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 Niel'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.

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, 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!