Thursday, April 30, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Mourning Reign -- Satisfaction Guaranteed/Our Fate



[Please see the comments section below for a comment from the band's singer, Beau]

Day 2 of our Nor Cal Battle of the Garage Bands.  1966 is the single greatest year for rock-n-roll ever. 1956 was good too, but no 1966. 1977 was also a critical year, but falls far short of what went down across the globe in 1966.

Let's back up a bit. A few short years prior to '66, rock-n-roll in America was desperately treading water. The record stores had been flooded with a tsunami of over-polished crooners with faux pompadours and plaid dinner jackets who were being sold to America's precious daughters as a safe alternative to true originals like Chuck BerryElvis was no longer a ground breaking, dangerous rocker, he was a well quaffed sell-out actor. Gene Vincent himself had sunk to crooning and Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran were the earliest victims of rock-n-roll's toll. True, faint flickers of life could occasionally be glimpsed on the horizon. In Los Angeles Dick Dale was not very quietly creating an entirely new genre of rock-n-roll starting in '61. But it hadn't reverberated yet. In Texas, for a few brief years, starting in '62, Bobby Fuller tried to keep the Holly spirit alive. And in 1963 in Portland, Oregon, the Kingsmen recorded the single most important rock-n-roll record ever, Louie, Louie. But the record was immediately banned across the country and the Hoover-led FBI launched an investigation of obscenity and effectively put out the flame before it could spread too far...in this country. Then The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and the tsunami of schlock was itself washed out by the British Invasion, which, thankfully, restored rock-n-roll to its birthplace. Those who couldn't make the football team (and some who could) went to Sears Roebuck and bought themselves a new Silvertone Guitar and declared war on the neighborhood barber. The frustrated radio station engineer implemented dreams of becoming the next George Martin and started moonlighting as a record producer. Club owners and a host of other entrepreneurs eager to make a dollar on the biggest craze since the hula-hoop formed what would pass as local "record labels". Of course, none of these people knew what they were doing so the revolution was delayed a few months. In the meantime, flying in the slipstream of the Beatles, more aggressive Brit bands -- bands hugely influenced by Louie, Louie -- like the Yardbirds, the Rolling StonesThe Who and the Kinks found an audience in the US. And then, very early in '66, the perfect storm hit. That band in San Jose had put in enough practices in dad's garage that they were now winning the battle of the bands contest. Grandma quietly slipped Dave $150 to cut a record and follow his passion. The owner of Rock-n-Rollerskate, the bestest teen night spot in all of San Jose, was ready to put some bucks down to record that band and maybe make some more money at the concession stand by selling a local record. And Ed, the frustrated audio engineer, had his recording studio all set up in the back of the local appliance store, It's A Wash. The time was now. No editors. No suits. No record company men to say who could and could not record. This was the moment. And all across the world -- in AmericaAustraliaHollandSweden and countless other places -- like a brood of cicadas, the now long haired rockers crawled out of the garages adorned in chelsea boots, three button jackets, paisley vests and dark wrap around sun glasses to make their first record.
Within a year the record company executives would reassert their control and descend on towns like San Jose, California, Amsterdam, Sidney, and Stockholm and swoop up the bands deemed valuable and crush the bands that showed no utility. But in that one brief moment of 1966 -- wedged between the chaos of innocence and the unassailable rule of record companies -- millions of bands recorded their song. Some awful. Some brilliant.
Today's song is one of those brilliant songs from '66. It's by the stunningly obscure San Jose, California quintet, The Mourning Reign. The song, with a clear play to the Rolling Stones, is called Satisfaction Guaranteed. A snarly guitar riff is spurted out with an unrelenting attack. The singer, some bloke named Beau (Bo) Maggie, does his best Mick Jagger swagger: "As you wander around, you find your imagination standing upside down in the mouth of mass hallucination. You are dissatisfied with the other guys you tried. Now don't you think it's time for a change, because, you know, Satisfaction Guaranteed!" Cue the double guitar lead that no respectable music exec. would have allowed. "Listen boys, you can't be playing over each other like that. It's just noise. Nobody will buy this record if you do that." Thank goodness their was no record exec. at the mighty Link Records in San Jose.

The flip side is the Beau Maggi composed Our Fate. We get a great Rickenbacker rhythm guitar part from more Steve Canali before Johnnie Bell jumps in with the relentless scorching guitar. Craig Maggi on drums and Charlie Gardin on bass lay down a substantial bedrock for the song. 

Unlike their San Jose brethren, The Chocolate Watchband, The Count Five and the Syndicate of Sound, the Mourning Reign wouldn't get the chance to make an album. They only recorded one other single and then disappeared into nowhere. Perhaps it was into that "invisible door" or that "hole in the floor" the singer is so desperate for us to know about.

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

17 comments:

  1. This might be your best posting yet. Very well done. I have seen this Sundazed 7" EP before,but did not pick it up. Didn't the Chesterfield Kings do this on their debut album?

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  2. Thanks for the kind words. Yes, the Chesterfield Kings, the Rochester, NY combo from the very early 80's did cover this on their debut album. Good call.

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  3. The Chesterfield Kings. That first album of theirs was chock full of prime garage covers. And I listened to the copy I found back in '85 in a Guilford, England record store (to my utter amazement) many times before I heard the originals. For better or worse I can't separate those earlier impressions from the '60s recordings. Do they do a double lead too? I couldn't tell you as I gave or sold most of my hard earned collection in the early '90s.

    I came across this song recently when my wife got me the collection of San Francisco area recordings well-researched and nicely assembled by UK native Alec Palao entitled Love Is The Song We Sing published 2007. Of note from his book is that an earlier incarnation of the Mourning Reign, the English, featured Sean Tolby of the Chocolate Watchband on guitar.

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  4. I imagine the Watchband and the Reign made one hell of a hip concert pairing.

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  5. I'm with you on '66 of course, but i do think the early 60s are unfairly maligned. In addition to the pre-Beatles bright spots you mentioned, there were also the Everlys, early Beach Boys, surf, and the beginnings of Motown and Stax. I share your dislike of the manufactured crooners though.

    Jack, I have that SF nuggets set too. Really well done. I dig the song "Got Love" by the Front Line- i think it is right before or right after the Mourning Reign song.

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  6. I can't consider Stax or Motown to be rock. Great stuff without question, but it is solid Soul. Beach Boys? I agree with you on that though I think their pre-Beatles output was shaky. And last, the Everly Brothers. If they read the Nashville phone book in unison, it would be great. They could do no wrong in my book. Even some of that sappy "take a message to Mary" crap is still good just because their vocals are so amazing.

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  7. Hey Morgan and fans...

    This is Beau of The Mourning Reign...the real Beau...over the years I have many a fan send me these enjoyable tidbits...sadly...so much of the information you have been provided with is so so wrong, as are most of the articles, that continue to surface, about me, the Jaggeresque Beau, my band, many of my friends, and enemies that came from that era...i.e the Syndicate..The Watchband..The Count 5..The Byrds..Buffalo..etc. etc. etc..

    the real How and What happened is so much more interesting than a lot of what you all think... or may have been told by the "I was Therer's" multitude that seems to re-write Bay Area and 60/70 history...

    oh could I tell you all some real explosive stories...about our escapades and encounters with the likes of Hendrix..Joplin..Morrison...Burdon...Paul Revere...Grace...Country Joe...Little P Mick..The MC5..Love..The Leaves..on and on......and on and on...the truth is always more interesting...

    We were, quite simply put...In Times of Heaven and a bit crazy...but every day was so good

    and in fact...The Mourning Reign did record quite a few songs re released and re released.. Those days were the stuff that changed our world forever as we will ever know it.

    and BTW...it's not "mouth of hallucination"...it's "mass hallucination"...although mouth of...sounds better than what I originally wrote...

    Beau

    Beau

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  8. Welcome Beau! You just made my day. I have a million questions for you about the band, the experiences you mention and the recording process. Any chance you'll share?

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  9. Beau - I too hope you could share more information with us. For one, who is R. Keefer, credited for writing Satisfaction Guaranteed?

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  10. Wondering if R. Keefer is a pseudonym, akin to Nanker Phelge. Also "our kiefer", a possible inside joke?

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  11. Turns out Rick Keefer was a guitarist for the band but was not in the band at the time of this recording. He was also in The English with Sean Tolby of The Chocolate Watch Band. This according to Alec Palao in his compilation of bay area music of the mid to late '60s, Love Is The Song We Sing.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Jack and Morgan,

      This is Beau again...sorry to drop in only to out (won't do that again)...but as for Rick Keefer...some of Alec's info is correct...Rick Keefer was originally from a band called The MarKeys...they had an instrumental hit in the early 60's called Last Night...you've heard it in a few movies...I'm sure...I penned the lyrics to the Satisfaction Guaranteed and he the music...He played guitar in the English because he was responsible for us getting our first tour with Paul Revere and the Raiders...his manager from The MarKeys was now managing the Raiders and the tour was at the peak of Dick Clark's "Where The Action Is" daily tv show...but...the catch was we had to change our name to "The English" (The English opening for Paul Revere and The Raiders...Clever) and let go of our guitarist Andy Wade...I had to let Rick do the tour and since I wouldn't fire Charlie as he and I grew up together and Andy was just a Freshman in high school and his dad wouldn't let him do the tour...we became The English ...we wore wigs...mandatory, hats, tails, knee high boots (all provided by Paul Revere and the Raiders and Pat the manager..us and our too big wigs and.English outfits went on the road opening for Paul Revere and the Raiders...after the tour...we came bac...added Dave Tolby later Sean...Gary became Charlie...I became Beau...etc...etc...The English became The Mourning Reign...so...if you'd like to communicate direct...I've opened an email site just for you guys....mail me at ...thrutou@yahoo.com...I'll check for your email

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    2. Anyone else who wishes to write me...Beau of The original Mourning Reign...feel free...I will answer whatever I can about the 60's and the California sound

      Beau

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    3. Beau - I just dropped you an email.

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    4. Hey Morgan...write me at frankjmaggi@yahoo.com
      I will respond

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