Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Great Lakes Spotlight: The Aardvarks - I'm Higher Than I'm Down/That's Your Way

Our final day of the Battle of the Garage Bands for the Great Lakes Region has us at the top of the alphabet with The Aardvarks.

The Aardvarks of Grand Rapids, Michigan recorded 4 records between 1966 and 1968. Today we are going to spin their second release. I'm Higher Than I'm Down and That's Your Way were released on Vark Records in May of 1966. The band at this time was lead singer Darryl Dingler, Garey Walker, Terry Potts, Rick Kuerth, Jim Britton and Don Herald. Darryl Dingler composed both sides of today's submission to the competition. The Aardvarks recorded the numbers in Sparta, Michigan at a movie theater converted into a recording studio. This studio was owned by Dave Kalmbach who also served as the producer and engineer. Dave also was the owner of Fenton Records, which was responsible for releasing many a great local record, including yesterday's entry by The Chentelles

The A-Side today is a real amazing number. I'm Higher Than I'm Down is a true stand-out in the garage genre. But of course, that's why it's here today, right? From the wide-open drum-centric opening to the lyrics of overcoming obstacles and rising above the mundane, to the two and three-part harmonies. It all adds up to make this record one cut above your normal garage output. Then there are the bells! Best use of bells in a garage song since Richard and The Young Lions out of New Jersey used them in You Can Make It
If the sky should soon adorn my way of black
And it seems I have no way of turning back
The way that I am facing
Is not the way I am bound
Yes it is I am now higher than I am down
Yeah, Baby!

The Flip-Side isn't too shabby either. That's Your Way has a nice warbly guitar and that familiar snare-drum sound. But this one has a great harmonica riff doubled by the organ. Great stuff.

As I have done before, I have been given much of this information from the good work of the hep-cats at 60sgaragebands.com. I also lifted the photo from said site. Check out more about The Aardvarks at that site which can be found here.
That's it for the Great Lakes region. The Brain-Trust at On The Flip-Side will convene at a secret mountain top location to debate and vote on the winner. Stay tuned.

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


  1. Replies
    1. I know, what's up with that? I thought about spinning The Next Five http://ontheflip-side.blogspot.com/2014/03/song-of-week-next-five-talk-to-me-girl.html

      But ultimately, the A-Side of that record isn't very strong. Who else did I miss?

  2. Benders "You Can't Tame Me", Mustard Men, Gordes Horde, Sandmen, Wanders Rest...

  3. yeah. we screwed up. we gave serious consideration to splitting Illinois into their own category. In retrospect we should have done that as the Chicago contributions are so strong they could have sustained the 10 songs. Thanks for clueing us into those songs. That Benders song is amazing!