Compton & Batteau: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — May 31, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

468) Compton & Batteau — “Homesick Kid”

After Appaloosa (see #463) broke up, John Parker Compton picked up and drove to California. He and Robin Batteau then recorded In California, a magical album “drenched in lazy West Coast sunshine [which fell] into the abyss of wonderful, overlooked recordings[].” (Fire Records, https://www.firerecords.com/artists/compton-and-batteau/)

As to “Homesick Kid”, Compton relates that “I wrote [it] for a girl that I met in Berkley, CA.” (https://garagehangover.com/john-compton/). Fire Records enthuses that:

[This a]lbum highlight . . . is the perfect example of the addictive, melody-led songwriting which really should have earned them stardom . . . . On th[is and other songs] the album veers magnificently towards the psychedelic, bringing to mind The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.

https://www.firerecords.com/artists/compton-and-batteau/

My one reservation about the song involves Compton’s immortal words: “When she is with me, she draws a tub. Always so soothing just like Vick’s VapoRub.” My first thought: Is he referring to the girl or the tub? My second thought: Did he get paid by Vick’s? My third thought: Compton’s no Dylan. My final thought: Upon reflection, Dylan would have loved that line!

As to In California, What Frank Is Listening To says:

This album has taken the obvious folk rock influences, added a few spoons of baroque pop, a dash of country, a pinch of rock, a touch of classical and a whole lot of singer–songwriter. This type of stew succeeds or fails on the strength of the song writing and here it is certainly above average, even memorable. . . . Compton & Batteau have written some disarmingly emotionally naked songs.

https://whatfrankislisteningto.negstar.com/sunshine-pop-and-baroque/compton-batteau-in-california-columbia-1970/

And Dave Henderson says:

In California retains some of their earlier baroque qualities but it’s also got some George Harrison atonal guitar, some ethereal violin and Compton’s amazingly mature lyrics . . . . [It] resonates with an early soulfulness, a soft yet alluring vibe that’s sent reeling by that violin . . . . It’s an album out of time, it’s sunny California through tinted glasses. . . . It’s a forgotten piece of baroque folk caught in time . . . . it somehow sounds timeless.

Mojo Magazine 2017, reprinted in the liner notes to the CD reissue of In California.

Compton goes on to tell the album’s story:

Robin’s wife at the time was attending one of the Pomona College’s outside of Los Angeles so I convinced a friend of mine to drive out to California and visit them. As soon as we arrived, Robin and I drove into Hollywood and met an A&R guy at Columbia . . . and he signed us to do our second Columbia record. . . . the first week I arrived and we immediately started working with our producer . . . . I wrote some of the songs prior to the trip west and rest of the songs in California while living there. . . .

https://garagehangover.com/john-compton/

Compton tells how he put together an all-star band:

Lunching in the CBS commissary, we met Jim Messina wearing bright red cowboy boots. “Welcome to the country club!” Jim said. A few phone calls later, we added some of Hollywood’s finest musicians to our band, Jim Messina and Rusty Young (Poco), Randy Meisner (The Eagles), John London (The Monkees band), Pat Shanahan and John Ware (Linda Ronstadt’s band), King Errisson on congas, Robin Lane for harmony and chorus and Bill Elliott, keyboardist supreme.

liner notes to the CD reissue of In California

He goes on:

[H]aving Randy and Pat record live with us on songs like “Homesick Kid” was a dream come true. We recorded the songs as a live band. . . . Everyday we would see Sly [Stone] arriving in his Winnebego mobile home wearing these knee-high fur boots. It was quite a sight. . . .

https://garagehangover.com/john-compton/

“I’m coming home ‘cross Kentucky hills to see you again. . . . It’s more than time enough to fill your glass. There’s so many things I want to say and here’s one thing. When she is with me, she draws a tub. Always so soothing just like Vick’s VapoRub. . . . [R]aise a sail. I’m a . . . schooner baby [walking?] down your trail. . . . I’m coming home. See you again . . . . California girl waits for me on an Oakland hill. I’m just an East Coast kid but I will take her hand, take her to Brazil. . . . I’m leaving soon cross the great flash floods and through the dark lagoon. . . . I’m coming home. Take me in to see you again. . . .”

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