Thorinshield — “Here Today” Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — May 22, 2023


833) Thorinshield — “Here Today”

A song that is “chockfull of latent Beatlisms, with an occasional Boettcher-like Millennial quirky little detail or two” and an album that is “now rightly regarded as a minor classic of late 60s soft psychedelia.” (Garwood Pickjon, Funky16corners says that “Thorinshield . . . managed to bring together prime Sunset Strip folk rock, baroque touches, and early psychedelia to weave a unique sonic tapestry. Though I’ve heard the members of the group dismissing the orchestration of the album for obscuring the sound of the band, the arrangements by Perry Bodkin are for me what really ‘makes’ the album.” (

The liner notes to the CD reissue of the album inform us that:

The mysteriously-named* Thorinshield released an album and two singles in 1968 which, though they sank with­out trace, are now prized by fans of so-called ‘sunshine pop’. Their roots lay in Los Angeles, where drummer Terry Hand had played in numerous surf bands, as well as recording two singles with Everpresent Fullness. Bassist Bobby Ray . . . was a seasoned session player who had participated in Donovan’s legendary May 1966 sessions in LA, resulting in songs including the classic Season Of The Witch. They teamed up with guitarist James Ray in 1967, and Smith and Ray began to write com­mercial songs together that reflected an interest in both folk and psych­edelia. . . . [The album] featured intricate harmonies akin to the work being carried out at the same time by Curt Boettcher on albums by Sagittarius and the Millennium . . . . Smith is not known to have continued with a career in music, but Hand joined soft-psych band The Moon, and Ray recorded an excellent folk-psych solo LP entitled Initiation Of A Mystic . . . .

Garwood Pickjon adds that “Bobby Ray’s (one of Thorinshield’s two main songwriters) involvement in Donovan’s 1966 L.A. sessions (on bass), happens to be an experience impressive enough for them, to keep the listener reminded of the fact throughout the whole of their only . . . album . . . . With Mr. Leich’s pioneering “e-lec-trical” sketches continuously popin’ in and out of the soundscape, they’re being blended with other equally kaleidoscopic sounds of the moment”. (

Richie Unterberger notes that:

Thorinshield is sometimes labeled a sunshine pop band by collectors, but though they share some traits with Californian sunshine pop artists, they had a more straightforward, less lightweight rock flavor than many acts given that label. . . . [T]he influences of the melodic rock and vocal harmonies of the 1966-1967 Beatles are evident, as are some of the ornate orchestration, production trickery, and trippily optimistic-romantic lyrics that were becoming in vogue throughout much pop music by the late ’60s. To some degree, the influence of the slicker folk-rock-affiliated Southern Californian artists can be heard as well, along with dashes of baroque melody and instrumentation. . . .

[It has] elements of the psychedelic Beatles, the Byrds, California harmony pop groups, and singer/songwriters jostle side by side . . . . It’s pop-folk-rock sung, played, harmonized, and produced with late-’60s Los Angeles craftsmanship . . . .

The LP didn’t make any waves, however, and the group broke up after [a] subsequent non-LP 45.

Unterberger, however, dismisses the group:

It was a reasonably pleasant, good-natured record, and certainly well produced . . . but the material isn’t strong enough to hold up with the better artists with whom they share some similarities.

I’m any given era, there are numerous albums by rock musicians who’ve obviously assimilated styles and ideas by many leading figures of the period, but don’t synthesize them in a particularly interesting way. Such was the case with Thorinshield’s only album . . . .,

* The name seems to be a Tolkien reference:

Oakenshield was the title and sobriquet of King Thorin II of Durin’s Folk. Thorin acquired the title long before he became King. [W]hen he was just fifty-three (a young age for a Dwarf) he marched with a mighty Dwarf-army to the valley they called Azanulbizar, Nanduhirion beneath the East-gate of Moria. There they fought the Battle of Nanduhirion, the last and greatest in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. In that battle, Thorin’s shield was broken, so he cut a bough from an oak-tree with his axe, and used that instead to fend off his enemies’ blows, or to club them. It was that oaken branch that gave Thorin his surname, but it did not completely save him from injury – it is recorded that he was wounded in the battle. In memory of the battle, Thorin bore a plain shield of oak wood with no device, and swore to do so until he was hailed king. . . . Like many Dwarvish names, it appears in the Norse poem Völuspá in the form Eikinskjaldi, but there it is the personal name of a Dwarf, not a surname as in Tolkien’s work.

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