The Family Tree
Listen – Slippin’ Thru My Fingers- MP3
Happy (I suppose) beginning (sort of) of the week.
Last week – as recounted over at Funky16Corners – I went on a digging expedition, in fact the first serious one in quite a long time.
In addition to a grip of very tasty soul and funk, and closing out a couple of long standing wantlist items (one that will appear in this space soon), I also managed to pick up a couple of interesting 60’s pop pieces.
Perhaps the best thing about digging with a portable turntable is that I am instantly able to validate (or dispose of) records that catch my eye for one reason or another. Usually it’s an interesting name, label or song title, but as any seasoned digger will tell you, even a combination of all three of these indicators is no guarantee of a great record. My crates have many examples from my pre-portable years of records that verily screamed “BUY ME IMMEDIATELY AS I APPEAR TO BE THE KIND OF RECORD YOU’D DIG!!” until I got them home and whipped them on the turntable, where they started to scream something entirely different (and almost always unpleasant). On (extremely) rare occasions this plays out differently (like the 45 that I picked up in my garage punk days, which turned out to be a very tasty funk side), but most of the time what you get is annoying calypso, old-timey R&B or bizarre novelty.
Having the portable allows you to give visually promising records a preview for both content and condition.
Thanks to this modern convenience, I picked up the record you’re listening to presently, ‘Slippin’ Thru My Fingers’ by the Family Tree.
I had never heard of the Family Tree before, but the band name and song titles looked interesting, and their was a familiar name on the label. That the record contained some very nice pop-psych sealed the deal, onto the “keeper” pile it went.
When I looked up that name on the label, It turns out I have no idea why it was familiar to me, but a little research turned up a very interesting story.
Bob Segarini, who wrote both sides of the 45, had a long and storied career that started out in the San Francisco area with the legendary Brogues (some of whom went on to form Quicksilver Messenger Service), then on to the Family Tree (which included a keyboard player named Mike Olsen, who would become better known as Lee Michaels) who recorded a 45 and an unreleased LP for Mira, and then a few 45s and an LP for RCA.
‘Slippin’ Thru My Fingers’ is from that LP (‘Miss Butters’), which was reissued in the last few years by the UK Rev-Ola label. The tune is a fantastic bit of pop-psych that sounds like ‘Horizontal’-era Bee Gees after a few months soaking up the California sun (in fact it bears a close resemblance to the Gibb Brothers ‘The Earnest of Being George’). There are also traces of the Beatles, but for me there is a very strong LA vibe in ‘Slippin’ Thru My Fingers’ that reminds me a lot of some of the stuff on the first few Nitty Gritty Dirt Band albums, or maybe something by Emitt Rhodes. I love the vocals, and guitar, and I think there might even be bits of moog synthesizer in the background. Interestingly enough this LP was recorded at the same time (same arranger George Tipton) as Harry Nilsson’s masterpiece ‘Aerial Ballet’. The two RCA records even have sequential catalog numbers.
The Family Tree broke up after ‘Miss Butters’, with Lee Michaels going on to a serious solo career, and Segarini to a succession of bands including Roxy, and the Wackers (which recorded several LPs) before moving to Canada and recording some seminal power pop LPs under his own name.
I’ll be back later in the week with some more groovy gravy.