Friday, February 28, 2014

Song of the Week: We The People - In The Past

I first came to this song by way of The Chocolate Watchband's ethereal cover. Then I heard this, the original version. Wow. I mean,! 

We The People hailed from Orlando, Florida and put out a series of amazing and unique singles between 1966 and 1968. In The Past was the band's 4th single and was released on Challenge Records in December, 1966. The song was written by guitarist, Wayne Proctor, and features a unique instrument they called an Octachord, an eight string mandolin of sorts. Tommy Talton, David Duff, Randy Boyte and Lee Ferguson rounded out the rest of the band.

In an effort to avoid the Vietnam War draft, Wayne Proctor, left the band in '67 to enroll full time in college. So it was, like many other bands of the era, it was over. Just like that. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Song of the Week: Bobby Freeman - C'mon and Swim

Bobby Freeman was a San Francisco soul singer who scored a hit right out of the gate in 1958 with his oft-covered Do You Want To Dance? Freeman jumped around on various labels and worked the San Francisco club circuits as he settled into a standing residency at San Francisco's The Condor Night Club where he performed in support of the infamous topless dancer, Carol Doda, known affectionately as "The Twin Peaks of San Francisco."

In 1963 some well played publicity by Doda brought new clients into The Condor Night Club. That also brought Bobby Freeman a plethora of new fans as patrons took notice of the guy that sang the songs to which Ms. Doda would dance. One of those new admirers was a young musician and producer whom had recently been tasked to help start a local record label. That label was the brief lived Autumn Records and the producer was a 20 year old kid named Sylvester Stewart. He would eventually change his name to Sly Stone and, well, you know the rest.

Bobby Freeman became both Sly Stone's and Autumn's first recording artist. Today we spin the June 1964 release from Bobby Freeman, the regional hit, C'mon And Swim. It was Autumn's second release and it features Sly Stone as composer, producer and, on this single release version, grooving it on organ.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Song of the Week: ? and the Mysterians - Make You Mine/I Love You Baby

Make You Mine
I Love You Baby
? and The Mysterians (pronounced Question Mark and the Mysterians) were certified hep-cats. That's for sure. Cool name. Cool look. Cool sound. The Saginaw, Michigan all latino quintet struck gold with their original composition, the 1966 garage classic, 96 Tears. Two solid albums and a handful of follow-up singles were released in the next two years, but nothing much came of those records. Catching lightning in a bottle twice proved to be difficult. 

In 1968 singer Rudy Martinez (aka Question Mark), Eddie Serrato, Frank Lugo, 14-year old Frank Rodriguez on organ and Bobby Balderrama left Cameo-Parkway Records and did a one-off single with Capitol Records. Both sides, Make You Mine and I Love You Baby were composed by frontman, Rudy Martinez. This doesn't sound much like 1968 to me. No heavy guitars, no growling vocals, no extended jam. Nope. This is more like 1965. "Say Man, how's the party and where's my baby?" Its downright quaint. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Song of the Week: Baby Washington - There He Is and That's How Heartaches Are Made

There He Is
That's How Heartaches Are Made
Baby Washington not only had a cool name, she also had one hell of a voice. Baby grew up in Harlem and bounced around many labels before she hit her groove for Sue Records. She scored only one hit, That's How Heartaches Are Made in 1963. (We already spun a blue-eyed soul cover of that with Welsh singer, Tawny Reed. Click here to hear that version).

Today we spin Baby Washinton's 1965 double sided gem on Sue Records, There He Is and the heavily orchestrated That's How Heartaches Are Made. In this flipster's opinion, There He Is, the A-Side, is the superior number, but both are great. There He Is was produced by Bert Berns, the cat who wrote Here Comes The Night (click here to hear Lulu's version) and Piece Of My Heart for Erma Franklin (click here to hear that original). 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Song of the Week: The Caretakers - Hidden Steps

[editors note: please see comment section below for information on this band as reported by the composer and guitarist of the band]

Precious little known about this very rare record. Here is what we know.
  1. It is a record. The 45rpm 7" kind.
  2. It is on Worm Records.
  3. The band is called The Caretakers.
  4. The Flip-Side of this record -- which we are featuring today -- is called Hidden Steps.
  5. Jim Mora (probably not the football coach) wrote the number.
  6. Martin Ashley was the engineer.

After that it is all conjecture on my part. I have heard they were from a Sacramento, California suburb called Lincoln. But I have also heard that they hailed from San Bernadino, California. One source places this as being released in 1967. I know nothing else about this record other than it rocks seriously hard.

I picked this up in a Salvation Army in Yuba City, California sometime around 1988, not too far from Sacramento, so that would lend some credence to the Lincoln, California rumor. I also find it interesting (at best) that the song is actually 30 seconds shorter than what is published on the label. 

If you know ANYTHING about this record, please leave a comment below. Let's put this band back on the map. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Song of the Week: Don Covay and the Goodtimers -- Mercy, Mercy and Can't Stay Away

This Flipster just hit a record store which recently purchased a radio station's collection of singles. Clearly this Green Bay, Wisconsin station was into soul. That makes for a happy, albeit a little less financially secure, Flipster. In the coming weeks, you'll very likely be hearing a lot of these records digitally spinning here at On The Flip-Side.

We'll start with Don Covay's August, 1964 release for Rosemart Records. One of only two releases Covay had on the boutique label owned by Atlantic Records. Mercy, Mercy became a common number of the 60s garage bands thanks in large part to The Rolling Stones who more than ably covered it on their Out Of Our Heads album from 1965. Incidentally, they recorded the number at Chess Studios in Chicago. 

Don Covay recorded his composition on May 13, 1964 at A1Recording Studio in New York. Why is this important? Because the man he used for guitar was none other than Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix plays on both sides. And man, oh man, is it beautiful. It's as understated as it is great. Apparently when Jimi Hendrix got to the UK a few years later he used Mercy, Mercy as one of the audition songs for both Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. Cool. But I don't want the Jimi Hendrix connection to overcome the greatness of these two songs. Sit back, play it again and again. It only gets better with age.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Song of the Week: The Rumblers - I Don't Need You No More

To prove that rock-n-roll had some hope between Buddy Holly and The Beatles, we present to you The Rumblers performing I Don't Need You No More. This number was originally released as the Flip-Side to The Rumblers' debut surf instrumental, Boss, on Downey Records in September of 1962. Dot picked up the release and gave it national attention in November of that same year.

I Don't Need You No More was recorded in the back of Wenzel's Music in Downey, California. The same music store in which The Chantays recorded Pipeline.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Song of the week: Josh Rouse - It's The Nighttime

[originally posted May, 2011] 
Sometimes we just dig songs because we just like the way they sound. That's the case with our SoTW, It's The Nighttime, by singer and songwriter, Josh Rouse. We flipsters first learned about the native Nebraskan when Rouse opened for another act in Washington, DC. It was this song's chunk-a-chunk-a acoustic guitar and pedal steel that caught our attention and led us to the virtual record store to check out his work. Six years later, it is still this song that makes us smile with remarkable frequency.

It's The Nighttime was co-written by Josh Rouse and Daniel Tashian. When we saw the latter name, our musicologist spidey-senses went into overload. A little investigation proved our spidey hunch correct, Daniel Tashian is the son of Barry Tashian, the singer and leader of one of America's best garage bands and original Nugget poster-boys, Boston's The Remains. Cool.

That tidbit aside, we hope you listen to this song a few times. It may not grab you at first, but, if you are anything like us, we think you'll be humming this in your sleep before too long.


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

[photo by Allen Clark]

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Song of the Week: The Human Expression - Love at Psychedelic Velocity

Out of Orange County, California we have for you today, The Human Expression doing their self composed number, Love At Psychedelic Velocity as published in 1966 for the local label, Accent Records. 

The Human Expression were Jim Quarles, Jim Foster, Tom Hamilton, Armand Poulin, and Martin Eshleman. The band released three singles on the label, with Love At Psychedelic Velocity being the Flip-Side of their debut. Like all young budding rock stars from SoCal in that day, the boys definitely loved them some reverb. They just seem to be awash in it. I'm going to go out on a limb and say The Human Expression had recently listened to Love's 7&7 Is which was released in July of that same year. Hell, even the title of their song suggests it. We first came to this song by way of the wonderful comp, Pebbles Vol. 10. 

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Song of the Week: The Monkees - As We Go Along

The Monkees were left for dead following the "studio musician" scandal that exposed The Monkees to be a manufactured band who didn't write much of their own material or play instruments on their earliest work. Gasp! I've always defended the band. If you sit back and listen to some of the work and don't get hung up on process, just outcome, you have to admit, The Monkees put out some pretty damn good material.

The last work by The Monkees as the original band was the suicide note of a movie, Head. Co-written and produced by Jack Nicholson, musical input by Frank Zappa, songwriting by Carole King, instrumentation by The Monkees themselves (and guests). It was their swan song of sorts. Peter Tork would leave the band upon the movie's release. The lone single from the soundtrack would be the stellar Porpoise Song released on Colgems Records on October 2, 1968. (my copy above is the Aussie release on RCA).

The Flip-Side is also stellar and is our feature today. Written by Carole King, produced by Gerry Goffin, arranged by Jack Nitzsche, As We Go Along has a wonderful languid quality to it. It's remarkably un-Monkees like. Slow, acoustic guitar work with beautiful lead work throughout. It's got a loose ramble that feels like it could be from Pete Townshend's first solo album or from the Ron Wood and Rod Stewart era Faces. In fact, I would argue that it sounds a lot like a Faces song...but with a better singer. Oooh! We think you'll enjoy this one. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side. 

Minnesota Garage Spotlight: The Castaways - Liar, Liar

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Minnesota Garage Spotlight - Bob Dylan and The Hawks - Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?

More garage rock from Minnesota. From the small town of Hibbing, Minnesota, we have a garage monster named Robert Zimmerman. Here he is teamed up with a Band called The Hawks, many of whom were residents of Canada, not far from the north Minnesota town of Hibbing. One of the more obscure of his releases, we present to you today, Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? released on December 8, 1965 on the local Hibbing label, Columbia Records.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Minnesota Garage Spotlight: The Deacons - Empty Heart

Minnesota garage mayhem continues into week two with a small band out of Johnson High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Deacons were, at the time of this recording, Earl Pritchard on vocals, Gary Starzecki on bass, Richard Weeks, Rick Youngberg on lead guitar and one other cat named, Chico. Don't know his last name. The high school mates had released two singles with a different singer named Jim Reiff in 1964 for Re-Car Records. Those singles fall in the Frat Rock/Party Rock category. They're fine, but don't hold up as well as our feature song, their third and last single, released in 1966 on local stalwart label, Soma Records.

The song was funded by one Dino Barilla, a bit of a lounge singer in Minnesota with some money connections. Fuh' get about it. Mr. Barilla needed a backup band and called on The Deacons for help. The Deacons cut Dino's song, the dreadfully bad Problems About Baby, with Dino crooning away at Kay Bank Studio in Minneapolis. Then they cut a cover of The Rolling Stones' Empty Heart with Earl Pritchard on vocals. And wow, what a difference. The two sides of this single share few similarities. Rick Youngberg lifts the four chord Empty Heart to incredible new heights. Their rendition starts out much like the Stones', albeit faster, but then the band adds a particularly killer Yardbirds' styles frenzied finish replete with wailing guitar and howling screams. I wish it didn't fade out. Fade outs are for sissies. 

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

Friday, February 7, 2014

Minnesota Garage Spotlight: The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird

We still have soooo much Minnesota garage rock we want to spin that we think we'll go ahead and take it through the weekend and maybe even into the early part of next week. But today is Friday and that means we need a good "party song". They don't get much better than this pre-Beatles raver from Minneapolis. 

The Trashmen were a surf band from Minneapolis who combined two songs from doo-wop group, The Rivingtons, to form one song anew. That Trashmen song would become known as Surfin' Bird. Surfin' Bird was released on the local Garrett Records label (this was only their second release for the short-lived label) and distributed by Minnesota label, Soma Records, in November of 1963. The earliest Garrett Pressings give songwriting credit to drummer and frenzied singer, Steve Wahrer (see the scan of my brutalized copy below), but a legal threat gave the Rivingtons back their due credit and royalties. 
Tony Andreason, Dal Winslow and Bob Reed accompanied Steve Wahrer in their frenetic beat down of this bizarre number. Unlike most songs we spin here, we can firmly say that this song was a certifiable hit. It reached #4 in the US just before Christmas of '63 and has remained a top of mind number all these years, even reaching the top 10 in the UK in both 2009 and 2010!

The timeless greatness of Surfin' Bird can't be denied. To point, as I digitized this one last night, my two kids got up from doing their homework to start dancing around the house and then asked me to play it again...but louder. You can readily hear the influence it had on off-beat bands like The Cramps and The B-52s. The vocals sound so much like those of Fred Schneider. 

I was stunned to find just the other day, the French picture sleeve copy on Columbia Records you see at the top of the post in mint condition in a record store in Denver, Colorado. How did that record get there? We'll never know. But now it has a good home. Happy Friday. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Minnesota Garage Spotlight: The Gestures - Don't Mess Around and Candlelight

Don't Mess Around
Welcome to Mankato, Minnesota! Mankato is a small farming town about 90 minutes south of Minneapolis and about 90 minutes north of the Iowa border. Of the 24,000 residents living in Mankato in 1964, we're going to focus today on four of them: Gus Dewey, Tom Klugherz, Bruce Waterston and Dale Menten. Together the Mankato-four were known as The Gestures. They started off in high school playing surf music but quickly transitioned to vocal rock. In October of 1964 the band released their first single for the regional label Soma Records. That song, written by Menten, was the excellent Run, Run, Run. Believe it or not they had a real hit on their hands. The song went to number 44 nationally, number 1 in Minneapolis, number 1 in New York City and number 3 in Los Angeles. The small town band and the small local label couldn't keep up with production and the song began to fall from the charts faster than Soma could print more copies. (for a real treat, flip that record over and dig on the brilliant It Seems To Me, also written by Dale Menten) The band was brought back into the Minneapolis studios to record their follow-up. That single, released in February of 1965, is our hero single of the day: Don't Mess Around/Candlelight.

Don't Mess Around is an unexpected number. Written by singer and guitarist, Dale Menten, the 2:19 song shows signs of jazz and includes a surprising bluesy time change for the impressive lead guitar work. We're going to also include the Flip-Side for you, the nearly as good Dale Menten song, Candlelight. The single failed to catch on and only made it to number 33 in Minneapolis and failed to chart anywhere else.  

Sadly this would be the last time The Gestures would record. After just two releases the band dispersed. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Minnesota Garage Spotlight: The Castaways - A Man's Gotta Be A Man

We're going to spin some Minnesota garage for you all this week. We'll start with The Castaways who had a regional hit with their 1965 song, Liar, Liar. That number has deservedly had many lives as it still gets some airplay and has been in movies such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. But we're not going to play anything so obvious for you. Nope, we're turning our attention to the much harder to find follow-up single and we're going to focus on the Flip-Side of the said 1965 release on Soma Records. 

The A-side of the single, Goodbye Babe was a fine cut but was clearly trying to capitalize on the group's previous hit. The real gem is the flip, A Man's Gotta Be A Man, a mature number written by band guitarist and lead singer, Robert Folschow. It's a moody garage number with some wonderful ethereal keyboard work and a great harmonica break. Other members of The Castaways included James Donna on keyboards, Roy Hensley on bass and Dennis Craswell on drums and occasionally Dick Roby on 2nd guitar. Check out how young these cats were, particularly Craswell. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!