Posts Tagged ‘ 1965 ’

The Rationals “Think Rational/Fan Club LP”

Think Rational

The Rationals are the most important early Detroit/Ann Arbor group.   Although they only had a few huge regional hits, they were highly influential on the Detroit/Ann Arbor club scene and their music has aged gracefully.  Maybe not the first rock n roll group to hail from the Mid West region but certainly one of the best, The Rationals had a unique garage/teenbeat sound early on; eventually they would take a drastic left turn into hard soul and heavy Detriot rock n roll during the late 60s.

In the summer of 2009 Big Beat reissued all the group’s early singles and outtakes on double disc anthology Think Rational. This first time legit reissue of the group’s early years is not without its flaws.  For one, Big Beat did not include the group’s Not Like It Is single, instead we get an underdub of the Cameo 45 that’s about 30 seconds longer and without the handclaps.  Also, some of the Fan Club LP (only two were pressed back in 66/67!) is missing. Two instrumentals, Wayfaring Stranger (a very cool folk-rock surf instro) and Jam, plus alternate takes of some early singles are not included (Gave My Love, Little Girls Cry, and Look What You’re Doing).  While these 3 tracks are part of the original Fan Club LP the alternate versions aren’t all that different from the officially released singles (sound quality differs slightly on the alternate takes).  I’ve been told that the Fan Club LP will be released on vinyl sometime in the near future though I’m not sure which label will be doing the honors.  With that said, Think Rational is a great package, evenly divided between the group’s garage and soul eras.  Without doubt this is one of the best reissues of 2009.

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“Wayfaring Stranger”

:D 2CD Reissue | 2009 | 101 Distribution | purchase ]
:) Original Vinyl | The Rationals | search ebay ]
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The JuJus “You Treat Me Bad 1965-1967”

The Jujus

Of all the regional garage bands that were never given the opportunity to record an album, the JuJus were amongst the very best.  They formed in 1964 and played a mixture of frat rock, British Invasion influenced teenbeat and classic garage rock sounds all around the local clubs of Grand Rapids.  Their early tracks can be heard on the above 2009 Cicadelic reissue, it’s an excellent sampling of the group’s career.   The early tracks have saxophones, sappy lyrics and muddy sound but are good for what they are – great frat rock and teenbeat. 

In 1965 the group would cut vocalist/guitarist Ray Hummel’s “You Treat Me Bad/Hey Little Girl” for Fenton.  Fenton was a local label run by electronic/production genuis  Dave Kalmbach and business partner Bruce Smith.  Fenton would cut many, many garage classics but You Treat Me Bad stands out as one of the label’s best.  The vocals are snotty and the tempo is driving; You Treat Me Bad would eventually hit number 2 on local radio.   The JuJus second 45 was cut in Kingtones guitarist Phil Robert Jr.’s basement studio and issued in a picture sleeve on the United label in 1966.  Both sides of “I’m Really Sorry/Do You Understand Me” are superb.  Do You Understand Me has guitar lines straight out of the Stones’ Last Time and is achored down by a nice fuzz solo.  Both recordings sound very crude and primitive but hold a special place in many garage fans’ hearts – this was some of the best rock n roll being pumped out of Michigan at the time.

The JuJus lineup would change quite a bit from 1964 to 1967.  Eventually the group would break up after losing core band members Ray Hummel, drummer Bill Gorski and saxophone player Max Colley.  But before throwing in the towel they would cut a few more songs in 1967 for a possible single release.  The JuJus were constantly evolving and by this time they had grown into a more experimental unit.  They would record two songs that year:  Sometime Or Another and If You Really Love Me.  The latter was a nice slice of power pop with pretty vocal harmonies and a quality guitar oriented arrangement.  Sometime Or Another, a song that was good enough for an A-side release, was the JuJus at their most psychedelic and adventurous.  This track could compete with any “big group’s” best single and was notable for its distorted vocals, blazing fuzz guitar solo and introspective lyrics.  It sounded like a hit but was probably a bit downbeat and too experimental for top 40 radio. 

The above reissue is one of the best garage rock offerings I’ve heard in quite some time.  Cicadelic gives you the classic singles, a good 1965 Ray Hummel Fenton 45 ( in which he is backed by the JuJus) and a slew of quality outtakes.  There are no lame covers and the sound quality is excellent.  The JuJus were a great group whose music still burns brightly in the memories of Michigan locals.  This is mandatory listening for anyone interested in pure rock n roll.

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“I’m Really Sorry”

:D CD Reissue | 2009 | Cicadelic | buy from cicadelic ]

The Kinks “The Kink Kontroversy”

Kontroversy

As already discussed, Kontroversy was not the Kinks’ first great record (though it’s widely believed to be), but it was their best so far by a significant leap.

Milk Cow Blues is much more than a blues: the changes play along with the format but the dynamics turn it into a proper komposition, unleashing its serious grit towards the end. I’m not much of a dancing man, but a well timed Gotta Get The First Plane Home,  a short and sweet riffy rave-up, might send me into a frenzy. Not unlike some of the Beatles’ early material, these tracks will sound like “oldies” to new listeners, but the Kinks’ advantage is its relentless, raw  sound. These guitars could slit throats; I especially love the combination of angry acoustic with piano and the high-cut distorted electric. The songs will eventually worm their way into your head, a few bonafide klassics should take no time at all: Till The End Of The Day (probably the best from the Really Got Me, All Day formula), I’m On An Island, Where Have All The Good Times Gone, and the bittersweet It’s Too Late.  

Bonus includes two versions of Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, a beloved cut and harbinger of the Kinks hometown focus that would show up more and more. Looking back on the Kinks discography, this is the transitional record that would open the door to the masterpieces that would follow, but I put Kontroversy right up there with the best.

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“I’m On An Island”

:D CD Reissue | 2001 | Sanctuary | amazon ]
:) Orig Vinyl | 1965 | Pye | ebay ]

(Kollecting all the Kinks albums not your thing? Check out the new box set: Picture Book)

The Kinks “Kinda Kinks”

Kinda Kinks

This is the first Kinks album where I love every song. When you really fall for a band, their formative material starts to gain new ground as you listen closer; you can hear the bedrock for the more developed music that would come. While the “Kinks” debut, which is loaded with cover versions, doesn’t really do it for me, “Kinda Kinks” flat out kicks.

The punchy fill opening up Look For Me Baby (just listen to this song!!) kicks off an understated but growingly catchy Kinks klassic. As stripped down and simple as these early numbers are, they retain a sort of modest perfection. Ray Davies would add brilliant turnarounds, prechoruses, and bridges to string his multi-part compositions together in later works, but the simplified structures herein support the raw Kinks sound and energy present on each track (making even Dancing In The Street worth the ride).

Nothin’ In The World Can Stop Me Worryin’ Bout That Girl has become an important gem for the Kinks, overlooked by many until Wes Anderson’s Rushmore popularized the track, as well as the Kinks, to a new generation. The liner notes to the Rushmore soundtrack suggest that the filmmakers considered scoring the entire film with Kinks tracks, which would have been fantastic (though the soundtrack as is would have been dearly missed).  So Long is a similarly acoustic wistful track (see Podcast 9) with that mellow side stick rhythm.

The guitar sounds on Kinda sincerely thrills me: a clangy, tinny, rambunctious mess, perfectly executed. Dave Davies was on top of his game. Come On Now, Shouldn’t Be Sad, Got My Feet On The Ground are smokers. Something Better Beginning is another well received ballad, one of the tracks reviewers will cherry pick from this underrated album. It’s not a mind blower, but it’s a dam dependable slab of good solid music, benefiting from the developing skills of one of Britain’s most celebrated groups.

Maybe you’ll agree with critical reviews out there that the Kinks weren’t making “cohesive” albums yet, but one great track after another the whole record through is cohesive enough for me.  The 2004 CD reissue of Kinda comes highly recommended, includes 11 excellent bonus cuts with many of the tunes available on Kinks-Size and Kinkdom, and restores the original UK track lineup. Unfortunately, you’ll only find one track from Kinda Kinks (Come On Now) on the newly released Picture Book box set.

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“Look For Me Baby”

:D CD Reissue | 2004 | Sanctuary | amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1965 | Pye | search ebay ]

The Kinks “Kinks-Size” & “Kinkdom”

Kinks Size & Kinkdom

So much is made about the Kinks’ “Golden Age” from the years 1967-1972. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of loving these records all day and night, but when the Kinksdust settles, you find that the years 1964-1966 were an especially powerful Kinkstime too. The newly released Picture Book box set only does a cursory job of representing this material.

“Kinks-Size” and “Kinkdom” were not official album releases, but like the Great Lost Album they were American label releases containing excellent material and superior track line-ups.

Kinks-Size was released in March of 1965 by Reprise in order to capitalize on the big albumless hits, Tired of Waiting For You and All Day And All Of The Night. Louie Louie, I Gotta Go Now, Things Are Getting Better, and I’ve Got That Feeling came from the British EP “Kinksize Session” (clearly an inspiration for this album’s title), while I’m A Lover Not A Fighter and I Gotta Move were originally on the All Day EP. I’m A Lover and Revenge were shelved cuts from the “Kinks” debut. Come On Now was a track from their upcoming 2nd official album “Kinda Kinks.”

Kinkdom was released in November of 1965, three months after Kinda Kinks. This release comprised tracks from the British EP “Kwyet Kinks” (A Well Respected Man, Such A Shame, Wait Till The Summer Comes Along, Don’t You Fret) as well as some of the best unreleased (in the US) British singles (Never Met A Girl Like You Before, See My Friends, Who’ll Be The Next In Line, It’s Alright). Naggin’ Woman was an unreleased cut from the UK edition of “Kinda Kinks,” and Louie Louie is repeated from “Kinks-Size,” an inexplicable move by Reprise.

These albums best represent the scorching sound of the early Kinks, appropriately ravaged by Shel Talmy’s untrained production style with songwriting strong enough to bolster the genius of Ray Davies. Don’t waste your money on incomplete box sets. Nothing the Kinks recorded should be considered extraneous.

Kinks-Size

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“I’ve Got That Feeling”

Kinkdom

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“Wait Till The Summer Comes Along”

:) Orig Vinyl | Kinks-Size | 1965 | Reprise | ebay search ]
:) Orig Vinyl | Kinkdom | 1965 | Reprise | ebay search ]

The Master’s Apprentices “1965-1968”

If the Easybeats were considered the Beatles of Down Under than the Master’s Apprentices were surely Australia’s answer to the Rolling Stones.  They released 5 records during their 65-72 heyday, including the above debut and their classic hard rock album, A Toast To Panama Red.  In between this period the group released a few unfocused but interesting lps and several good singles.  The Mick Bower era (65-68-) is usually considered the group’s highwater mark, even though Panama Red is an excellent progressive hard rock album.

The Master’s Apprentices started out in the mid 60s as the Mustangs.  This group played raucous RnB, covers of 50s rock standards, a few originals and some instrumentals.  Eventually the group would develop into something more original, under the leadership and guidance of guitarist/songwriter Mick Bower and vocalist Jim Keays.  In 1966 the group released their debut Astor 45 Undecided/War or Hands of Time.  The A-side was a powerful, raw RnB track that had cruching guitar riffs and a unique chord progression.  As great as Undecided was, War or Hands of Time was even better.  This unique anti-war track captured the original group at their peak with a powerful, reverberating guitar intro, hard hitting drum fills and a fractured acid solo.   Even today most Aussie rock aficionados agree that this was one of the most exciting singles to ever come out of Australia.  Their next Astor 45, released in 1967,  was Buried and Dead.  This was another classic single and one of the most explosive acid punk numbers ever recorded.  Mid way thru there’s a strong punkoid psych solo although it should be noted that the flip side, featured on their debut album, is rather weak.

The debut, made up of Bower originals and a handful of covers was released in 1967.  Admittedly there are five weak tracks – She’s My Girl, the feedback laden Beatles’ cover I Feel Fine, Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode, My Girl, and Don’t Fight It.  The rest of the album is rock solid and full of driving garage rockers and early psychedelia.  Undecided, War or Hands of Time and Buried and Dead are all featured on the lp though Theme For A Social Climber and the raga influenced But One Day were strong psychedelic numbers too.  Hot Gully Wind is a razor sharp bluesy garage rocker that recalled Ireland’s Them while Dancing Girl featured some slightly freaky guitar work that made it a worthy tune.  The good tracks (7 of them) were great, so based on this, the Master’s Apprentice lp comes highly recommended.

The Masters would release two other classic 45s during the Mick Bower era.  In 1967 Astor released one of their biggest hits, Living In A Child’s Dream.  This single hit the Aussie top ten and is often considered one of the greatest psych singles of all time.  There are no guitar freakouts or wild solos (though Rick Morrison’s guitar solo is tasteful and imaginative), it’s a mellow, spacey pop tune with flower power lyrics and a radio friendly sound.  The single’s B-side, Tired Of Just Wandering was another great Bower penned psych track.  In 1968 the group released Elevator Driver.  By then both guitarist Rick Morrison and Mick Bower had left the group.  Bower leaving the group was equivalent to Syd Barrett exiting the Floyd: nobody thought the Masters would recover such a devastating blow.  Against all odds they released their last great early 45 and to these ears it may edge out Child’s Dream as the better single.  Elevator Driver was originally titled Silver People and is another ace psychedelic track with vocal distortion and a good guitar friendly arrangement.  Ascension released a great cd back in 2000 that combines the Master’s first lp with all their early singles.  True, there are a few weak tracks and the disc is rather hard to find but it’s a great buy from one of rock’s lost bands.

If you’re into the Pretty Things, Outsiders or Q65, the Master’s Apprentices’ 1965-1968 is absolutely mandatory listening.

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“Buried And Dead”

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:) Orig Vinyl | 1967 | Astor | search ebay ]

The Fugs “Village Fugs”

Village Fugs

This is also known today as The Fugs First Album. These guys weren’t really musicians, certainly not vocalists, they were beat poets and activists that wanted to be musicians. The record was made possible because their friend Harry Smith, curator of the Anthology of American Folk Music, convinced Folkways to let them record in their studio. Thank you, Harry Smith.

A classic. What we have here is not only a genuine artifact from the downtown 60s scene, but actually a pretty listenable record. The Fugs pumped up their line up for this record with Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber from The Holy Modal Rounders (pictured right), and Steve even contributed one of the Fugs most well loved songs, Boobs A Lot. Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg are the real poet masterminds behind the Fugs, however, and their songs are often offensive or hilarious, concerning sex, drugs, and politics.

This album should be viewed along side another album called Virgin Fugs, which is a bootleg containing outtakes from the same recording sessions. Songs vary from stony diatribe drones to loose pop songs like Supergirl, one of my favorites. And I’ve always got a big kick out of Nothing: “January nothing, February Nothing… Reading nothing, writing nothing, even arithmetic, nothing… Harry Smith and Allen Ginsberg, Nothing Nothing Nothing.” The aesthetic of the Fugs is instant punk, not the sound particularly, but the do-it-yourself approach. The sound of Village Fugs teeters between that of a skiffle group and an amateur R&B combo. The percussion is always plentiful and varied, like they raided some restaurant’s kitchen, and Ken Weaver rounded it out on the drums.

It may not be music you put on to relax to, or set the mood, or dare to DJ with… but you have to hear it!

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“Supergirl”

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The Poets “Scotland’s No. 1 Group”

Scotland’s No. 1  Group

The Poets were one of Scotland’s top rock groups during the mid 1960’s. The above disc is a collection of singles (all 6 of their official singles) and rough hewn studio outtakes. The singles play like an album because most of them were recorded between 1965 to 1966. Of the studio outtakes there is one aborted single in decent studio fidelity and a handful of rough, garage blues numbers that were recorded before their singles.

It’s a shame this great band never had the opportunity to record an album, they never did record a bad song and were loaded with talent. Now We’re Thru was their first single released back in 1964 during the original, first wave of the British Invasion. It was a minor key gem with awkward vocals that reached England’s top 30. None other than John Lennon sat up and took note, claiming the single was “weird” and original. The flip, There Are Some, was another strong sob rocker highlighted by piano and good drum work.

In early 1965 they released their second single, which was even better. That’s The Way It’s Got To Be began with throbbing fat bass lines and is a great powerful mod rocker that ends with some sizzling maracas. The b-side, was I’ll Cry With The Moon, an excellent, offbeat 12-string acoustic song with strange percussion. At this point, George Gallacher, founder and principal songwriter, was frustrated with the band’s lack of success. Their records were mostly originals (they just covered one song) and of a consistently high standard. I’ll Keep My Pride, Some Things I’ll Forget , I Am So Blue and I’ll Come Home are all first-rate British Invasion minor key compositions similar to that of another underrated mid 60’s band, the Zombies.

The Poet’s 5th single was their last hurrah with George Gallacher. The optimistic, promising I’ll Come Home was a departure from their moody, gloomy approach and it was backed by their legendary Baby Don’t Do It cover. This b-side was tremendous and in terms of originality it may even eclipse the Isley Brothers’ and Marvin Gaye’s versions. It’s got everything a great mid 60’s rock single should have: thumping drums, dramatic 12-string guitar runs and nervous, passionate vocals by Gallacher. This song is stronger than 99% of the cheap punk imitations it spawned during the 1977-81 era. The Poet’s soldiered on for one last single after Gallacher’s departure. In 1967, they released the double sided psychedelia masterpiece, Wooden Spoon/In Your Tower. The A-side was a storming mod rocker with an acid tinged fuzz guitar solo while the B-side had some strange renaissance-like flute, fat raga guitar riffs and smashing cymbals. All in all, it was a great way to end the career of this legendary Scottish cult band.

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“Baby Don’t Do It”

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Kenny and the Kasuals “Things Gettin’ Better/Nothing Better To Do”

Things Gettin Better

Rock’s heyday is usually acknowledged to be from 1963 to 1975 or 1976 – just before the punk era (beginning with the Beatles and ending with the best work of early punk bands such as Television, Patti Smith, Simply Saucer, 76 era Flamin’ Groovies, The Ramones, Saints and so forth). This statement can definitely be argued though, as the original first wave of rock music during the mid 1950’s and postpunk era has its admirers. Rock during the mid to late 60’s and early 70’s was much different though. There was no MTV (I can’t think of any good bands MTV supported/produced anyway!) and rock musicians relied on radio heavily. This went doubly so for regional bands trying to crack the big time.

The Lone Star State’s Kenny and the Kasuals were a great regional band. During the 60’s they released numerous singles (7) and a live album from 1966. The garage reissue renaissance of the early 80’s saw two Kasuals albums released, consisting of their singles and outtakes. Their sound was similar in style to the Remains, crunchy and cool with that ringing guitar texture. They also outlasted the great Remains, heading straight into the psychedelic age. At times they pushed the garage label/tag, with excellent, thoughtful lyrics and instrumental virtuosity. There are numerous garage classics, psych punk epics, and solid good ole rock n rollers sprinkled throughout these two albums.

The highlight for many though, is Journey To Time. It’s truly one of the great texas acid punk singles beginning with thick fuzz bass and carrying on with angry, growling vocals, classic hallucinary lyrics and an ace psych guitar solo. This is Texas’ version of I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night by the Electric Prunes mixed with the Sons of Adam’s smoking Saturday’s Son. Come Tomorrow, Raindrops to Teardrops and Strings of Time are all first class garage rockers from the mid 60’s that Remains, early Rolling Stones, Zombies or Blue Things fans will cherish. The few covers of Money, It’s Alright (The Kinks) and You Make Me Feel So Good (The Zombies) are well executed and original too, full of good harmonies, fuzz and individual style.

Kenny and the Kasuals eventually morphed into the psychedelic Truth. This band released one solid, trippy single which is also included on this 2 for 1 album. For all it’s virtues and wondrous qualities it’s astonishing that Things Gettin’ Better/Nothing Better To Do is out of print.

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“Journey To Time”

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The Beach Boys “Today”

Today

This is the kind of record you can find in the bins mint for under $5. Just look at it! Even record dealers don’t realize this little brown album is a crown jewel in the Boys discog, the real precursor to Pet Sounds.

Summer is here, and you are going to want to play some of this Beach Boys music, but you don’t want to just throw on Good Vibrations, you need something earlier, less recognizable but that still rattles everybody’s Beach Boys bone. The track you are in search of is Do You Wanna Dance, sung by Dennis Wilson and kicking off this great set, sure to get your pool party started.

Maybe you’d end up skipping to Dance, Dance, Dance with its gnarly bass and twelve-string guitar lick, but you’d be missing the endearing Don’t Hurt My Little Sister and the harpsichord-led When I Grow Up (To Be A Man). Touches of the Pet Sounds orchestra abound, pick them out on your own! I love these teenage songs so much, but the real gems on here are Please Let Me Wonder (featuring Carl’s sincere but silly “I love you” at the fade out) and Kiss Me Baby (kiss a little bit, fight a little bit, kiss a little bit, whoa baby 4x).

It’s a great record and even better that (on compact disc) it’s coupled with Summer Days (and Summer Nights) featuring the fantastic songs Girl Don’t Tell Me, Let Him Run Wild, Summer Means New Love and more!

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“Please Let Me Wonder”

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