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 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!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Chosen Few - Nobody But Me/I Think It's Time

We have a lovely double sided gem to lead off the Northern California region of the Flip-Side's epic Battle of the Garage Bands. Everything above the straight line that creates the north border of San Luis Obispo County across Kern County and San Bernardino County gets counted as Northern Cal.

The Chosen Few hailed from Stockton, California and the band was led by a gentleman named Gary Wagner. They recorded only this one single. The A-Side is the Gary Wagner penned I Think It's Time. The Flip-Side is another Wagner composition, Nobody But Me. Both sides are fantastic and worthy of a little digital praise from us. But we don't know too much about it. The effort was released in August of 1965 and featured none other than a very young Sly Stone (aka Sylvester Stewart) sitting at the production board.

The flip-side, Nobody But Me is a tough blues based rocker with wailing harmonica, gravely vocals and some buzzing bass pounding away that reminds this listener of the early work of Captain Beefheart. Guttural and powerful while still melodic and danceable. 

The A-Side, I Think It's Time, is a brief little 1:47 number that shows a playfulness the transcends much of the teen scene rock of the era. This Gary Wagner dude clearly knew his stuff. The guitar lead and harmonica interplay is wonderful. Though a little to understand, I dig the lyrics too. 
But it's alright
I got the money buried in the back yard
I dig it up
I live it up 
You got to laugh before you cry
Live before you die
I think it's time
Gary Wagner went on to release an album in 1970 under the name Parish Hall. I've seen his name connected to another largely unknown band from San Francisco called The Grateful Dead. What that connection is I don't know, and with all things GD, I started to try to figure out the connection and then got so bored I quit. If you know any more about Gary Wagner, please let us know. We dig his work.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

And the winner of the So Cal Battle of the Garage Bands is...

What an epic adventure that was! Seventeen entrants in the So Cal region of the Battle of the Garage Bands. We tried to cap it at 10. Then 15. But our offerings of goodness just kept spilling over like a beer being poured by a blind barkeep.

Unbelievably we had a unanimous choice for the coveted number 1 spot! The Misunderstood, a band that had to leave their hometown of Riverside for the rain and fog of London to get a recording contract, have brought home the coveted "best garage record from Southern California" award. The other bands rounding out the top five are Love, The Grains of Sand, The Music Machine, all of Los Angeles, and The Lyrics of San Diego.

The Misunderstood are misunderstood no more. Now they saunter over to the holding pen where they will join our other regional winners as they await the next region. That region is Northern California and Hawaii. We'll launch that assault tomorrow!  Until then, here is a sample from all the winners thus far. And a nifty map down below.

Southern California: The Misunderstood - Children Of The Sun/I Unseen

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!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Leaves - Too Many People/Love Minus Zero

Our final Southern California Battle of the Garage Bands entrant. What a rich well of music out of SoCal!

The Leaves hailed from Los Angeles. I thought that The Seeds discography was a mess with multiple releases of the same song with different catalogue numbers and different flip-sides. Man, let me tell you, The Leaves take the cake.

We focus today on The Leaves' first release, Too Many People/Love Minus Zero. It was released on the local label, Mira Records, and hit the stores in July of 1965. The A-side was composed by the band's first lead guitarist, Bill Rinehart and bassist, Jim Pons. Too Many People is a scorcher of an original. Wailing harmonica, pounding bass, double vocal attack from Pons and John Beck, snarly lyrics about fighting back against "the man" and some very nice Rickenbacker guitar leads.

With this first release, the flip-side was Bob Dylan's Love Minus Zero. A perfectly fine version, but ultimately a tepid number compared to the A-side.

Too Many People would be rerecorded for the band's LP. That rerecording is a greatly inferior version to what we have here on their debut single. The single would get released again, a full year after this initial release, with Girl From The East as the flip-side. That song would be released on no less than four straight singles from the band! And we haven't even touched on the three different recordings of Hey Joe that the band released in less than six months. Sheesh!
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Seeds - Pushin' Too Hard/Out Of The Question

The Seeds released their signature tune, Pushin' Too Hard, twice. The first time in November of 1965 on GNP Crescendo 364x with the flip-side of Out Of The Question. That release gave the title of You're Pushin' Too Hard. Then in July of 1966, they gave us a different release as GNP Crescendo 372x backed with Try To Understand, which had been released as an A-side months prior in February of 1966.

We feature today the first release of You're Pushing Too Hard/Out Of The Question (even though we picture the second release).
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Happy 91st Birthday to Bettie Page

Every year we post to our favorite pin up on her birthday. And every year it is one of our favorite posts. Not sure why. A day late, but happy birthday Bettie Page.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Music Machine - The People In Me/Masculine Intuition

The second to last day of our epic Southern California Spotlight on the Battle of the Garage Bands.

No need for us to rehash the greatness of the Music Machine and the brilliance of Sean Bonniwell. We've talked about them at length. They've been written about at length. 

So let's turn to their second single, released in the first month of 1967, on Original Sound Records. The People In Me was to be the follow up to the bands monster garage number, Talk Talk. The record failed to do much. But it's greatness is evident. Everything here is great. Keith Olsen's bass work, Ron Edgar's bumble bee of a buzz guitar work, Bonniwell's elliptical lyrics.

The flip-side is the brilliant Masculine Intuition. What a b-side. It tells the tale of a love going bad and flips the usual coinage on it's head to give the song a cryptic feel. 

The check's on the table
And the pen's in your hand
And if that makes you happy
Then nothing else can

My mind's on the laundry 
Where you sleep away
If I had the gumption
Then I'd leave you today. 

My favorite part of the song is the bridge at 1:18 where Olsen really pushes the bass line to something special.

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Standells - Why Pick On Me/Mr. Nobody

More So Cal Battle of the Bands has us in Los Angeles with the legendary party band turned, snarly garage band, The Standells.

We've talked about The Standells before. We've talked about producer and songwriter Ed Cobb before. We've lauded the brilliance of engineer Richie Podolor before. We've even done a whole series on the great Tower Records label. So we'll just spin the two songs.

Why Pick On Me gives us another great Ed Cobb composition of defiance. The flip-side, Mr. Nobody, was written by organ player, Larry Tamblyn. The single was the band's 9th release. But really the band was a different band after they got with Ed Cobb on Tower Records. So let's say this was their 3rd release on Tower. The single was released in October of 1966.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Dovers - She's Gone/What Am I Going To Do?

An unprecedented 13th straight day in Southern California has us spinning our first ever record from Santa Barbara, California. 

The Dovers were Tim Granada on guitar and vocals, Bruce Clawson on guitar, Robbie Laudewig on bass, Rick Morinini on drums and Tony Rivas on Sax, tambourine and backup vocals. Not sure who is playing the keyboards on these records but it is rumored that Jim Messina was deeply involved in the recordings.

The Dovers released five records in their brief, 18 month existence. Today we focus on their first single, released on Miramar Records in September of 1965.

The A-Side is the Bruce Clawson composed She's Gone. Beautiful. Mousy harmonies, incessant tambourine and a deep mix of the guitar create a beautiful bed for this song of lost love. Tim Granada's vocals drive the song to new heights. The surfy guitar solo is mixed so low that it is almost lost.

For our money, it's the flip-side, What Am I Going To Do?, that is the stand out. I don't know who wrote it because I can't even find an image of the label. A Beatlesque opening riff and a beautiful organ bit lead us into great harmonies and lyrics of a girl who couldn't be held down, much to the dismay of our singer who just wants to offer endless love to this not-yet 17-year old beauty. 

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Other Half - Mr. Pharmacist/I've Come So Far

Day 12 of the So Cal Region of the Battle of the Garage Bands gives us The Other Half. The band hailed from Los Angeles and released 5 singles in their brief career.

Mr. Pharmacist was the A-Side of their debut single, released on G.N.P. Crescendo in November of 1966. It would be the only release on that label. The band would relocate to San Francisco and move to Acta Records after this debut. Mr. Pharmacist, written by singer Jeff Nowlen, is a raver in the first order. Baritone vocals, wailing harmonica, grimy guitar, and an absolutely brilliant guitar solo from Randy Holden. Holden had come over to The Other Half from LA garage band, The Sons of Adam.

The flip-side of the single ain't so bad either. I've Come So Far features a pounding rhythm and a less aggressive approach, vocally and otherwise, than on the A-side. To this listener it reminds us a lot of the work that Zakary Thaks of Corpus Christi, Texas were doing at that time for J-Beck Records. Great guitar work from Holden and Yardbirds styled interplay with the harmonica. Plus it drops a Kinks reference in the lyrics. In fact, the vocals sound so different that I believe it may be Westen singing, and not Nowlen. Sadly I don't own this record and can't even tell you who composed this track. Ugh!

From left to right the band was Nowlen, Larry Brown on bass, Randy Holden on lead guitar, Danny Woody on drums and Geoff Westen on rhythm guitar.

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Magic Mushroom - I'm Gone/Cry Baby

We jsut keep spinning more records for our SoCal region of the Battle of the Garage Bands. 

Last week (or was it 2 weeks ago?) we spun San Diego's The Lyrics performing the Chris Gaylord penned ravers from the Summer of '65, So What!! and They Can't Hurt Me. Shortly after recording those two legendary numbers, Chris Gaylord and lead guitarist Mike Allen were fired from The Lyrics. The two wandering minstrels joined with John Buell and Gary Williams to become one anew as The Magic Mushroom. The Magic Mushroom (not to be confused with the Philadelphia band of similar name) recorded only one solitary, single and released that blistering 45 in the Summer of '66 on Warner Bros. records. I believe it was released on a smaller local label, Coastline, under the name The Sons.

The A-Side of this Magic Mushroom rocker is the John Buell composed I'm Gone. Gaylord's Harmonica is front and center in this snotty number about a girl who runs around and fails to realize that she's got a good man right in front of her. But damn, she's going to miss him when he's gone! This song appeared on the legendary What A Way To Die comp. Yep, it's that good.

The Flip-Side is the Gary Williams composed Cry Baby. This number is nearly as good as the A-Side. I would go so far as to say that this had hit potential. Jangling open chords and lush harmonies augment a beautifully restrained lead guitar. 

The band traveled to New York to strike it big, recorded some numbers of Gaylord's at Les Paul's house in New Jersey, but nothing ever came of them. This is it. Can't even find a picture of the band. So enjoy what they left us. We're not even convinced that Gaylord and Allen appear on this recording. See the comment section below. 

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

Friday, April 10, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Fabs - That's The Bag I'm In/Dinah Wants Regligion

Day 10 of our SoCal Battle of the garage bands has us spinning a band often mis-located as a Texas band (because of the label). But The Fabs hailed from Fullerton, California just South of Los Angeles and played the SoCal circuits with bands like The Seeds and The Arrows. They made one and only one single in 1967 for the graphically challenged, Cotton Ball Records. And here it is!

The A-side of the double-sided gem is the superb cover of folkster Fred Neil's That's The Bag I'm In. The Fabs add a defining bass line that lifts this far above other versions and change some lyrics to highlight their teen angst LA lifestyle a bit more. I first came to the number by way of the excellent comp, Back From The Grave Vol. 1. That comp suggested the band was from Texas, based on the label, but they weren't. 

The Flip-Side was written by one E.H. Loney and it's called Dinah Wants Religion. Any relation to Roy Loney of The Flamin Groovies? We may never know. A killer opening riff, dominant organ and a blistering guitar lead highlight this classic girl put-down of a chick who embraces hypocrisy with both arms and gives it a big wet kiss. Dinah Wants Religion appeared on Back From The Grave Vol. 4.

It's been hard to find quality info on the band but I have been able to turn up the fact that Bob Burton is the singer, Rob Cammack is the organ player, Steve Cox was on guitar. Not known are the bassist and drummer. If you have any more info on The Fabs, please let us know below. 

Meanwhile, check out the bitchin' poster for a concert from October 29th, 1967 with The Fabs on the bill. Thanks to the Surfadelic blog for finding it for us. Great show with The Seeds, The Arrows, and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. 

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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Starfires - I Never Loved Her/Linda

Day 9 of the So Cal Region of the Battle of the Garage Bands has us spinning a brutally awesome double sided rocker from Los Angeles band, The Starfires. 

I really know very, very little about this band. The Starfires appear to have been Chuck Butler on vocals, Dave Anderson on guitar, Sonny Lathrop on rhythm guitar, Freddy Fields on bass and Jack Emerick on drums. The band released a few singles and this is their first record, released in 1965 on G.I. Records. Bassist Freddy Fields composed both sides. 

For our money, the A-Side is the stronger of the two cuts. I Never Loved Her is clearly written by a bassist! And a bassist who is tired of being teased and bugged to death about some not so hip gal with whom he really never had that much interaction. Dudes, he only gave her one ride home. Her house was on the way home! Leave Freddy alone. Well at least all the teasing gave us a cool song. Chuck Butler swings back and forth between a snarly growl and a soft croon as the bass just grooves along. 

The flip-side has a great little warble of a guitar riff throughout. Linda is an evil girl. We have no idea what she did to be so evil but we do know this about her. "Linda, she is an evil schemer. Linda, she is a Stanley Steemer." Man, that must be bad!

The band put out three more records over the following two years. One more for G.I. Records and two for Yardbird Records. 

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

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!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: Love - 7 And 7 Is.../No. 14

It's all about the sevens today. Day 7 of the Southern California region of the Battle of the Garage Bands has us, naturally, spinning the incendiary 7 And 7 Is.

We've written extensively about one of our favorite bands, Love. So we are largely going to let the music stand on it's own 7 inches.

The A-Side from this groundbreaking Hollywood band, 7 And 7 Is was performed largely by Arthur Lee himself. Guitar, vocals, most of the drums and perhaps bass too. The abstract words probably aren't as abstract as they seem on first listen. In an interview in Ugly Things magazine a few years back, lead guitarist Johnny Echols suggests that the song has a lot to do with Arthur as a 14 year old kid dealing with his journey into manhood and living with not so engaged family members who didn't always treat him well. In it Arthur Lee recounts watching his dad get his feet too close to the fireplace as his aged dog stared direct into the fire.
If I don't start cryin' it's beacuse that I have got no eyes
My father's in the fireplace and my dog lies hypnotized
Through a crack of light I was unable to find my way
Trapped inside a night, but I'm a day and I go oop bip bip, oop bip bip yeah!
The title is a reference to the shared birthday of March 7 between he and the gal with whom he was smitten, Anita "Pretty" Billings.

The flip-side is, very logically, No. Fourteen. The song was an outtake from the first album's recordings.

The single was released on Elektra Records in July of 1966, the band's second single.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Satans - Makin' Deals/Lines and Squares

Back to So Cal with our regional Battle of the Garage Bands. Today we embrace The Satans. Nothing is known about The Satans. Nothing. Some claim they are from Fullerton, California. Some have thought they hailed from New Orleans. But me? I think this is not really a band. I think this was a studio creation. Let me explain. 

Bob Summers, the gentleman who arranged and produced the number was an independent record producer who worked with Mike Curb and his business, Sidewalk Productions. At the time of this release, in May of 1966, Mike Curb was spearheading a number of Biker exploitation films that played up all things taboo: drugs, rape, murder hell and motorcycle gangs that went by the names of The Devil's Angels, The Born Losers and, of course, The Satans. 

Posit this release, the inaugural release for Manhattan Records, into that paradigm and strong signs point to this song being a studio creation perhaps intended to be used in one of the soundtracks of a Russ Meyers directed film produced by Mike Curb. Bob Summers wrote, produced, arranged for a variety of labels and released a few numbers under his own name. He would go on to write a number of TV theme songs, including the theme for Grizzly Adams. 

Now to the record. Makin' Deals was composed by "The Satans". In it's brief 2:08 of eternal life, our singer poses as the devil and offers up all sorts of deals to the listener. He also poses the question, "can you guess my name?" This has led many to wonder if The Rolling Stones may have got ahold of this record when they were touring California at the time that this record was released. That is because the Rolling Stones asked the very same question in their very similarly themed recording, Sympathy For The Devil, which was recorded on the 4th of June, 1968. 

The flip-side is a straightforward jangly number called Lines And Squares. This one also gets writing credit from "The Satans". But the reality is that the lyrics are taken from a poem of the same name written by A.A. Milne. How satanic is it to steal from the author of Winnie The Pooh? 

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Roosters - One Of These Days/You Gotta Run

More SoCal Battle of the Garage Bands. The Roosters hailed from Westchester, California, home of the infamous, Randy's Donut Shop. That particular part of Los Angeles was known for it's rich surf scene (and late night donuts). Then the British Invasion hit and the bands began growing their hair long and ditching the silver suits for Chelsea Boots and vests. The Roosters were clearly influenced by local heroes, The Byrds. Hell, even the name comparison could make you cocksure of that one. The singer of The Roosters was Ray Manginin, lead guitarist was Tim Ward. Levitt Earhart on guitar, Floyd Fletcher on bass, and Jim Peters on drums rounded out the rest of this poultry in motion band. The band recorded four singles, two independent releases and two for Phillips Records. But by the time they got to Phillips, the band's creative force had shipped out to Vietnam.

We turn now to the band's debut single. Tim Ward wrote both sides of their 1966 debut single for the micro label, Progressive Sounds of America. The A-Side is the show stopper.

One Of These Days first came to my attention via a comp released in the 80s. Jangly 12 string guitar, minor chord progressions, tight harmonies, nice little funky rhythm change at the chorus and put down lyrics make this one of the best to come out of Los Angeles. And that's saying a lot.

You Gotta Run is damn fine as well. It has a real Beau Brummels sound to it. Not as strong, but it shows the band had talent. For days.

Richie Podolor (working under the pseudonym Richie Allen), the man who engineered many a fine Standells and Chocolate Watchband record for Ed Cobb, was the producer of this fine single.

In one interview (noted below), Ray Manginin suggests that this single was not released for sale, only in promo form. It's a shame they never had a chance to see how this record might play out. Oh well, makes it more rare!

Check out an interview over at Flower Bomb Songs with lead singer Ray Manginin for more info.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Misunderstood - Children of the Sun/I Unseen

Our fourth entrant in the SoCal Region of the Battle of the Garage Bands is a bit of a misunderstood band. Too often The Misunderstood get tagged as a UK band. But they were not. Yes they recorded their only two singles in the UK. Yes their only two singles were only released in the UK. Yes they had one member of their five piece band that was from the UK. But all the other cats were from Riverside, California. 

Five years ago we wrote extensively about The Misunderstood (specifically the flip-side of their debut single for Fontana, Who Do You Love) and that gained attention from two of the members of the band who, in turn, left great comments. For detailed info we suggest you read that post here. 

We turn today to their second single, Children Of The Sun/I Unseen. The single was recorded in 1966 upon the band's arrival in the UK. However, the record was not released until much later in 1969 when Fontana Records got around to realizing what they had on their hands. 

The A-Side, Children Of The Sun was written by singer Rick Brown and rhythm guitarist Tony Hill. Note that Brown's name is misspelled on the label. There is just so many great things to say about this 100% perfect song that I am left scratching my head as to where to start. I guess I'll start with the wonderful guitar work of Glenn Ross Campbell and his very unique pedal steel guitar riffs that lift this song to unique and brilliant heights. Rick Brown growls away as he and Campbell battle it out and Rick Moe propels the song at break neck speed with his full drumming. Brilliant. 

The flip-side, I Unseen, gives writing credit to Brown and Hill again. But the reality is that the lyrics of a post nuclear haunting are from a poem by Turkish writer, Nazim Hikmet. That aside, I Unseen is as powerful as the A-Side. A blistering lead guitar riff backed by a really nice rhythm laid down by Tony Hill give way to a couple of great music breaks where the whole band just owns the song. And bassist Steve Whiting is never forgotten as he has laid down some of the best bass work of anybody to ever record on a rock record in the 60s.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Southern California Spotlight: The Grains Of Sand - That's When Happiness Began/She Needs Me

Day three of our SoCal Region of The Battle of the Garage Bands takes us back to Los Angeles. Today's entrant shows that you don't have to record for a tiny label in a small town like in Delaware or Corpus Christie, Texas to go virtually unnoticed. Musical anonymity can happen right in the heart of one of the music meccas of the world.

The band in question is The Grains Of Sand, featuring David Hodgkins on guitar and harmonica, Douglas Mark on lead guitar, Rich Brand on bass and Willie Shider on drums (Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine plays drums on the plug side and I'm not sure who is on vocals). The band has the rare distinction of putting out two of the all time greatest garage singles. Today we feature their first release.

The song is the superbly crafted That's When Happiness Began released on Valiant records in February, 1966 and written by the songwriting brothers and Valiant recording artists, Don and Dick Addrisi.  The brothers would soon score a mega hit with their penning of the saccharin Never My Love, as recorded by fellow Valiant artists The Association.

Attesting to the hit potential of today's song, That's When Happiness Began has the unique distinction of being recorded in three different continents by four different acts, all in 1966 (in addition to the GoS, this was recorded by The Montanas in the UK, Mike Furber and the Bowery Boys in Australia and Gwynn Owen in New Zealand in that order). How this little non-hit wonder so efficiently made its way around the world boggles this Flip-Sider's mind; in any case, it was The Grains Of Sand who released it first and frankly did it best. Regardless, the song didn't go anywhere, partly, I am sure, because Valiant records, as part of the label's stated intent to the band, did not put a valiant effort behind it at all. Instead, after its all-too-brief heyday, this single gathered dust until the excellent What A Way To Die garage compilation surfaced it around 1983. Even among the stiff competition on that comp, Happiness stands out with its great melodic hook, harmonica solo and stomping beat, and was among the first songs in the genre to etch an indelible groove in this listener's ear.
It's just a great song. Yet what takes this single to the upper stratospheric reaches of garagedom, commonly known as Mount Garagemore, is the Flip-Side, She Needs Me.  After a few beats, the song hits us with an ear-bending, reverb-soaked, era-defining guitar motif with few parallels. Just brilliant in all respects. The lyrics then deliver a lonesome, urgent sense of yearning that is coupled with an economical use of words calling to mind By My Side by Australia's The Elois. Words and music are by band members David Hodgkins and Willie Shider:
She needs me!
Wants love!
Then why can't she accept me? 
She wants me, she loves me, she needs me, she says she do!
Well, she wants me, she loves me, she needs me, say you do! 
Can she see?
My heart will never be free! 
Well she wants me, she loves me, she needs me, she says she do!
Well she wants me, she loves me, she needs me, says she do! 
I'll take her!
God knows I won't forsake her!
Flip-side talks about the band's second single here. Photograph of band and certain information are from the interview of Rich Brand on the excellent site.

Enjoy and until next time, we'll see you on the Flip-Side.