Know A Girl is the obvious garage rocker here, but I want you to really stick with us on the sentimental A-Side, I'll Take A Walk. Teen love abounds on this slow number composed by Jack Cooper, bassist Leon Jeffreys and drummer Joe Britt. Great lead vocals, great harmony singing, a tasteful organ bed and, again, an outstanding guitar lead. This time very gentle and jazzy.

Both numbers were recorded in Spokane, Washington. I've nicked photos from a couple of sites and want to give credit where credit is due. Links to both included. The first picture comes from Pacific Northwest Bands and shows (from left to right) John, Loren and Jack rocking it up while wearing grandma's curtains.
The second photo comes from a great site dedicated exclusively to Julian Records! How cool is that. I got some good info on the label from that site. It looks like they got this picture from a guy named Craig Green.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: Jolly Green Giants - Busy Body/Caught You Red Handed

With Northern California crowning their champion in the Battle of the Garage Bands, we now move up Highway 5 into the Pacific Northwest.

Our first entrant comes out of Spokane, Washington. From January of 1967, we have Jolly Green Giants raving it up on Redcoat Records. The A-Side is an amazing cover of a soul standard, Busy Body. Jolly Green Giants give it a serious infusion of energy, y'all! Pounding bass, Hammond B3 organ and some amazing vocals that would make Gerry Roslie proud.

The Flip-Side is Caught You Red Handed, a stellar original composed by the lead singer of the one-release band, Chuck Anderson. Again, this song feels like it could have come out of Tacoma, Washington's The Sonics. Blistering guitar work in this one.

"I love you forever! Can't stand you no more!" I know how that feels.

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, May 22, 2015

And the winner of the Nor Cal Battle of the Garage Bands is...

It is not much surprise that San Jose's Chocolate Watchband's amazing release on the Tower label took the crown in this challenge. We have been in awe of it ever since rumors of its existence whispered in darkened corners in long-forgotten smoke-filled dens reached our incredulous ears. It was unanimous. What is unprecedented is that the next top 3 of the roster were also unanimous in both choice and order of greatness!

Amazing, too, is that San Jose also claimed the second and fifth place with The Mourning Reign and The Count Five. San Jose, an unlikely garage hotspot for sure, had it going on in spades. The Central Valley brought in third and fourth with The Roadrunners out of Fresno and The Brogues out of Merced. Good work guys. You make these Flipsters proud of their valley roots.

Up next is the final region from the fifty states, the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Hold on to your seats. Until then, here is a sample from all the winners thus far. And a nifty map down below.

Northern California: The Chocolate Watchband - Are You Gonna Be There/No Way Out
Southern California: The Misunderstood - Children Of The Sun/I Unseen
Rocky Mountains: Phil and the Frantics: Say That You Will/'Till You Get What You Want
Mid-West: The Litter with Action Woman/Legal Matter

Texas: The 13th Floor Elevators with You're Gonna Miss Me/Tried To Hide

New England: The Squires with Going All The Way and Go Ahead

The South: The Bad Roads with Too Bad/Blue Girl

Great Lakes: The Shadows of Knight with Bad Little Woman/Gospel Zone

The Mid-Atlantic: The Enfields with She Already Has Somebody/I'm For Things You Do

New York: The Blues Magoos with We Ain't Got Nothing Yet/Gotta Get Away
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Oxford Circle - Foolish Woman/Mind Destruction

Our final entrant in our Northern California region of the Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Davis, California, the home town to both publishers of this fine music blog! Here we find Gary Lee Yoder, Dehner Patten, Jim Keylor and Paul Whaley. Collectively they were known as The Oxford Circle. The band only released this one single and it got a Fall release in 1966 on the micro-label, World United Records. That label was set up by and for The New Breed (click here for link to music), a Sacramento based band. They are the only other two releases on the label.

The A-side, Foolish Woman, was composed by Yoder and Patten (though no credit is given on the record) and is way ahead of its time. This doesn't sound too much like anything else from 1966! Sure, you can hear a little bit of Van Morrison and Them in Gary Lee Yoder's vocal approach. Sure, there is the Jeff Beck influenced guitar work performed with great dexterity by Jim Keylor. But the backwards tracking, the time changes, the feedback, the pounding drums of Paul Whaley make this a cut above most other records of it's day. There are rumors that Mac Rebennack (aka Dr. John) was the organ player on the session, but I can not confirm that.

The flip-side is a band composed instrumental called Mind Destruction. Thanks to Matt Brown of the lovely Nitro-Retro blog for loaning it to us.

The Oxford Circle played regularly in nearby San Francisco and a live recording from The Avalon Ballroom in 1966, shows Foolish Woman was not an anomaly, they were a solid band. The band went in for one more recording session but failed to get the number released, making this their lone output.

Whaley left the band to form Blue Cheer and was soon followed by Yoder who joined Randy Holden (The Other Half and The Sons of Adam - click for link) and Dickie Peterson (who sold me my first bass amp ever!) in what would become a revolving cast of musicians.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Golliwogs - Porterville/Call It Pretending

Day 9 of our Northern California Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to the hamlet of El Cerrito, California, a small town wedged between on the north side of Berkeley. and Oakland at the eastern terminus of the Bay Bridge.

Here we find a band called The Golliwogs. The Golliwogs started in 1958 in Jr. High as a three-piece instrumental combo calling themselves The Blue Velvets. Stu was on piano, Doug on drums and John on guitar. When the older brother of the teenaged guitarist joined the band in 1960, they became a vocal act with the older brother, Tom, now singing. That band released three singles before 1962. Now in High School, in 1964 the band got picked up by the San Francisco based label, Fantasy Records. The owner of the label changed the name of the band to The Golliwogs and the band produced their first record three months before The Beatles would change the face of music in America.

The Golliwogs quickly adapted to the new landscape and recorded three singles for Fantasy Records between December 1964 and July 1965. Then the label created a subsidiary, Scorpio Records, to focus on local garage bands. The Golliwogs would release four singles on this label between December of 1965 and October of 1967. All originals, all written under pseudonyms. At some point the younger brother, John, started to assert more control of the band as he became the primary composer and took over the singing duties from his older brother.

Today we feature The Golliwogs' final record, released on Scorpio Records in October, 1967, Porterville/Call It Pretending. Both numbers were composed by John and he sings on both the a-side and the flip-side.

Porterville has a deep, dark dirge of a rhythm section offset by a catchy, recurring chiming Rickenbacker guitar. Our singer tells a tale of a son being persecuted for the crimes of his father in the California farming town of Porterville. Oh lord, stuck in Porterville again.
The flip-side, Call It Pretending, is our first real hint of what The Golliwogs would soon become. From the opening drum section from Doug with the accompanying hand claps, to the simple, yet catchy, James Jamerson inspired bass work of Stu (who moved from piano to bass around 1964). John sings his original composition with a real tip of the hat to the work coming out of Detroit. One can easily imagine The Temptations singing this tight, catchy soul number. The backing vocals of Tom, Stu and Doug add to the Motown feel.
Remarkably the single would see two releases, both on Scorpio Records. This first release in October of 1967 under the name The Golliwogs. And then a second release, just four months later in February of 1968 under the band's new name, the curiously named Creedence Clearwater Revival. Both releases were a flop but the band, John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford would soldier on undaunted.
 Until next time, We'll see You On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Marauders - Since I Met You/I Don't Know How

Day 8 of the Northern California Battle of the Garage Bands spotlight!

I don't know too much about these cats other than they hailed from Sacramento, California. The Marauders released this one single in November of 1965 on the one-off label, Skyview Records.

Since I Met You is a wonderful original composition with a great melody which was comped on the legendary, Pebble Vol. 10. And cool beans of all cool beans, they released it with a picture sleeve! Pretty darn uncommon. Our copy is as minty as mint gets, but it's still such a low-fi recording it is hard to make out anything the singer is saying. See the comments section below for another recording of this record. The songwriting credit goes to G. Strawn, B. Barmby, R. Jagla and J. Giere/

The flip side is the tepid, I Don't Know How. Jack Giere gets writing credit here.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Count Five - Psychotic Reaction/They're Gonna Get You

The Count five produced one of thee all time great garage classics with their '66 release of Psychotic Reaction for Double Shot Records. Loosely based off of The Yardbirds' Better Man Than I, Psychotic Reaction epitomized the budding garage sound of the United States perfectly.

The band's debut single was 2:56 of unadulterated teen frustration and bravado. The song somehow cracked the Top 10 and allowed for The Count Five to release a full length album, something rather unheard of for a band of their local-ness. The members were Kenn Ellner, Sean Byrne, Craig Atkinson, John Michaski, and Roy Chaney. The oldest member of the band was a geriatric 19. The lead guitarist, Michalski, still in High School. Sadly, Atkinson and Byrne have both passed.

The flip-side is the Sean Byrne composed They're Gonna Get You. It's a funky little beat with incessant guitar noodling and some whimsical vocals that illuminate for the listener just how tough it was to be a long haired, cape wearing freak who stands outside the infamous "Winchester Mystery House". 

Growing up in this general area of California in the 80s, I can tell you that the 1966 album, also called Psychotic Reaction, on Double Shot Records, could be found everywhere. There wasn't a record store or Salvation Army in Northern California that didn't have 6 copies in the used bins. An easy find at a low, low price. A garage freak's nirvana. The eleven songs on the album are all written by members of the band, with the very notable exception of the two songs by Pete Townshend (both sides of The Who's third single in the US). All in all, the 9 original compositions are pretty damn solid and give you a sense of how much excitement the Count Five must have brought to the teen hops in San Jose.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!