Posts Tagged ‘ 1967 ’

The Bee Gees “Bee Gees 1st”

Long before they were known as the kings of Disco, the Bee Gees were master craftsmen of some of the greatest pop-rock the late ‘60s and early ‘70s had to offer. First rumored to be The Beatles under an alias (“Bee Gees” = “Beatles Group,” get it?), the Bee Gees exploded in the North American market in the late summer of 1967 with this album (their first US Top 10 album), and three Top 20 singles:  “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” “To Love Somebody” (originally meant to be recorded for the late great Otis Redding), and “Holiday.”  The Brothers Gibb were well on their way to international superstardom.

On first listen, Bee Gees 1st plays like a wonderful, lost baroque-pop album, which isn’t far from the truth. The opening track, “Turn Of The Century,” with its lush orchestration and classic vocals from the Brothers Gibb, will immediately have the listener waiting for more. The hits, as previously mentioned, are here of course, but the remaining tracks are what give this album its enduring appeal; the record embodies the sweet sounds of the summer of ’67.  The psych-pop weirdness of “Red Chair, Fade Away” to the Pepper-esque “Every Christian Lion-Hearted Man Will Show You” reveal the Bee Gees at their most versatile and most talented. 1st is full of tunes that will make you smile, whether out of pure joy or bittersweet introspection.

1967 was one hell of a year for popular music.  Think of all the amazing and influential albums that were released that year – Sgt. Pepper’s, Surrealistic Pillow, The Doors S/T, Disraeli Gears; the list goes on and on. I like to hold this first Bee Gees album in the same category of greatness as all of the other classic smashes of ’67.

The Bee Gees are still a beloved music group. To me, there is nothing quite like their output from the late ‘60s. These songs, along with their other early albums (Horizontal, Idea, Odessa), have truly stood the test of time, and it’s easy to see why.  If you want to hear classic, endearing, and beautiful 1960s pop, pick up this album.

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“Turn Of The Century”

:D CD Reissue | 2007 | Rhino/Wea | buy here ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1967 | Atco | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

The Electric Prunes “Underground”

When the Electric Prunes are remembered at all, it’s for their seductive nightmare of a 1967 single, “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night).”  Culled from their first album, “I Had Too Much to Dream” set a template for the best of the band’s work: distorted guitars and vocals, bizarre lyrics and a spooky vibe.

By the time of their second album, the Prunes were tired of being considered a prefab band.  Fed songs from some of L.A.’s best psych-garage writers, controlled in the studio by producer/Machiavelli Dave Hassinger and often replaced on record by studio musicians, the band broke out of the prefab mold and wrote many of the songs on Underground.

The result was a more cohesive album than their first album, even if the many of the album’s best songs were contributed by other songwriters. Goffin-King’s “I Happen to Love You” is one of the disc’s strongest tunes, and the duo of Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz of “I Had Too Much to Dream” fame, contributed “Antique Doll,” another standout track.

But the songs contributed by band members are not throwaways by any means.  “The Great Banana Hoax” by members Jim Lowe and Mark Tulin has as much in common with the Monkees as the Standells, but is nevertheless memorable (and not banana flavored in the least), as are the pair’s other contributions, especially the brooding “Everybody Knows You’re Not in Love” and “Wind-Up Toys.”

Alas, Underground would be the last album for the real Electric Prunes; subsequent albums of pseudo-religious music (sung in Latin at times) used studio musicians playing under the moniker “the Electric Prunes,” while the actual Electric Prunes faded from view. Dirty shame.

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“Wind Up Toys”

:) Vinyl Reissue | 2009 | Hi Horse | buy here ]
:D CD Reissue | 2000 | Collector’s Choice | buy here ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

John Pantry “The Upside Down World Of John Pantry”

John Pantry is one of those artists that deserves to be heard by more people, especially those who value melodic British pop.  He released one decent solo disc in the early 70s (which has not been reissued as of this date) before delving into the world of Christian music.  Prior to that, he had been a talented studio engineer for IBC Studios (working with Eddie Tre-Vett), producing for the likes of Donovan, The Small Faces, The Bee Gees, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Cream.  He was also a member of Peter & The Wolves, an accomplished mid 60s pop group from Leigh-on-Sea/Southend and had a major hand with many other IBC studio projects of the time: the Factory, Sounds Around, Wolfe, The Bunch and Norman Conquest.

In 2009, Wooden Hill released a double disc set of Pantry’s late 60s/early 70s work.  It includes singles/tracks from all the above groups plus numerous outtakes and demos.  If anything, this set (53 tracks!) illustrates the depth of Pantry’s talents.  Besides being a savy studio technician, Pantry was a gifted songwriter and vocalist and an accomplished musician (he played the keyboards).  The earlier tracks stem from one of Pantry’s first groups, Sounds Around.  These guys played straight pop with slight soul and psych influences – they released two singles in 1966-1967.  Peter & The Wolves came shortly after Sounds Around’s demise (they were essentially the same group).  This is the group with which Pantry is most associated, along with The Factory.  Peter & The Wolves released several singles and lasted into the early 70s.  This group’s most productive period was probably the years of 1967-1969, where they released a string of pop gems:  a good, upbeat blue-eyed soul number titled “Still”, the superb Emitt Rhodes like “Woman On My Mind” and several tuneful psych pop creations, “Lantern Light,” “Birthday,” and “Little Girl Lost And Found” being the best in this style.

It was around this time that John Pantry was asked to write two tracks for The Factory, a legendary psychedelic group who had previously released the classic “Path Through The Forest” 45.  Pantry wrote and sang lead on the two Factory standouts, “Try A Little Sunshine” and the more folk-like “Red Chalk Hill.”  “Try A Little Sunshine” is the heaviest song on this comp, a classic that mixes Who power with Moody Blues spaciness.

During this period Pantry took advantage of free studio time and recorded a slew of demos.  While the sound quality is slightly below par, the power of popsike gems like “Battle Of Trafalgar,” “Pitsea Pub,” “Wash Myself Away,” and “Mississippi Paddleboat” cannot be denied.   Most of the material spanning these two discs strongly recalls Paul McCartney, Emitt Rhodes/The Merry-Go-Round and a more cheerful, punchy Bee Gees.  Wooden Hill exercised quality control (no duff tracks to be found) and should be commended for reissuing this great anthology.

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Peter and the Wolves “Woman On My Mind” (1968-)

:D CD Reissue | 2009 | Wooden Hill | buy at amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1999 | Tenth Planet | search ebay ]

PODCAST 21 Dark in my Heart


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1.  Hank Williams – Lonesome Whistle (1951) from Revealed: The Unreleased Recordings

2.  Lee Hazlewood – Dark In My Heart (1967) from Lee Hazlewoodism, Its Cause and Cure

3.  Addie Pray (Bill Lincoln from Euphoria) – Wings In The Wind (1970-1971) from Late For The Dance

4.  Elyse (with Neil Young) – Houses (1969) from Elyse

5.  The Youngbloods – Foolin’ Around (The Waltz) from The Youngbloods (1967)

6. J.J. Light – Gallup, New Mexico (1969) from Heya!

7.  Roscoe Holcomb – Coal Creek (date unknown) from An Untamed Sense of Control

8.  Buffy Sainte-Marie – Poppies (1969) from Illuminations

9.  Bert Jansch – Cluck Old Hen (1974) from LA Turnaround

10.  Graham Nash & David Crosby – Frozen Smiles (1972) from self-titled LP

11.  Ry Cooder – France Chance (1970) from Ry Cooder

12.  John Simon – Did You See? (1970) John Simon’s Album

13.  The Beau Brummels – One Too Many Mornings (1966) from Magic Hollow Box Set

14.  Space Opera – Blue Ridge Mountains (1972) from Space Opera

15.  Pearls Before Swine – Ballad to an Amber Lady (1967) from One Nation Underground

16.  Muleskinner – Muleskinner Blues (1972) from Muleskinner

17.  Tim Buckley – Song to the Siren – Morning Glory – The Tim Buckley Story

18.  The Band – The Rumor (1970) from Stage Fright

Del Shannon “Home & Away”

Del Shannon’s Home & Away never saw a proper release in the 1960s.   These tracks would eventually see light of day on the 1978 vinyl LP/compilation titled And The Music Plays On.  Record executives of the day were looking for heavy, underground sounds, not dense, wall-of-sound type productions that featured complex vocal arrangements, strings, harpsichords, and plenty of horns.  The music on this disc was recorded in 1967 with Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham sitting in the producer’s chair.   Home & Away was considered passe stuff for 1967 and shelved shortly after, as Del began work on his psychedelic masterpiece, The Further Adventures of Charles Westover.  The 2006 EMI reissue has excellent stereo sound and presents the LP in it’s proper context – a must own for fans of  the mid 60s Beach Boys, the Zombies and the Left Banke.

It’s useless to point out highlights on this great, lost pop album.  “Runaway ’67” is exactly what it claims to be; a 1967 update of Del’s classic smash.  This cut has a strong Left Banke feel with it’s swirling strings and baroque arrangement.  Del’s vocals sound haunted and seamlessly mesh with Oldham’s productions.  They hit the mark on nearly every track.  This means that each song on the album flows effortlessly, whether it’s the trippy harpsichord intro to “Easy To Say, Easy To Do” or the romantic pop of “My Love Is Gone.”   My hit picks are the shimmering psychedelic pop of “Silently” and the beautiful Pet Sounds influenced gem “It’s My Feeling.”  Del only penned 3 of the LP’s tracks but he and Oldham did a good job choosing fine material from outside writers – the 3 Billy Nichols selections are pop gems.

Home & Away is just a shade or two less important than The Further Adventures of Charles Westover. It’s proof that this type of early rocker could forge on into the late 60s and make great, experimental music without losing their identity.  Del Shannon is one of those hard luck artists who made excellent music all throughout the decade but never received his due.

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“Ginny In The Mirror”

:D CD Reissue | 2006 | EMI | get at amazon ]

The Buckinghams “Kind of a Drag”

The Buckinghams first disc is unlike anything they would ever record again. Sure, the title track was a bubblegum smash but the rest of the LP is given over to garage, blue-eyed soul, blues, and British Invasion influenced pop. It’s all good too, sung beautifully and played very tightly. You’ll be surprised when you put this gem on the turntable, if only for the two masterful garage punkers from the group’s USA tenure, “Don’t Want To Cry” and “I’ve Been Wrong.” These two tracks alone make Kind of a Drag worth a purchase.

“Sweets For My Sweet” is also given a nice garage pop reading with it’s raw guitar work and smooth organ sounds. Reissues include a powerful version of “I’m A Man”, a track that was featured on early USA pressings of this LP. Other standouts: the garage pop of “Makin’ Up & Breakin’ Up,” a superb blue-eyed soul song titled “Love Ain’t Enough” and “Beginners’ Love,” great Beatles inspired rock n roll. Even the album’s one instrumental, “Virginia Wolf,” is skillfully performed, in fact the whole album is very engaging, lacking any weak spots or noticeable mistakes. There’s lots of energy, thought and professionalism put into this music – these guys must have been one hell of a club band back in the day.

Kind of a Drag sold pretty well, so vinyl copies are very easy to find. Also recommended is the Sundazed CD reissue that was put out some years back. The youthful energy in the playing and the Buckingham’s willingness to tackle different musical genres is what makes this disc so exciting – a must if you’re into garage pop. The Yardbirds, the Kinks, and the Who were strong influences on the early Buckinghams as they had yet to fall into the bubblegum hit-making trap that was soon to come.

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“Love Ain’t Enough”

:) Original Vinyl | 1967 | USA | search ebay ]
:D CD Reissue | Sundazed | buy at sundazed ]

Mark P. Wirtz “A Teenage Opera”

Despite enjoying greater artistic freedom than in any period before or since, a handful of late sixties rock composers strove to push the creative boundaries beyond what even the industry’s patiently elastic limits would accept, resulting in the several great “lost albums” of the period. Brian Wilson’s SMiLE finally emerged complete and as intended in 2006, its compositional brilliance diminished only by the uber-perfect new digital recordings lacking the hazy beauty of those original analogue tracks that had appeared piecemeal on Smiley Smile and Surf’s Up. Pete Townshend saw the bulk of the material from his impossibly ambitious Lifehouse concept become the splendid Who’s Next album and several non-album singles from around 1970-71. And Mark P Wirtz’s A Teenage Opera, a set of nostalgic vignettes of Edwardian village life that predated Ray Davies’s similar Village Green Preservation Society, was belatedly released in 1996 as a pseudo-film soundtrack described by reissue company RPM as “as near to the original concept as can be assembled with the surviving recorded works”.

RPM’s A Teenage Opera is simultaneously fascinating, rewarding and confounding. Wirtz agreed to RPM assembling the album from his original 1967 recordings, allowing the use of the original title and enjoying having his name liberally spread over it, but has since disparaged it as a fake: an opportunistic collector’s item comprising completed tracks intended for the Opera, incomplete demos likewise, and similar but completely unrelated tracks produced during the same period. Given that some of the latter were subsequently issued by Wirtz as singles under his own and other real and spurious artists’ names, and that at least two tracks which are known to have been intended for the Opera haven’t survived, his assertion is probably true. The Opera’s original intended running order remains a mystery.

The music itself is no less enigmatic. The three amazingly ambitious tracks released as single A-sides can be considered as either masterpieces of whimsical psychedelia or as overproduced pop schmaltz, depending on your taste (and whether you recoil from dense orchestration and kiddies’ choirs). The first such release, “Grocer Jack”, credited to Keith West and retitled “Excerpt From A Teenage Opera” to whet the public’s appetite for the rest of the project, was an unexpected UK pirate radio hit; the other two, “Sam” and “(He’s Our Dear Old) Weatherman”, stiffed totally, leading to EMI’s final withdrawal of support and the shelving of the intended album and animated musical film. Three other songs surfaced with justification on Tomorrow’s eponymous album, Keith West and Steve Howe having contributed substantially to the Opera project. Of the instrumentals, most might appear at first exposure to be the corniest of muzak, but intent listening reveals an underlying compositional quality and deft arrangements comparable to Morricone’s incidental film music of the same period. If you’re into the “toytown” end of psych and 1960s film scores and the historical misadventure of the project appeals to you, you’ll enjoy this album; if not, you’ll probably be happier with the more esoteric complexity of SMiLE.

The troubled history of the project has been told numerous times, with variations. A reasonable third-party version is provided in the CD’s extensive and lavishly illustrated liner notes. The best reading, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, can be found in Wirtz’s own comprehensive and candid account.

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“(He’s Our Dear Old) Weatherman”

:D CD  | 1996 | RPM | at amzn ]
;) MP3 Album | download at amzn ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Moby Grape “Live”

Something tells me, if I had been at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom in June of ’67 to witness Moby Grape at the height of their powers, scorching through their set of two-minute pop blasts, blaring triple-guitar action and five-part harmonies soaring, I might not have survived the night. None was the match of the mighty Grape in those days; the band was “flying musically” and easily the toughest act around. Moby Grape Live is the first official release to afford a glimpse into the raucous and entrancing stage performances of one of the most exciting, original, and underappreciated bands of the ’60s.

Separated into four sides, this double LP takes us to performances from the same weeks their infamously overhyped masterpiece Moby Grape was released, to their few high-octane minutes at the legendary Monterey International Pop Festival, jumping forward to a 1969 performance in Amsterdam featuring cuts from Wow and ’69, and ending back at the start: a full side of  “Dark Magic,” recorded New Years Eve, 1966. This one’s worth the purchase for Side 1 alone. The rabid energy of the band, issuing rapid-fire gems like “Rounder” and “Looper,”  hits a high point in “Changes” into “Indifference” featuring Jerry Miller’s careening lead guitar. Skip Spence turns in a beautifully honest vocal to cap the blistering set with “Someday.” The highlight for me, however, are the post-Skip tracks from 1969 on Side 3. “Murder in my Heart for the Judge” shows the band at their loosest, the slack and soul of the rootsier Grape a refreshing contrast. “I am Not Willing,” one of their best songs, gets a grooving drawn out treatment and it’s interesting to hear a matured group attack earlier hits “Fall on You” and “Omaha.” The closing 17-minute raga, “Dark Magic,” is more than a piece of rock music history, an actually listenable and fascinating performance, it features inspiring guitar leads, primitive electronic squeals, Skip’s far out vocal, and the driving force of sound that made Moby Grape one of the hottest band of the era.

Sundazed has curated an important document here. Hardcore Grape addicts should note much of this material has been featured on bootlegs over the years (notably the tracks from Monterey Pop and “Dark Magic”) but none of this has ever been officially released, and never with such pristine sound quality. David Fricke’s notes are the icing on the cake. After the essential debut record, this is the Moby Grape record I would recommend next.

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“Murder in My Heart for the Judge” (1969, Amsterdam)

:) 180 Gram Vinyl | 2-LP | 2010 | Sundazed | buy at sundazed ]
:D CD | 2010 | Sundazed | buy at sundazed ]

The Liberty Bell “Reality Is The Only Answer”

With the notable exception of the Zakary Thaks (both groups shared a similar sound and influence), the Liberty Bell were probably Corpus Christi’s top rock n roll group. They were talented musicians who wrote fine, original material and played with a conviction and skill that most lack.  While the Liberty Bell never recorded an album, they released 5 excellent singles on the J-Beck and Back Beat labels.  Back in the mid 90’s, Collectables issued a good compilation collecting all their singles and a couple of outtakes, titled Reality Is The Only Answer.  The sound quality and liner notes are iffy but the music is fine if underappreciated garage/psych.  Also, if you look hard enough, Reality Is The Only Answer can still be found for under $10.

The group started out life in Corpus Christi, Texas as the Zulus.  Upon manager/record label owner Carl Becker’s suggestion, they changed their name to the Liberty Bell.   Their first single (J-Beck) was released in 1967 – a rocking cover of the Yardbirds’ “The Nazz Are Blue.”  The flip side was a fine, fuzzy take on “Big Boss Man.”  This single met with some local success prompting Becker to release their second 45, “For What You Lack/That’s How It Will Be.”  Both sides of this 45, also released in 1967, are pounding slabs of prime garage punk that should have put the Liberty Bell on the map.  All the ingredients were there too, attitude, lots of fuzz guitar and an overpowering energy but no success.  Another track cut at the same session, “I Can See,” is a brash garage number that’s worth a spin as well.  Amazingly, these 3 songs were cut on one of the first eight-track machines available in the U.S.  Their third J-Beck single was a solid blues number (“Al’s Blues”) with strong guitar work.  This track was backed by another good garage pop number that probably should have been the A-side, titled “Something For Me.”

In 1968 the Liberty Bell added ex-Zakary Thaks lead singer Chris Gerniottis to the fold.  That spring they went into the studio to record some tracks that would never be released.  “Reality Is The Only Answer,” written by Chris, is perhaps the group’s finest moment.  A scintillating acid punker, this cut features ferocious Keith Moon-like drumming and creative psych guitar effects – it’s explosive.  That summer the group forged on, releasing “Thoughts and Visions” and “Look For Tomorrow.”  These cuts were solid psych numbers with diverse influences ranging from the Small Faces to the Jefferson Airplane.  The Liberty Bell closed the year out with “Naw, Naw, Naw” and the superb fuzz laden psych B-side “Recognition.”

Truly due for rediscovery.

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“Reality Is The Only Answer”

:D CD Reissue | Collectables | at amazon ]

Nashville West “Nashville West”

Sierra-Briar Records released the original Nashville West vinyl LP in 1978.  Initially panned by rock critic Noel Coppage in ‘Stereo Review‘ magazine, the Nashville West album has since been proclaimed one of the “20 Essential Country Guitar Albums” (Guitar Player magazine) and has seen subsequent releases in Italy, Holland, and England.

Nashville West is indeed a solid record that features the talents of Gib Guilbeau (vocals), Wayne Moore (bass), Gene Parsons (drums), and of course Clarence White (guitar).  These recordings were laid down live at the Nashville West Club in El Monte, California (1967).  The four musicians traveled back and forth from Bakersfield to LA in a beat up 1954 Mercury station wagon, playing all the local dive bars and clubs along the way.  These songs were recorded before Guilbeau formed Swampwater and also before Parsons and White would become full-time members of the Byrds.  The group’s name was actually the Reasons and these recordings were laid down before the invention of the B-Bender – Clarence White played it straight, with just a tele.

The song selection is eclectic (blues, cajun, rock, country, and instros) and the sound quality a bit rough in spots but this gives the Nashville West album its intimate feel and unique character.  No bullshit here, just hard hitting drum work via Gene Parsons and dazzling Clarence White guitar solos.  The early version of “Nashville West” kicks things off nicely.  Many of the performances are low key but forceful, give a good listen to “Sweet Mental Revenge” and “CC Rider”  for an example of this.  My favorite number is the instrumental “Ode To Billy Joe.”  This cut features outstanding, slightly spacey guitar work that sounds pretty fresh 40+ years after the fact.  Other worthy cuts are “By The Time I Get To Pheonix,” a sturdy rendition of “Love Of The Common People,” “Greensleeves,” and “Mom & Dad’s Waltz.”  The band’s sound here is bar-band tight and Gib’s vocals are appealingly world weary.

Nashville West was really the beginnings of country-rock.  The performances are fun, honest and the guitar playing is absolutely top notch.  A very good disc.  The Sierra Records CD is the best version to get, as it features a handful of bonus tracks and nice liner notes.

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“Ode To Billy Joe”

:D CD Reissue | 2001 | Sierra | buy at sierra | at amazon ]