Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: The Talismen - I Know A Girl/I'll Take A Walk

Day 2 of our Pacific Northwest entrant in our region by region Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Wenatchee, Washington, a small town smack dab in the middle of the state. For a very brief moment the town became a hotbed of garage rock. That's because a local DJ by the name of Don Julian Bernier founded his own label and started going around the local high school, middle school and dances to sign acts. And boy did he get some good ones.

One of the two best acts he picked up was a local high school band calling themselves The Talismen. The Talismen were John Wood on guitar and, I believe, lead vocals, Jack Cooper on guitar and vocals, Loren Bolinger doing double duty on guitar and keyboards, Leon Jeffreys on bass and Joe Britt on the drums. The Talismen released only three songs (they got only one side of one record) in their brief two year career. Today we focus on their second, and final single. You know, the one where they got both sides of the record.

I'll Take A Walk/I Know A Girl was released on Julian Records in 1966. As we so often do, we are going to flip the record over and start with the flip-side. Sadly our copy of this rare disc has a bit of surface noise on it. Bare with us, please.

I Know A Girl is a raver in the first order. Raving vocals, repeated bass breaks that are marvelous and a guitar solo that makes you stand up and take notice of the teens from little old Wenatchee! It's very reminiscent of the guitar work done on the Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels' records. Of course the solo ends with a bass break. We love the ending as John screams into the microphone and Loren Bollinger pushes his farfisa organ to the max. The original composition was penned by Wood and Cooper.

Sure, I Know A Girl is the obvious garage rocker here, but I want you to really stick with us on the sentimental A-Side, I'll Take A Walk. Teen love abounds on this slow number composed by Jack Cooper, bassist Leon Jeffreys and drummer Joe Britt. Great lead vocals, great harmony singing, a tasteful organ bed and, again, an outstanding guitar lead. This time very gentle and jazzy.

Both numbers were recorded in Spokane, Washington. I've nicked photos from a couple of sites and want to give credit where credit is due. Links to both included. The first picture comes from Pacific Northwest Bands and shows (from left to right) John, Loren and Jack rocking it up while wearing grandma's curtains.
The second photo comes from a great site dedicated exclusively to Julian Records! How cool is that. I got some good info on the label from that site. It looks like they got this picture from a guy named Craig Green.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pacific Northwest Spotlight: Jolly Green Giants - Busy Body/Caught You Red Handed

With Northern California crowning their champion in the Battle of the Garage Bands, we now move up Highway 5 into the Pacific Northwest.

Our first entrant comes out of Spokane, Washington. From January of 1967, we have Jolly Green Giants raving it up on Redcoat Records. The A-Side is an amazing cover of a soul standard, Busy Body. Jolly Green Giants give it a serious infusion of energy, y'all! Pounding bass, Hammond B3 organ and some amazing vocals that would make Gerry Roslie proud.

The Flip-Side is Caught You Red Handed, a stellar original composed by the lead singer of the one-release band, Chuck Anderson. Again, this song feels like it could have come out of Tacoma, Washington's The Sonics. Blistering guitar work in this one.

"I love you forever! Can't stand you no more!" I know how that feels.

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

And the winner of the Nor Cal Battle of the Garage Bands is...

It is not much surprise that San Jose's Chocolate Watchband's amazing release on the Tower label took the crown in this challenge. We have been in awe of it ever since rumors of its existence whispered in darkened corners in long-forgotten smoke-filled dens reached our incredulous ears. It was unanimous. What is unprecedented is that the next top 3 of the roster were also unanimous in both choice and order of greatness!

Amazing, too, is that San Jose also claimed the second and fifth place with The Mourning Reign and The Count Five. San Jose, an unlikely garage hotspot for sure, had it going on in spades. The Central Valley brought in third and fourth with The Roadrunners out of Fresno and The Brogues out of Merced. Good work guys. You make these Flipsters proud of their valley roots.

Up next is the final region from the fifty states, the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Hold on to your seats. Until then, here is a sample from all the winners thus far. And a nifty map down below.

Northern California: The Chocolate Watchband - Are You Gonna Be There/No Way Out
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!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Oxford Circle - Foolish Woman/Mind Destruction

Our final entrant in our Northern California region of the Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Davis, California, the home town to both publishers of this fine music blog! Here we find Gary Lee Yoder, Dehner Patten, Jim Keylor and Paul Whaley. Collectively they were known as The Oxford Circle. The band only released this one single and it got a Fall release in 1966 on the micro-label, World United Records. That label was set up by and for The New Breed (click here for link to music), a Sacramento based band. They are the only other two releases on the label.

The A-side, Foolish Woman, was composed by Yoder and Patten (though no credit is given on the record) and is way ahead of its time. This doesn't sound too much like anything else from 1966! Sure, you can hear a little bit of Van Morrison and Them in Gary Lee Yoder's vocal approach. Sure, there is the Jeff Beck influenced guitar work performed with great dexterity by Jim Keylor. But the backwards tracking, the time changes, the feedback, the pounding drums of Paul Whaley make this a cut above most other records of it's day. There are rumors that Mac Rebennack (aka Dr. John) was the organ player on the session, but I can not confirm that.

The flip-side is a band composed instrumental called Mind Destruction. Thanks to Matt Brown of the lovely Nitro-Retro blog for loaning it to us.

The Oxford Circle played regularly in nearby San Francisco and a live recording from The Avalon Ballroom in 1966, shows Foolish Woman was not an anomaly, they were a solid band. The band went in for one more recording session but failed to get the number released, making this their lone output.

Whaley left the band to form Blue Cheer and was soon followed by Yoder who joined Randy Holden (The Other Half and The Sons of Adam - click for link) and Dickie Peterson (who sold me my first bass amp ever!) in what would become a revolving cast of musicians.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Golliwogs - Porterville/Call It Pretending

Day 9 of our Northern California Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to the hamlet of El Cerrito, California, a small town wedged between on the north side of Berkeley. and Oakland at the eastern terminus of the Bay Bridge.

Here we find a band called The Golliwogs. The Golliwogs started in 1958 in Jr. High as a three-piece instrumental combo calling themselves The Blue Velvets. Stu was on piano, Doug on drums and John on guitar. When the older brother of the teenaged guitarist joined the band in 1960, they became a vocal act with the older brother, Tom, now singing. That band released three singles before 1962. Now in High School, in 1964 the band got picked up by the San Francisco based label, Fantasy Records. The owner of the label changed the name of the band to The Golliwogs and the band produced their first record three months before The Beatles would change the face of music in America.

The Golliwogs quickly adapted to the new landscape and recorded three singles for Fantasy Records between December 1964 and July 1965. Then the label created a subsidiary, Scorpio Records, to focus on local garage bands. The Golliwogs would release four singles on this label between December of 1965 and October of 1967. All originals, all written under pseudonyms. At some point the younger brother, John, started to assert more control of the band as he became the primary composer and took over the singing duties from his older brother.

Today we feature The Golliwogs' final record, released on Scorpio Records in October, 1967, Porterville/Call It Pretending. Both numbers were composed by John and he sings on both the a-side and the flip-side.

Porterville has a deep, dark dirge of a rhythm section offset by a catchy, recurring chiming Rickenbacker guitar. Our singer tells a tale of a son being persecuted for the crimes of his father in the California farming town of Porterville. Oh lord, stuck in Porterville again.
The flip-side, Call It Pretending, is our first real hint of what The Golliwogs would soon become. From the opening drum section from Doug with the accompanying hand claps, to the simple, yet catchy, James Jamerson inspired bass work of Stu (who moved from piano to bass around 1964). John sings his original composition with a real tip of the hat to the work coming out of Detroit. One can easily imagine The Temptations singing this tight, catchy soul number. The backing vocals of Tom, Stu and Doug add to the Motown feel.
Remarkably the single would see two releases, both on Scorpio Records. This first release in October of 1967 under the name The Golliwogs. And then a second release, just four months later in February of 1968 under the band's new name, the curiously named Creedence Clearwater Revival. Both releases were a flop but the band, John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford would soldier on undaunted.
 Until next time, We'll see You On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Marauders - Since I Met You/I Don't Know How

Day 8 of the Northern California Battle of the Garage Bands spotlight!

I don't know too much about these cats other than they hailed from Sacramento, California. The Marauders released this one single in November of 1965 on the one-off label, Skyview Records.

Since I Met You is a wonderful original composition with a great melody which was comped on the legendary, Pebble Vol. 10. And cool beans of all cool beans, they released it with a picture sleeve! Pretty darn uncommon. Our copy is as minty as mint gets, but it's still such a low-fi recording it is hard to make out anything the singer is saying. See the comments section below for another recording of this record. The songwriting credit goes to G. Strawn, B. Barmby, R. Jagla and J. Giere/

The flip side is the tepid, I Don't Know How. Jack Giere gets writing credit here.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Count Five - Psychotic Reaction/They're Gonna Get You

The Count five produced one of thee all time great garage classics with their '66 release of Psychotic Reaction for Double Shot Records. Loosely based off of The Yardbirds' Better Man Than I, Psychotic Reaction epitomized the budding garage sound of the United States perfectly.

The band's debut single was 2:56 of unadulterated teen frustration and bravado. The song somehow cracked the Top 10 and allowed for The Count Five to release a full length album, something rather unheard of for a band of their local-ness. The members were Kenn Ellner, Sean Byrne, Craig Atkinson, John Michaski, and Roy Chaney. The oldest member of the band was a geriatric 19. The lead guitarist, Michalski, still in High School. Sadly, Atkinson and Byrne have both passed.

The flip-side is the Sean Byrne composed They're Gonna Get You. It's a funky little beat with incessant guitar noodling and some whimsical vocals that illuminate for the listener just how tough it was to be a long haired, cape wearing freak who stands outside the infamous "Winchester Mystery House". 

Growing up in this general area of California in the 80s, I can tell you that the 1966 album, also called Psychotic Reaction, on Double Shot Records, could be found everywhere. There wasn't a record store or Salvation Army in Northern California that didn't have 6 copies in the used bins. An easy find at a low, low price. A garage freak's nirvana. The eleven songs on the album are all written by members of the band, with the very notable exception of the two songs by Pete Townshend (both sides of The Who's third single in the US). All in all, the 9 original compositions are pretty damn solid and give you a sense of how much excitement the Count Five must have brought to the teen hops in San Jose.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Brogues - I Ain't No Miracle Worker/Don't Shoot Me Down

Day six of our Nor Cal Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to the center of the state in the farm town of Merced. That's where we find a five piece band calling themselves The Brogues.

The Brogues released their second and final single in November of 1965 for Challenge Records. The band at this time was Bill Whittington, Eddie Rodriguez, Rick Campbell, Greg Elmore and Gary Cole.

I Ain't No Miracle Worker was a song written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz, two songwriters who would soon score garage and psych classics for The Electric Prunes. I Ain't No Miracle Worker would also be recorded by The Great Scots about the same time and later covered by The Chocolate Watchband, who slowed the number down quite a bit. The Brogues original recording of the song is a surprisingly fast paced number with some scorching guitar from Eddie Rodgriuez.

The flip-side is the band composed Don't Shoot Me Down. It's a blitzkrieg of a rewrite of Bo Diddley's Hey Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut. Probably by way of The Pretty Things as the singer, Rick Campbell, even gets in a few Phil May inflections.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: Teddy and His Patches - Suzy Creamcheese/From Day to Day

Day five of our Nor Cal Battle of the Garage Bands has the flipsters spinning both sides of a 1967 single that can only be described as brilliantly depraved.

The record is Suzy Creamcheese which was comped on Pebbles Vol. 3. That's where I first heard it. Not long after I heard it on the low-fi Pebbles comp -- and had it indelibly etched into my memory -- I found the dang record in a little strip mall record store in Sacramento, CA. I recall turning that thing over in my hands time and time again trying to comprehend what I was holding. It probably cost me a buck. Maybe two. Check out the picture, it even came with what I assume is the original paper sleeve from Campi's Music Shop in San Jose. All the way from the Valley Fair Mall. Way cool to a vinyl geek like me.

At the time of my find (1984?) I didn't know much about Teddy nor any of his Patches, but time and the internets has shown the band was fronted by singer Teddy Flores. Teddy, it would seem, had a patch over one eye (the one he apparently lost to cancer as just a wee depraved singer). Suzy Creamcheese and From Day to Day were each written by the keyboard player, Dave Conway. According to an interview in, the remaining members were Steve Marley on drums, Steve Urbani on bass and Bernie Pearson on guitar. Here is Steve Marley as interviewed by
...[the] recording was done at TIKI Studios on 17th Street in San Jose.....'Suzy Creamcheese,' was recorded live in the studio on a four track Ampex, without overdubs. The psychedelic whoops heard on the track were part of the live recording, with Teddy moving from a studio mic to a hand held PA mic that was plugged into an old Fender tape-loop echo feeding back through a PA monitor. The whole thing was recorded without a single overdub or edit...and in just three or four takes total. That record received considerable airplay in California, thanks to helpful independent radio stations and actually charted #1 in Salinas/Monterey and Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo.
I took my load of 7 inches back to the record store at which I worked in a nearby town and spun this gem for all to be subjected. Suzy Creamchee starts with a trippy intro (with a Mothers of Invention reference) which gives way to a pounding beat and a heavy organ. Soon it gives way to a swirling, echo drenched rave-up with space noises and manic drumming. And then the coolest all breaks down to a slow, two chord organ riff as Teddy entices us take a trip on his mind. Then I flipped it over and, for the first time, heard the great Flip-Side, From Day to Day. Damn near as cool. Maybe cooler. I'm not sure. Discuss. Very low-fi.

The funny thing is, sometimes you hear these records and you think, "damn, those guys must have been wild! Hipper than hip." And then you see their picture. 
Until next time, we'll se you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Chocolate Watchband - Are You Gonna Be There/No Way Out

Back to San Jose, California for more of our Nor Cal region of the epic Battle of the Garage Bands.

The Chocolate Watchband recorded for producer Ed Cobb between '66 and '68 down in LA. The recordings don't always feature all of the band as Cobb had a penchant for bringing in studio musicians. He even went so far as to record instrumentals with not a single member of the band in it (think Expo 2000) and even vocal songs with a different singer (think Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go!).

Are You Gonna Be There was written for the band by Cobb's friend and LA songwriter, D. Bennett (who occasionally sang lead on these records as well) and was the third, and last, single under their name (they had done a 4th under the pseudonym of The Hogs). It was released on Tower Records in October of 1967.

The Flip-Side of Are You Gonna Be There is the excellent quasi-instrumental, No Way Out. That song gets an Ed Cobb credit for composer. That said, credible claims by the band suggest they were really the composers of the song. Producers aren't always so honest, you know. The pairing of the two strong songs, the quality of the production and the quality of singer David Aguilar's voice make this one of the most desired singles out there.

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

Monday, May 4, 2015

Northern California Spotlight: The Road Runners - Goodbye/Tell Her You Love Her

Day three of our Nor Cal Battle of the Garage Bands has us at the bottom part of our geographical line in Fresno, California. 

The Road Runners were a top notch garage band from 1415 W. Scott Avenue (map here) in the raisin capital of the world. The quintet of farm boys released four singles in their brief life. Today's feature was their second release. Goodbye with a Flip-Side of Tell Her You Love Her was released on the local Morocco Records label on the first month of 1966. My copy is a standard black vinyl but the single was also released as a yellow tinted disc and a tiger-striped disc. How cool is that?

The band was fronted by Randy Hall who sang lead and played bass. Dale Samuelian was on organ, Bob Trippell on saxophone, Steve Heitkotter on drums and Denver Cross was the excellent guitarist of the band. Randy Hall penned both of these top notch numbers. The songwriting and musicianship is across the board excellent. Goodbye, the hard charging A-Side shows off Hall's vocal prowess and Cross' strong guitar work that shows, as with most artists in this genre of the day, he was listening to a ton of Jeff Beck. Hall seems particularly angry at his muse. Even a little heavy handed. 
I get a call one day
she said she was sorry
now she wants be back to stay
I just slapped her face
walked away smiling
heard her crying
and now it's her turn to fade
so goodbye to love
goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Whoa, little dude bass player. Take it easy. Show some class. It's never ok to slap a girl. Or slap a bass! Maybe, just maybe, my young Road Runner friend, you will find love soon. Real love. Where oh where can we find love?

That's right, On The Flip-Side!

The Flip-Side of the record is the lovely Tell Her You Love Her. Again, stellar musicianship with Randy Hall's vocals urging his friend to let go and let the woman in his friend's life know just how much he loves her. And don't hit her. Don't ever hit her. I'm talking to you Floyd Mayweather!

A real double sided gem. Seek out more from The Road Runners. You won't be sorry. Pictures and some info courtesy of this cool blog on San Joaquin Valley bands. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!