31 January, 2016

THE CALIFORNIA SPECTRUM - SASSAFRAS



THE CALIFORNIA SPECTRUM - "Sassafras" / "Obviously Bad" (Rasberry Swawfly 9735) 1968

Here's one of my latest rare and obscure 60s psych 45s. This is by The California Spectrum which were The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band recorded under a pseudonym during 1968.
"Sassafras" is a melodic folk tune, produced by Bob Markley. I don't suppose the record had much distribution beyond Los Angeles. 
Pacific Palisades, CA (otherwise known as Santa Monica) is where Jim Morrison and amigos hung, in the beachy neighborhood of UCLA.

The other side "Obviously Bad" is a short instrumental.


25 January, 2016

GREAT UNCLE FRED - I'M IN LOVE WITH AN EX BEAUTY QUEEN



GREAT UNCLE FRED - "I'm In Love With An Ex Beauty Queen" (Strike JH-324) January 1967

The oddly named and obscure group Great Uncle Fred are believed to have their origins in Great Yarmouth and the small East Anglian beat scene. At that particular period they were calling themselves The Millionaires.

Sometime in 1966 a decision was made to turn professional and relocate to London for a shot at the big time. Sadly, all that came from their endeavours was this lone single on Strike. It's gotta be said that the Strike label design is one of mod beauty.

In London they changed their name to Great Uncle Fred and recorded a Harvey Freed pop art number "I'm In Love With An Ex Beauty Queen" which by all accounts almost made the Top 40 in the Disc & Music Echo Chart during February 1967.

"I'm In Love With An Ex Beauty Queen" is an odd little number combining a mod beat with a Russian style sound. Very Cossack au go go. It sounded different and unique enough to be a hit. Shame then that this one shot at stardom was Great Uncle Fred's last.
The single was compiled in the 90s on the vinyl only compilation "Incredible Sound Show Stories - Volume 14" also known as "Candy Coloured Dreams."

The B-Side is an instrumental of the same song but with a slightly different mix, some echo and a louder guitar part.

line-up:
Terry Mansi (vocals)
Dennis Ward (vocals)
Brian Roberts (guitar)
Tony Collier (bass)
Terry Rouse (drums)

a source of information about the East Anglian beat scene can be found here.

24 January, 2016

THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - I NEED YOU



THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "I Need You" (Imperial Records LP-12359) 1967

My Sunshine Company excavation continues with their first album release on Imperial Records from 1967. The long player was only released in America and it contains a couple of songs not available on the UK release which was basically a patched up version of their first two American albums.

My pick is their splendid interpretation of The Beatles' "I Need You" written by George Harrison and available on their 1965 "Help" release. The Sunshine Company transform the song into a flower pop gem, adding harmonies and baroque instrumentation to create a perfect soundscape of Los Angeles coolness.

Bill McEuen, Manager of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band discovered them during their first engagement at The Mecca, a Southern California folk club. Two weeks later their unique sound was recorded by Imperial Records.

The Sunshine Company concentrate on vocals. They are famous for their beautiful vocal qualities and harmonic blends. They are all serious musicians and are very creative instrumentally, but they realize that talent is not necessarily commensurate with degree of volume. (Sue Cameron - Teen Magazine)

line-up:
Maury Manseau (vocals, rhythm guitar)
Larry Sims (bass)
Merle Brigante (drums)
Douglas Mark (lead guitar)
Mary Nance (vocals)



19 January, 2016

DAVIE JONES & THE KING BEES - LIZA JANE



DAVIE JONES & THE KING BEES - "Liza Jane" / "Louie, Louie Go Home" (Decca F13807) June 1964

Last week I as as shocked as anyone to hear the news that David Bowie had died. I've never bought any Bowie records post 1965 so he's not had much impact on my life but I can appreciate the fact that he's influenced thousands of musicians and vocalists over the years.

My way of tribute is this tremendous R&B pounder from Davie Jones & the King Bees released June 1964. My copy is a 70s limited reissue and still very collectable.
It was originally released on Vocalion and if you're lucky enough to have a copy of that one you've got a record valued at around £1,250 according to the Record Collector Price Guide.


If you're only familiar with the famous Bowie records check this one out for something completely different but GREAT.



10 January, 2016

THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - I JUST WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND



THE SUNSHINE COMPANY - "Back On The Street Again" / "I Just Want To Be Your Friend" (Liberty LIF 66260F) October 1967

Here is my copy of the rare French release housed within a unique picture cover. The phrase sunshine pop couldn't be any more apt to describe the lyte flower power sounds of the classic 'Back On The Street Again'.... The Sunshine Company formed in Los Angeles during 1967 and combined their soft vocal harmonies with the folk rock sound to produce two and a bit minutes of perfect harmony pop.
 
Comparisons with The Mamas And The Papas were inevitable but the group were quick to distance themselves from that outfit during an interview with KRLA Beat.

Leader Maury Manseau stated:

"I think the comparison is valid only in the fact that both of us are vocal groups. But then - it's not really that either, because we do our own instrumentals all the time, and they have a band behind them. I think we've got our own thing and it's different." 

'Back On The Streets Again' was a hit and work poured in. They appeared on TV Shows Joey Bishop, Woody Woodbury and The Laugh In. Maybe one day tapes of these performances will show up on You Tube. The Sunshine Company also recorded a vocal backing for a Clairol TV Commercial.

Compilation appearances have been rare (they won't appeal to the fuzz and farfisa crowd) but this song surfaced on Nuggets Volume 10 (Rhino Records) back in the mid 80s.

The B-Side, and the song highlighted today is "I Just Want To Be Your Friend" which was written by Curt Boettcher and also recorded by his late 60s group The Millenium.
Guitarist Douglas Mark was previously a member of The Grains Of Sand.


07 January, 2016

HEAD AND THE HARES - NO USE IN TRYIN'



HEAD AND THE HARES - "Painted Air" / "No Use In Tryin" / "How Many" (Outer Limits OL.62.705) 1995

I posted images of both Head and the Hares singles way back in 2007 with the intention of writing about them, it seems that I forgot! For those who don't know Head and the Hares formed in Rome during the late 80s but at this point in time they were called The Spookies, their sound was also radically different going all out for 60s garage punkers.

They changed direction and name then started creating a much more subtle sound mixing low-key folk rock with the purist teen sounds from New England from the '66 era. Their cover versions became much more obscure with less focus on "Back From The Grave" style boneshakers.

"Painted Air" originally recorded by The Remaining Few is an extraordinary cover version which is very faithful the 60s acid punk classic. Quite how The Head and the Hares were able to recreate this sound in the (mostly dullsville) 90s is mind boggling.

The other side of the disc is very special too. "How Many" is a low-key moody gem and that's followed by a killer version of The Five Bucks nugget "No Use In Tryin"
This is certainly one of my favourite 45s from Italy.

fab label design

05 January, 2016

HEAD AND THE HARES - LOST



HEAD AND THE HARES - "Two Tymes" / "Lost" (Stanton Park M-107) 1992

I posted images of both Head and the Hares singles way back in 2007 with the intention of writing about them, it seems that I forgot! For those who don't know Head and the Hares formed during the late 80s but at this point in time they were called The Spookies, their sound was also radically different going all out for 60s garage punkers.

They changed direction and name then started creating a much more subtle sound mixing low-key folk rock with the purist teen sounds from New England from the '66 era. Their cover versions became much more obscure with less focus on "Back From The Grave" style boneshakers.

"Two Tymes" is a group original and sounds very cool indeed but even better is their version of "Lost" written by T. McCall.  Is this Toussaint McCall? Anyway, if it is I've never heard the original but The Head & the Hares version certainly delivers the goods. Seek out this single as fast as you can for your kicks and shakes.



01 January, 2016

STEVEN ROBACK - BRIGHTSIDE



STEVEN ROBACK - "Brightside" / "Sudden Rain" (Rough Trade 45rev23) October 1993

It's been a long time since I posted anything here not from the 60s but my plan is to post a lot more contemporary records, photos and ephemera on my blog in 2016.  I'll also revisit old entries and update the information, add more photos and perhaps upload a YouTube video. I have a lot of stuff and I dig sharing and finding out more information about certain items.

Take this obscure solo 45 on Rough Trade by ex Rain Parade member Steven Roback from October 1993 for instance. Steven played bass, guitar, added vocals and produced.... Aided by former band mate Matt Piucci on guitar, organ and percussion. So it's very much a project that will interest fans of Rain Parade... 

There is a fine 'Paisley Underground' Facebook group and I asked Matt to fill in some blanks. The photo of Steven adorning the front sleeve was taken by Missy Roback. The song "Brightside"
was done at the old Polymorph studios in Temescal, recorded by Stickman.

I believe "Brightside" was very much taster for the Viva Saturn album of the same name which came out a couple of years later in 1995 although the latter was a re-recording.