The Blue Things (self-titled)

The Blue Things
The Blue Things were a great band from the Midwest. They had a Beau Brummels Volume 2/From The Vaults sound crossed with some Gene Clark era Byrds. While they were extremely popular in the Midwest, the Blue Things never reached fame at a national level despite a great folk-rock album and some groundbreaking early psychedelic singles.

The band started out releasing singles on independent (private) labels around 1964/65 with a strong Searchers/early Beatles flavor. Some of these singles such as Pretty Things-Oh! were very strong and deserved more attention. Eventually they evolved into a tight folk-rock band that strongly recalled Help/Rubber Soul era Beatles.

Val Stocklein wrote most of the compositions and his vocals are a world weary mixture of Gene Clark and Help era John Lennon. They released their only self-titled album (commonly referred to as Listen & See) in 1966 and by this time, the band had already been experimenting with a psychedelic sound. The album is one of folk-rock’s highlights. A singled released from the album, Doll House/Man On The Street was spectacular. Both songs dealt with subjects uncommon for rock in that era (or any era), prostitution and social injustice.They are both characterized by glittering guitars, thoughtful lyrics, great harmonies, tambourine and a driving beat. There is no doubt that this was one of the defining moments of the folk-rock revolution. Other album tracks highlighted the group’s influences. Honor The Hearse was very Dylan-like but still effective while High Life, I Must Be Doing Something Wrong, It Ain’t No Big Thing Babe and Now’s The Time were also really strong, classy folk-rockers.

There were a few raw covers of old rock standards as well, that recalled their club and bar days. Ain’t That Lovin’ You Babe is particularly noteworthy for a blistering guitar solo. Desert Wind, an outtake from this era, is another great melancholy folk-rock winner. The Blue Things would eventually release two classic psychedelic singles before Val Stocklein left, effectively putting an end to the original group. Orange Rooftops Of Your Mind was their creative zenith, an explosion of sound, featuring violin-like fuzz guitar tones, echoed vocals, a great folk-rock bridge and an organ rave up. The B-side, One Hour Cleaners, was almost as good, with some strange lyrics and a good beat. This single was released in 1966 just when psychedelia was beginning and may have been the first genuine Midwest acid-rock single. You Can Live In Our Tree, another good A-side paired with a great psych version of Twist and Shout was more of the same.

The inability to sell records or become commercially viable frustrated the group and left them bitter. One more single was released in 1967 after Val’s departure and without his involvement. Yes My Friend paired with Somebody Help Me did not recall the band’s heyday in any way and was actually pretty weak. The Blue Things soldiered on for a while playing live but eventually decided to call it a day before the end of the decade.

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“Doll House”

😀 2CD Reissue | 2008 | Cicadelic | Buy @ Cicadelic Records ]
reposted from March, 2007. Check out the brand new 65-song reissue.


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4 Comments.

  • I’m afraid your mp3 isnt working there man. Would love if you could get it fixed though, this sounds like an intriguing group!
    thanks, Nik

  • Brendan

    Thanks for the heads up Nik. Should work now.

  • lynn wine

    mike chapman is my dad and he rocks! besides the blue things he has had various musical bands…the most famous was Bristlecone a latin-salsa rock band from the Sonoma county area..they ruled the late 70s…I love you my rock n roll dad forever…one of my dads early collaborations was Butterflash/mccavorite a duo that was popular around the bay area during the early 70s my dad would take me to all his gigs…I guess it wasn’t weird seeing a kid if they were enjoying the music….my dad plays various instruments…his electric violin would mesmerize me when I was a kid…band practice would be wide open in our living room I wouldn’t change my memories for a million dollars and at 12 I was asked do you want to learn how to do sound?…..love, lynn dec 31 2013…

  • Mike in the BlueThings was great. I was lucky enough to hear the band 5 different bookings. They were very impressive, and the most professional band we have even heard in the Joplin Missouri area. I know they should have been a big commercial hit, but the music business in not the fairest of professions. I had a teenage band and we covered all the top 40 hits, but nothing as good as the BlueThings doing Beatles, the Who and everything most bands could only dream of sounding. Mike was a outstanding guitar player, Val looked like Paul , Bobby on the drums had the beat and the cool look and the bass player played his bass on the right and left hand! They influenced every one who heard them to play and sing better. The long hair, bell bottoms, light show, Vox amps…they had the whole show. My BlueThings CD is still one of my favorites to play to this day. Steve Rose of Joplin, MO. area

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