Ben E. King, “Don’t Let Me Down”, The Poets, “In Your Tower”, Syd Barrett, “Gigolo Aunt” (Peel session): Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 30, 2021

85) Ben E. King, “Don’t Let Me Down”

From his little noticed Rough Edges album in ‘70 — but so much better than the innumerable soul versions of “Hey Jude.” John Lennon returned the favor five years later with “Stand By Me.”

86) The Poets, “In Your Tower”

The flip-side of “Wooden Spoon,” by Scotland’s premier psych-masters.

“Wench you’d better watch your master. ” If only Renaissance Festivals were around back then!

87) Syd Barrett, “Gigolo Aunt” (Peel session)

From a John Peel BBC session in February ‘70, the song is so much better than the album (Barrett) version. Shine on you crazy diamond.

WTF? The Urban Dictionary says that a gigolo aunt is a woman “who is usually very cute and pretty that seduces men makes them madly fall in love with her . . . but . . . she’s not interested in money but only the pleasure of capturing and breaking their heart.” (https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Gigolo%20aunt) Oh!

The Pretty Things, “Walking Through My Dreams”, The Jackpots, “King of the World”, The Mojo Men, “Sit Down I Think I Love You”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock) — August 29, 2021

82) The Pretty Things, “Walking Through My Dreams”

This April ’68 B-side by the incomparable Pretty Things represents British psychedelia at its best. The Rubble comp boldly but accurately stated that “[t]he prime of British flower-power records came out of groups who’d previously grunted their way through rabbblehouse R&B. . . . [T]he cream of the genre came from the Pretty Things.”

83) The Jackpots, “King of the World”

No, not Leonardo DiCaprio, but Swedish psych band. More specifically, this gorgeous ’68 single is by the Jackpots. Let me quote the liner notes from the Jackpots compilation Jack in the Box, which are in Swedish even though the Jackpots’ songs are in English: “Men om Jackpots hade det motigt i Sverige sa gick det battre utomlands.” Just to clarify, I have no idea what that means. And I apologize to the Swedish people for not putting in the appropriate accents.

Sort of an “Imagine”-like song: “If I were king of the world, I’d change everything, everywhere.”  

84) The Mojo Men, “Sit Down I Think I Love You”

I remember from school that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. With that in mind, I’m going to admit upfront that by the time the Mojo Men released this single, they were led by Jan Errico (she/her). And I’m going to admit that the song did crack the top 40 (#36) in February of ’67. And I’m also going to admit that the song was a Buffalo Springfield cover. But it always brings a smile to my face, thanks to Errico (who doesn’t change the song’s genders) and the orchestral arrangement by Van Dyke Parks. So sue me.

Here is Buffalo Springfield’s version:

Manfred Mann, “Snakeskin Garter”, Elvis Presley, “Change of Habit”, The Hassles, “Every Step I Take”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 28, 2021

79) Manfred Mann, “Snakeskin Garter”

From “Vicar Sweet” to “Snakeskin” slinky, quite an evolution! Manfred Mann Chapter Three, the Mann’s experimental jazz-rock incarnation, didn’t last long (two albums), but it was extraordinary and unlike anything they had done before. “Snakeskin Garter” comes from the first album (in ’69), which wasn’t released in U.S. — the band had split by the time it came out.

80) Elvis Presley, “Change of Habit”

Yes, you heard right.  This is the title song of his last movie (in ’69). As Rotten Tomatoes describes the plot, Elvis plays a doctor who “takes the job of running a health center in a low-income district. He enlists three women to help out who — unbeknownst to him — are actually nuns in street clothes. . . . Unaware of her unavailability, John falls for Sister Michelle (Mary Tyler Moore), serenading her with his guitar . . . .” (https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/change_of_habit)

81) The Hassles, “Every Step I Take”

With Billy Joel.  Yes, that’s right, a teenage Billy Joel. From the first (’68) of two album by the popular in Lon Giland band. Joel is supposedly embarrassed by the effort, but I love this song.

“Every step I take, every move I make, I’m trying to scare my life without you.” I think he stole that line from the Police. Oh, wait a second . . . .

Tompall & the Glaser Brothers –“Set Yourself Free”, The (Four) Kinsmen — “Glasshouse Green, Splinter Red”, Manfred Mann, –“The Vicar’s Daughter”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 27, 2021

76) Tompall & the Glaser Brothers, “Set Yourself Free”

Wonderful song from the 1970 movie “. . . Tick . . . Tick . . . Tick . . .” — “Racial tensions threaten to explode when a black man [Jim Brown] is elected sheriff of a small, racially divided town in the Deep South.” (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065360/) The song was written by Hoover and appeared on his eponymous ‘69 album as “Theme from Tick Tick Tick.” The version in the movie (released in early ‘70) is performed by Tompall & the Glaser Brothers. It reached #42 in May of ‘70.

James Christopher Monger writes that:

In 1969 [they] fulfilled their contract with MGM, and as an incentive to re-sign offered to score [the film. The song] was written by fellow country outlaw and frequent Tompall collaborator Hoover. . . . [I]t manages to mix country, soul, and a gospel-tinged chorus into a sepia-toned snapshot of the ’60s that is genuinely moving.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/tickticktick-mw0000971050

Here, as sung by Hoover:

77) The (Four) Kinsmen, “Glasshouse Green, Splinter Red”

‘68 A-side by this Aussie band.

78) Manfred Mann, “The Vicar’s Daughter”

A beautiful song about a boy’s first love, it appeared on The Mighty Garvey album in ‘68.

The Carrie Nations (Lynn Carey) — “Come with the Gentle People”, Jose Feliciano — “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, David Bowie & the Lower Third — “Can’t Stop Thinking About Me”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 26, 2021

73) The Carrie Nations (Lynn Carey), “Come with the Gentle People”

Another beguiling song from the Meyer/Ebert cult classic film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

74) Jose Feliciano, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

Feliciano’s version of “Light My Fire” became a #3 hit, but his “Satisfaction” (from ‘70’s Fireworks album) was even better.

75) David Bowie & the Lower Third, “Can’t Stop Thinking About Me”

1966, and indelibly Bowie.

Headstone Circus — “Healer”, O.V. Wright — “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry”, Tomorrow — “Revolution”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 25, 2021

70) Headstone Circus, “Healer”

Best song from a wonderful blues/folk/psych album recorded in ‘68-‘70 but inexplicably not released until decades later.

According to Lost.FM, the band describes its naming as follows:

“On Halloween night we went to an old cemetery, dropped acid, and spent a very strange night . . . . The tombstones appeared to be melting and taking on animal shapes. . . . Afterwards, we referred to that night as the ‘Headstone Circus.”

https://www.last.fm/music/Headstone+Circus/+wiki

71) O.V. Wright, “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry”

Incendiary. The start of the legendary Memphis soul career of former gospel singer Overton Vertis Wright. Bill Dahl calls it “spine-chilling .” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ov-wright-mn0000457807/biography) Yup. It reached #86 in the summer of ‘65 (#6 R&B).

72) Tomorrow, “Revolution”

Before Yes, there was this September ‘67 “infectious hippy anthem” (Richie Unterberger, https://www.allmusic.com/album/tomorrow-mw0000247533) by the London Underground stalwarts Tomorrow.

The Fugs — “CIA Man”, McGough and McGear — “So Much in Love”, Wichita Fall — “Ornamental Sideshow”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 24, 2021

67) The Fugs, “CIA Man”

From the classic ‘66 Virgin Fugs album by the adorable Greenwich Village degenerates. If you are expecting “Secret Agent Man,” please do not listen to this song!

68) McGough and McGear, “So Much in Love”

Paul McCartney’s brother Mike gets his psych on, with a little help from his brother’s friends Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell, Spencer Davis; Graham Nash, and Jane Asher.

69) Wichita Fall, “Ornamental Sideshow”

Let’s bring in the LA Philharmonic! I find the results, at least on this song, charming, but some commentators find the band’s songs overwhelmed by the orchestrations, and the band’s drummer supposedly quit rather than participate in the creation of the ‘68 album.

Billy Nicholls — “Girl from New York”, Nick Garrie — “Can I Stay With You”, The Tokens — “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early in the Morning)”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 23, 2021

64) Billy Nicholls, “Girl from New York”

Another selection from one of the two greatest “lost” albums of the 1960’s.

65) Nick Garrie, “Can I Stay With You”

Another selection from the other towering lost classic of the 1960’s — Nick Garrie’s The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas.

66) The Tokens, “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early in the Morning)”

Before the era of bands “selling out” and letting their songs be used in commercials, a dreamy Clairol folk-rock jingle was expanded into a proper song oft recorded by artists including the Tokens (yes, of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” fame). Their single reached #61 in December of ‘69.

Roberta Flack — “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, The Aquarian Age — “10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box”, The Golden Earrings — “Baby Don’t Make Me Nervous”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! August 22, 2021

61) Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

No, you have not heard this! Three years before her ‘72 mega-hit, she recorded this lovely version in ‘69. The song was actually written in ‘57 by radical Scottish folk singer Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, with whom he was having an affair.

62) The Aquarian Age, “10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box”

This magnificent one-off psych single in ‘68 was apparently meant to trash Keith West for leaving Tomorrow (and now Aquarian members Twink and John Wood) for a solo career.

63) The Golden Earrings, “Baby Don’t Make Me Nervous”

Before “Radar Love,” the Dutch band often sounded more like the Beatles than the Beatles, as it did on this track from their second album in ‘67.

The Artwoods — “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, The What Four — “I’m Gonna Destroy that Boy”, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore — “The L.S. Bumble Bee”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 21, 2021

58) The Artwoods, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

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.

Bing Crosby’s version:

59) The What Four, “I’m Gonna Destroy that Boy”

Sizzling ‘66 single by this Manhattan all-girl garage band.

The song was not the anti-male manifesto the title implies.

60) Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, “The L.S. Bumble Bee”

The legendary British comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore released this classic psychedelic parody in January of ‘67. It was so spot-on that many believed it to have actually been recorded by the Beatles. Moore later explained that:

“Peter Cook and I recorded that song about the time when there was so much fuss about L.S.D. . . . . I wrote the music to, in some ways, satirize the Beach Boys rather than the Beatles. But I’m grateful if some small part of the world thinks that it may have been them, rather than us!”

Joe Bataan — “Uptown”, It’s a Beautiful Day — “White Bird”, The Mike Curb Congregation — “Sweet Gingerbread Man”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 20, 2021

55) Joe Bataan, “Uptown”

Richard Pierson says that “[n]o recording artist has more impeccable street credentials” than Bataan, who “grew up in Spanish Harlem, where he ran with Puerto Rican gangs and absorbed R&B, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Rican musical influences.” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/joe-bataan-mn0000117990/biography)

56) It’s a Beautiful Day, “White Bird”

This San Francisco psychedelic folk-rock band was led by violinist David LaFlamme (who had earlier been a member of the Utah Symphony). “White Bird” did well on FM radio and hit #58 in the UK in May ’70.

57) The Mike Curb Congregation, “Sweet Gingerbread Man”

Jason Ankeny says that the Congregation was a “harmony pop chorale” formed in 1969 “around the time Curb became president of MGM Records” and that, apparently, his “tenure with the label included a controversial roster shake-up that favored family singing acts like the Osmonds and the Cowsills over bands like the Velvet Underground . . . and what he had termed ‘hard drug groups'”. (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-mike-curb-congregation-mn0000477163/biography). Well, say what you will, but the Congregation turned this horrible Bobby Sherman song into a wonderful confection.

Bobby Sherman’s version:

The Honeybus — “Story”, Merry Clayton — “Gimme Shelter”, The Peppermint Trolley — “Baby You Come Rolling ‘Cross My Mind”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 18, 2021

52) The Honeybus, “Story”

’70 single and title song of the album released after Honeybus had already split up. Haunting song.

53) Merry Clayton, “Gimme Shelter”

Formerly a member of Ray Charles’s Raelettes, Merry’s voice backed the Stones on the iconic “Gimme Shelter.” She then released her own version. I’m not going to say hers is the better version, but I’m not going to say it ain’t . . . . It hit #73 in July of 1970.

54) The Peppermint Trolley, “Baby You Come Rolling ‘Cross My Mind”

The Trolley (from Redlands, CA) sang the theme songs for Love American Style and the first season of The Brady Bunch. Even more impressive was this wonderful song, written by Jesse Lee Kincaid and reaching #59 in June ’68. “

The original:

Wimple Winch — “Save My Soul”, The Merry-Go-Round — “Listen, Listen!”, Simon Dupree and the Big Sound — “Daytime, Nighttime”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 16, 2021

49) Wimple Winch, “Save My Soul”

Stone cold classic. Nuggets says this June ’66 single “is a record of such stunning power and velocity it’s practically impossible to resist” and Vernon Joynson calls it “a wild rave-up” that is “one of the most exciting singles ever recorded in the UK.” (The Tapestry of Delights Revisited) Of course, it sold very poorly, per Joynson because 1966 ears were not remotely ready for it.

50) The Merry-Go-Round, “Listen, Listen!”

’68 single by the great Emitt Rhodes’s LA band.

1

51) Simon Dupree and the Big Sound, “Daytime, Nighttime”

OK, I admit there was no Simon Dupree — a promoter convinced the Portsmouth soul band that they would get gigs if they adopted the last name of local dignitaries. And I admit this song was popular, at least on the pirate radio stations Radio London and Radio Caroline. And I admit that it was actually a super-charged cover version of Manfred Mann’s “Each and Every Day.” So, sue me.

Manfred Mann’s version:

Norman Greenbaum — “Good Lookin’ Woman”, The Poets — “Wooden Spoon”, Lee Hazlewood and Nina Lizell — “Hey Cowboy”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 14, 2021

46) Norman Greenbaum, “Good Lookin’ Woman”

Norman Greenbaum was no one-hit wonder!  This is just one of his other cool songs. The title says it all.

47) The Poets, “Wooden Spoon”

First, let me say that I love Andrew Loog Oldham. I loved his two memoirs — Stoned and 2Stoned. I loved his DJ stint on Little Steven’s Underground Garage. I thought Mick Jagger was a total jerk to him. However, ALO is also undeniably responsible for the shattered dreams of some of the most promising British bands of the 60’s — either because he lost interest (read: what are Mick and Keith having for breakfast?) or because Immediate Records kept getting into financial trouble. Let me just mention Billy Nicholls and . . . the Poets, Scotland’s greatest band (sorry Bay City Rollers).

The fabulous “Wooden Spoon” paired with the equally monumental “In Your Tower” to constitute the Poets’s last and last gasp single (in ’67). No silver spoon in their mouths.

48) Lee Hazlewood and Nina Lizell, “Hey Cowboy”

The legendary Lee Hazlewood went to Sweden in 1970 to make a TV show, with this duet with Nina Lizell pulled from the soundtrack. Hazlewood gave them both such great lines.

Focal Point — “Sycamore Sid”, Robert Charlebois and Louise Forestier — “La Marche du President”, David Peel & the Lower East Side — “I Like Marijuana: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 13, 2021

43) Focal Point, “Sycamore Sid”

This was the B-side of Focal Point’s only single (’68). You can learn the most revealing and interesting things from a band’s liner note comments, such as: Sycamore Sid “is now considered a psychedelic classic, much to our surprise!” and that the song was an ode to John Mayall’s tree house.

The unfulfilled promise of Focal Point showed that even the enthusiastic support of one or more Beatles didn’t ensure that a group would get a decent shot at success, even in the UK (file under the Aerovons).

44) Robert Charlebois and Louise Forestier, “La Marche du President”

Francoise Couture calls “La Marche” a “mind-expanding” and “revolutionary” rock song. She writes that his “previous album was a collection of acoustic folk songs . . . . In 1967, [he] went to California [and] came back a rock & roll dynamo . . . . A Québec artist, used to the severeness of Québec culture, had seen San Francisco and simply couldn’t do things the right way anymore. ” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/robert-charlebois-louise-forestier-mw0000335102) Essentially, this album was Quebec’s Sgt. Pepper’s.

45) David Peel & the Lower East Side, “I Like Marijuana”

Steve Kurutz in All Music Guide writes that:

[S]treet musician and John Lennon protégé David Peel seems pretty ridiculous. . . . [His] lyrics . . . are juvenile [and] dated . . . . But . . . Peel and his merry band of misfits begin to grow on you. . . . When he sings about smoking some grass and getting harassed by lame cops . . . you tend to believe him.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/have-a-marijuana-mw0000272623

The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble — “Mr. Tree”, Nick Garrie — “St. Tropez Whore”, Joe Tex — “Buying a Book”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 12, 2021

40) The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble, “Mr. Tree”

If you look up the definition of “twee,” any decent dictionary will cite this song. Twee in a good way — delicate and heart-breaking. Three students at Juilliard formed the band, including Marty Fulterman — who as Mark Snow would compose the X-Files theme!

41) Nick Garrie, “St. Tropez Whore”

This song didn’t make the cut of the justly legendary “lost” Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas album. Nick recorded it for release in 2009.

42) Joe Tex, “Buying a Book”

Dave Marsh says that Tex “made his mark by preaching over tough hard soul tracks, clowning at some points, swooping into a croon at others. He was perhaps the most rustic and back-country of the soul stars . . . .” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/joe-tex-mn0000210323/biography) In this story song, which reached #47 in May ’69 (#10 on Billboard’s R&B chart), a man of a certain age patiently answers the concerned but impertinent query of a youngster.

Turquoise — “Woodstock”, Pink Floyd — “Summer ‘68”, Jacqueline Taieb — “7h du Matin”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — August 11, 2021

37) Turquoise, “Woodstock”

The band came from the Kinks’s neighborhood of Muswell Hill and the Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle loved them, but to no avail. This single had nothing to do with the Woodstock Festival — it was issued in late ’68. But it did include a killer Dylan impersonation.

38) Pink Floyd, “Summer ‘68”

’70 album Atom Heart Mother was named after a woman with an atomic pacemaker. Paul Matt’s writes that:

Summer ’68” was written by Rick Wright, reminiscing about the band’s time on tour in America. Wrights sings of emptiness following an encounter with a fan. “In the summer of ’68, there were groupies everywhere,” Wright said in Barry Miles’ Pink Floyd: The Early Years. “They’d come and look after you like a personal maid, do your washing and sleep with you and leave you with a dose of the clap.” You get the picture. The sound has West Coast vocal elements, as well as a return of the brass section, creating a huge sound at times.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/somethingelsereviews.com/2020/03/30/pink-floyd-atom-heart-mother/%3famp=1

39) Jacqueline Taieb, “7h du Matin”

’67 single by wonderful French ye-ye singer. Schoolgirl wakes up on Monday morning . . .

The Pozo-Seco Singers — “Time”, Tintern Abbey — “Vacuum Cleaner”, France Gall — “Laisse Tomber les Filles”: Brace for the Obscure (60’s rock)! — August 10, 2021

34) The Pozo-Seco Singers, “Time”

You know the phrase “achingly beautiful”? It perfectly describes this April 1966 #47 “hit” by the Corpus Christi pop/folk group.

35) Tintern Abbey, “Vacuum Cleaner”

The B-side to the December ’67 A-side titled “Bee Side.” Is that clear? “In any event, A + B were “arguably the finest one-off UK psychedelic 45 of all.” (Vernon Joynson, The Tapestry of Delights Revisited).

36) France Gall, “Laisse Tomber les Filles”

A big star in France, the standout “ye-ye” girl (derived from the Beatles’s “yeah, yeah, yeah” refrain) sings a “brilliant rocker” that is “easily as good as any pop single produced in the U.S. or Great Britain at the time.” (Thom Jurek, https://www.allmusic.com/artist/france-gall-mn0000799466/biography).

The Ferris Wheel — “Can’t Break the Habit”, The Fleur De Lys — “Mud in Your Eye”, The Birds — “You’re on My Mind”: Brace for the Obscure (60’s rock)! — August 8, 2021

31) The Ferris Wheel, “Can’t Break the Habit”

Per Jim Dunn, the psych-tinged soul band was “one of England’s great lost musical treasures of the mid- to late ’60s — immensely popular among club audiences [but] never able to translate their ability to win over crowds into chart success . . . .” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-ferris-wheel-mn0000763177) This ’67 single deserved so much better.

32) The Fleur De Lys, “Mud in Your Eye”

Nuggets II calls this ’66 single “milestone U.K. freakbeat.” Yup.

33) The Birds, “You’re on My Mind”

Blame the Byrds for their clipped wings, and see Ron Wood (writer of this ’64 single) soar with the Faces and the Stones.

Paul McCartney — “Love In the Open Air”, John Lennon — “Child of Nature”, The Idle Race — “Days of Broken Arrows”: Brace for the Obscure (60’s rock)! — August 7, 2021

28) Paul McCartney, “Love In the Open Air”

The lovely theme song for The Family Way, a ’66 UK comedy-drama about newlyweds. Paul and George (Martin) wrote the film’s score with time on their hands after the Beatles stopped touring and John went off to film How I Won the War.  

29) John Lennon, “Child of Nature”

Of course it sounds familiar — think “Jealous Guy” on the Imagine album, but John actually wrote the music on the Beatles’s trek to India.

30) The Idle Race, “Days of Broken Arrows”

This May ’69 single flopped. Jeff Lynne went on to dominate the 70’s.

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