Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Lyrics - So What!!/They Can't Hurt Me

Day 2 of the Battle of the Garage Bands for the SoCal region takes us to San Diego, California.

From November of 1965, we present to you The Lyrics. What we have here is the greatest record to ever -- EVER -- come out of that fine, sunny city of San Diego. Both sides of this Era Records single are filled with teen angst, anger and bravado.

The composer of both numbers is Chris Gaylord, the singer and harmonica player. Chris apparently dated a girl who lived in swanky-ass Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego's north county. As you can hear from the lyrics to The Lyrics' songs, she had tons of nice things (yep, an electric typewriter!) for which she was particularly proud. Then the girl turned on poor Chris. (Abstractly speaking, this is always a key thing for any good 1960s garage band song. If the singer hasn't been dumped by a no-good, scheming girl, then we just don't get great songs.) Lucky for us, Chris took his anger out on the girl in a constructive, creative and generally healthy fashion - he wrote two songs about her and published them for the whole world to hear. 

Our A-Side, So What!!, tells the tale of Chris being toured around this little Jezebel's house.
Well, now everything you got is in excess
And it goes without saying, it's got to be the best
From your swimming pool, to your daddy's racing car
To that senseless, useless bomb shelter in your back yard
Well, I guess there ain't too much you haven't got
But all I can say to you about that is So What!!
This is actually the second release of So What! as the number was released months before as the flip-side to Why'd He Go?, written by band leader Craig Carll, on the local, Feather Records label.

The Flip-Side of this Era Records release is the fabulous They Can't Hurt Me. For some bizarre reason, the girl that Chris had been going with started to think that maybe this was not the guy for her. Maybe it was his condescending, judgmental words that he regularly spewed out at her. Apparently she starts talking trash on our poor broken down, stomped upon protagonist. What's an angry young guy to do? Well, he writes a song saying that her venomous words can't hurt him. 

Chris got booted from the band shortly after this record came out and he moved on to other great things.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Dirty Shames - I Don't Care/Makin' Love

Today we start the next region for our Battle of the Garage Bands. For the first time we are going to cut a state in half. We just have to do it because California was such a power house for garage bands. Texas too, but we couldn't figure out where to cut that state. For our purposes, California will be cut along the parallel the bifurcates the state at San Luis Obispo running East to Bakersfield out above the Mojave National Preserve. Everything below that will be in the Southern California region, everything above it will be in the Northern California region.

So without further ado...

Today's song escaped from Los Angeles in September, 1966. The double sided gem comes from a band called The Dirty Shames who recorded one single for the kick-ass Impression Label run by Al and Sonny Jones. This is the same label that put out records by LA garage legends, The Sloths and The Tangents. In fact, the flip-side of this single, Makin' Love is a song by none other than...the Sloths. That cut was originally released in 1965 on the Impression Label. The Dirty Shames recorded the song at the request of the Jones brothers who had hopes of the song being a regional hit. Hmmm, not sure about a hit, but man-alive, it is a kick ass song. The Dirty Shames version is much more polished and in-sync than is the incredibly crude screamer of an original. The Dirty Shames even managed a guitar solo in their more restrained take on the song.

The A-Side of The Dirty Shames single is an original named I Don't Care penned by band members Marty Wons and Bob Larson. For my money, it is the superior song. The song has a nice two chord main riff that is more than a little reminiscent of The Kinks' instrumental number, Revenge. One thing is certain about this number, The Dirty Shames just don't care.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

And the Winner of the Rocky Mountain Battle of the Garage Bands Is...

We are ready to crown the Rocky Mountain Region winner of the much ballyhooed Battle of The Garage Bands. And it was unanimous again. 

Phil and the Frantics ran away with the competition with their 1965 double sided onslaught of awesomeness. Quite frankly either Say That You Will or 'Till You Get What You Want were likely good enough to win the competition on their own. But put the two together and it was a slam dunk. The Grodes, also of Arizona, were an unanimous choice in their second place finish. 

Phil Kelsey and his Frantic friends will now go to the Flip-Side lounge where they will spin records, sip on a beer and talk about girls with their fellow regional winners (all shown below with the A-Side of their winning single) and wait for the next region to crown their winner. That region will be Southern California. You know you can't wait for that one!

Rocky Mountains: Phil and the Frantics: Say That You Will/'Till You Get What You Want
Mid-West: The Litter with Action Woman/Legal Matter

Texas: The 13th Floor Elevators with You're Gonna Miss Me/Tried To Hide

New England: The Squires with Going All The Way and Go Ahead

The South: The Bad Roads with Too Bad/Blue Girl

Great Lakes: The Shadows of Knight with Bad Little Woman/Gospel Zone

The Mid-Atlantic: The Enfields with She Already Has Somebody/I'm For Things You Do

New York: The Blues Magoos with We Ain't Got Nothing Yet/Gotta Get Away
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rocky Mountain Spotlight: The Trolls - That's The Way My Love Is/Into My Arms

Day 8 of the Rocky Mountain Battle of the Garage Bands takes us back to Colorado. This time to the working class city of Pueblo, Colorado. In that industrial town in the southernish part of Colorado we find five ogres who went by the name of The Trolls. The band was Fred Brescher, Richard Gonzales, Doug Rymerson, Phil Head and Monty Baker. The band put out two singles in their brief existence under a bridge. 

Today we spin their first record, recorded in Amarillo Texas at the Ruff Records studio of Ray Ruff. This is the same studio that recorded The Blue Things and the second version of Them. The Trolls debut single was released in April, 1965.

That's The Way Love Is was composed by organ player, Fred Brescher and presents to us a hard edged, Kinks inspired riff that grooves on and on. Guitarist Doug Rymerson lays down a pretty tasty little guitar break for us. 

The flip-side, also composed by Brescher is the tepid Into My Arms. I don't have it, so here is a YouTube vid for your enjoyment.
The band recorded a second, excellent single later that year and it even came with a killer picture sleeve. But more on that another day. The band disbanded sometime late in 1966. 

The picture below, and a lot of the information contained here was inspired by the blog, Pueblo City Limits. Check it out here for an interview with Troll member, Monty Baker. The music file was digitized and given to us by Matt from the blog, Nitro-Retro
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rocky Mountain Showdown: Jack Bedient and the Chessmen - Double Whammy/I Want You To Know

Day 7 of our Rocky Mountain Battle of the Garage Bands has us taking a liberty or two. How? Good question dude or dudette. You see, Jack Bedient hailed from Wenatchee, Washington (definitely a Pacific Northwest state) and started playing lounge circuits back in the 50s there in the Apple State. As a hardworking musician from the center of the state, Jack crossed paths with The Wailers and The Kingsmen and other such up-and-coming bands from the PNW. Jack had been doing a little bit more of a loungey act back then. But ever the professional musician, Jack started working rock-n-roll into his act. 

I don't know when, but at some point Jack split Washington for greener lounges. That took him first to South Lake Tahoe then to Reno and, of course, the lounge mecca of them all, Las Vegas. That is how we are counting him as a Rocky Mountain Region contestant. 

Jack Bedient and his Chessmen had a regular gig there and, as all good lounge acts do, they adapted quickly to the swinging sounds of the day. In July of 1965, Jack and his Chessmen headed down to Berkeley, California to record their rockin' original tune, Double Whammy for the Fantasy Label. This is the same label for whom the hometown heroes, CCR would soon record. I've always thought the signature guitar riff was taken from Vince Taylor and the Playboys' Brand New Cadillac, but some cats over at The Garage Hangover rightly note that the riff most likely is lifted from Dorsey Burnette's recording of his brother's composition, Bertha Lou. I've heard other Jack Bedient songs and none have come close to measuring up to Double Whammy. I love the vocal interplay and I love the way the guitar riff changes, particularly at the lead.

The flip-sider is a fine cover of the 1957 release by Fats Domino, I Want You To Know. The band on this recording is believed to have been Jack on guitar, Jerry Bledsoe on drums and Bill Britt on bass.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rocky Mountain Spotlight: The Soothsayers - I Don't Know/Please Don't Be Mad

Day six of the Rocky Mountain Battle of the Garage Bands has us back in Colorado. Today we spin a record by Greeley, Colorado band, The Soothsayers.

The Soothsayers rose out of the farm town of Greeley, Colorado to record two very fine singles for Acropolis Records in 1966. Both had great picture sleeves that show a little bit of artsy-fartsy tendencies of the designer. The front side of the sleeve was taken at the corner of Colfax Avenue and Broadway with the State Capitol building peeking out from behind the fountain. But check out the heart throb photo on the backside of the cover. Nice. The band was Dave Van Omen on guitar, John Gibson on lead guitar, Rich Sallee on bass and lead vocals, Rick Irvine on the keys and Steve Jaynes on drums.

The A-Side is the Zombies-like I Don't Know, composed by Dave Van Omen and some hep-cat named G. Finney. Maybe it is more like The Nightcrawlers of Florida. Hmmm. Harmonies and jangly guitar abound on the gentle, inquisitive number.

The flip-side, Please, Don't Be Mad was composed by the two guitarists, Dave Van Omen and John Gibson. A little bit more of an upbeat rocker, it features Rich Sallee's vocals more front and center but with nice harmonies plotted in at the appropriate times.

The two songs were apparently produced by dad, a Mr. Gary Sallee. Good job, dad. 
 Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rocky Mountain Spotlight: The Beckett Quintet - No Correspondence/It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

Day five of our Rocky Mountain Showdown finds us listening to a group of five students from Eastern New Mexico University in the small farm town of Portales. They went by the generic and not abundantly obvious name of The Beckett Quintet. The five students, Tommy Muncrief (vocals), Tim Taylor (guitar), Barry Dunkenson (guitar), Norm Reccius (bass), and Steve Nagle (drums), struck out for Los Angeles in 1965 searching for fame and fortune.

Not long after they got to LA they recorded their one and only single for Gemcor Records. The A-side, No Correspondence, was written by guitarist Tim Taylor and tells the tale of a boy who has "been gone for a month or better" and is waiting for his girl to write him. Sounds pretty autobiographical. But sitting by the mailbox demanding "You Better Right Me!!!" to this cheating girl is probably not the best way to get her back. Tim, she probably wasn't worth it. The chicks in LA were probably a higher cut than what you had back in Portales, anyway. 

The flip-side is a unique cover of Bob Dylan's It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. The Beckett Quintet's version was released just months after Dylan's beautiful (and often covered) original. It's a greatly under appreciated version with a unique arrangement and some intriguing production. I love it. Maybe even more than the A-side. 

The A-side has been comped numerous times and the record isn't very hard to find. It was later picked up by A&M Records for national distribution. But, surprisingly, that seems to be much harder to find than the Gemcor Records version.

There is a lot more to be learned about this band over at the website, http://www.garagehangover.com/beckettquintet/. Check it out for an interview and some original newspaper clippings which recount the band playing indian reservations and sleeping on hardwood floors.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Rocky Mountain Spotlight: The Grodes - Cry A Little Longer/She's Got What It Takes

Rocky Mountain Showdown keeps us in Arizona with The Grodes.

The terribly named The Grodes was a vehicle for teen maestro, Manny Freiser. The kid from Tucson had a knack for a hook and a penchant for a melody. That's for sure. Today we're looking at the band's second single, Cry A Little Longer/She's Got What It Takes. The single was released in March, 1966 on the mighty Tri-M Records. It's not their most famous single, but I think when you look at this, A-side and flip-side, you'll agree, it was their best. 

Cry A Little Longer is a fast paced foot stomper with a groove that is hard to resist. Manny Fresier's snarly vocal performance is garage band 101 material. A boy who finally has the nerve to stand up to a do-nothing girl and has all the bravado he can muster to tell her to just "cry baby". A great guitar solo punctuates the number.

Flip it over. What do we find? She's Got What It Takes. Now Manny Freiser is in love with a girl who, well, is too much. The house party rocker has lots of starts and stops to keep the song nice and interesting for us. 

For the band's fourth single, released in October of 1966, the band's manager, in a fit of frustration with The Grodes not getting air play beyond Tucson, decided to rechristen the band The Tongues Of Truth. The band knew nothing about this until they had that Spinal Tap moment when they received the pressing of their record. That record failed to light the world on fire but did catch the attention of Ed Cobb who had one of his bands, The Chocolate Watchband, cover the A-Side. Of course we are talking about Let's Talk About Girls. If the flip-side of that single was stronger we would have spun it.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rocky Mountain Showdown: Phil & The Frantics - Say That You Will/'Till You Get What You Want

Rocky Mountain Battle of the Garage Bands extends into it's third day. And today we travel to Phoenix, Airzona.

Phil And The Frantics were fronted by one Phil Kelsey. He would be the "Phil" in Phil and the Frantics. The band had little impact outside of Phoenix and are probably best known for their Zombies-fied "original", I Must Run, which was included on the original Pebbles Volume 1. That song, like this one, was produced by one Waylon Jennings. Go figure. 

However, it is their second single that we spin today. In fact, I could make a strong argument, based on the strength of both sides of the single, that this double sided gem is one of the best garage records to come out of the mid-60s. That's why it's here, right?

The A-Side is the sublime Say That You Will, a song over flowing with quirkiness. Every aspect of the song: the saxophone, the chuncka-chunka incessant lead work and the funky little stutter stop organ breaks -- first heard at :25 -- are just wickedly odd. Everything, EVERYTHING, about this record is excellent.

The flip-side is the brilliant 'Till You Get What You Want.  Minor key organ, ethereal guitar work and Phil's faux British accent work perfectly. And then there is that surprisingly aggressive bridge that starts at 1:14. That would be Phil going from sensitive Phil to aggressive Phil in a snap of his Frantic fingers. Moody, baby. Moody.

Say That You Will or the flip, Till You Get What You Want? Let us know which you think is better in the comment section below. Oh, say that you will.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rocky Mountain Spotlight: Paul Revere and the Raiders - Just Like Me/B.F.D.R.F Blues

Day two of our Rocky Mountain spotlight for the regional Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to our first ever trip to Idaho.

Paul Revere and The Raiders often get tagged as a band from Portland, Oregon, but the reality is they relocated to that fine, wet town. Paul Revere hailed from Caldwell, Idaho where he met a young delivery man and saxophone player named Mark Lindsay in 1958. '58! The group eventually relocated to Portland where they released a number of instrumental tracks on Gardena Records starting in 1960. In the Fall of 1963, the band released it's first vocal release, Louie Louie/Night Train on Sandé Records. Incidentally, The Raiders recorded Louie Louie the same month at the very same studio as did the Kingsmen. That Raiders release got picked up by Columbia Records a few months later and the band had a certified record deal on their hands with a real label.

The band's 6th release for Columbia Records is our feature today. Just Like Me/B.F.D.R.F. Blues was released in November of 1965. We won't add to the already voluminous amount of words written about this band. We'll just say, sit back and dig that great double lead guitar attack in Just Like Me. It's sometimes hard to separate the band's music from the gimmicky outfits and name. Just sit back and listen.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rocky Mountain Spotlight: The Moonrakers - Baby, Please Don't Go/I Don't Believe

We start the day off with our first submission in the Rocky Mountain Region of the Battle of the Garage Bands. 

The Moonrakers of Denver, Colorado released their fourth and final single on Tower Records in the summer of 1966. That single contained two covers. The A-Side was a blistering cover of Baby, Please Don't Go, the 1935 Big Joe Williams composition. The Moonrakers, however, clearly picked the tune up from Van Morrison and Them which had released the number in November, 1964 for Decca Records (Parrot Records in the US). The Moonrakers' version is a powerhouse of blistering guitar, wailing harmonica and aggressive vocals. It's damn nice. 

The Flip-Side of The Moonrakers' final single for Tower Records is a great cover of The Guilloteens original composition, I Don't Believe. Released just 11 months after The Guilloteens failed to light the world on fire with their debut single for HBR, the Moonrakers gave it another try. The production is less lush and a little faster than that of The Guilloteens. What their spry version demonstrates is the inherent crispy goodness of the song.

The Moonrakers were a multi-vocalist threat. Astute listeners will notice the singers are different on each side of this record. I Don't Believe features the vocals of Bob Weber while Baby, Please Don't Go features the vocals of Veeder Van Dorn. 

We featured The Moonrakers one time before with their first single, You'll Come Back, with Denny Flanigan on vocals. Check out that post here for more on The Moonrakers. 

More info on The Moonrakers can be found here, which is where I got the photo below. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, March 9, 2015

And the winner of the Mid-West Region is...

The unanimous winner of the Mid-West Battle of the Garage Bands competition is none other than The Litter with their January, 1967 release of Action Woman/Legal Matter. The Minnesota combo will now join the other regional winners in the waiting room as we move on to our next region, The Rocky Mountains.

As soon as we complete each region (we have 4 more to do), the 11 regional winners will then square off in a head to head battle in an effort to definitively set in stone the ultimate Mount Garagemore record ever released. Here are the winners for each region thus far.

Mid-West: The Litter with Action Woman/Legal Matter

Texas: The 13th Floor Elevators with You're Gonna Miss Me/Tried To Hide

New England: The Squires with Going All The Way and Go Ahead

The South: The Bad Roads with Too Bad/Blue Girl

Great Lakes: The Shadows of Knight with Bad Little Woman/Gospel Zone

The Mid-Atlantic: The Enfields with She Already Has Somebody/I'm For Things You Do

New York: The Blues Magoos with We Ain't Got Nothing Yet/Gotta Get Away
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mid-West Spotlight: The Royal Flairs - Suicide/One Pine Box

Our final day spinning records for the Mid-West Battle of the Garage Bands finds us sitting along the massive Missouri River in the town of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The town is, for all intents and purposes, a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska. The Royal Flairs would migrate to Chicago to seek their fame and fortune, but for our purposes, we are going to keep them on the Missouri River straddling Nebraska and Iowa.

These mid-west hep cats had a flair for the macabre. The band released their one and only single on Marina Records in 1966. The ever so brief A-Side is the band composed, Suicide. The number was written by singer and harmonica player Bob Everhart and guitarist Dave Krivolavek. On bass was Dave Brubek (not THAT Dave Brubek), Mel Mathews on lead guitar and Mike Donion on drums. Suicide tells the tale of, well, suicide. Our protagonist offs herself as she is distraught over a love gone bad situation. She didn't even stick around long enough to hear Mel Mathews' awesome guitar solo. Our narrator feels guilt and remorse and, like the Romeo he longs to be, decides maybe he should go as well. 

The flip-side is an instrumental called One Pine Box (sticking with our not-so-living winning theme!) and comes replete with awkwardly timed hammering, digging and other appropriately inappropriate sounds pimping the glory of death. The number was written by Everhart, the gentleman seated in the middle in the picture below. The pic was lifted from Back From The Grave Vol 3 (the besterest comp ever?). The liner notes from that great record mention that Everhart was shot while defending a 300 pound Go-Go Dancer named Miss Temptation who was being sexually assaulted by a patron. Not sure if that is true, but there you go. Everhart apparently lived to tell the tale. Ironic, huh? 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mid-West Spotlight: The Xtreems - Substitute/Facts of Life

The second to last day of our Mid-West Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Kirkwood, Missouri. In that St. Louis suburb we find Mike King, Rick Tello, Alan Shelby and Phil Markley. These Show-Me-Staters were so extreme they called themselves The Xtreems. Along with extreme spelling. And extreme use of fuzz. And extreme use of the wah wah pedal. Extreme baby!

We have to spin this one since we are doing a Mid-West spotlight and Leonard Nimoy died this week. The connection being that the extreme Xtreems released this on Star Trek Records sometime between 1967 and 1969. All sorts of contradictory info out there. The band likely recorded this in 1967 in St. Louis. 

The A-Side is a cover of The Who's 1966 release, Substitute. This is all over the place. It starts with a nice a cappella opening before entering into an ear piercing fuzz lead. Back to the cool a cappella thing. The band clearly picked up their version of Substitute from the US pressing as it has the substitute lyrics that the US market insisted on. 

The flip-side is an original composition called Facts Of Life. The number was written by singer Mike King and bassist Gary Wood. Giving the number a writing credit of Wood-King. Ironically that was the High School era nickname of Jack Hayden, one of our Flip-Side contributors! And like Jack Hayden, this song is covered in fuzz and drenched in Wah Wah. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mid-West Spotlight: The Blue Things - La Do Da Da/I Must Be Doing Something Wrong

Mid-West Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Hays, Kansas. You can't get more Mid-West than that! Today we spin the major label debut from The Blue Things.

The Blue Things were Mike Chipman, Richard Scott, Val Stoecklein, and Bobby Day. The band had released two singles on the Texas label Ruff Records when RCA came around. In came Dale Hawkins to produce a full length album cut down in Nashville. Speaking of Dale Hawkins...as usual we are going to flip the record over and spin La Do Da Da first. The Blue Things give the Dale Hawkins number a raucous, garage take. (We wrote about his original version back in September of 2014, you can hear it here.) Stoecklein's vocals are mixed deep in the record but the lead guitar work of Chapman is really something to behold. 

The A-side of the single is the band composed I Must Be Doing Something Wrong. It's a little over produced in our opinion, but not too bad. Harmonies aplenty (including some female-like falsetto) and chimey guitar give this number a nice Byrds meets The Beau Brummels folk feel to it.  
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mid-West Spotlight: The Electras - Soul Searchin'/This Week's Children

Mid-West garage band Battle of the Bands smack down stretches into it's second week. Back to the land of 1000 lakes we go. 

The Electras hailed from the tiny town of Ely, Minnesota, nestled on the lakes near the friendly Canada/US border. The quintet of Gary Ormeza, Tim Elfving, Bill Bulinski, Earl Bulinski and Jerry Fink (I can not make these names up) traveled to Minneapolis where they met up with math teacher and budding music svengali, Warren Kendrick and his Scotty Records company. In 1966 the boys recorded two of Warren Kendrick's compositions at Dove Studios. That number is our feature here today, (Just A Little) Soul Searchin'. Within the year, Kendrick's other pet band, The Litter would also record this number, but here is the first recording. 

I'm particularly fond of the back-up vocals and the strong keyboard work of Gary Ormeza as he and Bill Bulinski battle it out in the music break. 

The flip-side is the very strong Warren Kendrick composed, This Week's Children
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!