326) Mark Eric — “Night of the Lions”
“Night of the Lions” was Mark Eric’s ‘69 A-side, an album track off of A Midsummer’s Day Dream — his sole sixties album — and on the soundtrack to the “relatively routine biker-exploitation” movie Angels Die Hard (Fred Beldin, All Music Guide). I love the song and the album, as does Lightning Baltimore, who says “I am in love with this album! Don’t tell my husband, OK? I don’t need him getting needlessly jealous; it’s not like I can have a serious relationship with a hunk . . . of polyvinyl chloride.” (http://lightningjukebox.blogspot.com/2011/03/mark-eric-of-lions.html). Without knowing whether she could in fact or did have such a relationship, I won’t tell if you won’t.
On the other hand, a commenter to Baltimore says “that song sucked so bad, i dont have the words to describe it!” And Beldin says that “much of the [soundtrack’s] self-consciously ‘modern’ material sounds laughable today (and likely was in 1970). . . . [C]hamber-pop/surfer kid Mark Eric contributes the annoying ‘Night of the Lions.’”
Annoying? I’m sending the Angels after Beldin!
Mark Eric [Malmborg] was a California Golden Boy. Bad-cat says that he “was the stereotyped Southern California teenager – blond, tanned, good looking, great teeth, complete with a love of surfing and music” and Bryan Thomas says in AMG that he “was leading the Southern California dream life in his teens — surfing by day and writing songs about girls by night — before his musical talents drew him to Hollywood. . . .” I think they’re getting Eric confused with me, but in any event, let’s continue.
As to the album and Eric’s career, Bad-cat says:
[It] is probably the best Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys album they never released [Wait a second, what about Smile?! Anyway, Eric is] someone who managed to nail that unique mid-1960s Southern California vibe that mixed Beach Boys and sunshine pop. Interestingly, Eric and . . . former Animals guitarist Vic Briggs apparently wrote these twelve tracks intending to place them with other acts. . . . but the results were so impressive that [they were] release[d as] a Mark Eric effort. Musically the album was already several years out of step with popular tastes so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to see the parent LP and singles vanish directly into cutout bins. Sadly that effectively ended Eric’s recording career . . . .http://rockasteria.blogspot.com/2013/09/marc-eric-midsummers-day-dream-1969-us.html
It is true that the album looked back. “Mark . . . focused on the pre-LBJ . . . America, one that longed for the girls of summer, cruising and sailing away on a wave: concepts that, by 1969, were outdated but had not quite yet achieved retro-cool status.” (Steve Stanley’s liner notes to the album’s CD reissue). Mark Eric himself lamented that “[t]here was no promo done from the record label. They just let it die. No release party. No live dates. Nothing.” (liner notes to the CD reissue).
Bryan Thomas adds that:
[The album] is . . .one of the more perfect blends of soft pop and surf pop, with appropriately accenting vibraphones and French horns, pseudo-studio jazzy/soft pop melodies, “bah bah bah” harmonies, and moody string arrangements reminiscent of Curt Boettcher’s productions of Sagittarius and the Millennium. Eric’s charming, somewhat imperfect falsetto (in a somewhat obvious homage to Brian Wilson) hints at a subterranean layer of loneliness throughout.
But “Night of the Lions” — the hardest track on the album — did make it into Angels Die Hard. Wanna hear one of the album’s softer gems? Gotta wait (or find it yourself) — they didn’t make it into a biker flick! What was the movie about? Videobeat sums it up:
The local rednecks frequent a juke joint [but] a nasty bunch of hicks . . . don’t like bikers. The film opens with townsfolk leaping from their pick-ups wielding two-by-fours, pipes and other bludgeoning devices to kick the you-know-what out of the Angels who merely stopped in for a drink. The Angels are doing a good job of whooping some hillbilly butt when the sheriff arrives . . . . The Angels drunkenly agree to leave town. The next day . . . the[y are] sitting in what looks like a junkyard, drinking beer and reading poetry, when they discover that the town rednecks have just murdered an Angel on the other side of the town line. The Angels . . . return to town and proceed to wreck a pool joint and rape a . . . waitress . . . . But believe it or not, the bikers are the good guys in this film.
Wait, wasn’t this a Quentin Tarantino film?
Don’t worry about Eric, though. Bad-cat let’s us know that he “subsequently turned his time and attention to modeling, commercials and acting, briefly appearing in a number of early-1970s television shows including The Partridge Family and Hawaii 5-0.”
“Lotta action tonight to the right in occasions out of sight. Night is on our face and for a favorite place where minds are free to race. Twelve a.m. is the time, seven hits from a line, making water pipeline. Night of the lions, showing our teeth tonight. Animals hunting meat. Games for the elite. Generation in the street. On our way talking trash. But no one talks back, they know for a fact we’re all ready to spring. Just say the wrong thing. And you’ll know who’s king. Night of the lions, showing our teeth tonight. Parrots, tigers, pussycats, by the hole on a mask they wear on their backs. Acned faces of an age are lost through a haze in a street network maze. Laughter turns into tears. We realize our fears. But nobody hears. Night of the lions, showing our teeth tonight of the lions. . . .”