Iron Leg Digital Trip #4 – Timothy Leary’s Dead

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Playlist

Harumi – Talk About It (Verve)
Fox – Butterfly (Crewe)
Johnny Rivers – Hey Joe (Imperial)
Sweet Thursday – Molly (Great Western Gramophone)
JK & Co. – Break of Dawn/Fly (White Whale)
West – The Dolphins (Epic)
Orpheus – Lesley’s World (MGM)
Bit-a-Sweet – If I Needed Someone (ABC)
Strawberry Alarm Clock – Pretty Song From Psych Out (Uni)

Greetings all.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to drop this edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip before New Years Eve, but since I had it ready to go (and another fresh – very cool – mix waiting in the on deck circle) I figured the time was right.
I hope everyone is having an excellent holiday season – no matter what holiday you celebrate – and is ready for more hijinks in 2008.
As I mentioned with the previous mix, this podcast was assembled as a companion piece of sorts, with a slightly dreamier aesthetic.
As is always the case, I dug deep into the crates and let the spirit move me, attempting to group some songs together that may not be stylistically consistent but all manage to complement each other, creating not a psychedelic monolith but rather an audio journey of sorts in where the scenery changes from place to place but it all manages to be quite groovy.
Things get started with a shorter cut from the 1967 debut of the mysterious Harumi. From what I’ve been able to gather Harumi was indeed Japanese, but recorded his album in New York City (with the guidance of Tom Wilson). The sounds therein are a mixture of mid-60’s psyche pop, trippy free-form excursions and world music. ‘Talk About It’ is one of the more “conventional” tracks on the album with a real Carnaby Street feel that wouldn’t have been out of place on one of the many Rubble comps. I’ll be posting one of the long tracks from this album very soon.
Speaking of Rubble, it was on one of those volumes that I first encountered ‘Butterfly’ by the Fox. I can’t tell you much about the group, other than the fact that their LP, which was released in the US on the Crewe label is both excellent – with lots of psyche pop – and fairly easy to come by (or at least it was in the 80’s when I owned no less that three copies before finally scoring the one I own now, with the cover still intact). ‘Butterfly’ is perhaps the perfect example of late-60’s UK hippy pastorale, complete with profound lyrics and a bit of a sunrise at Stonehenge vibe to it. I love it.
I’ve always dug the sounds of pop hitmaker Johnny Rivers, which is why I grabbed his 1967 ‘Realization’ LP when I was in Maine earlier this year. Good thing I did too, because in addition to my fave Rivers 45 ‘Summer Rain’, the record also included a fairly psyched-out take on that old saw ‘Hey Joe’. Rivers takes it at a slow, Hendrixian pace, and manages to work in some sound effects and a few new lyrics along the way.
I first heard ‘Sweet Thursday’ many years ago via someone I used to work with (I can’t remember exactly who…). The band, a kind of second rung supergroup that featured both Johnny Mark and Nicky Hopkins had an interesting sound, mixing bits of folk and pop in with their 1969 UK blues to great effect. The finest cut on the album – at least to my ears – is ‘Molly’ that sounds like an outtake from a Procol Harum session. Even if the track doesn’t blow you away, it’s worth picking up the album for the picture of the band on the cover with their rock star coats to stave off the chill of a London night with Big Ben shining in the background.
J.K. & Company’s ‘Suddenly One Summer’ LP is a great example of an album I picked up because it looked trippy, and ended up not only being excellent, but worth a couple of bucks as well (always a nice by-product). Jay Kaye was apparently a 15 year old whiz kid when he recorded his only LP for White Whale in 1968. The album is filled with folky soundscapes and strange little sonic interludes. ‘Break of Dawn/Fly’ is actually one of each. If you can find your own copy (when I got mine it had a letter in it from the label’s promo director to a distributor, on White Whale stationery) good on you. If not, you can always pick up the recent reissue.
Another Maine score was the 1968 debut album by the group West. The band, which recorded two LPs for Epic featured ex-We Five member Michael Stewart. Though the LP featured some fairly unremarkable folk rock (albeit with nice vocals), one of the standouts was this cover of Fred Neil’s ‘The Dolphins’.
We take a brief detour into a bit of pretty soft rock with ‘Lesley’s World’ by Orpheus. Promoted as part of MGM’s ill-advised ‘Bosstown Sound’ construct (see also Ultimate Spinach and Phluph)– in which all the bands hailed from Boston but had little or no stylistic connection – Orpheus created three albums for MGM and one for Bell between 1967 and 1971, all featuring a soft-rock/harmony vibe that sounds a lot more California than Boston. ‘Lesley’s World’ has some fantastic chord changes and am vibe that wouldn’t be out of place on a late-60’s Astrud Gilberto LP.
One of the first groups I featured here at Iron Leg was New York’s own ‘Bit A Sweet’. Though their MGM 45 is my favorite, they went on to record a full length LP for ABC. Their trippy cover of the Beatles’ ‘If I Needed Someone’ is pretty cool, and believe it or not comes complete with a drum break.
I remember the first time I ever saw the exploito classic ‘Psych Out’ and really dug the pretty song by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. I never caught the title, but always wished I could find a copy. Flash forward a bunch of years and I’m digging through a box of 45s at a record show and what do I find but a Uni 45 by the Strawberry Alarm Clock entitled – I shit you not – ‘Pretty Song From Psych Out’. WTF?!?!? It was like a punch line to a lame joke, but thankfully it was also a very, VERY groovy tune, which I bring to you now. As hard as it may be to believe, the co-writer of this song Ed King went on to play with Lynyrd Skynyrd following his years with the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
So, when the New Years Eve festivities are winding down, and it’s just you and a couple of good friends and you drag out your “special occasion” bong (i.e. “the good china” for heads), fire up this mix and let it flow in over the lobes and wrap itself around your brain. You will not be sorry.
Happy New Year, and…

Peace
Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for the 2007 Year In Review Podcast!

Iron Leg Christmas – Bob Seger & the Last Heard – Sock It To Me Santa

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Bob Seger (top left) & the Last Heard

Listen – Sock It To Me Santa – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope all is well on your end.
Today I bring you the very first Iron Leg Christmas post (hopefully the first of many).
Though this blog has a much smaller audience than Funky16Corners, I’m having a tremendous amount of fun working on it. Though soul and funk are the main focus of my collectors mania, my musical interests – accumulated over all my 45 years – are much broader.
As I’ve related in this space a bunch of times, during the mid-80’s I was pretty deeply involved in the garage/mod bag, both as an active (fanzines, bands) and passive (fan, collector) participant. It is the music I was digging through during that period (and before and after) that I cover here at Iron Leg.
One of the positive aspects of doing a music blog is that it kind of forces you to go back into your crates and dig, rediscovering and more importantly re-appreciating music that may not currently occupy the center stage. In that respect, Iron Leg definitely fits the bill.
If you’re a Funky16Corners reader, you’ll already know that I’ve never been a big collector of holiday music. Certainly someone that consumes music as voraciously as I do is bound to grab a couple of Christmas sides, but it has never been my focus.
I was originally going to post something quiet and meditative for Christmas, on account of that’s the kind of mood I find myself in these days.
However…
The bygone 60’s punk that still dwells within took over and I decided that we would all be better served with something from the kick-ass side of the menu.
In service of that notion, I bring you one of the punkiest Christmas records this side of the Sonics, Bob Seger & the Last Heard’s ‘Sock It To Me Santa’.
I’ve touched briefly on the dynamic pre-Night Moves career of Seger before (and will go even more in depth in the future). I don’t have the original 45 of this number (I ripped it from a 20 year old Euro bootleg of his Cameo 45s, but for those of you interested in the early Last Heard sides there are a few of them (including ‘Sock It To Me Santa’ on the recent Cameo-Parkway boxed set, which I believe is available via iTunes).
Here we see the 1966 model Seger, in which later pretensions to arena-rock-osity were preceded by just a touch of that Detroit suburban whiteboy James Brown wannabee-ism, which by the way predates a similar (though not Yuletide) sonic assault a year later by his fellow Motorcity rocker Mitch Ryder.
That all said, I ride for early Seger up through his Capitol years and ‘Sock It To Me Santa’ is a fine example.
I hope you dig it.
I have two more Iron Leg podcasts in the bag, as well as a large supply of individual bangers, so stick around kids. I won’t be posting again til up and around New Years Eve, so you all have yourselves an excellent holiday.
Peace
Larry

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The U.S. Male – I Don’t Want To Know

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Not the Zombies (below) but an incredible simulation…

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Listen – I Don’t Want To Know – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope everyone is well, and has been digging the mix of last week. We’ll be running through a couple of individual tracks this week, and I ought to be dropping the second half of the psychedelic podcast in the next few weeks (though maybe not until after New Years Eve).
I ought to start off today’s post with a reference to the unintended, long lasting impact of a tiny bit of DIY from back in the day.
During the height of my garage/mod days, I (and everyone else I knew) was all about the comps. Prior to the digital age (and pretty much before the CD age, as it was) we would truck into the city (NYC) on a regular basis and hit places like Venus Records (where have you gone Ron Rimsite, coo coo ca choo…) and Midnight Records to check out what the new garage/psyche comps were. This – aside from collecting OG vinyl, which I didn’t really set my mind to for a few years – was the only way to check out old school fuzz and psyche.
My pals and I used to wonder what it would be like to put out our own comp (especially after we started to accumulate original garage vinyl) but none of us had the know-how or financial wherewithal to get the job done.
A few years later, I decided to parlay my compulsive mixtape making into something I was (though I had no idea at the time) in no way prepared to do properly, that being release my own comps.
I bought a bunch of 30 minute chrome blank tapes, designed some j-cards and liner notes on my old Mac Performa 200 and created the short-lived, entirely handmade/homegrown, and (very) poorly distributed Delusions of Grandeur tape compilations. I don’t remember – it has been a long time and I don’t think I even have a full set of the tapes anywhere – but there were around a half dozen different tapes that I produced myself and sold through my fanzine (and in person at shows) for about a year. I have no idea how many I eventually made/sold, but it wasn’t much.
The tapes were largely composed of US garage and psyched 45s, though my pal Bill put together a UK R&Beat comp as well.
These 20 years hence, I had pretty much forgotten about these tapes, and figured everyone else had as well. That was until I was Googling some band or other and found that someone, somewhere had recorded these tapes in a database of garage comps. When I subsequently featured one of the singles from the tapes on this blog, a reader commented that the tune had been on one of the Delusions of Grandeur comps, and I had to fess up.
Weird how these things come around.
Anyway, this has all been prelude to the fact that today’s selection appeared on one of those tapes, and in all the years I’ve owned it, I’ve never been able to find out anything about it.
The only obvious fact is that the U.S. Male’s ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ is a cover of a tune (written by Chris White) from the Zombies first LP. The U.S. Male hew pretty closely to the original, up to and including a breathy, Blunstone-esque vocal. Though I wouldn’t go as far as to describe this as “garage” (an appellation that seems to be attached to any obscure rock record of a certain vintage) it has a great pop vibe to it, and of course scores extra points as an obscure cover.
If any of you knows anything about this band, please let me know.
That said, I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back later in the week, and then later with something for Christmas.
Peace
Larry

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Iron Leg Digital Trip #3 – The Hippie Revolt!

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Playlist

The Travel Agency – She Understands (Viva)
Turtles – She’s My Girl (White Whale)
Kak – Everything Changes (Epic)
Cherry Slush – I Cannot Stop You (USA)
Mr Lucky & the Gamblers – Alice Designs (Panorama)
Clear Light – Black Roses (Elektra)
Fever Tree – Come On In (Ampex)
Griffin – I’m Taking the Freeway (ABC)
Steampacket 2 – Take Her Anytime (Polydor)
Human Beinz – The Shaman (Capitol)

Greetings all.
Despite the current ball of confusion that has beset the Funky16Corners/Iron Leg household I’ve managed to digi-ma-tize a bunch of raw material for several podcasts, and – as you’ll hear today – even found the time to get one put together.
Iron Leg Digital Trip Number Three: The Hippie Revolt is the first half of a two-part psychedelic podcast.
This first half concerns itself with the slightly heavier side of things with a mixture of hippie rock, garage psyche and even a touch of folk or pop here and there.
When I started rummaging through the crates I was originally going to assemble another set of garage punk, but when I picked out the Cherry Slush 45 I decided that things were going to take a somewhat more lysergic turn. I continued picking out 45s – and a couple of interesting album tracks – and I ended up with two separate piles; one you’ll be checking out today, and a stack of lighter, trippier things for the future.
As always I tracked down some cool samples to link it all together into a thematic whole, so give the mix a listen.
Things get started with a some prime, late 60’s Frisco ish, this time by the Travel Agency. The group released 45s for a few different labels before settling in for a full length LP for the Leon Russell/Snuff Garrett associated Viva imprint. Led by guitarist/singer Frank Davis – who had played with Bob Segarini of the Family Tree – the Travel Agency played a pretty standard (for 1969) mix of jammy rock and psychedelia, with garagey touches here and there. ‘She Understands’ (this is LP mix) definitely bears the San Francisco sound with cool guitars and some tape manipulation at the end.
If you dig the sounds featured at Iron Leg, I’ll go ahead and assume that you know who the Turtles were. A brief scan of their catalog reveals it to be a perfect snapshot of the evolving sounds of 60’s West Coast rock. They moved from folk rock, through goodtime pop right on into psychedelia effortlessly. Back in the day when I spent a lot of time hanging with Dr. Ellis D Trails, one of my big go-to moments of bliss was a bootleg video of the Turtles promo film for ‘She’s My Girl’. That song starts out gently and quickly morphs into a bit of pure, tripped out LA sunshine, bursting with blissful harmony vocals. In fact, give the tune a close listen and realize how small a part the non-vocal instrumentation plays in the record. It’s not quite a cappela, but it comes pretty close.
Kak is one of those SanFran hippie-era outfits that is pretty much only known to collector types, and this (as always) a crying shame. Tunes like ‘Lemonade Kid’ and ‘Rain’ are outstanding examples of the best of the late-60’s West Coast underground. Their one album for Epic is pretty rare (I remember paying big bucks for a bootleg back in the 80’s). Connected to both the Oxford Circle and Blue Cheer, Kak ought to have been a much bigger deal. ‘Everything’s Changing’ has a bit of a Moby Grape vibe to it and is one of the faster and rock-ier tunes on their album (this is a 45 edit).
The Cherry Slush was a garage band from Saginaw Michigan. Their wild, trippy ‘I Cannot Stop You’ was initially released on the local Cocoanut Grove label before being picked up by Chicago’s USA records (also home to the Buckinghams among others). The tune is a great example of how the fuzzed out garage sound of 1966 started to take on a slightly druggier vibe over the next few years. ‘I Cannot Stop You’ was written by fellow Michigander Dick Wagner (later of the Frost) who was a kind of a mentor to the band.
Mr. Lucky and the Gamblers hailed from Newport, Oregon. They released a number of 45s between 1965 and 1967. ‘Alice Designs’ on the Seattle’s Panorama label was their final single. Written by Tandyn Almer (who also penned ‘Along Comes Mary’ and ‘Shadows and Reflections’), the tune – with a VERY thinly veiled, punning title is a cool bit of garage psyche. The group, which shared stages with many of the bigger Northwest bands had members go on to work with Don & the Goodtimes.
Los Angelenos Clear Light were something of a second rung supergroup, featuring drummer Dallas Taylor (later of CSNY), future actor Cliff Deyoung, and a few members, like Danny Kortchmar, Ralph Shuckett and Doug Lubahn who went on as big name studio musicians. ‘Black Roses’ hails from their excellent, self-titled 1967 LP. The group also appeared in one of my fave 60’s flicks, ‘The President’s Analyst’.
The Fever Tree is probably best remembered for their minor hit ‘San Francisco Girls’. Originating in Houston, Texas, the group went on to record four albums (and many singles). Their groovy cover of the Music Machine’s ‘Come On In’ is from their 1970 Ampex album ‘For Sale’ which also features some a great version of Love’s ‘She Comes In Colors’ which I’ll be sure to feature in the future.
I know nothing about Griffin, other than I remember picking up their album years ago in a dollar bin because it looked cool. Believe it or not it sounds pretty cool too, with ‘I’m Taking the Freeway’ being my favorite. I love the swirly organ on this one.
The only non-US group in this mix (and the only track not from original vinyl) comes to us courtesy of Sweden’s Steampacket 2 (also known as the Longboatmen). ‘Take Her Anytime’ (which I lifted from an 80’s era vinyl comp of Swedish obscurities) is became one of my favorite records right after I heard it for the first time more than 20 years ago. Sounding like a long lost Joe Meek creation, ‘Take Her Anytime’ is a deep, dark sea of reverb and fuzz and really ought to be better known.
The track that closes out this mix is by Ohio’s Human Beinz, best known for their epic soul/garage take on the Isley Brothers ‘Nobody But Me’. Coming from the album that spawned that hit is a slightly harder edged bit of psyche out, ‘The Shaman’. Like many of their contemporaries the Human Beinz flirted with a variety of rock styles. Unlike many of their contemporaries they actually played a few of those styles pretty well. ‘The Shaman’ is a great bit of West Coast influenced psyche-out, with great, fuzzy lead guitar and some cool vocals in the chorus.
So, that’s it for this mix. Hold tight and I’ll be back with Part two in a few weeks with some cool individual tracks in between.
I hope you dig it.
Peace
Larry

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The Critters – It Just Won’t Be That Way

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The Critters

Listen – It Just Won’t Be That Way – MP3

Greetings all.
This will be a quick one, as it’s late, I need to sleep and I already spent time last night and this morning digi-ma-tizing vinyl for two new Iron Leg podcasts (on a psyche tip) for the coming weeks.
I first heard of the Critters via ‘Mr Dieingly Sad’ which appeared on one of the old, vinyl Rhino’s Nuggets comps. I fell in love with the tune, which – written by group member Don Ciccone – featured a beautiful melody and some great harmony vocals.
It wasn’t long before I picked myself up a 45 of that song, but it was years before I finally flipped the record over and listened to the b-side, ‘It Just Won’t Be That Way’.
Imagine my shock when I discovered that the super sweet, mellow pop of ‘Mr Dieingly Sad’ had been paired with a rough edged bit of garage pop.
The opening bass line sounds like it was lifted from the beginning of ‘Eight Miles High’ and there’s a great, reverbed guitar line running through the song. Listen closely also for what sounds like an electric piano comping in the background.
The Critters hailed from Westwood and Scotch Plains right here in New Jersey, and in 1966 they had their first hit (for the Kapp label) with a cover of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Younger Girl’. They hit again with ‘Mr. Dieingly Sad’ the next year, and following the departure of vocalist/songwriter Don Ciccone, they recorded a final album – with some interesting lite psych touches – in 1967 for the Project 3 label.
Ciccone went on to perform with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, playing a key role (on guitar and vocals) in their 1970’s comeback.

Check out the Critters performing ‘Mr Dieingly Sad’ on Where the Action Is

Peace
Larry

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PS I’m not sure if I’ll be back with anything else this week, but prepare for another podcast next week.

Peppermint Trolley Company – Trust

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The Peppermint Trolley Company

Listen – Trust – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope – as always- that you are well, rested from the weekend and ready once again to soak up some quality sounds.
I can’t remember exactly when I fell in love with this song, but I suspect it was sometime in the mid-to-late 80’s when I first came across the Peppermint Trolley Company LP.
The California-based band, consisting of Jimmie and Danny Faragher, Casey Cunningham, Bob Cheevers and Greg Tornquist formed – and released their first 45 –as the Mark Five in 1965. They changed their name in 1966, and recorded first for Valiant, before being one of the first bands signed to Acta Records (which had its biggest success with the American Breed).
Though ‘Trust’ – written by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams – was recorded by Nichols’ Small Circle of Friends, and on Williams debut solo album ‘Someday Man’, I believe that the PTC recorded it first. How they got their hands on this wonderful song is a mystery to me, and if any of you know the sequence of events, I’d love to hear it.
Suffice to say, no matter which version you hear (though I’m partial to Williams’ recording), it’s hard to deny that ‘Trust’ features some beautiful hooks. The PTC arrangement is a slice of late 60’s pop perfection. They manage to weave in light elements of baroque pop and great sunshine pop harmonies without ever overdoing it. What I can’t understand is how “Trust’ failed to break through as a major hit. Sure, by the end of the 60’s things were getting hairy and heavy, but there was also a huge amount of light pop on the charts. Williams and Nichols would go on to have a lot of success with other material (like ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ for the Carpenters), but sadly ‘Trust’ never really hooked the listening audience.
Oddly enough, the Peppermint Trolley Company went on to perform the themes to both the Brady Bunch (first season only) and Love American Style.
They must have had some serious promotion behind them, as they really got around. I used to have a video of them performing (lip synch) ‘Trust’ on an Ohio dance party TV show (YouTube clip below, but originally posted at Bedazzled) and they also performed the tune on an episode of Mannix (featuring a came by none other than Harry Dean Stanton).

Mannix Clip

I hope you dig the tune.
Peace
Larry

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