Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Bees - Voices Green and Purple/Trip To New Orleans

Day 8 of our So Cal region Battle of the Garage Bands gets us a truly bizarre record.

The Bees hailed from the LA town of Covina, California. The band never really existed outside of the garage. Sixteen year old Robbie Wood and his high school chums, Gary Briggs and Al Singer were practicing in their garage. Along came some dude who said he wanted to make them a star. His name was Tom Willsie and he asked the kids to write a couple of originals and he would pull together a recording session for them. After Willsie gave singer and bassist Robbie Wood the task of writing a song about a drug trip gone bad, Wood sat down and came up with Voices Green And Purple.

The band, which hadn't ever performed live in front of an audience, then went into a studio in LA in October of 1966 to record the Wood/Willsie composition. Willsie overdubbed Wood's pedal steel parts for the "freakout" moments of Voices Green And Purple.

The flip-side was another song written by Wood after being given an idea from Willsie. Trip To New Orleans has a bit of a whimsical sound that harkens to the lighter flip-sides of the early Stones singles, such as West Coast Under Assistant Promo Man and Spider and the Fly.

Tom Willsie only had a few hundred singles pressed up for his own Liverpool Records and even hand made a very, very few picture sleeves. Bizarre picture sleeve at that! Being that the band had broken up at the recording session (without ever doing a gig), Willsie blacked out the faces of Singer and Briggs. Pretty crazy stuff. It really looks like the DIY sleeves that would come out of the California punk scene in the early 1980s. Willsie then drove the records around to various stores in SoCal and tried to get it some airplay on local stations. One college station in Santa Barbara bit and actually played this on the radio. Surely the only place it was ever broadcast back in it's day.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

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