Friday, November 21, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Spotlight: Richard and The Young Lions - Open Up Your Door/Once Upon Your Smile

We move our regional Battle of the Garage Bands Battle a little further south. We started with New England where The Squires ran away with the not-so-friendly competition with their double sided gem, Going All The Way/Go Ahead. Then we dealt with New York and the winner of that region was The Blues Magoos with We Ain't Got Nothing Yet/Gotta Get Away. Today we turn out attention to the Mid-Atlantic region of these United States. For our purposes, that will incorporate the Mason-Dixon line states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and The District of Columbia. 

We start in Newark, New Jersey where we have the mighty cool looking Richard and The Young Lions. We've written about the band's third single and even included a bunch of cool photos. We turn our attention today to their debut single: Open Up Your Door b/w Once Upon Your Smile. The record was released on Phillips Records in July of 1966 and even got a rice-paper thin picture sleeve. Both sides were written by the songwriting team of Brown, Nader and Bloodworth who also get production credit. Those cats were associated with Detroit's Bob Crewe who was working with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels about the same time. That association meant the Young Lions record actually did okay in the Detroit and Buffalo markets, but not so much in New Jersey. Curious. 

Open Up Your Door is a great raver with Richard Tepp's gravely, snot-nosed voice leading the stomper of a song. I'm particularly fond of the balance between jangly guitar and fuzz guitar as well as the odd African drum sound that runs throughout (see the scan of the Flip-Side of the single).

The Flip-Side of Once Upon Your Smile doesn't get a lot of attention from garage fans but I love this song. Slow and brooding, Richard Tepp's vocals are in top form. The lyrics are clever and the horns are perfectly utilized. And then you get that really groovy bridge where the horns really shine. 

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New York Spotlight: And the winner is...

The accounting firm of Flip and Side have tabulated the ballots and, in a nail biter of a race, we are pleased to announce The Blues Magoos have won the New York Battle of the Bands with their double sided psych gem, We Ain't Got Nothing Yet b/w Gotta Get Away. The Blues Magoos will join the winners of the New England Battle of the Bands, The Squires, and sit in the green room until they move on to the next round once all of the regions have been decided.

Next up, New Jersey/Delaware/Pennsylvania. As usual, we'll take suggestions of which 10 records to feature. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Groupies - Primitive

Our final Battle of the Bands in New York. Today we feature the Greenwich Village band, The Primitives. The primordial quintet's only release was Primitive/Hog on Atco Records in January of 1966. We're spinning the A-Side today, the band composed, Primitive. It's a clear tip of the hat to Howlin' Wolf's Smokestack Lightnin' but with a decided garage bent and some real 'don't screw with me' lyrics.
The things that I do
You'd never try
What I get free
You gotta Buy
I'm proud of my life
Don't ask me why
Because If I told you
I'd probably...
Primitive, that's how I live
Primitive, I take what you give
Because I love
and I live,
That wraps up our New York Spotlight. We'll announce the winner of the 10-band Battle Of The Bands tomorrow.

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Rogues - You Better Look Now

The New York Spotlight continues!

Today's song comes from The Rogues out of Buffalo. The Rogues were James Pierotti on vocals, Michael Spriggs on lead guitar, Dave Smith on rhythm guitar, Robert Radel on bass and Gary Jaros on drums. They had a big following in the area and even had their own nightclub, The Rogues Gallery, which apparently would book them quite regularly. The guys released at least two, some say three, singles and we're gonna have a listen to the flip-side of their first single, You Better Look Now written by James, Michael and Robert and, like a previous New York Spotlight feature, was released on Audition. Frankly, it's among the finest examples of a garage pop ballad out there. It's really well- crafted with a lovely jangly reverby sound and a great little guitar solo to boot, but it's the sincere lyrics delivered soulfully over a perfect melody that drives it home. I also dig how the refrain seems to appear out of nowhere not to be seen or heard from again. It must have been tempting to throw it in again after every verse, but they didn't, and the result is perfection. Thanks guys! The A-side is an awesome version of Train Kept-a-Rollin too.

Like many, I first heard this song as performed by The Chesterfield Kings in the mid '80s and you can read more about it here.

The Rogues have a facebook page where our photos were found. Flower Bomb Songs has a bunch of fan photos too.
See you on the Flip-Side!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Blues Project - No Time Like The Right Time

We're in our final three days of being in an Empire State of Mind. We started in the big mean city with The Blues Magoos who made a name for themselves in Greenwich Village. Now we turn to another Greenwich Village band. The Blues Project. The band only lasted two years but put out an amazing amount of music in that brief period. Today we focus on their fifth single, released in March of 1967 for Verve Folkways Records. The song is the Al Kooper penned, No Time Like The Right Time. Other members are Danny Kalb, Roy Blumenfeld, Steve Katz and Tommy Flanders.

Al Kooper had been playing as a session guitarist when he was called into a session with Bob Dylan. Mike Bloomfield was also at that session and Kooper saw he had little chance. He switched to organ for the Like A Rolling Stone session and then joined The Blues Project as an organ player. He should also be lauded for being the person who pushed The Zombies and Columbia Records to finish their swan song of an album.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Invictas - The Hump

We return to New York with our regional Battle of the Bands taking us to the Empire State for the 7th straight post.

It's Wednesday, hump day, so we have to travel to Rochester where we spin a fast paced number by a band calling themselves The Invictas. The song is called The Hump and it only clocks in at 2 minutes. Which, according to recent research, is, rather ironically, the average amount of time it do The Hump. The Invictas were Herb Gross, Dave Hickey, Jim Kohler, and Mark Blumenfeld. This rockin' number was penned by the frontman, Herb Gross and was conceived on a dance floor.
One night in 1963, while playing at Tiny’s Bengel Inn, a couple was dancing provocatively in front of the stage. Herb asked the couple what they were doing. The couple responded “We’re Humping.” A week later, Herb had a dance and song ready for the band called “The Hump". The crowd loved the song and dance. Word got out about The Invictas wild sound and a recording executive by the name of Steve Brodie from Sahara Records turned up to offer them a contract. For the recording session, the band brought about 30 of their friends and several cases of beer into the studio. The band wanted to capture their wild live sound. It worked, “The Hump” became a hit. (The Invictas band website)
The band released their rollicking, beer fueled number on Sahara Records in August of 1966. It was The Invictas third single (of four). They even got a full length album out of Sahara Records! The band is still active today. Not bad you crazy Invictas.
 Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Jagged Edge - You Can't Keep A Good Man Down / How She's Hurtin Me

Day six of our New York Spotlight. Brooklyn artists The Jagged Edge released today's great double-sider in April of 1966 on Gallant Records. According to at least one source it gets some traction in the greater metropolitan area with You Can't Keep A Good Man Down. And really, what young man rejected by his soul mate doesn't want to glue his broken self together via this tale of personal triumph over girl adversity? The very act of listening to this will help you re-write the script of your teenhood lost love to include this line: "Her love is cheaper by the pound!" Be sure to not miss out on the guitar harmonics at the end - that's a garage rarity.

Move to the flip-side and you get the slightly moodier and byrdsier How She's Hurtin Me. This one starts off with a jazzy bass and drums that calls to mind Horace Silver (anyone?) before it enters the song proper, only to exit with the same arrangement. It betrays some more great songwriting by rhythm guitarist Drew Georgopulis who also takes credit for side A. Other members of this young outfit include Elliot Ingber on vocals, Art Steinman on lead guitar, Harley Wishner on bass and Kenney Bennett on Drums. They recorded one more very cool single on Jubilee as the Offset a few months later.

An informative interview with Steinman and Wishner over at Flower Bomb Songs can be found here.

Until next time, see you on the Flip-Side!

Monday, November 10, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Third Bardo - I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time

Back to New York city for our Battle of the Bands - New York edition.

The Third Bardo hailed from the big city. The band was Jeff Monn on guitar and vocals, Ricky Goldklang on guitar, Bruce Ginsberg on drums, Damian Kelly on bass and Richy Seslowe on guitar. The group only recorded one single. But what a single it was. The single was released in May of 1967 on Roulette Records and featured two songs written by R. Evans-V.Pike. I don't know who they are but their two compositions are killers. Particularly the prescient A-Side of I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time.

The band grabbed their name (allegedly) from a Tibetan Book Of The Dead. The Third Bardo apparently references the experience of reality.

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

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Humans - Warning

More New York Battle of the Bands! Today we have a record from the tiny hamlet of Albion, New York, located between Rochester and Niagra off the shores of Lake Ontario. The Humans were a sextet of High Schoolers: Jack Dumrese, Gar Truselle, Dick Doolan, Marty Busch and Danny Long. They called themselves the very non-Animal name of...The Humans.

Today's song was the Flip-Side of their only single, released on Audition Records in 1966. Lead guitarist, Bill Kuhns wrote both the folky A-Side, and this, the rip-roaring Flip-Side. Warning tells the tried and true tale of a love gone bad. Dick Doolan and Danny Long trade vocals as the two throw up the caution sign for this girl. 
Well that's the last I'm gonna tell you
You better listen to me
I got something to say child.
You better listen to me
Yeah, I'm giving you the warning!
Yeaaaaah baby!

According to comments left at, Danny Long died in a car crash not long after this number was recorded. The band struggled along before the draft started to eat at The Humans like a Zombie-Apocalypse Now.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Left Banke - She May Call You Up Tonight and Barterers and Their Wives

We are back after a couple of days off with more garage rock from the Empire State. Today we take a classical turn with The Left Banke. The Left Banke are one of those bands that lived largely in the studio. The band was Michael Brown on keyboards, Tom Finn on bass, Steve Martin on vocals, George Cameron on guitar and Warren David-Schierhorst on drums. Michael Brown's father was an established symphony violinist and he was instrumental in producing and managing his son's band. So it was, the Left Banke went straight from rehearsals to the studio.

Considering the father who was mentoring the band, it is not surprising that the band's first song was a string laden number with violin at the fore. That number, Walk Away Renee, turned into something of a hit for the music collective in the Summer of 1966. The number was co-written by the band's bard, Michael Brown, who also composed the band's wonderful follow-up hit that same year, the symphonically arranged, Pretty Ballerina. Then the management got cocky. Did they really need the band? The third single, released in the Winter of 1967 only featured Michael Brown who co-wrote both numbers with professional songwriters. Steve Martin's delicate, stuffy-nose styled vocal lead would be replaced with a falsetto vocal by Bert Sommer. Occasional On The Flip-Side visitor and comment-maker, Michael McKean (Best In Show, Spinal Tap, Laverne and Shirley) would serve as the guitarist for both tracks. The "Left Banke" sounded nothing like the previous two singles and deservedly flopped. The other four members of The Left Banke went into revolt filing suit against Smash Records, Michael Brown and his father.

Smash Records got jittery and withdrew that ill-fated single and instead released a single taken from the band's album. That fourth single, released in June of 1967, is what we feature today. She May Call You Up Tonight/Barterers And Their Wives. The A-Side was composed by Michael Brown and singer, Steve Martin (left and second from left in the photo below). It follows the time-tested Left Banke theme of a love triangle (Renee, the ballerina was a real person and was dating another member of the band). But the number doesn't have the strings of the previous hits. It was supposed to have them, but time was tight and the number was finished without them.  The Flip-Side, the quizzical, Barters And Their Wives, is composed by Brown and a professional songwriter. It's a beautiful number that plays up the band's baroque style nicely.

We're lifting a cool photo from the cool folk at Nitro-Retro Blog.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, October 31, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Brigands - Would I Still Be Her Big Man?

New York Battle of The Bands takes us to the Brill Building. I think.

I've always loved this song. And, I've always had a suspicion that this band is not really a band. Quite frankly, the song is too well structured to be your typical 60's garage band kicking out one lonely single after the lads pooled all their money together to go down to the big city to record that song that makes everybody get up and dance. And a major label like Epic? And, the Resnick brothers? Didn't they write Yummy, Yummy, that god-awful bubble gum pop song? All the circumstantial evidence points to "studio" band. Add to that the fact that nobody has ever come up with a band flier or a story of playing with the Brigands at the Battle of the Bands at some high school in Yonkers and it is pretty clear that the Brigands were but only a Tin Pan Alley creation.

But that shouldn't stop us from giving Would I Still Be Her Big Man? a big wet kiss. Mwuaa! Released in 1966 (of course!) on Epic Records, Would I Still Be Her Big Man? details the double life and troubled mind of our hero who finds himself sweating from 9-5 in a factory during the day and dressing in top-notch suits at night just to give the girl he loves the things she wants. But if she finds out that he is just a hard working blue collar chump, then what? Like us, our protagonist is only left to wonder:
Ahh, baby likes to eat in fancy restaurants. Well she's always had the things she wants. I'm afraid she'll say goodbye when she finds out I'm just a poor guy. I wonder, I wonder, would I still be her big man?
Dude. Man up! If this she-devil doesn't love you for your cool guitar-riff that repeats throughout the song, then you need to dump her. Not only is that guitar riff nicely fuzzed, you have great tambourine work and a bitchin' little key change to keep us snapping our fingers and shuffling our feet. You are a 7" record, nicely rounded, on a great label. You need to realize that you are loved. If this gold-digger doesn't love you for that and that alone, then someone else will. And that person will still treasure you 45 years later. They may even covet you on eBay. And maybe -- just maybe -- someday they will write about you on their way cool music blog.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New York Spotlight: The Blues Magoos - We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet and Gotta Get Away

Our regional Battle of the Bands turns to the state of New York. And we start today with a group that actually was able to make some waves nationally. 

The Blues Magoos hailed from The Bronx in New York City. The band was Ralph Scala, Emil "Peppy" Thielhelm, Ron Gilbert, Mike Esposito and Geoff Daking. The band's first release was on Verve Records (as Bloos Magoos) but did little. Mercury Records swooped in and signed the band and took them into a studio to record an LP in 1966. The second single from the album, released in October of 1966, was their biggest hit, (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet. The song was written by the lead guitarist, the organ player and the bassist and lifted a riff from Ricky Nelson's unique version of Summertime. But they took that riff and made it front and center of a musical explosion that simply soars. Somewhat improbably, the song became a national hit, reaching #5 in the US and getting The Blues Magoos a spot opening for The Who and Herman's Hermits as well as a spot on the very important Smothers Brothers show. 

The Flip-Side of We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet is the strong number, Gotta Get Away. Both sides demonstrate just how talented this band was. In particular, the guitar work of lead guitarist, Mike Esposito (second from left in the photo below), is more than a cut above the competition.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New England Teen Spotlight: And the winner is...

The legendary Executive Committee of On The Flip-Side has meticulously gone through the 10 nominations for "the best 1960s garage record out of New England" and have come to a unanimous decision.

The winner is Connecticut's The Squires with their double sided gem on Atco Records, Going All The Way/Go Ahead. That can be heard here. Congratulations go out to Michael Boyeau who composed both sides, sings lead and plays drums.

The Squires will now move on to the next round as they await their counterparts from other parts of the country.

Next up in our regional Battle of The Bands will be the states of New York and New Jersey. Until then, click dreamy pic below (which, contrary to public opinion, is NOT the much vaunted Executive Committee of On The Flip-Side relaxing at our offices high atop Mount Garagemore) to "like" us on Facebook. Yep, you can get On The Flip-Side right there in your news feed.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Shaggs - My Pal Foot Foot

The New England Battle of the Bands wraps up today with a real killer number.

The Shaggs were three sisters from Fremont, New Hampshire. They were Dorothy "Dot" Wiggin on first guitar and lead vocals, Betty Wiggin on second guitar and Helen Wiggin on drums. The girls apparently had no interest in music, but their paternal grandmother had a vision of musical stardom for the girls after a particularly revealing palm reading. The girl's Dad, Austin Wiggin, removed the girls from school and forced the girls into music as he believed his mom's visions had all come true in the past. The problem was, the Wiggin girls didn't have much experience with music. But don't mind that!

Collectively the Wiggin girls were called The Shaggs, a play off the shaggy hair style craze going around. They played the local Elks Lodge and a few dances. The girls were apparently not well received by the local teens but dad insisted they keep at it. In 1969 he drove them to Revere, Massachusetts to cut an album. Austin, of course, was tapped as the producer.

The girls cut enough groovy material to release an album of originals on Fleetwood Records and one single, mislabeled as The Shags. The A-Side of that single is the trance inducing My Pal Foot Foot. My Pal Foot Foot was written by Dot and tells the tale of her oft-roaming cat whose name, obviously, was Foot Foot.

The song starts with a pretty killer 15-second drum solo from Helen before Dot and Betty come crashing in with their deft guitar work. Then comes the great vocals. The interplay between Dot and Betty, who harmonize about the missing cat like only sisters can, is sublime.
I don't have time to roam
I have things to do
I have to go home
Oh, Foot Foot, where are you? 
{drum solo} 
If Foot Foot didn't like to roam so well
He would still have a place to dwell
Foot Foot please answer me
I know where you are
You are behind that tree
How will the tale of the roaming tail end, you ask? Well, of course, with a drum solo from Helen! Now I think we know why Foot Foot would often roam far from home.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, October 27, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Barbarians - What The New Breed Say

New England Battle of the Bands is still spinning. The final days of our spotlight takes us to Provincetown, Massachusetts. The band is Bruce Benson, Ronnie Enos, Jerry Causo and Victor Moulton, also known as Moulty. Collectively they are known as The Barbarians.

The Barbarians released four singles and one LP between 1964 and 1966. Today we feature the A-Side of their third single, released on Laurie Records in November of 1965. The song, What The New Breed Say, was written and produced by New York producer, Doug Morris. It has an Ed Cobb thematic feel to it as the singer exacerbates the generation gap. Some nice guitar fills replete with a Steve Cropper rip-off towards the end.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, October 24, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Rockin' Ramrods - She Lied

Our New England Battle of the Bands keeps us in Boston on this kick-ass Friday.

Sometimes you just need to let the song speak for itself (and for you). So here we go, The Rockin' Ramrods perform their original composition, She Lied! Recorded in 1964 for Bon-Bon Records in their hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. The Rockin' Ramrods were Bob Henderson, Vin Campisi, Ronn Campisi, and Lenny Cirelli.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New England Teen Spotlight: The Others - I Can't Stand This Love, Goodbye

[Please see comment section below for some updated info from one of the band members for more on this great song]

New England Battle of the Bands takes us to today to tiny little Rhode Island.

Goodbye. What a powerful, multiple-meaning word it is. The intent of the word is entirely in the tone. It can be a flat statement of departing. It can be a sad, sorrow-filled departing. It can be an anger filled statement to end a conversation. Or it can be to the tone of, as sung by Kingston, Rhode Island's The Others, something along the line of "piss off you mean mistreating girl."

The Others were formed by a bunch of University of Rhode Island college students and one student from nearby Brown University: Jim Destout, Mike Brand, Pete Shepley, John Costa and Mike Patalano. On the connections and dollars of one of their As the result of a chance meeting Mike Brand's father had with an established talent manager, Bob Marshall, the Ocean-Staters headed down to New York in June of '65 to cut some demos. Dad's connections was able to pull some strings and get  led to an RCA executive audition who liked what he heard and signed the boys on the spot. Next thing you know The Others are on a major label and opening for The Byrds and The Lovin' Spoonful.
I Can't Stand This Love, Goodbye (written by Brand and Shepley) is the first (and best) single from the boys. It was released by RCA Records in September of 1965. It features a biting guitar riff that plays throughout the song, a nasty little scream leading into a perfect guitar solo and some classic 60's garage lyrics about how all these poor, innocent teenage boys are treated poorly by runaround teenage girls. This world only existed on record, by the way.
Well I hate to leave you but I have to go, goodbye. Well you played me bad, you deserve it so...goodbye. I can't stand this love, so goodbye!
Now, ironically, I first heard this song as performed by punk pilgrims, The Damned (click here to read a Flip-Side article on the Damned). The boys from London once recorded a one-off record under the monicker of Naz Nomad and the Nightmares and this song was one of their standouts. How they came to it, is beyond me. Ironically, that same record, Give Daddy The Knife, Cindy, featured a cover of the Boston based group the Rockin' Ramrods' 1964 recording of their non-hit song, She Lied! That song got a little flip-love from us back in April. Check it out here.

I'm gonna wrap it up but, for full disclosure and for those who want more info on The Others, I suggest you check out this fine interview with drummer Mike Patalano from a site called Fancy Mag. It's got tons of cool pics of The Others.

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Remains - Once Before and Diddy Wah Diddy

The New England Battle Of The Bands just keeps rolling! The bands we have featured in the last five posts have been small potatoes. All but one of those artists only had one release. The other artist, The Blue Beats, two releases. Today we turn our attention to a real, legitimate band.

The Remains hailed from the unofficial capital of New England, Boston, Massachusetts. The members of the band, Barry Tashian, Vern Miller, Billy Briggs and Chip Damiani, all met while Freshmen students at The University of Boston in 1964. From day one the band was in a groove. And the kids at BU knew it. The legend goes: acoustic dorm room rehearsals with kids spilling out into the halls led to the kids in Kenmore Hall setting up a rehearsal spot for the band in the basement. Kids from all over Boston started showing up to hear them groove. Then came the first gigs already filled with adoring fans pouring out into the streets. Epic Records heard of the legend and the band was signed in the waning hours of 1964.

The band released their first single in March of 1965. The Tashian penned Why Do I Cry was sophisticated and catchy. A real gem of production. But we're going to jump ahead and feature the band's third single. And of course, we're going to flip the sides.

The Flip-Side of their March 1966 release was composed by the rhythm section of the band, Vern Miller, the bassist, and Chip Damiani, the drummer. Once Before is a rocket fueled attack that would have made The Yardbirds proud. And damn, it's catchy too! Tashian's vocals are matched beautifully by his edgy guitar tone and wonderful rhythm guitar work and tastefully subtle fills.

The A-Side was a cover of the traditional blues number, Diddy Wah Diddy, and certainly picked up from Bo Diddley's version. The Remains do a great, peppy version that tracks closely with Mr. McDaniels' take on the number. It was a solid choice for the A-Side.

Everything was going great for The Remains. Epic Records moved them to New York, took them into a studio to record a full length album of killer track after killer track. Then they got the call. The Remains were tagged to open for The Beatles on what would prove to be the band's last ever tour. The Remains got a spot performing live on The Ed Sullivan Show. Hullabaloo was next. Everything was looking perfect. But just days before The Remains were to take off on the tour, drummer Chip Damiani decided he didn't want to go. What?!?!?!?! The band soldiered on without him but the remains of the band felt that it wasn't the same without him. So just as their album was released, the band broke up. Sheesh!

Barry Tashian went on to play with numerous Nashville-based acts including performing with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris and is still active in music today.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Shames - The Special Ones and My World Is Upside Down

The New England Battle of the Bands competition continues on this Tuesday with a band out of Ipswich, Massachusetts, a town just north of Boston. The band was The Shames (formerly the Cryin' Shames, but that name was taken) and consisted of Denis Trudel on vocals, Gerard Trudel on bass, Joey Amerault on drums, James Amero on lead guitar, and Patty Germoni on organ. That's right, The Shames were rockin' it with a girl in the band. And her nickname was apparently "Beetle". Bitchin'! The Shames played all over New England and, according to Back From The Grave Vol. 6, as far West as Buffalo and even had Bo Diddley in their audience one night. The band kicked out only one record, released on RFT out of Hyannis, Massachusetts, the same tiny town in Cape Cod where they recorded this sloppy-ass gem. And here is the kicker about this 1967 release. They forgot to put their name on the record. D'oh!

The A-Side, The Special Ones, was composed by singer Denis Trudel (second from right in the scanned photo below). The song starts with a sloppy racket of brazen guitar banging away. Trudel laments the life of being a long hair mod in a town of squares. But he stands up for himself, calling themselves The Special Ones (a title that takes on a different meaning when you consider they forgot to put their name on the record!). He even works in the band's original name of The Cryin' Shames into his lyrics. 

The Flip-Side is perhaps the better known of this double sided raver. My World Is Upside Down was co-written by the guitarist (the blonde cat on the left) and starts epically awesome with Trudel (voice cracking like Peter Brady) calling the flock to church before Gerard Trudel rips off a bass solo that would put John Entwistle to Shame (see what I did there?). I say this next thing with 100% sincerity: The loud jangly guitar overwhelming the recording, the drums banging away deep in the background, beyond dodgy harmonies, funky time changes, ridiculously simplistic song structure and the requisite 'woe-is-me' lyrics makes this a garage classic in the first order. It's just the kind of rock-n-roll approach that makes teen-driven garage music from the 60s so damn good. We don't need to be going up, up and away in a beautiful, beautiful balloon. We don't need to be going on an overly complicated musical journey to tell us that 'your's is no digrace'. Nope. We need one diminutive, snot nosed outsider telling us about how he feels like a 'broken limb on a tree'. And in less than 2:40 to boot!

If I recall correctly, San Diego's Tell-Tale Hearts did a spot on cover of this song back in the early to mid 80s. It must have taken their bassist, Mike Stax, hours in front of the turntable to figure out that bass solo!
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, October 20, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Squires - Going All The Way and Go Ahead

The New England Battle of The Bands continues into this new week. We start the week with a monster double sided record.

The Squires were a bunch of high school buddies out of Bristol, Connecticut (perhaps best known today for being the home of ESPN). In the fall of '66 they loaded into the van and drove to New York to record a few original songs. One of them was the mega gem, Going All the Way, from drummer and singer, Michael Bouyea. Thomas Flannigan was holding the Fender Jazzmaster guitar, John Folick owned a cheap bass that looks to me to be a Kay; and Kurt Robinson from nearby Torrington, played a mean Farfisa organ. The band would later add a drummer and move Bouyea to the front, but that guy isn't on this recording.

The A-Side is the Bouyea composed Going All The Way. The jangly guitar, the lonely bird chirp of the far off organ, the lyrics that exude cockiness, the blazingly fast jazzmaster guitar lead that takes up nearly 1/4 of the entire song. Michael Bouyeau's scream that leads us into said guitar solo. It is perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect. The Flip-Side is nearly as good. Go Ahead, also composed by Bouyeau, is a classic folk rock, pop number and tells the tale of the 60s garage, time-tested theme of "bad girl does good boy wrong." With all it's suspended chords and efficient 2:07 of length, this could have been an early Byrds number. 

The record was released on Atco Records in September of 1966. But Atco fell down on the job with a monster record on their hands. The Atlantic Records subsidiary did not promote their local gem and the number of pressings of the record is rumored to be 2,500 or less. I want it. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!