31 December, 2015


THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "Happy" / "Blue May" (Imperial IM-6351) June 1967

I've recently highlighted Hollywood group The Sunshine Company on my blog choosing a couple of obscure album cuts that weren't used as single sides. So I thought it a good idea to post their first single from mid 1967.

"Happy" was given A-Side status and it delivered them an instant summer of love hippie hit.
Also of interest is their supreme flip "Blue May" written by their lead vocalist Maury Manseau. It's a classic jangle folk-pop tune with a wonderful melody and exquisite harmonies.
Listen out for their Byrds homage mid way through the song when they throw their "The World Turns All Around Her" in the mix.

"Blue May" was easily good enough for a single in it's own right but was sadly hidden away on the other side of "Happy"

Portugal EP 

30 December, 2015


CHER - "Come And Stay With Me" (Liberty LBV-3058) October 1965

Cher's debut solo album featured numerous contemporary cover versions and a couple of Sonny Bono originals. The sound is folk-rock based and recorded using the cream of L.A's studio musicians at the famous Gold Star Studios in Hollywood.

There are plenty of tunes to pick as a taster but I'll go for Cher's interpretation of "Come Stay With Me" written and also recorded by Jackie DeShannon.
Marianne Faithfull released her single version of the song during February 1965 on Decca and had a Top 5 hit with it.

I'm particularly charmed by Cher's deep vocal delivery over the folk-pop rhythms and all too short guitar break.

29 December, 2015


BILLY JOE ROYAL "Pollyanna" (CBS BPG-62590) August 1965

CBS is proud to welcome Billy Joe Royal, an electrifying new vocalist, to its distinguished roster of recording artists. Within a few weeks of its initial release in America, Billy Joe's debut single, "Down In The Boondocks," moved with astonishing speed toward the top of the country's best-seller charts. Suddenly, an exciting new talent skyrocketed into national prominence.

Now, in his auspicious CBS debut album, this dynamic young singer is heard in a full programme of great songs, nine of them brand new - including his smash hit, "Down In The Boondocks."

a versatile vocalist who also plays guitar, drums and piano, Billy Joe Royal was born in Valdosta, Georgia. When still a youngster, he moved with his family to Marietta, just north of Atlanta. In high school, he organized his first band and began performing at school functions and local social events.

After graduation, he was booked into one of Savannah's leading nightclubs. He was so successful that the club's manager persuaded him to remain as the star attraction. It turned out to be a two year engagement! Bill Joe's reputation has since spread far beyond the borders of his home state, and he and his band now perform in many clubs throughout the U.S.A.

Here, in introducing Billy Joe Royal, is America's newest talent, in a collection of powerful interpretations that mark him clearly as an impressive addition to the ranks of our finest singers.

(back cover liners)

28 December, 2015


THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "A Stitch In Time Saves None" (Liberty LBS-83159E) Sept 1968

"Sunshine And Shadows" was the third and final album by The Sunshine Company. They had started their career releasing '67flower pop creations with memorable melodies and harmonies. Check out their hits "Happy" and "Back On The Street Again" for that kind of tuneful medicine.

By the middle of 1968 they added David Hodgkins on guitar, he had been previously with the respected Sunset Strip group The Grains Of Sand with Douglas Mark. The former was never credited on the album cover as being a member though and he wasn't even present on the super cool psychedelic photo adorning the front of the sleeve.

My pick of an overlooked set and one which is still a reasonable price is "A Stitch In Time Saves None" which demonstrates their move into a more serious and less poppy laid back rock style. I've read that The Sunshine Company started recording songs for a fourth album but the group disbanded before any further releases materialized.

David Hodgkins and Douglas Mark then formed Redeye and enjoyed a couple of hit singles.
Bass player Larry Sims joined the Loggins And Messina Band. He died in December 2014.

Dallas Survey - September 1968


THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "You Don't Know Her Like I Do" (Liberty LBS-83120E) 1968

I wrote about The Sunshine Company back in 2011 when I focused on their single "Back On The Street Again" so I thought it about time to delve into some of their obscure and highly recommended album tracks.

The album cover shown is my copy of their first release in Britain on the Liberty label. This was a combination of material from their first two American LPs. The cover is also different. I'm not quite sure why a Roman soldier riding a Chariot was chosen as the front picture or/why this image would best suit The Sunshine Company? I'd much prefer a photo of the group!

"You Don't Know Her Like I Do" written by folk singer-songwriter Steve Gillette, is a typically West Coast affair, sounding not unlike The Jefferson Airplane. For some strange reason this song was not compiled on the Rev-Ola "Best Of" CD release from 1999.

Steve Gillette also wrote one of The Sunshine Company's hits "Back On The Street Again."

24 December, 2015


KASENETZ - KATZ SINGING ORCHESTRAL CIRCUS - "Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)" / "Rumble '69" (Buddah Records 201 022) October 1968

The kings of bubblegum wrote, produced and recorded hundreds of songs during the late sixties and I won't go into their history because it's all over the internet if you're interested. This single released in Britain during October 1968 is an obscurity though and deserves to be highlighted here on my blog.

The top side "Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)" is a typical bouncy bubblegum pop number, very catchy and was probably a hit in some American States. The B-Side of the US release was their version of "(Poor Old) Mr Jensen" which was also recorded by The 1910 Fruitgum Company. I wrote about their version a month or so ago.

Curiously, the B-Side of the UK release was "Rumble '69" and not "(Poor Old) Mr Jensen." As far as I know "Rumble '69" was never released in the States and it does not appear on their album titled "Kasenetz - Katz Singing Orchestral Circus."

It's an obscure flip side that will have interest to some if pounding heavy psychedelic instrumentals with a hard driving beat are your bag. It's almost an overdose of noise and effects. There is no real melody or tune. In fact it's probably studio musicians experimenting and coming up with a throwaway B-Side. "Rumble '69" would make perfect sense used as background noise for a drug scene in a film.


LOST AND FOUND - "I Realize" (Get Back 538) re-issue 1968

Some kind of spell shows me; that more is to be said about communication, that is, relating personal interpretations of one's own experiences or dreams, than could be related through countless volumes of literary verse; also that relating is not so much the difficult task as is the hope of honest reflections or connections of a listener or viewer, necessary to complete communication. (I am aware that communication includes a number of senses, but I am referring to music and line or painted art only).

The name of the group itself, I think, is in direct relation to all living beings, for in daily participation in life or disassociation from life, everyone experiences a lost and found sensation.

I would also like to insert that in our generation, music is the strongest means of communication. When an individual or group of individuals share with you their soul's interpretation of their experiences, trials, and dreams, you must feel it!!!

23 December, 2015


SYNDICATE OF SOUND - "Rumors" / "The Upper Hand" (Bell Records 646) August 1966

I wrote about their break-through hit "Little Girl" last week but what about the follow up? Could they build on that success? The answer was no, their next single "Rumors" basically went no where fast.

"Rumors" is a fabulous song with it's tough jangling beat approach. There's even a raga rave-up ending interspersed with a homage to Donovan. Listen out for the words "What goes on, I really want to know."

Dutch release


STEVE MILLER BAND - "Mercury Blues" (United Artists UAS-5185) June 1968

Next time you use the word revolution you'd better include in your concept a beautiful blonde who went to San Francisco and illegally changed her name from Louise to Today.

Today panhandles and sells underground newspapers with an equal sense of absurdity. Today enjoys cooking and sewing and judo. Today believes that napalm is more harmful than LSD. Today learns more from talking with a little black kid on Haight Street than she did in school.

Politicians take your pay Now get out of the way.

20 December, 2015


THE UNFOLDING - "Play Your Game" (Audio Fidelity AFSD-6184) December 1967

This is "Electric Mind Sound" by The Unfolding, so it says on the album sleeve and I'm not gonna argue. I don't think the original albums on Audio Fidelity are that difficult to find but if owning original LPs is no big deal then locate this limited edition re-press on Wah Wah Records from 2012.
They even include a copy of the original insert.

Perhaps the most 'commercial' sounding song of the whole set is the Byrds flavoured "Play Your Game" and at just over two and a half minutes would have been the obvious choice for a single. Sadly, no promo 45s from the album were ever released.

"Play Your Game" has a lovely melody with cosmic stoned drone vibe throughout.  The vocals are way off on the right channel, the drummer is inspired, and someone’s playing with the pitch shift again mid-song.  An excellent tune, absolutely top-notch psych pop.

From 'Ken', the guitarist. This is on a YT clip of the full album: I can't believe this thing is here; I haven't thought about it in over 40 years. I was the lead guitarist on this record. I was the co-founder, with my friend Peter Gitlin of a band originally called 'Rhinoceros', later called 'Hmmm'. 

The story goes like this: A rock magazine writer named David Dalton heard Rhinoceros playing at Cheetah, the first 'discotheque', i.e. 'disco' in New York. We opened for the Grateful Dead, which is not as impossible as it might seem -- they only had one album at that time. Dalton hired us to set his lyrics to music. We hated his lyrics, but since we needed the money, we wrote the music (for the first 3 songs only; David Dalton somehow obtained other weird music for the 'poetry' at the end of the album). The music was recorded at some studio on 42nd Street. All the wacky audio effects were added by the recording engineer there - we hated that also. 

None of us wanted our names on the album, but they persuaded us to put our first names only on it. I'm 'Ken'. I'm still a musician, and I still don't make any money, but if you're wondering what might have become of a guy like the lead guitarist on this record. The bass player was Bo Peck, who eventually quit music and went into politics. Bo now lives in Israel. The drummer was Gary Bailey, who also quit music. Gary became a cop in Southern California, now retired. That's funny - when we were in Rhinoceros, it was US whom the cops were after, to see what we had hidden in the glove compartment of our battered psychedelic van.

Billboard - December 1967

18 December, 2015


SYNDICATE OF SOUND - "Little Girl" / "You" (Stateside SS-523) June 1966

This fabulous group quickly earned a happenin' reputation in San Jose during the mid 60s and broke through Nationally with their memorable folk-jangle beat winner "Little Girl." The single was originally released on the tiny Hush label in small quantity but the 45 was picked up by Bell Records and re-released in April 1966.

The record went Top #10 and footage exists of them performing this song on a TV Show. The record even got a UK release on Stateside some months later in June but it went no where fast.

"Little Girl" got a new lease of life during the punk rock era with releases by The Banned who had a Top 40 hit at the back end of 1977. The Dead Boys also released a live version on the B-Side of "Sonic Reducer" in December 1977.

French release

15 December, 2015


THE BARBARIANS - "Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl" / "Take It Or Leave It" (Laurie 3308) July 1965

The Barbarians second single "Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl" released in July 1965 was a statement of defiance that also poked fun at the whole 'hair controversy' of the day with lines like "You're either a girl, or you come from Liverpool."

Musically, it's a Rolling Stones inspired rocker with a simple beat, a great guitar break and a 'barbarian' scream. The other side "Take It Or Leave It" ain't too shabby either.

Here are some photos of The Barbarians Live at Westfield State University, 1966
taken from the Facebook page teen groups of Massachusetts, circa 1964 to 1968.

13 December, 2015

"E.S.P." - a song under the spotlight.

the known recordings of the song "E.S.P." including The Pretty Things - Phil May / Dick Taylor penned "£.s.d."

PRETTY THINGS - "£.s.d." ***** B-Side of "Come See Me" - (Fontana April 1966)

RAIN - "E.S.P." ***** other side "Outta My Life" (A.P.I. Records November 1966) - this single was re-mixed and released on London Records in January 1967

BEAVER PATROL - "E.S.P." ***** B-Side of "Just Like A Lady" (Columbia May 1967)

GIANT CRAB - "E.S.P." ***** other side "Hot Line Conversation" (UNI Records September 1969)

BIG BROTHER featuring Ernie Joseph - "E.S.P." ***** other side "Brother, Where Are You" (All American July 1970)

12 December, 2015


GIANT CRAB - "E.S.P." / "Hot Line Conversation" (UNI 509) September 1969

Giant Crab, from Santa Barbara, CA are very well represented on the internet so I won't delve too deeply into their history. An excellent reference point is here. I have all of their vinyl records, and there are many, they come with my recommendation if you're likely to dig late 60s sounds, with brass and a heavy progressive style of rock 'n roll.

I'm currently researching the song "E.S.P." and my past and more recent posts have examined the groups who have recorded this obscure tune from it's original composition "£.s.d" by The Pretty Things right up to the 1970 version by Big Brother featuring Ernie Joseph.

Giant Crab's version was recorded sometime in mid 1969. It's a real heavy outing with blistering fuzz guitar, pounding drums, brass and an overdose of phasing. I believe that it's a very popular disc to spin at "60s Nights" but that's just what I've read elsewhere. I wouldn't know for sure because I don't go to these events.

My copy pictured is a rare UK pressing on the UNI label. I don't suppose that there will be that many of these in circulation.

Giant Crab - photo taken from here


RAIN - "E.S.P," / "Outta My Life" (A.P.I. Records 336) November 1966

Hollywood group Rain 'borrowed' The Pretty Things "£.s.d" and renamed it "E.S.P" but gave themselves writing credits.

I don't think their story/history has ever been told or if any members have come forward with information and photos. Quite the mystery group. Produced by Brian Ross who worked with The Music Machine of course.

The single was re-released on London Records during January 1967 but it's a weaker version omitting the guitar feedback and effects. The other side "Outta My Life" rips off Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything" making Rain quite the magpies.

09 December, 2015


THE GRAINS OF SAND - "Passing Through The Night" / "The Castaway Of Capt. Haze" (AMM 008) 1967

Following on from yesterday's Grand Prees update here's their second and final disc. For this outing on American Music Makers they changed their name to The Grains Of Sand and explored an introspective psychedelic sound. Both sides are worthy and have been compiled in the past. The best place is on Burghers #1.

"The Castaway Of Capt. Haze" is a slow burner, quite mellow and laid back, a teen psych tripper that ends in a haze of stunning farfisa organ. I can't help but think about "Scarecrow" by Pink Floyd when I hear this, it's very early Floyd.... magical.


08 December, 2015


GRAND PREES - "This Lonely Day" / "No Time To Lose" (Scotty GQP 825) April 1966

This combo were from Pittsburgh, PA releasing this double sided lo-fi teen punker in 1966. Both sides are very basic beat numbers with crude guitar and high pitched organ. "This Lonely Day" is a fast movin' swinger and gets my vote over the pedestrian "No Time To Lose" which was the chosen side to plug.

"This Lonely Day" has seen compilation action on Wyld Sydes #7

After this release The Grand Prees changed their name to The Grains Of Sand. I'll focus on their second single next time.  

07 December, 2015


THE SHAKESPEARES - "Burning My Fingers" / "Something To Believe In" (RCA Victor 1695) May 1968

I've been wanting to add this disc to my collection for many years and I finally scored a copy last week, quite cheap too at £30 for something that looked virtually unplayed. There's hardly a mark on the labels either.

According to an in depth Shakespeares online article they hailed from Rhodesia and started off as a beat group called The Dynamics but made their way to Europe during 1965 for gigs, settling in Belgium. It was in Belgium that they signed to the Ronnex label and changed their name to The Shakespeares, perhaps for a more British sounding moniker.

"Burning My Fingers" was released in Belgium in June 1967 housed in a psychedelically charged cartoon picture sleeve. The music contained within certainly does it justice. "Burning My Fingers" is a stunning fuzztoned 'mod goes psych' sounding nugget and is simply superb.

It took some time for the single to make it's way to Britain eventually finding a release on RCA Victor almost a year later. The UK version is much more difficult to find than the European counterpart.

Johnny Kreuger, Martin Pigott, Alan Escombe, Kris Kritzinger,
Chris Stone, alias Sox © Jean Jieme

05 December, 2015


MATTHEW MOORE - "Face In The Crowd" / "St James Infirmary" (Capitol CL 15467) September 1966

Matthew Moore was raised in Rupert, Idaho then relocated to Los Angeles forming his combo The Matthew Moore Plus Four. Here they enjoyed a successful career on the Sunset Strip scene releasing a couple of singles "I've Been Lonely Before" / "I Know You Girl" on GNP Crescendo and the amazing "Codyne (She's Real)" / "You've Never Loved Before" on White Whale.

I'm unsure whether the Plus Four were still backing him at the time he recorded for Capitol Records, only his name appears on the label. Another curio on the label is the songwriting credit for "Face In The Crowd" which is given as Gerry Goffin and Jack Keller. I believe that the song was composed by David Gates and was also recorded by Gary Lewis & the Playboys then Glenn Yarbrough in 1968.

The other side of this disc is a decent version of "St James Infirmary" which remains uncompiled.

Co-production by Dan Dalton who did some fine work with The Peppermint Trolley Company and The Plymouth Rockers. Following his short stint with Capitol Records, Matthew Moore formed The Moon with ex Beach Boys member David Marks and they recorded two pleasant but unsuccessful albums for Liberty Records. These are not without merit and were re-issued on Rev-Ola back in 2002. This particular disc is now sought after but out of print. It also includes singles.