22 November, 2014


VAL STOECKLEIN - 'Grey Life' (Dot DLP 25904) December 1968

Gene Clark has been mentioned several times on my Facebook wall recently and it got me thinking about the album "Grey Life" by Val Stoecklein from 1968.

Val was the 'leader' and singer, songwriter and guitarist in the brilliant Kansas folk-rock group, The Blue Things. When they broke up in 1967 Val signed a solo deal with Dot Records and "Grey Life" was the fruits of his labour.

It's full of loner type introspection, with eleven sorrowful acoustic songs accompanied by orchestral arrangements, and very much like Gene's solo music. "Possibility I Was Wrong" is a stand out and a huge fave of mine....

*** Produced by Ray Ruff and recorded at Gold Star studios in Hollywood. ***

"Look around your room where it's so dark and cold, you won't find me..." The grey mists were beginning to clear away from Val Stoecklein's life again as the new year came in. He phoned from Kansas to his Texas friend who was now putting together records in Los Angeles.

He was ready to write songs again. Just like he had in 1964 when he left Kansas State University to record and travel with his group, The Blue Things. The group broke up then there was a love that broke up very badly so Val drifted out of Kansas to work the Oklahoma oil fields and ride cowboy in Wyoming.

"Passing through the Oklahoma, Summertime, harvest crew, Dollar hotel rooms and smokin' roll-your owns..."

Too much time had been lost in the greyness for Val to wait out his tapes in the mail. He came west of Utah for the first time, hitchhiking with his 12 string guitar. The Texas friend was jammed up in the recording studio for four days and Val's songs sat there in a tape on his desk while Val examined the walls of his motel room and very slowly watched his money go down to forty cents.

"No hard words were said the time we parted friends. We should have thought a little more about the baby then. I'd like to see him now....before the train pulls out of town."

This record was made less than two weeks later. Do yourself a favour and find a quiet room the first time that you listen to the beauty of this music Val Stoecklein  made from real pieces of his life before it went grey - till these songs brought back his rainbow.

(back cover sleeve notes - Nat Freedland)

Cashbox advert

21 November, 2014


THE BLOX - 'Say Those Magic Words' / The Way I'm Gonna Be' (Solar Records 235) June 1967

This 45 has been overlooked since the sixties and as far as I know "Say Those Magic Words" has never been compiled. So who were The Blox? Very little has ever been written about them and it's doubtful that any members have ever been located. All I know is that they hailed from Houston, Texas and released two singles on Solar Records.

"Say Those Magic Words" is a fast paced jangle beat number, the tempo on the version by The Blox is sharper than the first version by English R&B group The Birds, from September 1966 and by The McCoys released August 1967. In my opinion The Blox version is the superior take.

The flip "The Way I'm Gonna Be" is surf pop with a very catchy and commercial beat. This turned up on the CD comp "Wyld Sydes #1"

Solar Records also released The Blox second single "Hangin' Out" during September 1966. This is much more famous and has been on numerous compilations, the first of which was probably "Texas Flashbacks #3" The label also released notable 45s by The Penthouse Five and Sounds Unlimited.


14 November, 2014


THE SEARCH - 'Climate' / 'Mr Custer' (In-Sound 404) 1967

I've been meaning to write about The Search for years but somehow kept getting side tracked but today is the day for some Search action. According to several sources they hailed from San Diego, California but apart from that, information is at a premium.

"Climate" is an organ dominated garage swinger with a tempo shifting beat, quite fascinating and ultimately rewarding after several plays. It was written by Jim and Paul Mannino who were likely brothers. It was compiled on "Highs In The Mid Sixties - Volume 3" back in the early 80s

The other side is a reworking of the novelty tune "Mr Custer" originally released by Larry Verne in 1960. Find it on "Fuzz, Flaykes & Shakes - Volume 2"

The Search also released another single in June 1967 on Era Records but this record is not as interesting to me but still worth seeking out. "Too Young" / "Everybody's Searchin" have not troubled the compilers.


13 November, 2014


MARK IV - 'Hollow Woman' / 'Better Than That' (Columbia 4-43911) November 1966

Columbia Records seemingly released hundreds of beautiful one off 45s by teen garage groups who had their shot at fame only to find that no one cared and their brief moment in the sun had burned away to embers.

Mark IV are one such group. According to "Teenbeat Mayhem" they hailed from New Canaan, Connecticut and this was their only release. "Hollow Woman" is one of my favourite garage rockers and let's be honest here, it's basically a clever rewrite of The Zombies 1964 single "Woman" I'm not sure how J. Johannessen got away with it but then again who would have heard the record anyway?
"Hollow Woman" can be found on 'Mindrocker Volume 7'

The other side "Better Than That" is a charming British Invasion influenced beat number with jangle and as far as I know remains uncompiled.

12 November, 2014


GENE PITNEY - 'Animal Crackers' / 'Don't Mean To Be A Preacher' (Musicor MU-1235) February 1967

A few weeks ago I posted an entry on my blog focusing on the songs of Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon. They were both in NYC group The Magicians, then when their teenage group disbanded found themselves hot property by writing hit records for The Turtles.

A record I mentioned, but didn't have at the time was "Animal Crackers" by Gene Pitney. I've since obtained a copy of the record and I'm giving it some publicity today. I don't have any other Gene Pitney record in my collection but I am aware of his hit records, none of which sounded as far-out as this one under my spotlight.

I'd say this was 'psych-tinged' and most definitely not a commercial sound. Gene perhaps took a risk with this recording to release it as a single. It didn't feature on any studio album at the time and wasn't released in Britain.

It didn't fare very well at all and did not break into the Billboard top 100 in America. What a shame, as this tune is wonderful.

vintage promotional advert February 1967


11 November, 2014


JERRY & JEFF - 'Voodoo Medicine Man' / 'Sweet Charity' (Super K SK-7) 1969

This garage bubblegum pounder by Jerry & Jeff a.k.a. Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz has become a very sought after disc and regularly sells in the $150 - $200 range and is perhaps the best 45 on the short lived Super K label.

"Voodoo Medicine Man" has got a wonderful Seeds like sound throughout and I'd imagine Sky Saxon would have enjoyed singing this one if he'd had ever heard it, which is doubtful. The compact organ dominates, add into the mix macabre vocals, some primitive drum action and a raunchy guitar.... what a sound they create.... this is an ALL action, hard driving bubblegum assault.

The other side "Sweet Charity" is a calming pop psych nugget which has never troubled the compilers.

08 November, 2014

R.I.P. - FLOWER a.k.a. "BIGS"

photo taken Spring 2009

Sadness fills my world because my beloved female cat "Flower" died at 6.00pm on Thursday, 6th November. She was diagnosed with liver disease back in July and had been on liver support medication ever since, taking 3 tablets a day.

Sadly she succumbed to her illness on Thursday and died on my bed after falling into a coma and dying a couple of hours later. She wasn't in any pain and I'm so glad she died in the comfort of her own home while being stroked right until her demise.

She was 15 years old......Farewell my dear friend.

02 November, 2014


THE F.B.I. - 'Day-Time Nite-Time' / 'What Am I To Do' (Gemini G-500 / G-501) May 1967

I enjoy trying to solve the mysteries behind obscure mid sixties groups and the records they left behind, after all, this is what my site "Flower Bomb Songs" is all about. Under my scrutiny at this moment in time is a combo called The F.B.I. a.k.a. Four Boys Inc.

Just who were they? and where did they come from? This is my quest, my aim is to find out the accurate details because a complete lack of information exists online and the few scraps of data in a couple of music guides I have, give a conflicting picture.

It seems that The F.B.I. released "Day-Time Night-Time" / "What Am I To Do" on Gemini during May 1967 (according to Teenbeat Mayhem). Both songs were written by Dennis Tracy and both songs are simply wonderful examples of folk jangle, a genre of music that is my absolute favourite.

"Day-Time Nite-Time" owes a lot to The Byrds "Eight Miles High" but this pastiche is no mere imitation. The beautiful jangle is frantic and earnestly flows throughout, the backbeat is simple and rhythmic with organ bursts, all culminating in a genius recording.
The other side "What Am I To Do" is one of the most delicate jangle ballads I've ever heard, the guitar rings out it's gorgeous chime and the spoken mid section is sublime and elevates the song to pure pop perfection.

The record label indicates a Universal City, California address and raises yet another question. Was that the location of The Four Boys Inc or the address of the Gemini record label?

For whatever reason, the single was repressed with exact label details apart from the name of the group which was given as The Band Of Wynand. According to an online source the re-release occurred during October 1967.

"Day-Time Nite-Time" has been compiled on "Fuzz, Flaykes & Shakes - Volume 1", their liner notes suggest that the Band Of Wynand hailed from Los Angeles. More recently both songs from this 45 appeared on a CD only release "The Cicadelic 60s - Volume 3" - I don't have this so can't compare the music but they may be demo versions according to "Fuzz, Acid & Flowers"

I have a 45 by His Majesty's Coachmen and I've always wondered if they were they same group as the Band Of Wynand. Both songs on this disc "I Don't Want To See You" / "Where Are You Bound" are written by Dennis Tracy and are both folk janglers. The record was even released on the Gemini label and both 'groups' share the same Producer, Dick Shepp.
According to 'Teenbeat Mayhem' His Majesty's Coachmen hailed from Santa Barbara, CA.
ARSA has this song charting for one week in Santa Barbara (KIST) in August 1966. Teenbeat Mayhem lists the release as August 1967? meaning that the F.B.I. record is perhaps May 1966.

I did some research on Dick Shepp and he was given production status on a record released by Joey Martin on Imperial Records. "Joey's Prayer" / "Joey's Letter" was released December 1967.

01 November, 2014


THE MUSIC COMBINATION - 'Mechanical People' / 'Bambi' (American Music Makers AMM-0012) 196?

The Music Combination were an obscure pop rock group from Pennsylvania, perhaps the outfit may be pin-pointed to Pittsburgh. I don't know for sure. What I do know, however, is that they released three singles on American Music Makers, with "Mechanical People" / "Bambi" being their debut disc.

Both sides are pop fare with brass with just a hint of psych, the latter being the strange studio FX added by Producer Lou Guarino

In late 1962 Lou Guarino formed World Artist Records, anticipating  the British invasion, he conducted a talent search trip which yielded and launched the careers of “Chad & Jeremy” and “Christine Quate” among others. Their hits included “A Summer Song”, “Willow Weep For Me”, “Yesterdays Gone”, “Tell Me Mama” and “In The Middle Of The Floor” on the World Artist label.  

Unfortunately the brilliant career of Christine Quate was cut short due to an automobile accident.  Although intended for Chad & Jeremy, Lou Guarino withheld the release of “A Very Good Year” due to production interference by the duo and he offered it to Frank Sinatra, which he accepted graciously. World Artist continued its success with “Joe Sherman, his Orchestra & Chorus”, “Reparata & The Delrons”, “Phillis Hyman”, “Shavells” and a host of artists from around the world. Reparata's charted hits included “Tommy”, “Whenever a Teenager Cries”, “Captain Of My Ship” and “Shoes”. 

The Joe Sherman Orchestra & Chorus releases included motion picture theme songs, such as: “Mad Mad World”, “The Seventh Dawn” and the American Canadian hit “Toys In The Attic” from the Dean Martin motion picture of the same name. Among many of the hits on Lou Guarino's three nationally acclaimed labels “A Mumbling Word” by The Stereos became a highly sought international collector item.... information from here