Posts Tagged ‘ 1966 ’

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”

:D CD Reissue | search amazon ]
:) Orig Vinyl | 1967 | Astor | search ebay ]

The Ugly Ducklings “Somewhere Outside”

The Ugly Ducklings were one of Canada’s finest garage bands throughout the 60s. They were also one of Canada’s longest lived garage groups, releasing 3 lp’s (two of them reunion lps) and numerous non-lp singles. The core group consisted of Dave Bingham (vocals), Roger Mayne (lead guitar), British-born Glynn Bell (rhythm guitar), John Read (bass) and Robin Boer (Drums). Early on they were a Rolling Stones tribute band calling themselves the Strolling Bones.

In the summer of 1966 they secured a residency at Charlie Brown’s Place in Yorkville, Toronto and were given the opportunity to record their debut single, Nothin’. Reportedly the single was cut for $300 and released off Fred White’s Yorktown label. Today, Nothin’ is widely recognized as a garage classic notable for it’s snotty vocals, snarling defiant edge and frantic guitar solos. Nothin’ did well locally and enabled the band to record the above album, Somewhere Outside. The album, put out by Yorktown in 1966 is a gem with only 2 covers and plenty of fine originals in the Rolling Stones/Pretty Things tradition. One of the covers, Hey Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut is a blistering rocker with loads of fuzz guitar and punky vocals from Bingham. Some of the tracks are more restrained beat numbers but good ones; check out Not For Long and That’s Just The Thought I Had In My Mind. Along with Nothin’ the album’s better cuts are 10:30 Train (a fuzzy blues rocker), Windy City (a 6 minute instrumental with good guitar work and sound effects), and Just In Case You Wondered. The latter track is another classic full of punishing fuzz guitar riffs and a crazed, mind melting guitar solo. The album is very strong throughout and highly recommended to fans of mid 60s garage rock.

The group also managed to released some fine non-lp singles throughout the 60s. Gaslight, released in 1967, was their biggest hit and a good mixture of garage-pop and psychedelia. Also that same year they released the Epilogue/I Know What You Say single. The a-side is an acoustic number while its flip is a decent foray into psychedelic pop notable for its sitar work and swirling backwards tapes toward the end. The Ducks also have some respectable outtakes from the 60s which include a good hard rock version of I Wish You Would.

There have been numerous reissues of Ducks’ material on cd and vinyl throughout the years. There is a good cd version of the above album by Unidisc but does not include any bonus tracks. Also worthwhile is a self-titled compilation (with a humorous cartoon ducks album cover!) with choice tracks from the 66 album, outtakes and all the non-lp singles.

Can anyone provide info on the Ugly Ducklings’ 1973 ep?

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“Not For Long”

:D CD Reissue | 2001 | Yorktown | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1966 | Yorktown | search ebay ]

The Gants “Gants Again”

The Gants were a mid 60s garage/folk-rock band from Mississippi whose biggest commercial success was a billboard charting cover of Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner.” This minor hit was enough to secure them the release of 3 LPs on Liberty, Gants Again being the third. Lack of original material and a sound that’s often far too derivative of their British heroes (especially the Beatles) keeps it from being a great album by any stretch. But there are many fine moments here.

Wonderful tracks like “I Wonder” and the moody, near suicidal “Somebody Please” prove that they certainly had tons of potential. And it really is unfortunate because an album’s worth of originals on par with these tracks may have ranked up there with the Nightcrawlers LP or the Beau Brummels vol. 2. Not that all the cover tunes are boring. Some (“Rain” and “You Better Run”) are actually very well done and breathe new life into the songs. But it still leaves the listener longing to hear what the Gants and other groups of this ilk would have sounded like if they were given more creative license instead of having managers and labels pad up their records with mediocre filler.

Unless you stumble across this in a bargain bin (or for less than ten bucks), you’re better off grabbing the Bam Caruso collection I Wonder which compiles the best material from all three albums, including some cool unreleased forays into baroque pop.

Gants Again

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“I Wonder”

:D CD Compilation | 2000 | RPM Records | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1966 | Liberty | search ebay ]

The Blues Project “Projections”

The Blues Project were one of the hottest live acts of the time and one of the first album oriented bands. Not all blues, with certain tunes rooted in folk and this album bearing a psychedelic edge (nearly the American “Aftermath”) but listen to them cook through some classic blues standards and soulful originals, and the name starts to settle in just fine.

This Greenwich Village group lit up audiences weekly at New York’s Au Go Go Cafe. Before they cut their first record, the smokin’ hot Live At The Cafe Au Go Go, they were joined by session player Al Kooper who was looking to gig and improve his chops on the Farfisa organ. By the time Projections was released, they had become a hard-edged party band that were well-equipped to extend their jams for a drugged out San Fransisco scene, and their eagerness to incorporate other musical forms and experiment beyond the blues put this band ahead of their time.

Al’s “Kooperphone” (actually called a Tubon) on Can’t Keep From Crying supplies an opening dose of out-of-control psych. A completely unexpected classical suite introduces Steve’s Song, a folksy groover with light touches of fuzz. And it’s hard to not become a classic ’66 record with a track like the hard slow blues, Two Trains Running, running 11 minutes 30 seconds. Another toss-for-a-loop is a Jazz-lounge number featuring Andy Kulberg on the uncleverly named Flute Thing. Cheryl’s Going Home is a riff-based standout, but when they perform bluesy shuffles like Wake Me Shake Me and Caress Me Baby you know they’ve hit their stride. The blues numbers give the album its vintage appeal.

Though they could smoke an audience, they were unable to score a hit song. However, one of the last tracks they cut before Al Kooper left the band may be one of the best unknown singles of the year: No Time Like The Right Time.

The Polydor/Chronicles anthology has the Projections album on disc two, with scores of live material and outtakes from the first album on disc one and detailed liners.

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“I Can’t Keep From Crying, Sometimes”

:D CD Reissue | 2011 | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]
:) LP Reissue | 2011 | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1966 | Verve | search ebay ]

Mono vs. Stereo || “Psychedelic Sounds…”

Psychedelic Sounds...

Preference towards monaural or stereophonic sound is often a point of contention. Most folks agree tho, that when it comes to the debut from Roky’s pioneering Texas psych garage band, Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, the original mono mix takes top slot. Sundazed definitely thinks so, offering a brand new hi-def mono vinyl, carefully restored from a copy of the long-lost master tapes and the mint IA original (all the details here).

Compare these versions of the powerhouse lead-off track, from Collectable’s stereo CD and the Sundazed mono vinyl LP:

mp3: You’re Gonna Miss Me (Stereo) [ Collectables | 1996 ]
mp3: You’re Gonna Miss Me (Mono) [ Sundazed | 2008 ]

So what’s your take? Hit us up in the comments.
Any other releases you know sound better in mono or stereo?

:) Mono Vinyl Reissue | 2008 | Buy at Sundazed Store ]

Les Baroques “Les Baroques”

No, not the great Midwestern psych band, these Baroques were based in Holland and had roots extending as far back as the late 50’s. Les Baroques were part of a fertile Netherlands beat scene though their sound was occasionally strange and unconventional for a bluesy garage beat group. Some of their songs were dressed up with harpsichords, bassoons and string arrangements though it was original lead singer Gary O’Shannon’s (Gerard Schoenaker is his real name) tortured vocals and unique personality that set the group apart from the competition.

O’Shannon reminds me of an early Van Morrison on speed whose vocals are carelessly sloppy but somehow compelling and original. Their first single, Silky, was released back in 1965 and was a good, dreamy European folk-rock number that was unusual but still deserved a better fate. The bizarre top 40 followup, Such A Cad, was arguably better and is a strange punky original with bassoon fills and a great O’Shannon vocal performance. Such A Cad’s flip, the western sounding Summerbeach, was just as good and highlighted by fine harmonica playing and an otherworldly atmosphere. Their third single, I Know, was another dutch hit and while still a respectable effort, it was somewhat of a letdown when compared with the previous two 45’s. But I Know’s flip, the punk rock ballad She’s Mine, was one of their great songs and had O’Shannon in top form, giving a stunning vocal performance with attitude and passion.

The group fired back with another strong garage punk single (I’ll Send You To The Moon) that had lots of strange tempo shifts and the above debut album in 1966. After the completion of the lp, O’Shannon would leave the group for military service. This effectively ended Les Baroques classic period though the lp is strong and full of great, forgotten rockers like the mysterious I Was Wrong and the Animals influenced classic, O-O, Baby, Give Me That Show. Special mention should go to I Was Wrong as it’s a killer psych punk track with great raga influenced guitar work and angry, neurotic vocals. There are also two good Booker-T-like instrumentals that have nice organ playing and really show off the band’s instrumental chops. For most bands two instrumentals would be the kiss of death but Les Baroques were a cut above the pack instrumentally and both these tracks standout as highlights. Another great track is Troubles, a good sublime rocker that features some of O’Shannon’s best tortured vocals over a dreamy backdrop.

O’Shannon’s departure pushed the band to enlist a new frontman, Michel van Dijk. The new lineup released a handful of singles and the disappointing 67 lp Barbarians With Love. Only the storming fuzz rocker Working On A Tsjing-Tsjang (late 1966) single could measure up to the O’Shannon years. In 2002 Hunte Music released an impossible to find 2 cd set including all the singles and both lps. Definitely worth searching for.

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“I Was Wrong”

:) Original Vinyl | Whamm | 1966 | search ebay ]

Paul Revere and the Raiders “The Spirit of ’67”

Spirit of 67

Silly costumes aside, the Raiders were one of America’s great rock bands. Their costumes and top 40 pop image kept the band from being taken seriously and a later, 70’s version of the Raiders placed more emphasis on comedy and entertainment than artistic merit. Surely it was one of rock’s hardest downfalls but in their day the Raiders were something special and Spirit of ’67 was one of their unqualified triumphs.

This album was released at the tail end of 1966 and could best be described as the band’s Revolver. Mid period Raiders’ records had the benefit of a strong in-house writing team (Lindsay/Revere) and the production talents of the great Terry Melcher. The hits Good Thing and Hungry are here, and while they are a fine testament to the group’s commercial image, the rest of this record is just as impressive taking on a dizzying array of pop styles without a single stumble or fall. Highlights include the gritty Northwestern hard rock of Louise, which harkens back to the band’s early Oregon days, a jangly folk-rocker Why? Why? Why? that had a strong Byrds feel, reflective 60’s pop in the form of Oh! To Be A Man and the pulsating psychedelia of 1001 Arabian Nights. The band even found time to write Undecided Man, an excellent Eleanor Rigby cop with a prominent string arrangement and dramatic Mark Lindsay vocals.

The last track, The Great Airplane Strike, a minor top 40 hit, was one of the band’s finest ever. Airplane Strike is a hard, lean rocker with powerful, spiraling fuzz leads and Lindsay’s best Jaggeresque vocals. It’s a killer track and while the band would release another good record in Revolution, they never bettered Spirit of ’67. Recommended.

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“The Great Airplane Strike”

:D CD Reissue | Sundazed | 1996 | buy from Sundazed | amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1966 | ebay ]

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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”

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

Don Covay “See-Saw”

Seesaw

I’ll forever be indebted to British R&B bands like the Rolling Stones, the Pretty Things and the Downliner’s Sect for not only changing my life with their incredible music, but for also infecting me with an incurable obsession with American roots music. Noticing that their early albums were almost entirely comprised of cover songs sent me scrambling all over the place to track down the raw blues of Howlin’ Wolf and Slim Harpo, the trailblazing country of Hank Snow and Buck Owens, and lots of Southern soul.

Mick Jagger was no Solomon Burke. Well aware of his limitations, he found a way to make it work by studying less technically accomplished singers like Don Covay. One listen to those falsetto notes he hits and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Covay was a prolific songwriter who penned an impressive string of hits for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Burke and Wilson Pickett. He was also one of the most overlooked soul singers of his generation. His first single, “Bip Bop Bip,” is a frantic ‘50s shouter wild enough to make Little Richard (who he once chauffeured for) sound like Fabian. After releasing a few more sides that were a bit derivative but great nonetheless, Covay finally hit his stride in 64’ with the genre blurring cut “Mercy, Mercy.” A solid R&B groove was intact, but the prominent raw guitars (rumored to have been played by a young Hendrix) and crashing drums gave it a strong rocknroll edge, anticipating the garage boom that was just on the horizon. His pleading vocals convey a sense of desperation that even surpasses Pickett’s stellar rendition of the song.

This single along with some equally crude tracks from the same era were collected on the 1966 LP See Saw. “Everything Gonna Be Everything” is an all-out stomper that’ll make you to wonder if he’s not being backed by the Pretties. Also included are some more straight-ahead soul songs he cut at Stax, featuring the tight, horn dominated sound and Steve Cropper licks that made the label famous. On the title cut and “Iron Out the Rough Spots” we find Covay neck and neck with best talent on the formidable Stax roster.

See Saw is the epitome of a great mid-‘60s Southern soul album, perfectly balanced with the right amount of dance tunes and ballads. It was reissued on CD as a twofer with his terrific first LP Mercy. Razor and Tie released a decent anthology, which includes some of his earlier and later efforts.

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“Mercy Mercy”

:D CD Reissue: 2000 | Koch Records | Buy Mercy!/See-Saw @ Amazon ]
:) Vinyl Reissue: 2000? | Atlantic | Search eBay for Don Covay See Saw ]

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David Blue (self-titled)

David Blue

At first listen (and glance, just check out the cover) it’s hard not to dismiss David Blue’s first LP as a shameless Bob Dylan imitation. And that would be a fair assessment. From the drunken delivery of his pal’s (yes, they were actually friends) unmistakable drawl to the grittier interpretation of Highway 61’s revved-up folk, Blue seems to be doing everything possible and more to convince the world that he is Bob Dylan.

So why even bother? Because the songs are actually pretty decent. It’s definitely the harder-driving ones that’ll snag you like a rusty old nail. A Bo Diddley beat is shredded to pieces on “If Your Monkey Can’t Get It,” a grinding cut that’s further damaged by a dissonant collision of overdriven guitars and screaming keyboards. Another standout, “It Tastes Like Candy,” closes the album with some fuzz guitar savage enough to find a permanent home on a Seeds record. And it’s all propelled by a primitive thump that never lets up.

Slightly less engaging are the quieter moments where he proves to be a fairly competent balladeer. The best of these are “Midnight Through Morning” and “Grand Hotel,” with their graceful piano/keyboard work and Blue’s attempts to actually hit a note here and there. And, no, the lyrics are not spared the treatment as he gets us tangled up in obscure, imagery evoking language we know we’ve heard somewhere before.

Although this album could only be crowned a masterpiece in some dreadful Dylan impersonator contest, it is a consistent, enjoyable ride if you give it a chance. And let’s be thankful that someone had enough sense to snatch that harmonica (conspicuously absent from the recordings) away from him before he really made a fool of himself.

Blue toned down the Dylanisms and continued releasing material into the 70s, occasionally under his real name (Cohen). David Blue was reissued on Collector’s Choice Music.

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“If Your Monkey Can’t Get It”

[ Purchase @ amazon | LP search @ eBay ]