George Harrison: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 8, 2022

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

544) George Harrison — “Circles”

Unlike The Who’s “Circles”, George Harrison’s “Circles” is no instant party, but rather a haunting and groovy meditation on reincarnation! George wrote the song in Rishikesh and demoed it — with whispered voice and harmonium — at Esher, both in ‘68, but didn’t release it till ‘82.

As it is etched into the Beatles Bible:

“Upon their return from India, all four Beatles gathered at Kinfauns, Harrison’s Esher bungalow. They recorded demos of 27 songs, to be put forward as potential titles for the White Album. . . . One of the discarded titles was ‘Circles’, seemingly recorded alone by Harrison with just an organ accompaniment. . . . One of Harrison’s more philosophical songs . . . . Harrison eventually released a version of ‘Circles’ on his 1982 album Gone Troppo. It was recorded with a full band – including Billy Preston on organ and piano – and with largely different lyrics to those written in 1968.” (https://www.beatlesbible.com/songs/circles/)

Eager was not your grand mother’s bungalow. As Rob Sheffield describes:

“[T]hey met at George’s hippie bungalow in the Surrey countryside, decorated in the grooviest Indian style. . . . On the tape, you can hear them relax in an informal setting – they sit around the living room, banging guitars or tambourines or shakers, breathing in the joss stick. They recline on leather cushions – George and Patti don’t have anything so square as chairs.” (https://www.rollingstone.com/feature/the-beatles-esher-demos-the-lost-basement-tapes-that-became-the-white-album-630425/amp/)

Jordan Runtagh was not impressed:

“‘Circles’ . . . is an exceptionally dreary affair. . . . [that] utilizes what Richie Unterberger evocatively describes as ‘an eerie organ that seems to have been dragged out of a dusty, disused church closet.’ Harrison taped two tracks on the instrument – likely a harmonium – sketching a sparse, almost ghostly arrangement. The mood isn’t brightened by the solemn lyrics, which find Harrison contemplating the cyclical nature of humanity and the Hindi concept of reincarnation in a voice that barely raises above a whisper.” (https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/the-beatles-revelatory-white-album-demos-a-complete-guide-629178/)

Per owl.apps.net:

“The theme of the lyrics is reincarnation. The composition reflects the cyclical aspect of human existence as, according to Hindu doctrine, the soul continues to pass from one life to the next. . . . While some find it overly gloomy, others recognise the track as a highlight of a generally overlooked album. . . . ‘Circles’ was composed on an organ . . . as most of Harrison’s Indian-inspired melodies since 1966 had been . . . . [Simon] Leng writes of ‘fugue-like keyboard parts’ on the song and ‘bass figures’ that partly recall the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The song’s lyrical theme is reincarnation, in keeping with Harrison’s immersion in Hindu philosophy. . . . Theologian Dale Allison highlights ‘Circles’ as the only Harrison song to use the term ‘reincarnate’ . . . . Harrison also quotes from the Chinese philosopher and author Lao-Tse, whose work Tao Te Ching inspired his 1968 composition ‘The Inner Light’ . . . . The choruses include the lines from Lao-Tse: ‘He who knows does not speak / He who speaks does not know’ . . . . On the released recording, Harrison concludes with a statement on how to break the circle of repetition: ‘When loss and gain and up and down / Becomes the same, then we stop going in circles.’ Allison interprets this conclusion, and Harrison’s worldview generally, as espousing the need to recognise the illusory nature of the material world, saying . . . ‘opposites are not opposites. To understand that up is down and that gain is loss is to be … on one’s way to escaping from the material world.’” (http://www.owlapps.net/owlapps_apps/articles?id=34611251&lang=en)

Wow, this is no “Savoy Truffle”!

“Friends come and friends go as I go round and round in circles.  Love warms and love colds as I go round and round in circles.  He who knows does not speak.  He who speaks does not know.  And I go round in circles. Life comes and life goes as we go round and round in circles.  He who knows does not speak.  He who speaks does not know as I go round in circles.  Life comes and love goes as we go round and round in circles.”

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Here it is from Gone Troppo:

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McCully Workshop: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 7, 2022

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

543) McCully Workshop — “Rush Hour at Midnight”

A cool boss’s nova rock track . . . from South Africa?! McCully Workshop, Inc. (’70) was the “superb South African band’s stunning debut album.” (The Forced Exposure website, https://mccullyworkshop.wordpress.com/about/) “Of all the albums we’ve heard from South Africa this one is topscore. What a beautiful masterpiece. Pepper-influenced underground music with great songs, lovely vocals, strong harmonies, great distorted guitarwork.” (Psychedelic-Music.com, https://mccullyworkshop.wordpress.com/albums/mccully-workshop-inc/)

Brian Currin writes that:

McCully Workshop is arguably one of South Africa’s finest pop rock bands. They started way back in the ’60’s, dominated the South African airwaves in the ’70’s, continued through the ’80’s and ’90’s and in the 21st century are still going strong.

https://mccullyworkshop.wordpress.com/about/

Currin provides some more history:

The McCullagh brothers, Tully . . . and Mike . . . . started as a folk-rock trio [in ‘65] with Richard Hyam and called themselves the Blue Three. Richard had been in a folk duo, Tiny Folk, with his sister Melanie. . . . “I had my own studio in the garage since I was 12” remembers Tully. . . . The brothers’ father, radio personality Michael Drin (his stage name), painted the name “McCully Workshop, Inc.” on the garage wall. “McCully” was an easier-to-spell version of McCullagh and the “Inc.” was a tongue-in-cheek addition. . . . Mike McCullagh [says] “In 1969 I was 22 and Tully was 16, along with Richard Hyam, his sister Melanie and Allan Faull the group started.” . . . Tully wrote ‘Why Can’t It Rain’ in the middle of the night and this became a hit single putting McCully Workshop on the charts for the first time[ and] dr[awing] the attention of the Gallo label, and they said they wanted an album. McCully Workshop signed probably the first independent licensing deal with a major label in South Africa. The ‘Inc.’ album shows a variety of styles and influences including The Beatles, Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd. “’Sgt Pepper’ was very important, as were the pop charts at the time”, recalls Tully. Another big influence, according to Tully, was The Moody Blues ‘Threshold Of A Dream’ which was released in April 1969.

https://mccullyworkshop.wordpress.com/albums/the-best-of-mccully-workshop/

“Rush hour. Rush hour. . . . Everybody rushes out to see the sun, lighting out the moon as it goes on its run. This is probably the greatest thing tonight. . . . Where’s it go? Where’s it go? Where’s it go? Where’s it go? . . . That’s were it goes. That’s where it goes. That’s where it goes. . . . Rush hour at midnight. Rush hour at midnight.”

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The Lomax Alliance: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 6, 2022

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

543) The Lomax Alliance — “Try As You May”

A-side of the Alliance’s only single (’67), which, per Steve Leggett, “combine[s] blue-eyed soul with a kind of British Invasion template.” Why wasn’t this a hit? Leggett also noted that:

Jackie Lomax . . . has always had a soulful voice, a bit like his contemporary Steve Winwood . . . (the two actually also look strikingly similar), but his considerable talent never translated . . . into international commercial success.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/lost-soul-lomax-alliance-solo-singles-demos-1966-1967-mw0002002690

This lack of success baffled the Beatles, who try as they may, couldn’t make Jackie Lomax (see #164, 425) a star, and it baffles me.m too. Brian Pendreigh writes that:

A lot of people thought Jackie Lomax should have been a big star. He had moody good looks, a great bluesy voice and a decent backing band that had considerable success in their own right under the name The Beatles. . . . Bill Harry, author of The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia, said his lack of chart success baffled The Beatles.

https://www.scotsman.com/news/obituaries/obituary-jackie-lomax-singer-1561004

And Bruce Eder writes that “Jackie Lomax should have been one of Liverpool’s homegrown rock & roll stars — that’s what the Beatles believed, and George Harrison and Paul McCartney both thought enough of his talent to back him variously as producers and record company executives at a critical juncture in all of their careers.” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/jackie-lomax-mn0000130486/biography)

The Guardian gives some history:

Lomax had known the Beatles since their early days at the Cavern club and in Hamburg, when he was the singer and bass guitarist with the Undertakers, a popular Mersey Beat band noted for their energetic stage show, in which the musicians wore the frock coats, and sometimes top hats, appropriate to funeral directors in the wild west. . . . [T]he son of a millworker, the teenaged Lomax and his friend the drummer Warren “Bugs” Pemberton left their first band, Dee and the Dynamites, to join the Undertakers in January 1962. Like the Beatles, their stage act was developed during residencies at the clubs in and around Hamburg’s Reeperbahn . . . . [A] contract with Pye Records had produced four singles . . . but no hits [so] they tried to capitalise on the British invasion of the US charts by moving across the Atlantic. Left stranded and penniless in a motel in Canada, they disbanded and in 1967 Lomax and Pemberton formed their own group, the Lomax Alliance.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/sep/17/jackie-lomax

Anorak Thing takes up the story:

[When the] Undertakers went belly up. . . . Lomax and drummer Bugs Pemberton hooked up with some NYC locals and began playing as The Lost Souls . . . and in early ’66 Brian Epstein saw them play in Greenwich Village and convinced them to come back to England where under the name of The Lomax Alliance they cut several tracks, in fact nearly an album’s worth . . . .

http://anorakthing.blogspot.com/2013/11/jake-holmes-via-jackie-lomax.html

On this Day in Music wraps it up:

[Lomax recalled] “Epstein ended up in New York with the Beatles for the Shea Stadium concert, and we went to Shea with the Beatles, and hung out with them at the Warwick Hotel. Epstein wanted to take me back to London as a singer, but I told him to listen to the whole band, and the entire Lomax Alliance went back to London.”

They had recorded some tracks in New York before crossing the Atlantic and Brian Epstein arranged for them to record more titles to complete an album . . . . Epstein [brought them] to London’s Saville Theatre, and arranged for a single and an album to be recorded. . . . In Britain, the only Lomax Alliance single, “Try As You May” b/w “See The People,” proved no more successful than the Undertakers’ releases in spite of Brian Epstein’s backing. Unfortunately Epstein’s untimely death intervened and no further Lomax Alliance recordings were released. The band were ‘inherited’ by Robert Stigwood who was too preoccupied with the BeeGees to pay any attention to the Lomax Alliance. The group went back to America but disbanded soon afterwards . . . .

https://onthisdaymusic.com/2021/09/17/september-15-2013-jackie-lomax-died/

“You in your chair will judge without care. Search every word in your conscience. Open your mind and see that you’ll find a trace of the bind that once joined us. Take from the past things that will last. Think of the goodness that I gave you. You will try as you may but you won’t find a day. When you can say you regret it, you can’t change the fact that I did love you back. Say thanks for that and not for leaving. I don’t see a crime in changing my mind. Don’t you waste your time on grieving. You can try as you may but you won’t find a day when you can say you regret it.”

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The Garden Club: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 5, 2022

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

542) The Garden Club — “Little Girl Lost and Found”

One of the greatest early pop psych tunes, sung by the writer of “Windy”, with lyrics perfectly balanced between twee and weeeee! Funky16corners says it ‘s “cool . . . early, sing-song popsike . . . that sounds like it was recorded on a merry go round.” (https://ironleg.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/the-garden-club-little-girl-lost-and-found-bw-i-must-love-her/). I’d love to hear Noel Gallagher do this one!

Brewer and Shipley’s website lets us know that:

The Garden Club was a one single studio group comprised of Ruthann Friedman and Tom Shipley.  At the time of this recording Tom was on the verge of forming Brewer & Shipley, and Ruthann was just about to write “Windy” for The Association. . . . [Tom Shipley says] “We recorded a song, “Little Girl Lost and Found” written by the guy [Tandyn Almer] who wrote “Along Comes Mary.” 

http://www.brewerandshipley.com/Songs/Covered/GardenClub.htm

funky16corners adds that:

The Garden Club . . . only ever existed for this one 45. The principle members of the group were singers Ruthann Friedman and Tom Shipley. Friedmann, who recorded a groovy 45 (with Van Dyke Parks) and a very cool album is also known as the composer of ‘Windy’, one of the biggest hits of the 1960s . . . . Shipley went on to be one half of Brewer and Shipley, who made some excellent folk rock and had a big hit with ‘One Toke Over the Line’. The composers were Daniel Walsh (who went on to write a bunch of pop stuff in the 70s, like ‘Temptation Eyes’ for the Grass Roots) and none other than Tandyn Almer. Almer hit the jackpot with ‘Along Comes Mary’ for the Association, as well as ‘Shadows and Reflections’ (with Larry Marks) for the Action, among others. . . . [W]ith that remarkable provenance, the single is pretty cool, too.

https://ironleg.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/the-garden-club-little-girl-lost-and-found-bw-i-must-love-her/

Peter & the Wolves (led by John Pantry) also did a great version (see #494), though Steve Elliott says derisively that “[t]he circus beat and adolescent story . . . comes off as bubblegum Bee Gees.” (https://somethingelsereviews.com/2013/08/02/forgotten-series-the-factory-peter-and-the-wolves-others-upside-down-world-of-john-pantry-1999/)

“Alice in Wonderland walking though hallways followed closely by little tin men. A man made from rusted old buckets holding a musket he’s trying to mend. They are all searching for clues to the whereabouts of the girl with the polka dot eyes who ran down the street at the top of her lungs mourning Little Jack Horner’s demise. . . . Little Miss Muffett she knows how to rough it. She’s been on her own ever since she was nine. She has joined forces with the ones running the courses trying to find. Little girl lost and found, walking the streets in her tattered gown. Everyone passes the blame around for little girl lost and found. They are all searching for clues to the whereabouts of the girl with the polka dot eyes who ran down the street at the top of her lungs mourning Little Jack Horner’s demise. . . .  Tinker toy tractors and animal crackers are all stacked up in a line. The town crier shouted the news. They’re the only clues that she left behind. Little girl lost and found,
walking the streets in her tattered gown. Everyone passes the blame around for little girl lost and found. . . .”

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Here are the Wolves:

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Los Blops: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 4, 2022

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

541) Los Blops — “Los Momentos” (“The Moments”)*

A stunning folk rock song from Chile that “would become a classic of Chilean popular music” (http://losblops.blogspot.com/) and for Los Blops — the band’s name “inspired by the sound of a drop of water hitting the ground[ — it would be] their great legacy to Chilean popular music.” (https://www.musicapopular.cl/grupo/blops/)

The song was from the “[d]ebut from the experimental folk/rock band in the revolutionary days of the late 60’s in Chile” (http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=1496) — so revolutionary that Los Blops were booed by right-wing audiences, considered “sh*tty hippies”, but at the same time viewed with distrust by the Communists because of “their rather hippie orientation, their open sympathy towards marijuana, and their lack of greater commitment”! (https://www.musicapopular.cl/grupo/blops/)

Jorge Leiva recounts Los Blops’ history and legacy:

[It] was one of the few bands of the time that was able to transcend its Anglo-Saxon inspiration to give way to original creations with a powerful identity of their own. . . . After its dissolution, in 1973, its three albums constituted a lost heritage until the personal effort of its members allowed its reissue, in 2001. Their history includes . . . classic on the scale of “Los Momentos” and an impact that, although never massive, had a deep impact on a sector of the public and the Chilean music community.

The band emerged in 1964 . . . . its first repertoire with covers of bands like The Doors, The Who and the Rolling Stones. In the summer of 196[9] . . . . Eduardo Gatti joined . . . as guitarist . . . . [and] they made the decision to start composing their own songs. . . . Surprisingly, the Communist Party label, Dicap, was the only one that agreed to release an album by the Blops, despite the ideological mistrust aroused by their rather hippie orientation, their open sympathy towards marijuana, and their lack of greater commitment . . . . [T]he label gave them a few days of study, during which they recorded their first nine songs. At the end of those sessions, and almost accidentally, they decided to include a composition by Eduardo Gatti that they barely knew: “Los momentoes”. When Blops (1970) appeared, they never imagined that this song would be precisely their great legacy to Chilean popular music.

The band performed at the Viña del Mar Festival for three nights in 1971. They were part of the Dicap artists and were mercilessly booed by a[ right-wing?] audience that associated their name with the Unidad Popular [which Wikipedia describes as a left-wing political alliance in Chile that stood behind the successful candidacy of Salvador Allende]. . . . “As soon as the entertainer mentioned the name of the Blops, it was not necessary for the musicians to appear on stage for the public to boo them until they finished their presentation. The pure acoustic sound of the group was lost among the furious screams of the monster of the Fifth. Upon returning from the catastrophic performance, the dressing room awaited them with an eloquent line: “Get out of here, shitty hippies.” . . .

[Later,] part of the group lived as a community in an old convent on the border of the communes of Ñuñoa and La Reina (La Manchufela, they called it) . . . . After the recording of the[ir] second album, after reflecting on the festival experience, the band decided that they would not do any more lyrics, that they would abandon the acoustic instruments and that from then on they would be called Parafina. . . . [T]he band . . . could not survive the closing of spaces that followed the arrival of the military in La Moneda. The burning of their masters and the persecution of artists . . . forced them to withdraw. “There were no possibilities to continue,” confirms [bass player Juan Pablo] Orrego, who moved to Isla Negra for a few months with Eduardo Gatti . . . . What they thought would be a long stay of musical work ended up being cut short the following year, with the departure of all of them abroad.

https://www.musicapopular.cl/grupo/blops/

Erik Neuteboom adds that:

The evidence of the qualitative leap they took from playing covers to creating their own music is in that first vinyl which appeared in 1970, a year marked by social, cultural and political transformations in Chile. Released under Dicap label, a historic record label founded in 1968 by the Communist Youth Organization, the album was self-produced. As Eduardo Gatti points out: “We were the only producers. That’s how that bouquet of rather strange flowers came out. ” In Blops there’s also a synthesis of the musical influences of the time, including rock of course. Eduardo Gatti goes back to that point:

“We had already researched the playing of (Bob) Dylan, Keith Richards, Clapton, so making an interesting weave with guitars was quite fascinating. And there came a time when we didn’t play any more covers because it didn’t make sense: it was time for our stuff. As we all mature, all this information that we had processed decanted in Los Blops ”.

And Orrego agrees: “We had all those aspects, but a very own musical language began”. . . .

Gatti looks back at those previous years: “I think we were very happy. I think the fact of living in a community gave us such a different vision, like we put together a mini-society within this society that was dismantling itself, in which we continued with tremendous energy, very luminous in our case. And that made us somehow able to survive everything that came after. . . . It never ceases to amaze me. We were not in the Nueva Canción Chilena, in the political song. We, along with Los Jaivas and Congreso, were unclassifiable. And we were unclassifiable the entire time we recorded and played. I think that also gave a freshness to all this that people have appreciated more and more over time. And I think it is still without any classification”.

https://cargorecordsdirect.co.uk/products/los-blops-blops

“Tu silueta Va caminando Con el alma triste why dormida Ya la aurora no es nada nuevo Pa’ tus ojos grandes why pa’ tu frente Ya el cielo why sus estrellas Se quedaron mudos, lejanos why muertos Pa’ tu mente ajena Nos hablaron Una vez, cuando niños Cuando la vida se muestra entera Que el futuro, que cuando grande Ahí murieron ya los momentos Sembraron así su semilla why tuvimos miedo, temblamos why en eso se nos fue la vida Cada uno aferrado a sus dioses Producto de toda una historia Los modelan why los destruyen why según eso ordenan sus vidas. En la frente les ponen monedas En sus largas manos les cuelgan candados, Letreros why rejas.”

Here is an English translation courtesy of josevalqui:

“Your silhouete walks with a sad and asleep soul, The aurora is nothing new now for your big eyes and for your forehead. The sky and its stars have become silent, distant and dead for your estranged mind. They told us once, when we wrre children, when life shows itself fully, the future, when you are big, All moments dies there already, So they planted their seed and we were scared, we shivered, While life slipped away from us. Each one clinging to his gods, Products of all history, They model them and destroy them, And according to this they order their lives; They put coins on their foreheads, In their long hand they hang locks, signs and fences.” (https://lyricstranslate.com/en/moments-lyrics.html)

* All the quoted text (other than the song lyrics) is an English translation courtesy of Google Translate.

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Here they play live in 1980:

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

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When subscribing, please send me an e-mail (GMFtma1@gmail.com) or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

Just click on the first blue block for a month to month subscription or the second blue block for a yearly subscription.

Rainy Daze: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 3, 2022

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

540) Rainy Daze — “Blood of Oblivion”/”Fe Fi Fo Fum”

Fab ’67 A-side was no Apaculco Gold, but much tastier, a great pop-psych track that deserved so much more. Billboard said in July of ’67 that it was a “hot follow-up” and an “interesting rocker with off-beat lyric matter [and a s]trong dance beat.” Gordon Skene calls it “a great almost totally unknown track by a band that quick got pigeonholed as a One-Hit Novelty Act.” (https://colomusic.org/profile/the-rainy-daze/) He goes on to say that:

[I]t didn’t fare well for the band and the single went almost nowhere. I remember hearing it once when it first came out via my local Top-40 station, and then it was never heard from again. . . . [T]his is one of the many overlooked classics that are hidden away on the b-sides of singles, or the dusty tape shelves or the initially poorly received follow-up singles. It’s all history, it’s all music and it often makes no sense.

https://pastdaily.com/2012/07/28/the-rainy-daze-1967-nights-at-the-roundtable/

Gordon, thank you. You pretty much sum up the ethos of Brace for the Obscure: “It’s all history, it’s all music and it often makes no sense.”

Anyway, about the Daze and the Gold, Jason Ankeny tells us:

Psychedelic pop combo the Rainy Daze formed in Denver, CO, in 1965. . . . [T]he group started as little more than a covers act, nevertheless parlaying a string of frat party gigs into a local television appearance that reportedly caught the attention of famed producer Phil Spector, who extended a management contract. A massive publicity campaign was in the planning stages when the spectacular failure of his magnum opus, Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” left Spector’s career in shambles; the Rainy Daze were among the collateral damage, and only in 1967 did their debut single, “That Acapulco Gold” — written by [guitarist and singer] Tim Gilbert in collaboration with his college roommate John Carter — appear . . . . When the single caught fire locally the fledgling UNI label snapped up national distribution rights, but with “That Acapulco Gold” at number 70 on the Billboard charts, the bottom fell out. Once radio programmers finally intuited the song’s pro-marijuana content, it was pulled from play lists coast to coast. The Rainy Daze quickly resurfaced with “Discount City,” which went nowhere. The follow-up, “Fe Fi Fo,” was quickly deleted and reissued under the new and improved title “Blood of Oblivion,” even securing a U.K. release but still failing to crack pop radio.

After an LP . . . UNI dropped the group. However, by this time Gilbert and Carter were earning notice as a crack songwriting duo, and . . . earned a crack at revamping a demo track cut by an unknown psych-pop outfit known as Thee Sixpence. [They] added lyrics and a new melody, titling the finished song “Incense and Peppermints.” Thee Sixpence cut the new tune, renamed themselves the Strawberry Alarm Clock [see #127, 272] . . . and in late 1967 topped the Billboard pop charts. No doubt the success of “Incense and Peppermints” contributed to splitting the Rainy Daze in early 1968 . . . . Carter . . . later wr[ote] for Sammy Hagar and the Motels. He also produced two songs on Tina Turner’s . . . Private Dancer before moving into artist management.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/rainy-daze-mn0000388850/biography

The Colorado Music Experience adds:

“We were a working band,” lead singer Tim Gilbert said. “The idea wasn’t to get rich and famous, although the availability of young women was way up on the list of reasons to do it. The whole idea was to play and make money . . . . A band’s identity was more determined by the covers you played than anything else. You had to play some Beatles, but we were more Stones, Yardbirds and Who, so people thought we were ‘edgy.’ We would periodically go into the studio and try to record an original song and become stars so that the pool of available women would grow!” Originals were written by Gilbert and fellow Denver South High School student and . . . John Carter. “Everybody was going to the University of Colorado,” Gilbert said. “John was a roommate . . . . When it became important to write original music, with people in Hollywood saying, ‘If you’re going to be anything, you’ve got to write your own music,’ we looked at each other and said, ‘Shit, who can do that?’

[“Acapulco Gold”] was 180 degrees from all the music we were playing.” . . . [N]ational sales and airplay went up in smoke once word got around about the song’s real inspiration. . . . According to Gilbert, “KHJ was the ‘boss’ radio station in Los Angeles at that point. Every week, they’d print the Top 30 weekly survey. At one point, ‘Acapulco Gold’ was No. 1 with an asterisk next to it that said, ‘Not suitable for airplay.’ Stations didn’t think it was inappropriate until . . . Bill Gavin wrote in his tip sheet that if you played this record on the air, you did stand a chance of losing your license, because it did proselytize drug use. Which was fairly obvious . . . . George Carlin came up and shook our hands and said, ‘You’re the most courageous people in the United States.’ . . . We had our 15 minutes of fame. It was a happy accident, or an unhappy accident—ultimately, the song broke up the band. We got pigeonholed into that kind of a sound, and nobody wanted to play that music.”

https://colomusic.org/profile/the-rainy-daze/

“Fe fi fo fum, I smell the blood of oblivion. No sir, I’m not your son. Fortunes told in broken mirrors, reflections of a statue’s tears. Might as well chase the sun, the wind don’t know the way. Summer roses all soon to die. The night time has an alibi. Chemistry might be the one who listens when you pray. Fe fi fo fum, I smell the blood of oblivion. No sir, I’m not your son. Magic has a thousand faces crippled by lost lethal cases. [S]he holds a rusted gun so you won’t [feel the pain?]. Fe fi fo fum, I smell the blood of oblivion. No sir, I’m not your son. . . .”

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

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Black Merda: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 2, 2022

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

539) Black Merda — “Got Me Running”

Here is an incendiary funk-rock out-take from Detroit’s legendary Black Merda (see #134, 467) If the song was a fine wine (which it is, and it gets even better with age), I would say that to my nose it displays notes of Hendrix and Zeppelin. If either of them had released this song, it would have been a billion seller (I know, know, Zep didn’t do singles!).

Eduardo Rivadavia opines that:

Black Merda[] . . . is what happens when a group of Detroit-based R&B musicians discover Jimi Hendrix and reinvent themselves as psychedelic rock ‘n’ soul explorers. Can you dig it? Guitarist Anthony Hawkins, bassist V.C. Veasey, and drummer Tyrone Hite began playing together in school before paying their dues as both session and backing musicians (usually billing themselves as The Impacts) for Motor City contractors like Fortune Records and Golden World Studios. By the late ‘60s, they’d backed major names like Jackie Wilson, Joe Tex, The Chi-Lites, and even cracked the Motown assembly line behind The Temptations, The Spinners, and hard funk pioneer Edwin Starr, who dubbed them The Soul Agents and made them his permanent support unit. But the trio had also fallen under the spell of cutting-edge British rock groups like Cream and The Who, plus transatlantic superstar, Hendrix, whose Are You Experienced? LP inspired them to cut one of the first known covers of “Foxey Lady” . . . . [T]hey officially became a self-contained rock band, flirting with the name Murder Incorporated, then Black Murder, and finally settling on Black Merda, because they felt it represented the African American slang and enunciation. . . .

https://vinylspinning.tumblr.com/post/677381255462092800/black-merda-black-merda-1970-black-merdas?is_related_post=1

Sylvain Coulon notes that:

In the electric atmosphere of late sixties Motor City, [Black Merda’s] abrasive sound, their hybridization of funk with voodoo blues and fuzzed up guitar parts, their eccentric get-ups and their virulent lyrics struck many minds. Their career was meteoric (1968-1972), marked by two albums, commercial failures both, which are now fetching amazing prices on e-Bay, even after their reissue by the New York record label Tuff City in 1996. And they owe their come back to a cassette compilation. In 2001, a collector from Chicago copies a few of Black Rock’s ultra-rare singles for a Memphis pal, who in turn runs countless copies of that cassette. Under the title “Chains and Black Exhaust”, the compilation soon is found all around the world as a bootleg CD. . . .  [T]heir[‘s was a] unique sound and colorful style (frilly shirts, necklaces, paladin hats or keffiehs adorned with jewels or pearls) . . . .

http://digitfanzine.chez.com/digitarticlesenglishblackmerda.html

VC Lamont Veasey in person, founder member, bass guitarist and lead singer, recounts that:

[O]urs were about poverty, racism, hypocrisy, despair, freedom, separating reality from fantasy, consciousness raising and expanding and all of the bad shit that was befalling Black people and others on the everyday street level of experience back then. Our lyrics weren’t so much political as there were truthful and a light shining intensely on issues that people didn’t want to see but needed to see and needed to come to grips with in order to live a better, happier life and to help others do the same.

http://digitfanzine.chez.com/digitarticlesenglishblackmerda.html

“When I look into your eyes, I turn into your friend. Something comes over me and I’m not the man I used to be. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. When I get close to you, I smell your sweet perfume. It does something to me sense and I can’t keep myself in check. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. This is true. I can’t stop running after you. Can’t stop running, yes it’s true. I can’t stop running after you. I never used to go out for all that disco fun. But no matter what you want to do I’m always ready to go. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. Guess I’m running after you. I guess I’m running, you know it true. You got me running, guess it’s true. I guess I’m running after you. I can’t stop. I just can’t stop. I just can’t stop. I just can’t, just can’t, just can’t. . . . You look so good. I just can’t stop. You got me running after you. You got me running after you. . . .”

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

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Focal Point: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 1, 2022

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

538) Focal Point — “Hassle Castle”

A magical, wistful song by Focal Point, one of my favorite bands of all time (see #4, 43, 198). Focal Point only released one single, but it all started out like a fairy tale when they cornered Paul McCartney walking his dog Martha in Hyde Park . . . . As co-founder Paul Tennant recalled:

It was . . . the summer of 1967 . . . . We knew which house Paul lived in due to the large amount of girls hanging about outside. . . . . Then all of a sudden the gates opened and a mini shoots out and away. Without a second thought we were on his tail, and there in the back of the car was a large sheepdog . . . . I never let it out of my sight . . . [W]e were at Hyde Park, the mini stopped and out stepped Paul, let the dog out and waved to the driver – Jane Asher and he was away walking the dog. Well Dave looked at me and I looked at him . . . . [W]e shouted to [Paul] and he turned around. We then told him . . . we were writing songs and didn’t know what to do with them, could he help? . . . . [H]e said to us “I could get you a recording contract just like that” and flicked his fingers. “But why should I?” It was then that he proved to be human by planting a finger up his nostril. Dave laughed and he laughed. Dave then said . . . “Because we are good, our songs are good.” It was just like that, Paul then wrote down . . . a phone number . . . . “Phone this guy and tell him I sent you[]” and he was then gone . . . . [W]hen we got back to Liverpool, Dave and I phoned . . . . Terry [Dolan] listened and told us Paul had told him we were going to ring and when could we go down to London. . . . Out came the guitars and we sang four of our best songs . . . . He said he liked our songs and would like to get acetate done of them. . . . “John loves your songs, he is absolutely going mad over them” said Terry. We were . . . gob smacked. He wants me to play them to Brian”. . . . “Brian agrees with John, your songs are fantastic” . . . . Brian and John . . . wanted to sign us to a five year publishing deal with Apple Publishing. Brian also suggested that we should form a band [and] call [it] Focal Point.

http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/focalpoint.htm

And then it all came crashing down. I often talk about the singer/songwriters and bands that became collateral damage in the collapse of Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records. Focal Point, however, fell victims to the Beatles’ Apple’s demise. To read about it, check out the rest of Paul Tennant’s fabulous interview at Marmalade Skies.

“The [?] was out of tune. Alone in a crowded room. Smoke-filled atmosphere tends to disappear. Place where nothing’s clear to me. Hassle castle, filled with dreams. Hassle castle, your magic schemes. The [terrible?], no one hears. They say that the walls have ears. Try to sing along, [true?] to sing a song, but the key is wrong for me. Hassle castle, filled with tears. Hassle castle, your magic fears. . . . The king with his shiny jewels old?]faces and all the fools. He talks about his past, when he was first, [?] made so fast for me. . . .”

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

When subscribing, please send me an e-mail (GMFtma1@gmail.com) or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

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The Rolling Stones:Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 31, 2022

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

537) The Rolling Stones — “Blood Red Wine”

A great unfinished song from May ‘68, apparently too rich for the Banquet, recorded at Olympic Sound Studios in London (Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2012). Jim Connelly says that: “Despite the fact that it was obviously unfinished, ‘Blood Red Wine’ packs both a musical and emotional wallop.” (https://medialoper.com/certain-songs-2046-the-rolling-stones-blood-red-wine/). And Dave Swanson says that: “What is there . . . sounds like the makings of a Stones classic.” (https://ultimateclassicrock.com/unreleased-rolling-stones-songs/). “Blood” is a precursor to Goat Heads Soup’s “Winter” and it seems to be all about Marianne.

Swanson goes on:

‘Blood Red Wine’ is an outtake from the ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ sessions. While it has the mood and feel of that period soaked into it, the track is obviously unfinished. . . . That melancholy feels so prominent on songs like ‘Sister Morphine,’ Moonlight Mile’ and others is all over this one. Another track ripe for nursing back to life for sure.

And Connelly adds:

[I]t starts with with Keith playing some lovely sad guitar, like he’s trying to find the right chords — which he may very well be — and eventually, he finds an even sadder lick . . . . It just struck me today that “Blood Red Wine” is quite possibly a lyrical precursor to future Certain Song “Winter” — recorded only four years but a million decades later — which also has a line about Mick wrapping his coat around someone. In the case of “Blood Red Wine,” it’s probably Marianne Faithfull who inspired the next verse.

“You say that every man you ever had has been obsessed with you and I want to prove an exception to the rule that you lay down. Babe, please don’t make me cry, because there’s a little pain inside. Yes, my darling, now you can’t expect me always to hide.”

It’s so tentative, his phrasing is so weird and off and real and sad and he’s totally making it up on the spot and I love it all so much, especially when they follow it up with another chorus filled with Nicky[Hopkins’] overmodulated piano and Charlies refusal to play anything but his toms. . . . the melody line of that chorus is as sad and pretty, it just makes the fumbling stumbling verses that much more real. . . . At this point, Charlie finally finds his snare drum, and plays a beat during the final chorus, which has gotten even grander and bigger.

“I got red blood, and I got blood red wine, which I bring you, when the snow lies heavy on the ground. If you get cold I wrap my coat, coat around. My, my, my, my don’t you stay on that, that snowy ground.”

And yeah, it doesn’t even matter that Mick is rhyming “ground” with “ground,” not now, not with the snow covering everything everywhere forever. Which is how it feels as Charlie makes footprints with his snare drum until it just ends. It’s too bad they never finished it, because it’s a pretty great song . . . .

“Dear, I love you dearly, but don’t forget trouble I, used to find, and it was, in your mind …yeah I got red blood, and I got blood red wine Which I bring you, when the snow is heavy on the ground If you say where go I’ll just, wrap my cloak around You say that every man you ever had Has been obsessed with you and I, want to prove an exception To the role, that you lay down Babe, please don’t make me cry, because there’s a little pain inside Yes my darling now you can’t expect me always to hide I got red blood, and I got, blood red wine Which I bring you when the snow lies heavy on the ground If you say we’ll go Why don’t you let me, let me, wrap my coat around Yeah, that’s right You see that every time well the lines must rhyme And every verse, be in the same old time Does it all, have to rhyme? But there go, and that’s a place that you will never You said to remind of the girl I used to know, and used to love, yeah I got red blood, and I got blood red wine Which I bring you, when the snow lies heavy on the ground If, you get cold I wrap my, coat, coat around My, my, my, my don’t you stay, on that, that snowy ground.”

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

When subscribing, please send me an e-mail (GMFtma1@gmail.com) or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

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The Rose Garden: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 30, 2022

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

536) The Rose Garden — “Here’s Today”

To my mind, the best thing this Byrds-obsessed L.A. group ever did was “Here’s Today”, the B-side to their final single (and one of their only self-penned songs). Michael Doherty calls it “a really cool folk-rock song” (http://michaelsmusiclog.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-rose-garden-trip-through-garden.html?m=1), and Mark X calls the song “very Byrds-like” with “a fab chorus and nice 12-string guitar signature riffs.” (https://audiophilereview.com/audiophile-music/byrds-family-n-friends-rose-garden-cd-gene-clark-lp-tidal-streams-reviewed/) The moral of the song? Seize the day!

Joe Marchese says it is “a surprisingly commercial track that could have held its own as a A-side” and goes on give some band history:

The Los Angeles-area band (John Noreen, Jim Groshong, Bruce Bowdin, and Bill Fleming) was enamored with The Byrds . . . . With the addition of singer Diana De Rose, The Blokes gained a gal and rechristened themselves The Rose Garden (a play on their newest addition’s surname.) A showcase at hot spot Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip landed the still-underage band a deal with Buffalo Springfield managers Charles Greene and Brian Stone. They got The Rose Garden signed with the Springfield’s label, Atco, and set about producing their first album.

https://theseconddisc.com/2018/08/13/reviews-gene-clark-and-the-rose-garden-return-from-omnivore/

All But Forgotten Oldies adds:

The Rose Garden was a short-lived male-female folk rock quintet formed in Los Angeles in 1967 . . . . best remembered for the evocative and wistful “Next Plane To London,” a ballad about a frustrated singer in Hollywood who hopes to find success in London but has mixed feelings about leaving her boyfriend behind. The Rose Garden began in 1964 as a Byrds cover band known as The Blokes. They also performed and recorded as the Giant Sunflower for “February Sunshine” which became a minor hit. After West Virginia native De Rose joined the group in 1967, they became known as The Rose Garden and signed with Atco Records. The Rose Garden made its chart debut in late 1967 with “Next Plane To London” which became a Top 20 hit.

https://www.allbutforgottenoldies.net/rose-garden.html

Richie Unterberger chronicles the band’s final days, including its “flop” final single:

[T]he group only released one subsequent single, the non-charting “If My World Falls Through” . . . before splitting. “I felt that the band was watching out for the band, Diana was watching out for Diana, and that created some problems with the record company,” says Noreen. “At the same time, Jim and Bruce were called by Uncle Sam. We were dead in the water with all that going on.” The B-side of the non-LP single, the extremely Byrdsy “Here Today” — co-written by Noreen and roadie Phil Vickery — was probably the truest representation of what the Rose Garden’s music could have evolved into, away from the demos they were being fed.

http://www.richieunterberger.com/rosegarden.html

“As the brightness of the day and it’s light and night are crossed. While today flows into yesterday, tomorrow may be lost. You musn’t dwell upon your past, there’s a new world in the dawn. When the silent night has passed, at last you’ll remember what has gone. It’s up to you to do it. If you wish you can sit right through it. You can take it and break it. Here’s today and it’s yours. So why don’t you make it? It could be cancelled. So take today and shape a memory. Make of it what you will. You’re the master of the past that only you can fill. And it’s up to you to do it. If you wish you can sit right through it. You can take it and break it. Here’s today and it’s yours. So why don’t you make it? It could be cancelled.”

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Please consider helping to support my website/blog by contributing $6 a month for access to the Off the Charts Spotify Playlist. Using a term familiar to denizens of Capitol Hill, you pay to play! (“relating to or denoting an unethical or illicit arrangement in which payment is made by those who want certain privileges or advantages in such arenas as business, politics, sports, and entertainment” — dictionary.com).

The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

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Le Cirque: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 29, 2022*

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

535) Le Cirque — “Land of Oz”

Leon Russell and Marc Benno made quite a team. First, with Le Cirque and then with Asylum Choir — heavenly psychedelia before Russell found fame. “Land of Oz” was the bodacious Beatlesque A-side of Le Cirque’s only single (’67). As Ace Records says, “the Beatles-flavoured ‘Land Of Oz’ [was] released before [Russell’s] name became well known to the public, although he was already established as a leading session musician on the Los Angeles recording scene.” (https://acerecords.co.uk/the-songs-of-leon-russell) And, as Egyptian Chimney emotes, “Land of Oz” is an “[e]arly Leon Russell psych-oddity . . . . This nugget is totally ruling my trip to the dentist” (https://www.dreamchimney.com/tracks/27237)

Todd Lucas writes that:

The group was surely nothing more than a one off, a studio concoction. In fact, Leon Russell co-wrote and produced this single and also reportedly played on it. . . . [O]bvious Beatles influence to me. . . . I’d definitely cite the Fab Four’s Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper era material as a reference point. Here we have a song that’s pure pop, with an intoxicating hook that’s also dressed up as light pysch, via the lyrics, vocals and some studio gimmickry. . . . The lyrics are what I’d call “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”-light, conjuring vague psychedelic images and including a call for sitars and violins, which come in at the appropriate times. The vocals are sung in a trippy manner by stretching out some of the words. Near the end of the song, we get sped up vocals that’ll either have you thinking Munchkins or Alvin & the Chipmunks, I’m not sure which. But even the goofy effects can’t spoil the fun here. The song is just too good a period piece and otherwise excellent.

http://itsgreatshakes.blogspot.com/2005/10/le-cirque-land-of-oz.html?m=1

Yeah, that Chipmunks stuff at the end is totally annoying! But it can’t spoil the fun!

We all know who Leon Russell was, but just a bit about his early years by Jason Ankeny:

The ultimate rock & roll session man, Leon Russell’s long and storied career included collaborations with a virtual who’s who of music icons spanning from Jerry Lee Lewis to Phil Spector to The Rolling Stones. A similar eclecticism and scope also surfaced in his solo work, which couched his charmingly gravelly voice in a rustic yet rich swamp pop fusion of country, blues, and gospel. . . . As a member of Phil Spector’s renowned studio group, Russell played on many of the finest pop singles of the ’60s, also arranging classics like Ike & Tina Turner’s . . . “River Deep, Mountain High”; other hits bearing his input include the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Gary Lewis & the Playboys’ “This Diamond Ring,” and Herb Alpert’s “A Taste of Honey.”

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/leon-russell-mn0000816387

Marc Benno? Chris Darius writes that:

“By 1973, Texas singer, songwriter, guitarist, and piano player Marc Benno had spent better than a decade as an all-star studio pro, lending his talents to recordings by folks like Rita Coolidge and the Doors. Benno recorded a pair of albums with friend and fellow session-player Leon Russell as the Asylum Choir.

https://marcbenno.com/interviews/

William Ruhlmann adds that:

Marc Benno came up playing guitar in various bands in Austin, TX, in the late ’60s, then moved to Los Angeles, where he hooked up with Leon Russell and formed the duo Asylum Choir which released one album in 1968 and recorded a second before splitting up. (The second [album] was released in the wake of Leon Russell’s success in 1971 and hit #70 in the charts.) He made four albums of mainstream pop/rock in the 1970s, the most successful of which was the third, Ambush, in 1972.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/marc-benno-mn0000955347

Benno reminisces about Le Cirque:

“[M]y funkiest band was back in 67, at the height of the psychedelic movement. It was call Le Circ, and we all dressed up in circus costumes made from drapes. Leon arranged our first single, ‘The Land of Oz’ that came out on the old Buddha label. If this sounds a little bizarre, bear in mind that in 1967 Dallas was not exactly the most liberal city in the world, and someone with Benno’s off-the-wall approach to rock was looked upon as being, well, a little “strange”, but “the best was yet to come.”

https://marcbenno.com/interviews/

Man, I wish I was there!

“Find at times it’s hard to live without you. . . . It’s a magic minaret and I haven’t found it yet. Guess I’ll keep on searching for the land of Oz. I hear sitars softly playing. I hear the sound of violins. It’s hard to tell where this world ends and the land of Oz begins. . . .”

* OK, I need to admit that the picture is from their Asylum Choir days. You can go out there and try to find a Le Cirque photo!

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

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The Recession’s Here! Special Edition: Nobody’s Children/The Artwoods: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 28, 2022

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

The perfect songs to welcome in the recession!

534) Nobody’s Children — “Good Times”

The A-side of the Children’s only single (’68) is a hilarious garage rock classic from the Irving, Texas band about a hardscrabble life. Or is it? “Well, I work all day from nine to five just grubbing enough to try to stay alive. Five o’clock comes, crawl back in my crummy hole eating wheat cheapies from a cracked plastic bowl.”

Mome Wrath comments “remember hearing this record was so hated when first released, no-one would well it so all copies you find are mint, unlike his cracked plastic bowl. . .” (https://www.45cat.com/record/1944us)

Band member Allen Schram recalls:

My brother Ray and I wrote and produced Good Times in 1968. I played the bass and drums and did the vocal and Ray did the guitar work. I want to thank you for putting it up and calling it great music. It was great fun for us. Thanks, Allen

https://shyc.posthaven.com/nobodys-children-good-times

“Well, I work all day from nine to five just grubbing enough to try to stay alive. Five o’clock comes, crawl back in my crummy hole eating wheat cheapies from a cracked plastic bowl. Good times? Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Well, I watch TV till it goes on the blink. Spend all night listening to water dripping in the sink. Rusty old stove leaking gas everywhere. I strike a match, it blasts my face and burns off my hair. Good times? Listen to this! Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Friends all tell me how lucky I am. They say using daddy’s money, driving daddy’s car. But they can’t tell me how bad thins are for them. Axe it Ray! [guitar solo] Well, I love good booze, but I drink cheap wine. I love tough chicks, but man look at mine. Got one good suit, but it’s wearing mighty, mighty thin. Go out for entertainment, I park behind the twin. Things started bad from the day of my birth. Why it looks like I’m destined to be a scum of the earth! I’m going bald and I’m getting fat too. And if you don’t like it here’s something for you! Good times? Listen baby! Ha ha ha ha ha ha . . . .”

Here’s a cool version by Australia’s Beasts of Bourbon (’84, B-side):

58) The Artwoods — “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” [REPLAY]

The Artwoods were founded by, yes, Art Wood, who was the older brother of future Stones guitarist Ron Wood. They were a top touring R&B band, but their success never translated to record. 

“Brother” was a Depression-era classic made famous by Bing Crosby in 1932. Art Wood explains their ‘67 A-side cover version: Fontana Records “wanted the band to cash in on the ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ movie. . . . They suggested it would be a great idea if we all dressed up as gangsters . . . . [W]e had a press reception . . . where stuntmen fired blanks from real machine guns. . . . It was exactly the same lineup as the Artwoods, but called the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre!” Alas, the 45 was only successful in Denmark.

“Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time. Once I built a railroad, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime? Once I built a tower up to the sun. Brick and rivet and lime. Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime? They used to tell me I was building a dream. And so I followed the mob. When their was earth to plow or guns to bear, I was always their right on the job. . . . Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell. Full of that Yankee-Doodly-dumb. Half a million boots went slogging through hell, and I was the kid with the drum. Say, don’t you remember, they called me “Al”? It was “Al” all the time. Say, don’t you remember, [chorus: I’m your pal. Buddy, can you spare a dime? Buddy, can you spare a dime? Buddy . . . one lousy dime?”

Here is Bing:

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

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Annie Philippe: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 27, 2022

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

533) Annie Philippe — “Qu’il Le Dise” (“Till He Tells Me”)

This ’65 B-side is another yé-yé delight from Annie (see #206, 328), with a cool promo video of her frolicking on the ski slopes.

Elephantsoundz says:

Annie Philippe recorded a bunch of really groovy tunes in the sixties, combining angelical French Yeye with American Girl Group and British Sixties garage sounds. From Phil Spector arrangements with a cute-girl style delivery to French pop ballad orchestration with fuzzy guitars, including handclaps. [Annie Philippe] became a DJ, aged 17, at the Twenty One Club, located at the Rue Balzac near the Champs Élysées, and it was here where she met Paul Mariat. Mariat had already worked with Charles Aznavour and would later enjoy huge success with L’Amour Est Blue, launching the career of the Greek-German Vicky Leandros. After auditioning for Mariat . . . he got Annie her first recording contract . . . and she released her first EP in 1964 . . . including . . . . Unfortunately, she failed to make any impact initially. . . . Annie was getting noticed by the time of her 1965 third EP . . . . The follow up EP [included] her biggest hit Ticket De Quai, a sweet ballad which charted in March 1966.

http://lockitdown.blogspot.com/2008/

“Tout le monde pense qu’il m’aime 
Et que c’est le secret de son cœur 
Je ne vois pas où est le problème 
Je ne vois pas ce qui peut lui faire peur 

Mais ce n’est pas à moi de faire le premier pas 
Et s’il est vraiment amoureux de moi 
Qu’il le dise et je lui tendrai les bras (bis) 

Tout le monde croit que pour moi c’est un jeu 
Je me moque bien de son amour 
Pourtant c’est de sa faute s’il est malheureux 
Tout pourrait changer en un seul jour 

Mais ce n’est pas à moi de faire le premier pas
Et s’il est vraiment amoureux de moi

Qu’il le dise et je lui tendrai les bras (bis) 

Tout le monde ignore que je l’aime aussi 
Depuis le jour où je l’ai rencontré 
Avec lui je suis prête à partager ma vie 
S’il se décide enfin à m’en parler 

Mais ce n’est pas à moi de faire le premier pas 
Et s’il est vraiment amoureux de moi 
Qu’il le dise et je lui tendrai les bras (bis) 

Qu’il le dise et je lui tendrai les bras”

Here is an approximate English version (courtesy of Google Translate):

"Everybody thinks he loves me and it's the secret of her heart.
I do not see where the problem is.  I don't see what can scare him.
But it's not for me to take the first step. .And if he's really in love with me, let him say it and I'll hold out my arms to him (twice).
Everyone thinks that for me it's a game.  I don't care about his love.
Yet it's his fault if he's unhappy.  Everything could change in a day.
But it's not for me to take the first step.  And if he's really in love with me, let him say it and I'll hold out my arms to him (twice).
Everyone ignores that I love him too.  Since the day I met him.
With him I am ready to share my life.  If he finally decides to tell me about it.  But it's not for me to take the first step.
And if he's really in love with me, let him say it and I'll hold out my arms to him (twice).  Let him say it and I'll hold out my arms to him."

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

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The Haunted: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 26, 2022

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

532) The Haunted — “Vapeur Mauve” (“Purple Haze”) 

OK, this has got to be the greatest cover of “Purple Haze” that I have ever heard — and it is sung in French by an English language Quebec band! As their last vocalist Johnny Monk says, “We started playing arenas right across Quebec – an English band in a French market – and they loved us[.]” (https://johnkatsmc5.tumblr.com/post/168259299019/the-haunted-the-haunted-1967-mega-rare-canada)

Richie Unterberger says that the Haunted was “[one] of Canada’s most popular homegrown rock groups in the ’60s, though they made no inroads to the rest of North America. From the English-speaking community of Montreal, the group was very explicit in their desire to emulate the Rolling Stones, and most of their 1966-1968 singles (as well as their sole LP, from 1967) were in a raunchy R&B/blues-rock style.” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-haunted-mn0001469476/biography)

Johnkatsmc5.tumbler.com adds to their history:

Haunted were a garage rock band from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The band was formed by Jurgen Peter (guitar) in 1965 . . . . They were among the first Canadian bands to achieve a level of success . . . . The band’s first big break came after winning a Battle Of The Bands at the Montreal Forum in 1965, beating such competitors as David Clayton-Thomas and the Shays. The first prize was studio time that they used to record the two songs on their first single, “1-2-5”, with “Eight O’Clock This Morning” as the B-side. The first pressing of this record had the band name misprinted as “The Hunted.” . . . The single achieved substantial local success, making the Canadian version of the national charts . . . and enough attention in the US to attract a US pressing of the single on the Amy record label. Several more singles, as well as a self-titled album over the next two years, served to increase their popularity. Their final single, “Vapeur Mauve” is a French language version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”. . . . The band grew to be one of the most in demand bands in Canada for the balance of the 1960s and into the early 1970s.

https://johnkatsmc5.tumblr.com/post/168259299019/the-haunted-the-haunted-1967-mega-rare-canada

Juergen Peter recounts that: “We were the most sought after and highest paid Canadian band for many years. When I folded the band in 1971, I had to cancel a whole year of advance bookings and it cost me a fortune in lawyer’s fees to get out of some of them.” (http://www.thehaunted.com/)

Hyperbolium notes that: “As champions of the English-language side of the Montreal garage rock scene, The Haunted managed to get a few international releases even though they never toured outside of their home country or saw any international chart action.” (https://johnkatsmc5.tumblr.com/post/168259299019/the-haunted-the-haunted-1967-mega-rare-canada)

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The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

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Harbinger: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 25, 2022

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

531) Harbinger — “Control”

This haunting song from Dave Bixby’s ultra-rare ’70 downer/loner folk album Second Coming (by “Harbinger”) sounds eerily similar to “Space Oddity”, David Bowie’s iconic song from ‘69. Bowie’s lyric is “The planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing left to do.” Bixby’s is “We’re beyond the blue and there’s nothing they can do.” Since “Space Oddity” was written and released in ’69 and “Control” was likely written in ’69 but not released till ’70 (and was ultra-obscure), it looks most likely that Bixby took the melody from and wrote similar lyrics to Bowie’s song, not the other way around. Thanks to skullsaresopasse’s and devilmaskrascal’s comments on Reddit (r/vintageobsura) for setting me straight.

Anyway, Bixby describes the song as “Christian cult propaganda. They verses us.” (https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2011/11/dave-bixby-interview-about-ode-to.html) What the hell?! Literally, what the hell?

OK, here goes. Klemen Breznikar writes that:

Dave [Bixby] played with folk bands in high school before cutting off his hippie hair to join a religious group. Dave’s definitive loner acid folk album, ‘Ode to Quetzalcoatl’, was recorded following a long period of time [he] spent in what he calls “the void”. A dark, depressive episode after a prolonged period of taking LSD almost daily. Dave came out of the void and turned to God, a journey and transformation ‘Ode to Quetzalcoatl’ documents. . . . [He’s] lived a vivid and fascinating life . . . .

https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2011/11/dave-bixby-interview-about-ode-to.html

As to Ode to Quetzalcoatl, Ron Hart says that:

For collectors of the downer/loner folk movement of the late ’60s . . . the solo debut from Michigan garage rocker-turned-born-again Xian Dave Bixby . . . go[es] for upwards of $2,000 on eBay. . . . Recorded after he spent a year playing solo and experimenting with LSD, Bixby laid down this album in a living room with the bare bones of amenities. . . . Bixby relies on the strength of his deeply faithful lyrics rooted in the Book of Revelations and the artist’s own personal drug-fueled Armageddon to carry his songs through the night.

https://www.popmatters.com/110072-dave-bixby-ode-to-quetzalcoatl-guerssen-harbinger-second-coming-guer-2496072674.html

His second album was Second Coming. François Couture explains:

Bixby’s first LP . . . was the work of a man in search of himself. His second, released under the group name Harbinger, is the work of a man who thought he had found himself, but got “indoctrinated” in the process . . . . After the first LP, which was a brutally honest downer-folk album, Bixby met and joined Don DeGraaf’s religious group. A charismatic Christian guru, DeGraaf quickly harnessed Bixby’s talent and got him to write and perform uplifting, utopian songs about finding the light and understanding yourself — which was what Bixby had written before, although this time the lyrics have lost their erstwhile aspect in favor of a more didactic style. [W]hereas Ode . . . simply chronicled a personal path to inner realization, Second Coming is more about collective salvation, communal bonding, and proselytism.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/second-coming-mw0000819487

Hart adds that:

Recorded at the same time as Quetzalocatl and under the name Harbinger, Second Coming . . . . might sound more spiritual than Quetzalcoatl, [but] the psychedelic atmosphere that haunts that album is also apparent on this one, too [the songs] play out like biblical scriptures rewritten on sheets of high-powered blotter acid.

https://www.popmatters.com/110072-dave-bixby-ode-to-quetzalcoatl-guerssen-harbinger-second-coming-guer-2496072674.html

And Forced Exposure adds that:

Unknown to most ’60s/’70s collectors until its discovery a few years ago, this is the beyond rare second album released by loner/downer folk legend Dave Bixby, recorded around 1969, the same year as his first one . . . . Musically, Second Coming is equally as good and very similar to the first one, but this time the recording took place in a professional studio . . . . Bixby is joined by [musicians including] Don DeGraaf on bass and production duties. Don was in fact leader of the, in the end, destructive religious cult known as “The Group” or “The Movement[]” . . . . The lyrics deal with cosmic imagery, psychedelics and religious/biblical references, but this goes much deeper than any Xian record you’ve ever heard . . . point[ing] towards some sort of New Age/post-Revelations utopian consciousness.

https://www.forcedexposure.com/Catalog/harbinger-second-coming-cd/GUESS.026CD.html

As Bixby himself explains:

Don assumed power and named himself Sir. I had more songs that were not selected for ‘Ode to Q’ and new ones in the making. . . . Don saw the concerts as opportunity to make money and recruit new members plus he got to sing and play base. Sir used the labor force of group. People were hanging posters, selling tickets and selling records after the concerts. Concert money bought studio time in a real studio for the ‘Harbinger’ LP. . . . Harbinger was a creation of Sir using songs I wrote. It was fun to see him accomplish his goal. I really didn’t need credit and did not mind giving to the cause of obvious success. Harbinger means for[e]runner to Christ. To prepare the way for the coming of Christ. . . . Harbinger was conceived in 1969 shortly after ‘Ode to Q’. by Don DeGraff, released in 1970. A new decade. No credits were on the front or back cover. . . . Sir wanted to be invisible to the world and a star at the same time. . . . A Christian cult is growing and Harbinger was added to the product line.

https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2011/11/dave-bixby-interview-about-ode-to.html

“Control, you’re free to live in harmony. He loved us from the start. We let him in our heart. We’re beyond the blue and there’s nothing they can do. Though they may slay my body, they won’t take my life. Here breaking in the light. It’s getting in our sight. We’re beyond the blue and there’s nothing they can do. We’re on our way, today, to that kingdom that far away. Control, you’re free to prepare for eternity.”

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Here is “Space Oddity”:

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Please consider helping to support my website/blog by contributing $6 a month for access to the Off the Charts Spotify Playlist. Using a term familiar to denizens of Capitol Hill, you pay to play! (“relating to or denoting an unethical or illicit arrangement in which payment is made by those who want certain privileges or advantages in such arenas as business, politics, sports, and entertainment” — dictionary.com).

The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

When subscribing, please send me an e-mail (GMFtma1@gmail.com) or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

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The Spike Drivers: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 24, 2022

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

530) The Spike Drivers — “Strange Mysterious Sounds”

As to the B-side of their second (or third) and last single, Superbillie1 aptly describes it as a little like a collision between doomstruck raga rock and Mamas & the Papas harmonies”. (http://poprunners.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-spike-drivers-60s-folkrocking.html?m=1). “Mysterious Sounds” is one the most revealing songs I have heard about mental illness from the perspective of one experiencing it, and also the only one accompanied by a killer guitar riff and a “sha la la la la la la” chorus — I assume that “Sha La La La Lee” by the Small Faces doesn’t count.

Jason Ankeny talks about the Spike Drivers:

Mid-sixties Detroit psych-popsters the Spikedrivers were fronted by Ted Lucas, previously known to local audiences as a leading light of the Motor City folk music scene. . . . [T]he Spikedrivers debuted in 1966 with the single “High Time;” originally recorded for the Om label, it was soon snapped up for national distribution by Warner/Reprise, but despite limited success on the East Coast and across the Midwest the record failed to chart. When their 1967 follow-up “Strange Mysterious Sounds” met the same grim fate the Spikedrivers disbanded . . . .

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/spike-drivers-mn0003463526

Chris Roughan explains that the band’s name “came from a song by Mississippi John Hurt called the Spikedriver Blues.” (https://chrisroughan.webs.com/apps/videos/videos/show/5841655-spike-drivers-often-i-wonder)

Lucas’ son talks of his father’s battles with mental illness:

Throughout his career Lucas struggled with mental illness and erratic behavior that weighed heaviest on his family until his death in 1992. . . . Lucas’ son, Tony, [talks] about his father’s legacy. “When people ask me about my dad, it’s weird, because when I was growing up most of my time was avoiding talking about my dad,” Tony says. “It always included some kind of insanity, right. Some kind of craziness, some kind of nuttiness. And when I talk about my dad now, I almost brag about him. You know, it’s such a different way of thinking about somebody.”

https://wdet.org/2018/12/20/remembering-ted-lucas-first-and-only-solo-album/

Lucas wrote the song. Ahh . . .

“Strange mysterious sound [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] makes my head spin round and round. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] I’m losing my mind. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] I’m losing my mind. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] Sometimes I feel without hope. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] I’m at the end of life’s road. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] I’m losing my mind. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] I’m losing my mind. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] I can’t describe the pain [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] that seems to fill my brain. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] I’m losing my mind. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”] I’m losing my mind. [chorus: “Sha la la la la la la”]”

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Here is a “live” version on Detroit TV:

Here is an extended alternate version:

Pay to Play! The Off the Charts Spotify Playlist! + Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock Merchandise

Please consider helping to support my website/blog by contributing $6 a month for access to the Off the Charts Spotify Playlist. Using a term familiar to denizens of Capitol Hill, you pay to play! (“relating to or denoting an unethical or illicit arrangement in which payment is made by those who want certain privileges or advantages in such arenas as business, politics, sports, and entertainment” — dictionary.com).

The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

When subscribing, please send me an e-mail (GMFtma1@gmail.com) or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

Just click on the first blue block for a month to month subscription or the second blue block for a yearly subscription.

The Kinks: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 23, 2022

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

529) The Kinks — “Drivin'”

Ray Davies’ magnificent ode to escaping one’s troubles through a drive in the country was the first single off ’69’s legendary concept album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) — and it failed to chart! As Lande Bakare notes, “[d]espite the critical praise, the album and its singles did not perform particularly well for the band, with lead singles Drivin’ and Shangri-La [see #450] failing to chart – the first failure for the band since their breakthrough in 1964.” (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/oct/06/the-kinks-album-arthur-to-be-turned-into-bbc-radio-drama)

Wikipedia says that “[a[ccording to critic Johnny Rogan and author Thomas Kitts, “Drivin'” is based on real experiences from Ray Davies’ childhood when his family drove from London to the country.”

As to Arthur, Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes that:

[It is] the story of a London man’s decision to move to Australia during the aftermath of World War II. It’s a detailed and loving song cycle, capturing the minutiae of suburban life, the numbing effect of bureaucracy, and the horrors of war. On paper, Arthur sounds like a pretentious mess, but Ray Davies’ lyrics and insights have rarely been so graceful or deftly executed, and the music is remarkable. An edgier and harder-rocking affair than Village Green [Preservation Society], Arthur is as multi-layered musically as it is lyrically. . . . The music makes the words cut deeper, and the songs never stray too far from the album’s subject, making Arthur one of the most effective concept albums in rock history, as well as one of the best and most influential British pop records of its era.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/arthur-or-the-decline-and-fall-of-the-british-empire-mw0000713876

Bryan Wawzenek tells the story:

In early 1969, Ray Davies was contacted by British TV producers in regards to creating a television movie. Ray would co-write the teleplay, as well as a soundtrack album that the Kinks would release in conjunction with [its] airing . . . . Davies wanted to . . . examine what it meant to be British in the 20th Century [by] charting the radical changes of the era through the perspective of one man: Arthur . . . . Morgan . . . an old carpet layer who had fought in one world war and survived another to build a family and a life in a London suburb, all the while witnessing the shrinking of the British empire and the dwindling of opportunities in his homeland. Arthur was based on the real-life Arthur Anning, Davies’ brother-in-law who had moved his family to Australia in 1964 to try to build a better life. . . . The initial plan was that the soundtrack . . . would come out in July, to be followed by the broadcast of the stage production in September. Complications regarding the financial backing of the play delayed everything . . . . [Then, i]magine Davies . . . horror when [he] found out a producer had mismanaged the money side of things and subsequently caused the cancellation of the entire project. All that remained was the Kinks album. And so, quite unintentionally, the Kinks’ soundtrack album turned into a stand-alone concept record . . . when released on Oct. 10, 1969.

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/the-kinks-arthur/

“It seems like all the world is fighting. They’re even talking of a war. Let all the Russians and the Chinese and the Spanish do their fighting. The sun is shining. We’re going drivin’, drivin’. Drop all your work. Leave it behind. Forget all your problems and get in my car and take a drive with me. The sandwiches are packed, the tea is in the flask. We’ve plenty of beer and gooseberry tarts. So take a drive with me. We’ll take your mother if you want to. We’ll have a picnic on the grass. Forget your nephews and your cousins and your brothers and your sisters. They’ll never miss us. ‘Cause we’ll be drivin’, drivin’, drivin’, drivin’. Thousands of trees, hundreds of fields, millions of birds. So why don’t you come and take a drive with me? We’ll talk to the cows and laugh at the sheep. We’ll lie in a field and we’ll have a sleep. So take a drive with me. And all the troubled world around us seems an eternity away. And all the debt collectors, rent collectors, all will be behind us. But they’ll never find us. ‘Cause we’ll be drivin’, drivin’, drivin’, drivin’. [chorus: “Drive with Me. Drive with me.”] Passed Barnet Church, up to Potters Bar. We won’t be home late, it’s not very far. So take a drive with me, take a drive with me’. Drivin’, drivin’, drivin’, drivin’.”

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Please consider helping to support my website/blog by contributing $6 a month for access to the Off the Charts Spotify Playlist. Using a term familiar to denizens of Capitol Hill, you pay to play! (“relating to or denoting an unethical or illicit arrangement in which payment is made by those who want certain privileges or advantages in such arenas as business, politics, sports, and entertainment” — dictionary.com).

The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

When subscribing, please send me an e-mail (GMFtma1@gmail.com) or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

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Mad Men Special Edition: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 22, 2022

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

Yesterday, I played the Hellers’ “It’s 74 in San Francisco”, which was an actual — and great — pop psych song. Today, I play three brilliant fake advertising jingle send-ups of popular tunes that Hugh Heller put together as part of his zany private ’67 LP Creative Freakout: Advertising Protest Songs.

If there really was a Don Draper, he would have been Hugh Heller, and he would have put together the songs that I feature today. Don’t just take my word for it. Gripsweat says:

This is a rare privately pressed LP album produced by the Hellers Agency as a promotional tool to demonstrate the successful ad campaigns they had created to entice future potential clients to sign with their agency. This is a great 1967 psychedelic period piece which would fit in beautifully with the Mad Men TV show.

https://gripsweat.com/item/191216936873/hellers-creative-freakout-advertising-protest-songs-10-lp-1967-psych-nm

As Basic Hip further explains:

The Heller Corporation (Heller-Ferguson, Inc) was an advertising agency based in Los Angeles and produced highly creative commercials and thematic identification music for television and radio. Led by Hugh Heller, The Hellers released a number of promotional records to be given out to clients and were never intended for public sale. Talented writers like Jacques Wilson, who wrote the lyrics for “The Zodiac Cosmic Sounds” . . . created these slick productions that utilized top professional singers like The Norman Luboff Choir, The Clark Sisters and The Johnny Mann Singers. “Creative Freakout” features the narration of Johnny Spots (Ben Chandler) weaving in and out of several commercials for products from beer and Cornuts to Dial Soap. Like most Hellers promos, it is presented as a story, this time with the theme being a 1960’s protest march.

https://wfmu.org/365/2003/035.shtml

Radio King says:

Intended as a promotional giveaway to potential and existing advertising clients, Creative Freakout is a groovy two-sided trip involving orgies, crazy Mod threads and the avant garde. MOJO Magazine says: “Like a clash between Marshall McLuhan and Mike Sammes, Creative Freakout is a charming and very funny little record.”

https://www.radioking.com/artist/the-hellers

Not all are so amused. Douglas is seriously put out:

“This record may sound like it must be great, but I hope it’s not something you’d actually want to listen to, cause “subversive” ad jingles from stoned, smug pseudo-counterculture ad men are still just dated-ass jingles at the end of the day. I’m not down with this record.

https://waxidermy.com/blog/the-hellers-creative-freakout/

“Don’t know how it happened, but I found myself at a psychedelic freakout in a parking lot at a Bank of America.” . . . [Young woman:] “Just outside of Berkeley, there’s a town called San Francisco. A great place to protest.” . . . “‘You’re under arrest,’ the [cops] shouted. ‘You’re undersexed,’ the crowd answered.” . . . “Our battle cry is LSD — “Let’s Sell Descriptively.” . . . “Some kids started tearing up their draft cards. I got with it. I tore up my Signal Oil credit card.”

528) The Hellers — “Eve of Advertising Destruction”

“I’m an ad man, I know what I’m saying. Just look around and start [in praying?] All those so bads tell you you’re rotten and decaying. Everybody grabs those deodorizing cans and night and day they’re spraying. See all that hair prematurely graying. And you tell me over and over and over again my friend, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction. See all those noses, passages congested. See all those guts with food undigested. Look inside those cavity-ridden mouths of children who’ve been tested. See all those bug killers that tell us we’re infested. And look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy. And tell me over and over and over again my friend, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction. Everywhere you turn, someone’s blood isn’t working. Everyday you learn a new germ is lurking. You either have bursitis or suffer from a strain. Seems that all the world needs relief from pain. If you drive alone, your tires are bound to blow. Insurance companies tell you you haven’t long to go. Now tell me over and over and over again my friend, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction. I ain’t lying, situation’s bloody. Housewives are saying family’s clothes are filthy and muddy. In other words, mankind is cruddy. And when they drop the dirt bomb, that’s the end, old buddy. Then you’ll tell me over and over and over again my friend, that you believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

526) The Hellers — “This Brand Is My Brand”

“This brand is your brand. This brand is my brand. From the famous no brand to the XRY brand. And thanks to this brand, and thanks to that brand, we have the wonders of TV. If it weren’t for your brand and it weren’t for my brand, there would be no Late Show or Gilligan’s Island. Holy competition, there’d be no Batman. That’s why we keep our television free. This brand is your brand. This brand is my brand. Aren’t you glad you live in a sell and buy land? Buy ’em in the lowland. Buy ’em in the highland. I’m trying to . . . stamp out pay TV. We have to keep our television free.”

527) The Hellers — “Sixteen Tongues”

“Some people say a man is made out of blood. But a man is made out of Burgie and Bud. Burgie and Bud, and foam and hops, a brew that’s light and a top that pops. You went sixteen tongues and what do you got, a sponsor that’s happy and a wife that is not. Into your mouth and out of your ears, you’re pretty stoned when you drink 16 beers. If you see me coming, better step aside. A lot of men didn’t and a lot of men died. Woman have run and men cried tears. Your breath is pretty strong after 16 beers. You went sixteen tongues and what do you got, a head that’s aching and a liver that’s shot. When 17 comes, put down that glass, cause when you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of gas. You take 16 tongues and what do you get . . . .”

Why wasn’t this a Mad Men episode???!!!

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“Eve of Destruction” starts at 11:53:

“This Brand Is My Brand” starts at 1:08, “Sixteen Tongues” starts at 5:54:

Pay to Play! The Off the Charts Spotify Playlist! + Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock Merchandise

Please consider helping to supp

ort my website/blog by contributing $6 a month for access to the Off the Charts Spotify Playlist. Using a term familiar to denizens of Capitol Hill, you pay to play! (“relating to or denoting an unethical or illicit arrangement in which payment is made by those who want certain privileges or advantages in such arenas as business, politics, sports, and entertainment” — dictionary.com).

The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

When subscribing, please send me an e-mail (GMFtma1@gmail.com) or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

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The Hellers: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 21, 2022

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

525) The Hellers — “It’s 74 in San Francisco”

Back when San Francisco was hale and hearty, hip and Haight, and definitely not yet San Fransicko, this breezy ’68 “enjoyable psychy-sunshine pop” (sf scene, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTDSEO95IT4) delight extolled the city’s weather.

But who the hell were the Hellers? Basic Hip tells us that:

The Heller Corporation (Heller-Ferguson, Inc) was an advertising agency based in Los Angeles and produced highly creative commercials and thematic identification music for television and radio. . . . The Hellers did issue one commercial album in 1968, the way, way out “Singers, Talkers, Players, Swingers and Doers” on Enoch Light’s Command label. A sophisticated sound collage of spoken word, sound effects, moog-like “Heliocentric Sounds” and those familiar jingle singers.

https://wfmu.org/365/2003/035.shtml

Sf scene notes that:

[N]ot really a group but an advertising agency who worked for many large and various clients . . . run by Hugh Heller it was extremely successful . . . . top session musicians were used on the recording which was given out to clients of the agency. . . . weird, wonderful and full of electronic effects quite what they were hoping to achieve by this I really don’t know.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTDSEO95IT4

François Couture goes deeper:

In 1968, producer Enoch Light commissioned an LP from Hugh Heller, a publicist who used to put together albums of skits and short musical spoofs his agency privately distributed to industry people. Heller teamed up with his agency’s commercial jingle composer Dick Hamilton. Together, they wrote 12 light comedy tracks and brought in visionary electronician Robert Moog ([yes, the] inventor of the Moog synthesizer[!]) to give their project a space-age feel. The result is an unusual cross between Perrey Kingsley’s infamously kitsch outer-worldly music, the Lawrence Welk Show, and The Partridge Family Show — technology, ballroom music and variety show one-liners, all rolled into one. This half-hour of material has aged tremendously, but to most connoisseurs of the genre, that is where its value resides. Some themes are actually nice and groovy . . . but the format chosen (two-minute tunes) means that nothing gets developed and what you hear on first listen is what you get: thirty minutes of collaged commercial jingles. The album failed to sell, but attained a certain cult status.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/singers-talkers-players-swingers-and-doers-mw0000584275

Record Heaven opines that:

[O]verseen[]by legendary jingle composer Hugh Heller and arranger Dick Hamilton (with a little help from Robert Moog), this zany ’68 album merges sunshine pop with electronica and spoken word to unique effect. An established cult favourite, and a rich source of DJ samples, it’s one of the most bizarre albums to emerge from America in the late 60s . . . .

https://www.recordheaven.net/index.cfm?x=browseLabel&ID=3493&iID=63763&sc=&ob=tl&so=ASC&pp=20&pn=1&showList=false

“Whatever the weather has in store, it’s 74 in San Francisco. There’s a feel in the air, [?] in your wind, turning you on, telling it all. It’s 74 in San Francisco. Whenever your dreaming time is through, there’s more to come through in San Francisco. There’s a wonderful day . . . shiny and new, coming to me. It’s 74 in San Francisco.”

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Pay to Play! The Off the Charts Spotify Playlist! + Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock Merchandise

Please consider helping to support my website/blog by contributing $6 a month for access to the Off the Charts Spotify Playlist. Using a term familiar to denizens of Capitol Hill, you pay to play! (“relating to or denoting an unethical or illicit arrangement in which payment is made by those who want certain privileges or advantages in such arenas as business, politics, sports, and entertainment” — dictionary.com).

The playlist includes all the “greatest songs of the 1960’s that no one has ever heard” that are available on Spotify. The playlist will expand each time I feature an available song.

All new subscribers will receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock magnet. New subscribers who sign up for a year will also receive a Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock t-shirt or baseball cap. See pictures on the Pay to Play page.

When subscribing, please send me an e-mail (GMFtma1@gmail.com) or a comment on this site letting me know an e-mail address/phone number/Facebook address, etc. to which I can send instructions on accessing the playlist and a physical address to which I can sent a magnet/t-shirt/baseball cap. If choosing a t-shirt, please let me know the gender and size you prefer.

Just click on the first blue block for a month to month subscription or the second blue block for a yearly subscription.

Arthur Conley: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 20, 2022

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

524) Arthur Conley — “People Sure Act Funny”

Arthur Conley was way more than a one (“Sweet Soul Music”) or two (“Funky Street”) hit wonder. His ’68 A-side “People Sure Act Funny” reached #58 (#17 R&B), and, as Lindsay Planer says, was a “fun and funky closer” to his ’68 album Soul Directions. Linsday notes that the song “bears more than just a trace of Joe Tex’s influence” — oh man, yeah, with the guffaws — “even as it had actually been recorded by the likes of Lee Dorsey”. (https://www.allmusic.com/album/soul-directions-mw0000785380) I would love for there to have been a Joe Tex version! The song was originally released in ’62 by Titus Turner (and written by Turner and James McDougal). Unfortunately, Conley’s album only made it to #185 on the Billboard chart.

Jason Ankeny gives us some history:

Arthur Conley sang and (with mentor Otis Redding) co-wrote the 1967 classic “Sweet Soul Music,” arguably the finest record ever made about the genre it celebrates. . . . Conley was just 12 years old when he joined the Evening Smiles . . . gospel group . . . . By 1963 [age 17!] he was leading his own R&B outfit,  Arthur & the Corvets which over the next two years issued three singles . . . . Despite Conley’s graceful yet powerful vocals . . . the . . . singles earned little attention, and he dissolved the group to mount a solo career, releasing “I’m a Lonely Stranger” . . . . Label owner Rufus Mitchell . . . passed a copy of the single to . . . Redding, who was so impressed he invited Conley to re-record the song at Memphis’ Stax Studios. . . . At Redding’s urging, Conley signed to Atco-distributed Fame Records for his next single . . . “I Can’t Stop (No, No, No).” Though his strongest, most incendiary record to date, it met the same commercial indifference that greeted his previous efforts. Likewise, the follow-up “Take Me (Just as I Am)” fell on deaf ears . . . . At that point Redding took an even greater role in Conley’s career, encouraging his songwriting and advising him in business decisions; while jamming on a cover of Cooke’s “Yeah Man,” the pair began tinkering with [it], creating . . . “Sweet Soul Music.” . . . [which] reaching number two on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts . . . . [When] Redding [was] killed in a Wisconsin plane crash . . . the singer’s career threatened to revert back to its rudderless beginnings, but in early 1968 Conley righted the ship . . . . [producing] . . . some of [his] finest material, including . . . “People Sure Act Funny[]” . . . . [and, of course,] “Funky Street,” which hit number five on the Billboard R&B chart and number 14 on its pop counterpart. . . .

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/arthur-conley-mn0000604924/biography

Red Kelly adds that:

When Otis Redding died in December of 1967, Arthur Conley not only lost his best friend, but his producer as well. Once things had calmed down a bit, Atlantic teamed him up with their most empathetic and sensitive producer, and booked him into American in Memphis to record material for a new album . . . . The music Tom Dowd and Arthur came up with there in early 1968 is simply amazing, yet often overlooked in favor of Conley’s Fame sides.

http://redkelly.blogspot.com/2007/11/arthur-conley-burning-fire-atco-6588.html

As to Conley’s later life, Tate Dunbar writes that:

After four unsuccessful songs over a three-year period, Conley in 1975 moved to England and then to the Netherlands in 1977. In 1980 he legally changed his name to Lee Roberts, adopting his middle name and his mother’s maiden name.  He also formed a new group and toured Europe as Lee Roberts and the Sweaters.  By the end of 1980 he settled permanently in the Dutch town of Ruurlo. From there he operated Art-Con Production company and promoted the heavy metal band from The Hague, Netherlands, Shockwave. Conley was gay and some observers claimed that as one of the reasons for his move to Europe and his name change.  He believed that his sexual orientation held back his career as an R&B singer in the United States.

https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/conley-arthur-1946-1988/

“People sure act funny when they get a little money. Yes, they do, y’all. Sure act funny when they get a little money. Yes, they do, y’all. I knowed you when lived in a hut. You made your living from the cane you cut. Now you’re living on easy street. You passed me by and you don’t wanna speak. People sure do holler when they get on to a dollar. Yes, they do, y’all. Sure do holler when they get on to a dollar. Yes, they do, man. I knowed you when you didn’t have no shoes. Your whole family sang the lonely blues. Now you’re grinning like a Cheshire cat. Your pocket is full, you’re big and fat. People sure do squeal when they get a dollar bill. Yes, they do, man. Sure do squeal when they get a dollar bill. Yes, they do, y’all. I knowed you when you were my friend. I stuck to you through the thick and thin. You were the mother who put me out? I’m here to tell you change and turn around. People sure act mean when they get a mess of green. Yes, they do, man. Sure act mean when they get a mess of green. Yes, they do, man. I knowed you when you didn’t have a dime. We’d be together all the time. Now that you are big enough, you can’t be found nowhere. People sure act funny when they get a little money. Yes, they do, y’all. Sure act funny, man, when they get some money. I don’t want to be around. I’m gonna get outta this town and find me some money. What about you, man? Everybody sure act funny when they get a little money. . . .”

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