Edwin Starr — “Time Is Passing By”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 6, 2023

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

693) Edwin Starr — “Time Is Passing By”

Super soul song from the SuperStarr’s first album, telling a girl who got hurt in love to dust herself off, get up and try again, ‘cause the clock is tickin’. I like Starr better when he’s making/singing about love than when he’s making “War”!

Steve Huey tells us that:

[Charles Edwin Hatcher] formed a doo wop quintet called the FutureTones while still in high school . . . . but Starr was drafted into the military in 1960, stalling the group’s momentum. When he returned in 1962 . . . he wound up joining Bill Doggett’s group as a featured vocalist . . . . Two years later, Starr wrote what he felt was a surefire hit in the spy-themed “Agent Double-O-Soul,” and left . . . to sign with Ric Tic Records . . . . [It] hit the R&B Top Ten later in 1965, and just missed the pop Top 20. . . . [He] return[ed] to the Top Ten a year later with “Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S.).” Motown head Berry Gordy subsequently bought out Ric Tic and took over its artist roster . . . . Starr [had] his biggest hit yet in 1969’s “25 Miles,” which reached the Top Ten on both the pop and R&B charts. . . . When he returned to the studio, it was with producer Norman Whitfield, who’d been reinventing the Temptations as a psychedelic soul act. . . . [and] had co-written a strident anti-war protest song, “War,” for the Temp[tations, but] Motown didn’t want the group to take such an aggressive stance. Whitfield recut “War” with Starr, and the resulting version was arguably the most incendiary song Motown ever released. It zoomed to the top of the pop charts in 1970 . . . .

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/edwin-starr-mn0000046727

Michigan Rock and Roll Legends tells us more:

Doggett’s manager, Don Briggs, . . invited [Hatcher] to join the combo . . . . After hearing Edwin’s voice, Briggs told him that he would be a star some day and said that he should use the name ‘Starr’ with the extra ‘r’. Starr traveled with Doggett’s organization for two-and-a-half years and gained valuable road experience. “If you’d done something wrong,” Starr recalled, “Bill would play a little riff on his organ, which meant you would be fined five dollars. One night he introduced me as Edwin Starr and played a riff, so I knew my new name would cost me five dollars.”. . .

We had like three or four days off in New York,” [Starr] told writer Bill Dahl. “I went to the movie while I was there, and the movie happened to be Goldfinger . . . . watched the movie like three times, and then went back to my hotel room . . . . I came up with ‘Agent Double-O-Soul’.” Starr went to Doggett and told him that he wanted to record his new song, but Doggett didn’t think he was ready for a solo career and advised him to wait a year. “I said to him, I can’t wait a year”, Starr recalled to Dahl. . . . [“]it’ll be old hat.” Convinced that his secret agent song was a surefire hit, Starr quit Doggett’s group . . . . [It] went all the way to # 8 on the Billboard R&B chart and reached # 21 on the Hot 100. . . .

During the 1980’s, Starr moved to England where he was a hero on the Northern Soul circuit.

https://michiganrockandrolllegends.com/index.php/mrrl-hall-of-fame/326-edwin-starr

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Mark LeVine — “21 Years Older than Yesterday”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 5, 2023

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

692) Mark LeVine — “21 Years Older than Yesterday”

Today I will let my freak flag fly and spin a:

Of the album — Pilgrim’s Progress — from which it comes, Steve Simels says:

Despite the stellar personnel, the album was originally released on Hogfat Records, which must have been either a vanity label or the least heralded indie imprint in rock history. . . . The album itself is uneven; as somebody over at Redtelephone66 said, some of it sounds like Levine was trying to make the greatest rock record of all time and some of it sounds like he was just goofing around with some friends.

https://powerpop.blogspot.com/2011/01/words-fail-me.html?m=1

Slipcue.com adds that:

Songwriter Mark Levine was hanging out with some cool cats at the time, including a bunch of West Coast show biz heavyweights. Studio pros Mike Deasy, Larry Knechtel and Joe Osborn — all members of the fabled, A-list “Wrecking Crew” — anchor these loose-limbed psychefolkedlic sessions, along with drummer Toxey French and . . . roots music superpicker Ry Cooder, who was just finding his legs in the LA music scene, and a couple of years away from busting out as a solo artist.

http://www.slipcue.com/music/country/countrystyles/hippiebilly/L_01.html

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The Sunshine Company — “A Year of Jaine Time”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 4, 2023

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

691) The Sunshine Company — “A Year of Jaine Time”

False advertising — a beautiful, laid back, sad song from the first album by southern California’s Sunshine Company! J Rodger says that:

[Q]uite a few tunes on the record contain moments of beautiful melancholia. Aside from a few happy go lucky ‘fluffers’ the sad undertones are a far more prominent theme. This is presented beautifully on . . . ‘A Year Of Jaine Time’. . . . [which] maintains it’s plaintive longing. [It] is the only track on the album written by a member of the group.

http://intorelativeobscurity.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-sunshine-company-happy-is-sunshine.html?m=1

Jason Ankeny tells us that:

[The s]outhern California soft pop quintet . . . . [s]ign[ed] to Imperial Records in the fall of 1967 . . . [and] issued its debut LP Happy Is the Sunshine Company, scoring their lone Top 40 hit with the single “Back on the Street Again.” The album also generated the minor hit “Happy,” although with their self-titled sophomore effort, the Sunshine Company’s commercial momentum dissipated, and in the wake of their third LP, 1968’s Sunshine and Shadows, the group disbanded (although rumors of a completed but unreleased fourth effort, supposedly titled Think, continue to circulate).

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-sunshine-company-mn0000918624

Richie Unterberger writes that:

Much of their material may have been pure sunny SoCal pop . . . . But their real heart lay closer to rootsy singer-songwriter folk than the child-like naivete conveyed by their name and some of their songs. . . . “It was a struggle with Imperial, because they kind of wanted to carbon-copy ‘Happy’ over and over,” confesses [singer/guitarist Maury] Manseau. “We didn’t like a lot of the pop, bouncy material they brought us. . . . [We had] this ongoing fight . . . with the record company . . . . We had to give a lot to get a few things on that we liked[.]” . . . [Producer Joe] Saraceno [says “]I said, ‘Look, let’s get a hit and then invite the public into your world after you’re popular,’ and they agreed to that.[“] . . . [He] calls them “the most talented group I’ve ever worked with or seen,” [and] puts a lot of blame on their failure to go further on the record company politics that had kiboshed the release of “Up, Up and Away” [lost to the Fifth Dimension] (“they really got screwed”). . . . Manseau recalls Bill Graham introducing the[m] at a San Francisco show at the Filmore with the words “I know that San Francisco audiences haven’t really warmed to this group. But I think it’s one of the few good things that ever came out of L.A.”

liner notes to The Best of the Sunshine Company

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Pisces — “A Flower for All Seasons”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 3, 2023

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

690) Pisces — “A Flower for All Seasons”

This delicate, wistful, and magnificent pop psych/folk rock floret was finally allowed to bloom four decades after it was recorded. It is at once both timeless and seemingly of Civil War vintage. The band should have been the second from Rockford, Illinois to make it big, but could never pull a cheap trick.

Per Douglas Wolk:

Pisces [was] a group from the nowheresville of Rockford, Illinois. Their Lennon and McCartney wannabe auteurs were guitarist Jim Krein and keyboardist Paul DiVenti, who came up through the bar-band scene, put together a little studio and recorded piles of material, basically because they’d heard Sgt. Pepper’s and the White Album and had to let it out somehow. Barely any of it was ever heard outside the walls of their studio . . . just three singles on a label run by a Rockford tailor with big ambitions for his own easy-listening sides.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/13201-a-lovely-sight/

Alex Henderson opines that “[s]ome of these tunes might have become AM radio hits had Pisces been discovered by Columbia or RCA and received the right promotional push, but they never enjoyed that type of support” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/a-lovely-sight-mw0000819921) and Dusty Groove Records says that “this stuff would have been hugely influential had it found an audience in its time, hell, it sounds to us like it actually did influence countless groups, even though that’s hardly even possible[.]” (https://www.dustygroove.com/item/485469/Pisces:Lovely-Sight) I for one agree on both counts.

Alan Brown marvels that:

While Haight Ashbury was in full bloom, Laurel Canyon awash with fey folkies and the Sunset Strip a-go-go with guitar bands, Rockford, Illinois was celebrating the opening of a new Chrysler factory. . . . [A]t the tail-end of the 1960s, [it] had no less than two bands, Fuse and Pisces, toiling away on the toilet-club circuit that would eventually be heard outside the city’s limits. Fuse would, by 1974, change their name to Cheap Trick . . . . Pisces, apart from three rare-as-hen’s-teeth 45s on the local Vincent label, had to wait another 40 years to be heard. . . . [These are] some of the most exciting recordings to ever bubble up out of the 1960s psychedelic stew. . . . inventive, haunting soundscapes of psychedelic pop playfulness, crepusclar garage punk and a handful of bewitching bluesy, psych-folk numbers — the latter menacingly breathed into life by a 17-year-old singer called Linda Bruner who’d initially gone to Krein for guitar lessons. . . . [L]ike the Beatles before them, only on a far smaller budget (which they supplemented by recording local acts and jingles), they had retreated into their studio and given up playing live. Nevertheless, it appears that, audience or no audience, Krien and DiVenti’s imaginations burnt brighter than the devil’s own lava lamp. . . .

https://www.popmatters.com/107627-pisces-a-lovely-sight-2496049238.html

And listen to Kevin Elliott:

A Lovely Sight never made it past the first press of an astonishingly small batch of singles, but Krein and DiVenti, two working-class Midwestern everymen soldiered on, buying a small studio in Rockford and eventually changing their name to Pisces and recording . . . in between their usual business of producing radio ads and local vanity projects. . . . [T]he duo was known to spend hours cultivating their simple tunes into wild studio experiments. . . . During the years the duo spent holed in their studio, they also recorded sessions with their resident siren, Linda Bruner. . . . There’s a rustic quality, a boundless imagination at the heart of the album that sounds distinctly Midwestern. There’s a spirit ingrained in these recordings that was not influenced by trends, fashions and the liberal utopias that were quickly crumbling on the coasts. Maybe just two men’s journey to the center of their minds? Quite a concept.

http://www.agitreader.com/perfect/pisces-a_lovely_sight.html

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Ted Neeley — “Autumn Afternoon”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 2, 2022

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

689) Ted Neeley — “Autumn Afternoon”

This ’67 and ’68 B-side (https://www.45cat.com/artist/ted-neeley) by the future Christ figure is “simply one of the best blends of Association-styled harmony pop and lysergic influences you’re liable to ever hear” (http://badcatrecords.com/NEELEY.htm) and “sounds like a long-lost follow-up to the Association’s ‘Never My Love,’ [which were both written by the Addrisi Brothers]. (https://theseconddisc.com/2010/08/27/review-various-artists-book-a-trip-the-psych-pop-sounds-of-capitol-records/) Well, the Association also recorded a version (not released at the time), as did the Sandpipers.

The liner notes to the Book a Trip: The Psych-Pop Sounds of Capitol Records comp tell us that:

The Teddy Neeley Five . . . were fixtures of Sunset Strip nightclubs and elite Hollywood parties. . . . [T]hey were playing gigs at the Red Velvet, The Trip, The Daisy, and even The Cocoanut Grove, which was considered a coup for a rock act at that time. Personally signed by Capitol president Alan Livingston, the band cut several singles prior to their 1967 LP, simply titled Teddy Neeley (although the entire band is on the cover). “Autumn Afternoon” was not included on the LP, but Capitol must’ve had faith in the track since it appeared on not one but two 45 releases.

https://images.45worlds.com/f/cd/various-artists-now-sounds-3-cd.jpg

For a little more history on Ted, Steve Leggett writes that:

Ted Neeley came to the public’s attention when he played and sang the title role in . . . Jesus Christ Superstar, both on-stage and onscreen, and then followed it up with a role in the original theatrical production of the Who’s Tommy.  A singer, drummer, actor, composer, vocal arranger, and record producer, Neeley . . . . signed his first record deal in 1965, at age 22, with Capitol Records, releasing an album, the self-titled Teddy Neeley, on the imprint with his group the Ted Neeley Five. [He p]ossess[ed] a baritone singing voice that could rise octaves into a controlled, on-pitch rock-era scream when necessary . . . . Neeley released a solo album . . . in . . . 1974, then took the role of Billy Shears in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road. He continued doing musical theater, acting as well in various television dramas during the 1970s and 1980s, including Starsky and Hutch . . . . Meanwhile, he performed live shows with his band Pacific Coast Highway.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ted-neeley-mn0001589791/biography

Here is the Association:

The Sandpipers:

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Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera — “Long Nights of Summer”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 1, 2023

https://www.discogs.com/master/48963-Elmer-Gantrys-Velvet-Opera-Elmer-Gantrys-Velvet-Opera/image/SW1hZ2U6NjY3MTg5Mw==

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

688) Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera — “Long Nights of Summer”

Happy New Year everyone, and I hope I bring you Peace on Ear!

Here is a glorious and timeless cut from the Opera’s ’68 “minor masterpiece” of an album. (Jan Zarebski, https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/elmer-gantrys-velvet-opera) (see #375). It sounds like it could have been recorded in the ‘70’s, the 80’s . . .

As Jan Zarebski recounts:

[The EGVO — sounds like an olive oil] emerged from R&B/soul act The Five Proud Walkers after experiencing a conversion to psych following a support slot beneath Pink Floyd. Well… who wouldn’t? Their upbeat blend of the new scene with the primal beats of their earlier work got them noticed.”

https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/elmer-gantrys-velvet-opera

Marmalade Skies adds:

The band began to get quite a following and played clubs and university gigs all over the country and at London venues like the Marquee and 100 club and Electric garden. They would also occasionally play at the Speakeasy where Jimi Hendrix would jam with them . . . .

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

Zarebski goes on:

The urgent, brilliant Flames, which they cut as their first single, became a cult hit, and a fledgling Led Zeppelin incorporated the song into their act. Unfortunately, that was as close as [they] got to the big time, but their debut remains a rather superb slice of British psych-pop. . . . [I]t’s the group’s more general mastery of melody and rhythm that marks this album out. Rather like The Zombies and, more obviously, The Beatles, [they] found a tune wherever they looked, and the results stand up with much of the period because of that.

https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/elmer-gantrys-velvet-opera

Why didn’t they make it big? Jo-Ann Greene says that:

Although labeled a psychedelic band in their day, the Opera never sat comfortably in that strawberry field, partially because of the diversity of their sound, but also due to the simple fact they were just too far ahead of their time even for the psyched-out crowd. In fact, [the band] continued to sound thoroughly modern for decades, while their myriad musical meanderings took them down wayward byways that later became stylistic highways — at least in their native U.K. So it’s no surprise then, that this band would have slotted perfectly into the Britpop scene, or going back further in time, into the R&B-drenched mod scene.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/elmer-gantrys-velvet-opera-mn0000131151/biography)

Iván Melgar Morey agrees:

ELMER GANTRY’S VELVET OPERA, a very long name for a short living British band formed in 1967 during the peak of British Psychedelia, but despite their formation era, they were one of the most advanced bands from their era, blended with great respect R&B, Jazz Psychedelia a la early Pink Floyd and a touch of The Nice style . . . . Despite being a very good and incredibly advanced album for their era, never reached the popularity deserved, because it was too hard and eclectic for the average listener, but still remains as one of the most powerful and elaborate albums from the pre King Crimson Progressive Rock era.

http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=2503

Oh, and where did that name come from? Marmalade Skies clears it up:

Velvet Opera was chosen initially, which was amended to Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera within days after Dave [Terry] turned up to a session wearing a long black cape and a preachers hat and had to endure some piss-taking from the rest of the band (Elmer Gantry was the fictional hero of a Sinclair Lewis novel and 1960 film about a preacher). . . .

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

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The Canterbury Music Festival — “First Spring Rain”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 31, 2022

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

687) The Canterbury Music Festival — “First Spring Rain”

Call this ’68 A-side baroque pop, call it soft pop, call it sunshine pop, call it pop psych, but call it a masterpiece by the CMF (see #358).

If you are looking for ultra-rare Softpop, you’ve come to the right place! Only 150 copies were pressed (in order to establish copyright) [of] Rain & Shine [on which “First Spring Rain” also appeared], an almost willfully secret psych-pop masterpiece of sorts, on the obscure and collectable BT Puppy label out of New York City, owned by the legendary Tokens . . . . [It is] scarily collectable . . . .

https://lightintheattic.net/releases/1286-rain-shine

Patrick says of the song:

The plucked guitars, the gliding string arrangement and the lush backing vocals will either send you into a soft pop heaven or dull the nerves of the more jaded. I for one am transported”.

https://www.gullbuy.com/buy/2003/9_2/canterburymusicfest.php

And Steve Stanley notes that for the single (the band’s first):

[T]hey were credited as We Ugly Dogs — a choice the Tokens were none too exited about. Remembers [band leader] Roger [Germelle], “The Tokens said we had to change our name” . . . . In spite of this minor conflict, the tune was a “pick hit” in sixteen states in Billboard and was number one in Duluth, Minnesota, even managing to outsell the Beatles. . . . The second pressing was released under the name Canterbury Music Festival.

liner notes to CD reissue of Rain & Shine

Tim Sendra says that “the label really had no distribution and the[ CMF’s] one shot at the big time slipped away.” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/rain-shine-mw0000042587)  Phil Margo, a Token and co-owner of BT Puppy, says that “[m]y personal regret is that this band . . . had quality material, but the distribution wasn’t there to back it up. . . . I wish more stuff had happened for them.” (liner notes to the CD reissue of Rain & Shine) Roger Germelle says that “I never [even] knew an LP was released! . . . It must have been released after we split up.” (liner notes) The LP, if a a copy could be found, was selling for $300, but then the “soft pop aficionados at Rev-Ola in the UK” (https://www.gullbuy.com/buy/2003/9_2/canterburymusicfest.php) had to ruin all the fun by reissuing the album on CD!

By the way, how is the album? It is “one of the lost gems of late ’60s soft pop” (https://www.gullbuy.com/buy/2003/9_2/canterburymusicfest.php), full of “[c]harmingly romantic, effortlessly fluid love songs, perfect lead and harmony vocals and it’s all played with love and life well and truly happenin’. . . .” (https://johnkatsmc5.tumblr.com/post/147965448839/the-canterbury-music-festival-rain-shineus). Patrick at Gullbuy says that:

[It is] a ’60s pop delight. There’s a shimmering and delicate sheen to the album, like rain falling on a bed of leaves in the fading days of Autumn. . . . [T]he sweet harmony vocals and the sunshine sadness of the lyrics . . . all combine together for a host of amazing songs.

https://www.gullbuy.com/buy/2003/9_2/canterburymusicfest.php

OK, Richie Unterberger does equivocate:

The album mixed some decent if innocuous original compositions . . . with less impressive material supplied to them by their producers, the Tokens. Though at their best they were adept at soft pop-rock songs with string arrangements, accomplished harmonies, and a tinge of psychedelia, the record was weighed down by Tokens-devised tunes with a more gimmicky bubblegum-psych flavor.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-canterbury-music-festival-mn0000656609/biography

Richie, for once, is actually out-snarked by his fellow All Music Guide critic Tim Sentra:

The music remained unheard until [a label] decided to reissue the album. The question that arises here is: Did they need to? Yes and no — mostly no. . . . Anyone who isn’t a sunshine pop fanatic will wonder why [the label] bothered, as most of the tunes are pretty insubstantial and sometimes downright embarrassing . . . . Unless you are a sunshine pop nut with a fat bankroll, you can rest easy with the knowledge that you aren’t missing anything . . . .

https://www.allmusic.com/album/rain-shine-mw0000042587

Well, I may be a sunshine pop nut — wouldn’t that be a great name for a new snack food? — but I bought the CD. So I get to keep my fat bankroll!

Here is a cover by the Molly Maguires (‘69):

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Faine Jade — “Cold Winter Sun”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 30, 2022

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

686) Faine Jade — “Cold Winter Sun (Symphony in D Major)”

Here is stunning psych from Long Island’s Syd Barrett (see #314). Cosmic Minds at Play calls it a “bona fide psychedelic wonder[]” (https://cosmicmindatplay.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/classic-singles-51-the-bohemian-vendetta-enough-half-the-time-1967/) and Antonio Mendez says it’s “an excellent lysergic, lax and evocative ballad with the narrator who has lost his shadow under the cold winter sun, vocal effects and a short coda with powerful rhythm and bluesy guitar.” (https://www.alohacriticon.com/musica/criticas-discos/faine-jade-introspection/ (courtesy of Google Translate)) Billy Joel, it’s not!

Sundazed Records, which released for CD Introspection: A Faine Jade Recital, Jade’s only album (from which today’s song is drawn), says “The brilliant psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll of Faine Jade passed through the orange-colored skies of 1968 like a pink and lavender comet, then was gone . . .” (http://tyme-machine.blogspot.com/2009/04/faine-jade-introspection-faine-jade.html) Michael Saltzman says of the LP that:

[It is] one of the most highly-coveted lost psych classics, and it’s obvious why. Fronting a sparse combo complemented by a distant droning organ, the bespectacled Jade (born Chuck Laskowski in Long Island, New York) sings quirky, melodic tunes drenched in the flavour of their time. The feel is tense and fractured, with stabs of trebly guitar and jittery percussion, but the songwriting remains pithy and pop-radio accessible. . . . [S]urprisingly, Jade claims he hadn’t heard of Barrett at the time of recording).

https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/introspection-a-faine-jade-recital

Richie Unterberger adds that:

It’s hard to imagine that a 20-year-old New York guitarist fresh out of garageland would have been infatuated with Syd Barrett in 1968. However, Faine Jade’s 1968 album sounds as if he was besotted with Pink Floyd’s first LP, which was barely known in the States at the time. Jade’s vocals and songwriting uncannily evoke an American Syd Barrett with their evocative, cryptic lyrics, thick organs, and psychedelic guitar lines. . . . “Cold Winter Sun” never fail[s] to inspire comparisons to Barrett when played for those unfamiliar with Jade. Faine, it’s fair to say, is somewhat blunted in comparison to Barrett’s madcap edge. More laid-back and grounded, he also deals more explicitly with hippie-era concerns like being hassled for being different and the necessity of being compassionate toward your brother, without being sappy or preachy.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/introspection-a-faine-jade-recital-mw0000778113

Here’s the Demo:

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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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Head West — “Some Day”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 29, 2022

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

685) Head West — “Some Day

A sinuous/funky/jazzy rock song by a future member of Fleetwood Mac. Vernon Joynson says the song’s “vocals have a haunting quality and the song . . . has a certain charm”. (The Tapestry of Delights Revisited) It’s highly reminiscent of Manfred Mann Chapter III.

Wita Records hails the LP:

Head West, a trio as explosive as it was short-lived, recorded in 1970 a digest of soul, funk and psychedelic rock, a la Sky Stone . . . . [They] brilliantly recorded this fantastic blend . . . characteristic of the late 1960s, a musical fusion in which Sly and Family Stone were the masters. The record is remarkable for the quality of the production, for the magnificent soulful vocal harmonies, supported by the wild roar of Robert Hunt’s Hammond organ. But it was certainly Henry Moore’s heavy breakbeats and solid grooves that . . . the advent of sampling, gave this album a second life. Many artists and producers have recycled the drum parts with their formidable sound and efficiency. . . . Head West was born from the ashes of the Los Angeles soul band the Seven Souls . . . . [and] record[ed] this one and only record and a few singles. . . . Recorded in France in 1970 for Vogue records, these tracks are also a French production . . . .

https://witarecords.com/en/wita-records-releases/39-head-west.html

Welch told People Magazine that his stay in Paris from ‘69-‘71 were spent “living on rice and beans and sleeping on the floor.” (https://www.westcoast.dk/artists/w/bob-welch/)

Bret Adams gives us Welch’s post-West history:

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Bob Welch enjoyed a brief streak of mainstream success in the late ’70s after a four-year, pre-phenomenon stint in Fleetwood Mac. In 1971, Welch replaced Jeremy Spencer . . . . Welch’s finest Fleetwood Mac moment was the dreamily jazzy “Hypnotized” on Mystery to Me. Welch was asked to stay despite the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, but he departed and formed a hard rock trio called Paris. The band . . . released two poorly received albums in 1976. Welch then decided to craft blatantly commercial pop music, and he succeeded with 1977’s French Kiss, which went platinum and featured the hit singles “Sentimental Lady” . . . and “Ebony Eyes.” . . . Welch released . . . more albums through 1983, but sales steadily declined. . . . In 1994, he filed a lawsuit claiming he was underpaid royalties during his tenure. The case was settled out of court, but Welch says Fleetwood Mac retaliated by having him excluded from the band’s 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/bob-welch-mn0000064961/biography

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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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Alex Harvey — “Midnight Moses”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 28, 2022

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

683) Alex Harvey — “Midnight Moses”

Here is another magical selection from Alex Harvey’s ’69 solo LP Roman Wall Blues (see #440). Harvey redid the song with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band in ’72 and its hard rock core became apparent. Eric Kamau in Classic Rock History names the song the 6th best SAHB songs:

In the number six spot on our top 10 Sensational Alex Harvey Band songs list is the smoking cut Midnight Moses. The song was released on the Sensational Alex Harvey Band [debut ’72] album entitled Framed. . . . The sound of the hit hats trigger those legendary guitar licks as the listener knows there is in for something special in the opening seconds. This is like a cross between Foghat, Montrose and AC/DC. This is 1970s classic rock at its finest.

https://www.classicrockhistory.com/top-10-the-sensational-alex-harvey-band-songs/

The song became a heavy metal cover favorite. Listen to the versions by Britny Fox and the Dead Daisies.

Anyway, in the age of COVID, I am reevaluating the song. Consider — “I had an afternoon fever when I flew off to Geneva.” Just a lazy rhyme? Or a premonition of pandemic? Maybe the song was more about a “Midnight (Typhoid) Mary” than a “Midnight Moses.”

“Midnight Moses” ties together Harvey’s solo album and SAHB in another respect. When asked by Klemen Breznikar “how did the Sensational Alex Harvey Band come about?”, lead guitarist Zal Cleminson recalls that:

Our respective managers organised a meeting and rehearsal with Alex in Glasgow. Alex played us the riff to ‘Midnight Moses’ and asked if we could play it. We instantly beat the shit out of it and he obviously liked what he heard.

https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2022/05/zal-cleminson-interview-tear-gas-and-the-sensational-alex-harvey-band.html

Oh, for those who don’t know Alex, William Ruhlmann says:

Alex Harvey was a British journeyman rocker who enjoyed a brief period of widespread popularity in the mid-’70s after decades of struggle. Growing up in [Glasgow,] Scotland, he turned to music in his late teens . . . . In 1969, he released Roman Wall Blues, his first solo effort in five years. Up to this point, none of his musical efforts had attracted much attention. But in the early ’70s, he recruited the Scottish band Tear Gas . . . christening the resulting quintet the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/alex-harvey-mn0000617929/biography

And the rest is history.

Here is SAHB’s version:

Here is SAHB live in ’74:

Here is Britny Fox:

And here are the Dead Daisies:

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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 Human Expression — “Every Night”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 27, 2022

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

683) The Human Expression — “Every Night

Mesmerizing and haunting ‘66 B-side by a hugely talented L.A. band whose music, as Mark Deming says, “lurked somewhere in between garage rock and psychedelia” and who had “imaginative songwriters with a clever, slightly bent approach, and [a] guitar style [that] was an interesting mixture of traditional folk-rock jangle, tough fuzzy leads, and a willingness to . . . come up with unusual sounds.” (Mark Deming, https://www.allmusic.com/album/love-at-psychedelic-velocity-mw0000075613)

Like true nature’s children, they were most assuredly born to be wild. Man, they could have climbed so high and exploded into space, had they not declined to head out on the highway.

Bruce Eder tells us that:

[A]n obscure but beloved psychedelic band from Los Angeles. . . . The band played played local clubs and USOs, and built up a great reputation for their hot live performances . . . an intensely virtuoso musicality coupled with punk defiance and a charismatic projection of all of these elements. . . . A second single, “Optical Sound” b/w “Calm Me Down,” released in 1967, showed the group becoming more experimental, utilizing studio electronic effects. . . . It was impressive, but that single wasn’t the breakthrough that the band had hoped for. The Human Expression’s downfall came with the decision over what was to be their third single. Offered a pair of songs to choose from, they selected a number called “Sweet Child of Nothingness.” The one they rejected was a song [also] authored by Mars Bonfire [see #598] called “Born to Be Wild,” because [singer Jim] Qua[r]les had some doubts about the lyrics.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-human-expression-mn0000766536

The Expression’s comp from Collectables tells of the band’s ability to turn a hostile crowd:

[The band began to get bookings at places like Gazzari’s in Los Angeles, as well as playing at USO clubs (not the band’s idea, but the record label’s). For a group like the Human Expression to play at a USO club in the mid 60s was like throwing a match on tinderwood. For example one time the band played a USO gig . . . . [with an] audience [of] about 800 crewcut marines. In walked The Human Expression with long hair, mod clothes and Beatle boots. The marines started hooting and hollering at the group, saying things like “Hey, honey,” or “Look at these fags.” Jim recalls that “we played for our lives, we knew if we didn’t, we wouldn’t get out of their alive!” By the third song, the crowd of marines were going wild with cheers.

liner notes to the Collectables label CD comp The Human Expression: Love at Psychedelic Velocity

Here is a demo, which Deming says “doesn’t reveal much except that the group’s early recordings were done in a really crummy-sounding studio”:

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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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Johnny Young — “Good Evening Girl”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 26, 2022

https://www.discogs.com/release/1077769-Various-Hot-Generation-1960s-Punk-From-Down-Under/image/SW1hZ2U6NjM5MjU1NDA=

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

682) Johnny Young — “Good Evening Girl”

This delightful pop psych B-side from down under was “written by three of the Easybeats but never recorded by that group, although it’s easily up to the standards of their better songs.” (Richie Unterberger, https://www.allmusic.com/album/hot-generation-1960s-punk-from-down-under-mw0000660957) The A-side was written by Barry Gibb. Talk about being penned by (Aussie) rock royalty!

As to Johnny Young, the definitive MilesaGo: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975, says:

Like so many Aussie pop stars, Johnny was born overseas and came to Australia [at age three] during the huge influx of migrants after WWII. He was born Johnny Benjamin deJong in Rotterdam . . . . At the time of his birth his father Jan was stationed in Indonesia with the Netherlands armed forces . . . . As an adult Johnny discovered that [at the time,] his mother had a brief affair with a young Dutch singer — and he was the result of that romance. . . .

[He] began work as a trainee disc jockey on Perth radio, started singing at local dances, and spent eighteen months as lead vocalist with [a] local group . . . . In 1965, Johnny got his first break into TV when he became host of a local Perth pop show Club 17. . . . [I]n early 1966 . . . [t]he Easybeats visited Perth. They gave Johnny the ultimate seal of approval by presenting him with one of their new songs. “Step Back” . . . was issued as a single in May 1966 . . . . [and] became . . . the second biggest-selling Australian single of the Sixties . . . .

Johnny decided to heed the siren call of Swinging London. . . . On June 6, 1967 Johnny set sail for the UK and to mark his departure Clarion released his new single, “Lady” (backed by a[ Easybeats] original, “Good Evening Girl”), which reached #34 in July. The A-side, “Lady”, was a Barry Gibb song, which Barry had written specially for him. The story behind this is typical of Johnny’s good nature — while working in Brisbane, he ran into Barry Gibb, who was facing a long, arduous drive back to Sydney for a TV appearance. With typical generosity, Johnny paid Barry’s airfare, enabling to fly back to Sydney, so Barry returned the favour by presenting Johnny with the song. . . . Johnny failed to make a major impression on the UK scene, and he returned to Australia in January 1968 . . . .

With his pop career faltering, Johnny fell back on his early training as a DJ . . . . While in London, encouraged and coached by his friend Barry Gibb, he had begun to compose songs and he now began writing in earnest . . . . Over the next two years he had tremendous success — his credits include Russell Morris’ “The Real Thing” and “Part Three Into Paper Walls” [and] Ronnie Burns “Smiley” — all national #1 singles . . . .

[His] greatest success came with . . . the children’s talent quest cum variety show Young Talent Time, which premiered . . . in early 1971. It was a massive success . . . a genuine family show that appealed to everyone from eight to eighty . . .

http://www.milesago.com/artists/youngj.htm

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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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Christmas Special: Bob Seger and the Last Heard/The Staple Singers/A440: Bob Seger and the Last Heard — “Sock It to Me Santa”, The Staple Singers — “Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas”, A440 — “Santa Klaus Is Coming, Yeah!”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 24, 2022

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

679) Bob Seger and the Last Heard— “Sock It to Me Santa”

https://www.discogs.com/master/1419447-Bob-Seger-And-The-Last-Heard-Heavy-Music-The-Complete-Cameo-Recordings-1966-1967/image/SW1hZ2U6MzYwMTY0MjA=

‘66 A-side by Bob Seger (see #233, 234). Mark Deming says that it “is a Christmas novelty that burns like Mitch Ryder on trucker’s speed” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/heavy-music-the-complete-cameo-recordings-1966-1967-mw0003002528). The song makes Nick DeRiso beam:

Seger settles into a shimmying, rockabilly-meets-R&B groove that probably made Mitch Ryder beam with paternal pride. The lyrics? Pure mid-century hipster cool: “He’s dressed real mod, from his head to his toe! He’s lost a little weight, but his jelly still rolls! . . . . Come on, Cupid! Don’t just stand there looking stupid!” There’s a reference to Batman, too, but you get the idea. Sock-hopping Yuletide fun.

https://somethingelsereviews.com/2011/12/21/one-track-mind-bob-seger-and-the-last-heard-sock-it-to-me-santa-1966-2011-reissue/?amp=1

Bob Seger was writing and performing garage rock classics in the mid-sixties? Who knew?! Well, if you lived in Detroit at the time, you knew. Dave Marsh said in Rolling Stone in ‘78 that:

Bob Seger . . . . grew up in Ann Arbor[, Michigan]. It was tough enough to be a townie in a college town, but it was far worse if your father went off when you were ten, leaving your mother, you and your brother to tiny apartments, cooking on hot plates.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/bob-seger-not-a-stranger-anymore-42962/

Wow, I went to law school in Ann Arbor, and I didn’t know!

Then came the music. Cut to Mark Deming in All Music Guide:

[Seger’s mid-sixties singles are] as passionate and powerful a celebration of “the big bad beat” as you could hope for, and Seger’s first step into inarguable greatness. . . . proof that Seger was a major talent as a singer, songwriter, and frontman right from the start, and this is as good as Midwestern rock of the mid-’60s gets.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/heavy-music-the-complete-cameo-recordings-1966-1967-mw0003002528

680) The Staple Singers — “Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas”

Sublime Stax single (‘70) by the Staple Singers, lamenting that people were “too busy fighting wars, trying to make it to Mars . . . too busy having fun, drinking with everyone”.

Rob Bowman:

[T]he Staple Singers embraced an impressive stylistic diversity while always staying true to their roots in gospel harmonies. Led by Roebuck “Pops” Staples, the quartet first rose to stardom in the gospel music community before detouring into folk and a socially conscious gospel and R&B hybrid, then enjoying their greatest success with a handful of soul music hits for Stax Records in the ’70s. Throughout their evolution, the constants in their work were the rich blend of their vocals, delivered with a churchy mix of joy and restraint . . . and in the Stax era, the glorious lead vocals of Mavis Staples. . . . [B]y 1937 [Pops] was singing and playing guitar with the Golden Trumpets . . . . Moving to Chicago four years later, he continued playing gospel music with the Windy City’s Trumpet Jubilees. A decade later [he] presented two of his daughters, Cleotha and Mavis, and his one son, Pervis, in front of a church audience, and the Staple Singers were born. The[y] recorded in an older, slightly archaic, deeply Southern spiritual style . . . . In 1968, the Staples signed with Memphis-based Stax. . . . [They] were now singing entirely contemporary “message” songs . . . . In 1970 . . . Al Bell started handling production chores, taking the group down the road to Muscle Shoals, and things got decidedly funky. . . .

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-staple-singers-mn0000577235/biography

681) A440 — “Santa Claus Is Coming, Yeah!

‘67 garage “classic” gets you in the spirit, yeah! Jason Ankeny tells us that:

Houston psych-punks A440 formed in 1966 but did not release their first album until 12 years later. Roster information on the band’s earliest incarnation is slim . . . . [with three singles to their credit]. But A440 remained a constant of the Houston live scene for a decade until they signed to 20th Century Fox to release their debut LP Ulysses, the Greek Suite. . . . [T]he double-album set was a strange, rather anachronistic concept record inspired by ancient Greek myth that, released at the peak of the disco era, made absolutely no commercial impact.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/a440-mn0000921055

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Collage — “Any Day’s a Sunday Afternoon”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 23, 2022

https://images.45cat.com/collage-usa-any-days-a-rainy-afternoon-smash.jpg

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

678) The Collage — “Any Day’s a Sunday Afternoon”

‘67 A-side is a self-written soft pop psych masterpiece by the Collage (see #415). Richie Unterberger feels that the song’s “psych-pop-circus feel . . . might have made for the best attempt at a hit single” for the band. (https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-collage-mw0002103702)

Unterberger gives us some history:

Part of the idea behind the formation of the Collage was to emulate the Mamas and the Papas’ lineup with a two-man, two-woman quartet of harmonizing singers. The group’s sole . . . album . . . has a yet more pronounced sunshine pop feel, as well as yet lusher production . . . . The songs have a sweeter tone, almost as if elements of the Mamas and the Papas and the 5th Dimension have been layered with production and songwriting a little more oriented toward an adult pop/variety entertainment audience. . . . There are some mild psychedelic touches, but also some hammy vaudevillian ones, and . . . the original songs had showtune-style melodies.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-collage-mw0002103702

When Ron [Joelson] met Jerry [Careaga], according to Jerry:

[Ron] was a hippie poet, smoked grass, and, as a teenager, was friends with Bob Dylan. I was his polar opposite — with a short-haired, clean-shaven look courtesy of the Air Force — and was fascinated with his lifestyle and what he wrote. Ron’s poems were unstructured and freeform, with unusual metaphors. My songs were structured and commercial-sounding. I had begun writing in the mid-’50s as a teenager, but as a result of my military upbringing, I never ventured into the subversive culture of the beat generation. I didn’t smoke dope either. Ron’s lifestyle was all new to me, and it was fun.

liner notes to the CD reissue of The Collage

Here they perform on TV:

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Ferguson Tractor — “12 O’Clock High”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 22, 2022

https://www.discogs.com/release/2615425-Various-Echoes-In-Time-Volume-1-2/image/SW1hZ2U6NDUyNTAzMQ==

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

677) Ferguson Tractor — “12 O’Clock High”

Here is a fuzz/riff monster post-garage era (‘69) garage track, the A-side of the only single by a pretty unknown band. SF Scene calls it “a great sounding fuzz-a-delic track”. (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mHJtTI8YZB0). So have a Fuzzy Navel and enjoy!

Chris Bishop says that:

Ferguson Tractor was the vehicle . . . for D. Ferguson, who wrote both these songs. “12 O’Clock High” has strong fuzz guitar backing the vocals and what sounds like a Leslie speaker for the guitar’s wah effect on the chorus.

https://garagehangover.com/fergusontractor/

The band must be from a rural area since the Ferguson tractor was a pretty iconic farm vehicle — https://www.anglo-agriparts.com/ferguson-tractors-history.

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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 Quiet Five — “When the Morning Sun Dries the Dew”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 21, 2022

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

676) The Quiet Five — “When the Morning Sun Dries the Dew”

This gentle strummed ballad of “haunting folksiness” (Richie Unterberger, https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-quiet-five-mn0000896096) originally meant for Marianne Faithfull, hit #45 in the UK.

Richie Unterberger gives us some band history:

[The Quiet Five] ma[d]e the lower reaches of the U.K. charts . . . releas[ing] half a dozen singles in 1965-1967 (one in the U.S. only) in various styles showcasing their accomplished vocal harmonies. The best of these, their debut, “When the Morning Sun Dries the Dew,” was written by guitarist/singer Keis Ife for Marianne Faithfull. While it[] . . . would have been appropriate for [her] . . . the Quiet Five ended up releasing it themselves, and it did nudge just inside the British Top 50. . . . Some of their work had fleeting similarities to other pop-oriented acts of the British Invasion, such as the Fortunes, Peter & Gordon, and the Tremeloes, but they never established too strong an identity of their own. . . [T]hey also backed Faithfull on a 1965 EP. . . . Ife left the group in 1967 to record as a solo act with MGM, and is best known for the late-’60s single on which he covered Joe South’s “Hush,” as this was the version that inspired the big cover hit of the same song by Deep Purple.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-quiet-five-mn0000896096

45cat.com adds that:

A London based group of musicians formed the Trebletones in 1961 . . . . Learning there was another Trebletones, [what are the odds of that?!] the group became The Vikings. . . . The Vikings’ manager, John Smith, had wanted a group he had seen, Patrick Dane and The Quiet Five, to turn professional. The group were not interested in touring, so the entire group was dropped and the Vikings group was brought in as replacements. . . . Kris Ife had written “When the Morning Sun Dries the Dew” for Marianne Fairhfull, but the song was considered to have hit potential, and the group were brought to Abbey Road Studios to record it . . . . Upon release, it charted at number 45. A cover of Fats Walker’s Honeysuckle Rose”, the second release, failed to chart. “Homeward Bound” from . . . Simon and Garfunkel . . . followed, but only achieved a chart placing of 44 as it met with competition from Simon and Garfunkel’s own version that went to Number 9. . . . The group moved to CBS records for one last single and then called it quits.

https://www.45cat.com/biography/the-quiet-five

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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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George Gallacher and the Pathfinders — “Dawn”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 20, 2022

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

675) George Gallacher and the Pathfinders — “Dawn”

How was this “[v]ery catchy, unknown psych gem with a great keyboard riff and beautiful vocals” (AldousLeary, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-4lhgFdGTBU) not a hit? Man, it wasn’t even released. George and the Pathfinders just recorded it “for a bit of fun” when they had some time on their hands! (http://www.richieunterberger.com/gallacher.html) The story begins when George Gallacher, lead singer and a main songwriter for Scotland’s glorious Poets (see #47, 86, 223, 489), leaves the band in ’67. He recalled (in an utterly enthralling and definitive interview with Richie Unterberger) that:

There were a few reasons why I left the band when I did. Andrew [Loog Oldham] was preoccupied with divorcing the Stones and there was very serious money being played for. So ourselves, Marianne [Faithfull], Chris Farlowe, and P.P. Arnold [all managed by Oldham as well] were neglected during this time and it was hardly inspiring. There were rifts in the band developing about what direction we should be going in. My main reason, however, was that [guitarist] Hume[ Paton]’s father–a millionaire business man–started interfering in things, knowing nothing about the game, and objecting to me objecting about his ignorance of music matters. His interference eventually drove Andrew and us apart, and by then I’d had had enough.


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

What then? As Ugly Things lets us know:

[George] stayed in London until the end of the ‘60s singing back-up on sessions for such as Keith Relf and Spencer Davis, doing A&R work, writing and recording for labels including United Artists, Fontana and Major Minor. Gallacher also taped some excellent songs of his own with backing by the pre-White Trash group, the Pathfinders, who included former Poets guitarist (and by then Gallacher’s brother-in-law) Fraser Watson. At least four titles exist on acetate only including “The Tailor,” “A Weathercock’s View Of Life,” and the more well-known “Dawn (A Portrait).” A little-known fact, however, is that in 1968 Gallacher also supplied lead vocals for an album project by a group called the Illusive Dream which remains unreleased to this day.

http://ugly-things.com/george-gallacher-1943-2012/

Gallacher recalled that:

The Pathfinders had come down to London at my request, because I thought they were a tremendous band. I introduced them to the Shadows’ ex-drummer Tony Meehan and as you probably know, he eventually got them a deal with Apple, where, ironically, they suffered the same fate as the Poets., i.e. they fell victim to the politics created by the Lennon/McCartney feud. They were some band! As it happened I was working for United Artists at the time and had access to the Marquee studios, so one day as none of us had much to do we met at the studio and messed about with some ideas. That’s all it was, and all that “Dawn” is memorable for, in my opinion, is the keyboard riff, which Ronnie Leahy played. It was just a bit of fun.

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

So there you have it. Just a bit of freaky, phenomenal fun!

Here is another acetate they threw down:

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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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Appaloosa — “Bi-Weekly”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 19, 2022

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

674) Appaloosa — “Bi-Weekly”

“Bi-Weekly” is an absolutely gorgeous “folk-baroque” song off of Appaloosa’s sole album (see #463). Richie Unterberger calls it one of “the album’s standouts” with “soaring orchestration and distinctive [Al] Kooper organ”. (http://www.richieunterberger.com/appaloosa.html). Oldscreamo describes a “full orchestra reflect[ing] the bustle of the city streets that the protagonist . . . wanders as he anticipates visits from a distant lover. A solemn oboe emulates his melancholy thoughts.” (https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/appaloosa/appaloosa/)

Singer, songwriter and guitarist John Parker Compton himself reminisces that:

We recorded . . . “Bi-Weekly” live in CBS’ larger studio in the center of Manhattan with a horn section. Al [Kooper (see #642)] brought in Charlie Calello (Laura Nyro’s producer/arranger) to do the horn arrangements. Al also asked Laura Nyro’s guitar player to the session and he added the nice Glen Campbell-ish lead guitar on “Bi-Weekly.

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

And:

I like . . . “Bi-Weekly” because of Charlie Calello’s brilliant arrangement. In hindsight, [it] should have been “the single,” with its radio-friendly Glen Campbell-sounding lead guitar part combined with the strings.

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

As All Music Guide describes the album:

[It] bears the heavy scent of the ’60s coffeehouse scene, with overtones of jazz (there’s some nice saxophone work here) and Renaissance minstrel sounds (a la Steeleye Span) threaded through literate, melancholic singer-songwriter fare.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/appaloosa-mw0000260326

Or, as RDTEN1 puts it:

While Compton’s lyrics were occasionally on the clunky and fey side, I’m sure female college aged English majors were sent into fits of delirium by the sensitivity and insight . . . . Admittedly the set’s arty and delicate feel coupled with those touchy-feely lyrics spelled instant obscurity, but what a way to go down in flames.

https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/appaloosa/appaloosa/

Compton himself remembers that:

When I was sixteen I attended a small boarding school in farm country in upstate New York and was fortunate to have a great English teacher who taught poetry brilliantly.. . . I wrote most of the songs for “Appaloosa” for my girlfriend at [the] . . . school.

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

As to Appaloosa and “folk-baroque”, Richie Unterberger relates:

Although the term somehow didn’t stick as part of standard rock criticism vocabulary, for a while in the late 1960s, there was a vogue of sorts for music that was described in the press as “folk-baroque[]” . . . . folk-oriented material with classical-influenced orchestration. . . . One of the most talented such acts was Appaloosa, whose self-titled 1969 LP matched . . . Compton’s thoughtful, melodic compositions to sympathetic arrangements . . . . In both its combination of instruments and the absence of a drummer, it was a most unusual instrumental lineup for a rock band, even at a time when boundaries and restrictions were routinely bent. The core quartet were bolstered by top session players (including members of Blood, Sweat & Tears) and, above all, producer Al Kooper, who also added a lot of his own keyboards and guitar to the album.

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

As to Appaloosa’s history and how the band hooked up with Al Kooper, Joslyn Layne explains that:

Compton co-founded the acoustic band Appaloosa with violinist Robin Batteau in the late ’60s. Both musicians had been heavily influenced by the folk scene in their hometown, Cambridge, MA. . . . [and] began playing the coffeehouse circuit together. [Compton] showed up at producer Al Kooper’s Columbia Records office in late 1968, hoping to show him his songs. Uninterested, Kooper [asked] the kid [then 18] to come back some other time. But a little while later, Kooper came in on Compton and Batteau performing for the office secretaries. Finally won over, [he] recorded their demo,* and within a year the newly signed musicians had released an album . . . . Appaloosa soon gave way to a duo project for Compton & Batteau [see # 468]. . . .

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/appaloosa-mn0000496918

Compton adds that:

Robin and I had played the songs at coffeehouses for about a year before we recorded “Appaloosa.” . . . We recorded all of the songs as a live band, doing several takes and picking the best one. . . . I fondly remember how Clive Davis, Columbia’s president at the time, was such a gentleman to us and was super-friendly and supportive. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a manager so we had no one to talk to Columbia. We were just teenagers and so naive and amazed to be in a big city. . . .

Playing the Filmore East was exciting. We opened for the Allman Brothers. I remember Gregg Allman saying to us when we walked past their dressing room, “Hey, where are your groupies?” . . . We also opened for the Young Rascals at Harvard Stadium on a beautiful autumn day and we opened for Van Morrison in Boston.

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

* Well, maybe, maybe not. Compton tells Richie Unterberger that “[m]eeting Al Kooper was just a fluke. We were playing for some secretaries at Columbia while waiting for an appointment. Al Kooper walked by and instantly asked us if we would like to make a demo tape that night.”

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Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band — “No One’s Been Here for Weeks”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 18, 2022

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

673) Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band

Vaudevillian pop-psych ’67 A-side by Louisiana forerunners to power-pop band Zuider Zee.

Igor Igorev tells us:

[This is a] previously unreleased album from 1967 by [an] obscure US psychedelic band . . . . Thomas Edisun played Beatlesque, psychedelic-pop/proto power-pop of the highest order with amazing songs and incredible harmony vocals. In 1967, just after ‘Sgt. Pepper’ had c[o]me out, the band decided to register their own psychedelic masterpiece, so they entered a rudimentary studio and recorded a whole album during a weekend, under the influence of “smoking” and “mind altering” substances. The album was never released, the tapes were stored in attics and basements and the band broke up with some of their members forming cult power-pop band Zuider Zee. “The Red Day Album” ranges from pure Emitt Rhodes-Macca pop to Forever Amber/Lazy Smoke styled lo-fi pop-sike and almost early Caravan keyboard freak-outs.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-red-day-album-mw0002602872/user-reviews

Mars Russell adds:

“The Red Day Album” was recorded and mixed from a Friday night to a Sunday evening, sometime on a week-end after the release of “Sgt Peppers” . . . .

Richard Orange . . . . met Gary Simon Bertrand . . . . [whose] mother . . . was also a cabaret owner from Paris, who had settled in Louisiana to continue her nightclub and cabaret ventures. “Edisun”, as they came to be called, continued honing their craft in several of [her] nightclubs and cabarets. . . . [and] would go on to win multiple “battle of the band” competitions and commanded larger and more adoring crowds. Before Richard Orange had reached his 18th birthday, Edisun would release a self-promoted single on the Tamm label [yes, today’s song] that received considerable radio airplay and attention . . . .

Orange would carry on his talent in “Zuider Zee”. He would write his first international hit song for Cyndi Lauper . . . . [and] write as staff-writer for groups and artists varied as “Starship” to Jane Wiedlin of “[the Go Go’s]” and Brazilian Pop Star Deborah Blando and “Missing Persons[‘]” Dale Bozzio.

http://therockasteria.blogspot.com/2015/06/thomas-edisuns-electric-light-bulb-band.html

Finally, Beverly Paterson:

Plastered with plucky and polished choruses, circled by experimental detours, The Red Day Album proves to be . . . ambitious and challenging . . . . The influence of the Beatles, the Kinks, the Zombies, and the Monkees can’t be denied, but all songs on the disc are original and sail beyond mere parroting. In fact, some of the expressions presented here are so peculiar that, if you didn’t already know, it would be impossible to tell exactly when the album was recorded. . . . A fondness for mixing vaudeville, cabaret styled moves, and dance hall music with modern maneuvers frequents much of the material . . . . Shaped of unusual hooks, melodies and arrangements, The Red Day Album makes for a very fine psychedelic pop experience. Not bound by rules, Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band aimed to craft a piece of music pairing conventional ideas with freaky insights, and if you ask me they succeeded in doing so.

https://somethingelsereviews.com/2014/02/08/thomas-edisuns-electric-light-bulb-band-the-red-day-album-2014/?amp=1

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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.

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

Kippington Lodge — “Tomorrow Today”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 17, 2022

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

672) Kippington Lodge — “Tomorrow Today”

A groovy pop psych ode to living for today (or, “Tomorrow Today”) by the band that was to become Brinsley Schwarz. It was written by “the hitmaking team of Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway”. (Joe Marchese, https://theseconddisc.com/2011/07/08/nick-lowe-welcomes-you-to-kippington-lodge/).

Terry Staunton says that the Lodge “put out five singles through Parlophone in perfect step with baroque-tinged pop-psych of the times.” (https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/shy-boy-the-completerecordings-1967-1969). Joe Marchese calls the band a “groovy lite psych-pop outfit” (https://theseconddisc.com/2011/07/08/nick-lowe-welcomes-you-to-kippington-lodge/) and Stephen Thomas Erlewine labels them “an ingratiatingly twee British psych-pop band” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/shy-boy-the-complete-recordings-1967-1969-mw0002165338). Two sides of the same coin?

All Music Guide gives some history:

Best remembered as the vehicle for the earliest Nick Lowe . . . recordings, Kippington Lodge* stemmed from Lowe’s first band . . . which he formed with school pal, Brinsley Schwarz. On leaving school, Lowe . . . decided to go and see some more of the world leaving Schwarz [who] . . . formed Three’s A Crowd who were signed to EMI Records in 1967. Changing their name to Kippington Lodge they released their debut ‘Shy Boy’ in October. This effective pop song was accompanied by the equally good ‘Lady On A Bicycle’. At this point, Lowe returned to England and joined his friends in time for the second single ‘Rumours’ which was produced by Mark Wirtz. . . . To supplement their lack of income from record sales, Kippington Lodge became Billie Davies’ backing group and released three further singles during 1968-69. . . . The last single, a version of the Beatles’ ‘In My Life’, came out in April 1969 and, after doing as poorly as previous efforts, left the group at a loose end. . . . the name Kippington Lodge was dropped in favour of that of lead guitarist Brinsley Schwarz.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/kippington-lodge-mn0001784212

* The band was actually named after the home of the Schwarz family (see https://twitter.com/NickLoweBio/status/1297878969744842754?s=20&t=1heTeO0DrOydSgVRlKfRug for a photo).

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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.

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