THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
694) The Lamp of Childhood — “First Time, Last Time”
’67 A-side is a gorgeous song of longing by an L.A. folk-rock group with a big connection to big rock royalty. As Jason Ankeny tells us:
Folk-rock combo the Lamp of Childhood was formed in Los Angeles in the fall of 1966 by singer/guitarist James Hendricks, the former husband of Mamas and Papas vocalist Mama Cass and her collaborator in the Big Three and the Mugwumps. Guitarist Fred Olsen, bassist Mike Tani and former Mastin & Brewer drummer Billy Mundi comprised the original Lamp of Childhood lineup, which signed to Dunhill to record its debut single, a cover of the Donovan classic “Season of the Witch” issued in early 1967. By that time, Mundi was already out of the band–he’d joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention–and after two more Dunhill singles, “First Time, Last Time” and “Two O’Clock in the Morning,” the Lamp of Childhood dissolved in June 1967.https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-lamp-of-childhood-mn0000105054/biography
Interestingly, the connection with Mama Cass may have actually hurt the group (see https://garagehangover.com/the-lamp-of-childhood/).
“First Time, Last Time” was written by the band’s producer and Israeli classical pianist Gabriel Mekler. Andrew Sandoval notes that following TLOC, Mundi “recorded with Tim Buckley and nearly joined Buffalo Springfield . . . . Hendricks . . . moved on to songwriting for Johnny Rivers (“Summer Rain,” #14 in late ’67), Mekler wound up producing Dunhill hitmakers Steppenwolf, [guitarist] Fred Olson recorded with Mike Bloomfield, and Mundi briefly joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.” (liner notes to the Where the Action Is!: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968 comp) Misterjimi says that Mekler “himself had several flop singles on Dunhill [and was] producer/pianist for Janis Joplin, Steppenwolf, Genya Ravan, Etta James, Three Dog Night. Died young.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzBktQar-qw)
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