The Music Machine – Come On In

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The Music Machine

Listen – Come On In – MP3

Greetings all.
The time has come for all good men to say ‘Hey, it’s Thursday.’
That being the case it’s also time for another bowl of groove juice, this fine day coming to you in the form of one of my favorite songs by the Music Machine.
If’n you aren’t familiar with the Music Machine and the wonderful sounds they made, you should back away from the interwebs and find yourself a copy of their greatest hits. I say this because back in the day, when I picked up the original Rhino reissue of their best stuff (1985-ish), having only previously heard their biggest hit, the manic ‘Talk Talk’, I was – as the kids say – blown away.
When you’re fan of garage punk and psychedelia you are more often than not adrift in a sea of never-had-a-hit-wonders, who in their day managed to crawl into a recording studio and crank out one genuinely interesting 45 before dropping off the face of the earth. There are certainly exceptions to the rule, as every once in a while band managed to keep it going for several 45s, or in rare instances even an LP. However, in most of these cases, despite a somewhat more substantial discography, they really only ever had one song that was worth listening to, so it’s a wash.
While listening to that Music Machine compilation, it occurred to me immediately that they really had a “voice” (literally in their leader Sean Bonniwell, and figuratively as well). Their mix of garage punk and moody psychedelia and – this above all other considerations – Bonniwell’s songwriting talent took them to an entirely new level.
This was no one-off Nuggets act from Bumfuck, Pennsyltucky. The Music Machine was a truly interesting band.
Though my fave Music Machine song, ‘Masculine Intuition’ was already posted here as part of Iron Leg Digital Trip #2 the Freaked Out Mind Blowing Scene of Right Now (click on Podcasr Archive link in the sidebar for details), today’s selection comes in a close second.
‘Come On In’ is a fantastic vehicle for Bonniwell’s deep, Morrison-esque voice, and the production on the single is deep with reverb. The Jim Morrison comparison is apt because if you didn’t know any better you might mistake ‘Come On In’ for a lost Doors track.
The version of the Music Machine that recorded ‘Come On In’ broke up in 1967, with Bonniwell continuing on as the Bonniwell Music Machine for one more LP.
Bonniwell is still at it today, having written an autobiography (which I’d love to read) and reformed a version of the Music Machine.
I hope you dig the track.

Peace
Larry

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Buy – Turn On: The Best of the Music Machine – at Amazon.com

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Buy For Me the Rain / I’ll Search the Sky

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The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Listen – Buy For Me the Rain – MP3

Listen – I’ll Search the Sky- MP3

Greetings all.
I hope everyone has been digging on ‘The Party’, and if you haven’t yet given it a listen, you ought to give it a try. I can assure you that as soon as I find the time, there will be more like it coming up. I have the 45s pulled out for new garage punk, freakbeat and psyche podcasts. I just need to get them all digi-ma-tized and mix-o-fied for your delectation.
So…it’s been a week, and I can’t very well leave you hanging for that long without packing something tasty for my return.
If you’ve heard of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, in all likelihood it’s probably due to their most famous record, their cover of Jerry Jeff Walker’s ‘Mr. Bojangles’, or from their return to prominence as a country band in the 1980’s.
Naturally – as is often the case hereabouts, especially when referencing an unlikely sounding candidate like the NGDB – there is of course a hidden chapter in their past; so, in the words of a mythical TV bluesman, “Want to hear it? Here it is!”
I had no idea about the early years of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band until many years ago, when someone (maybe a primitive version of the E channel) was rebroadcasting truncated episodes of either ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’ or ‘Laugh In’ (I can’t remember which). It was in one such episode that they included a short, basically anti-war film that used as its soundtrack a perfectly wonderful song that I had never heard before. Of course I started looking for it instantly, and a relatively short time later (as this was some time before they had all the tubes screwed into the interwebs) I found out that the song was ‘Buy for Me the Rain’ and the singers thereof were the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Well….I started digging, and some time in the course of the next few years I found OG copies of their first three albums, ‘The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’ (1967), ‘Ricochet’ (later in 1967) and ‘Rare Junk’ (1968). Once I gave them all a spin or two I realized that I had come across a lost treasure of sorts.
Though these albums contain many tunes that betray the NGDB’s jug band origins, they also included a number of absolutely stellar examples of mid-60’s Californiana, mixing equal parts Sunshine Pop, country rock and Beatle-esque touches of nascent psychedelia to create some beautiful pop music.
The NGDB was originally formed in 1965, with one of its founding members being a teenaged Jackson Browne, who – though he would leave the band before they recorded a note – would contribute several excellent songs to their records including ‘Shadow Dream Song’ and ‘These Days’ (a song that Browne would record with his then girlfriend Nico in 1967). After Browne was replaced by John McCuen, the NGDB was signed to Liberty records and released their self-titled debut in early 1967. During this period the members of the NGDB were sharing a house with members of an up and coming group called the Hourglass. A few years later, two brothers from that group (who just happened to be named Duane and Gregg) would form the Allman Brothers band.
The vaguely baroque ‘Buy for Me the Rain’ appeared on that album. Opening with harpsichord and strings (the string chart is my favorite part of the record) ‘Buy for Me the Rain’, though only a very minor hit, remains one of my fave records of the era.
‘Search the Sky’, with its Beatle-y rhythm, harpsichord and fantastic harmony vocals appeared on their second LP ‘Ricochet’. ‘Search the Sky’ is another perfect example of the kind of sounds emanating from LA at the time. Certainly there are tons of records with a similar sound created by much more obscure bands (one I’ll post I the next few weeks) , but few are as perfectly executed as those by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
A year after these LPs, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band would appear in the film ‘Paint Your Wagon’, providing the film with its musical high note, which was unfortunately insufficient to make up for singing by Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin.
Interestingly enough, the 2008 edition of the NGDB includes three key members of their 1967 line up, Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden and John McCuen.
While the original LPs aren’t terribly rare (I haven’t seen many copies in the field, but when I do they aren’t too pricey) there’s a great reissue of the first UK LP by the NGDB that combines the best tracks from ‘Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’ and ‘Ricochet’ entitled ‘Pure Dirt’.
I’ll be back later in the week.
I hope you dig the sounds.

Peace
Larry

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Buy – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Pure Dirt – at Amazon.com

Introducing the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive

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Greetings all.
Just a note to inform you that I’ve created a separate page wherein all of the existing Iron Leg Digital Trip podcasts will reside in perpetuity. They can be reached via the icon in the sidebar. I hope this makes things easier.I’ll be back later on with a new tune.

Peace
Larry

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Iron Leg Digital Trip #5 – The Party!

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Listen/Download 46MB Mixed MP3 – MP3

Download 46MB ZIP File-

Playlist

1 Henry Mancini (The Party OST) – The Party (vocal) (RCA)
2 Keith Mansfield – Boogaloo (CBS)
3 Enoch Light – Over Under Sideways Down (Project 3)
4 Moe Koffman – Dr Swahili (Jubilee)
5 Mr Jamo – Shake What You Brought With You Pt1 (SSS Intl)
6 Dick Hyman – The Liquidators (Command)
7 Walter Wanderley – Kee Ka Roo (Verve)
8 Sweet Charity OST – The Pompeii Club (Rich Man’s Frug) (Decca)
9 John Philip Soul & his Stone Marching Band – That Memphis Thing (Pepper)
10 Andre Brasseur – The Duck (Palette)
11 Tony Newman – Soul Thing (Parrot)
12 Jimmy Caravan – Look Into the Flower (Vault)
13 Vic Mizzy (Don’t Make Waves OST) – Vox Box (MGM)
14 New London Rhythm & Blues Band – Soul Stream (Vocalion)
15 Dave Grusin (Candy OST) – Ascension to Virginity (ABC)
16 Henry Mancini (the Party OST) – The Party (instr) (RCA)

Greetings all.
The podcast I bring you today – Iron Leg Digital Trip #5 – is something that has been a kind of running project of mine for a long, long time.
I have been fairly obsessed with the sounds of the 1960’s since – believe it or not – the actual 1960’s, a decade that departed a few months after my seventh birthday. While there’s certainly an element of what might be termed retroactive nostalgia (longing for things I vaguely remember but was far too young and context-free to appreciate in any real way) at work through my many years of pop culture absorption and regurgitation (via zines/blogs), I like to think that those of us who make note of this period of pop culture – and there are many far more obsessive and devoted to minutiae than I – are engaging in an interesting experiment of postmodernism.
Back in the day, when I was deeply involved in the garage/mod revival scene, there were very few among us who had experienced the music we all loved firsthand. In 1986 I was 24, and even then at the high end of the age scale for that crowd. Sure there were a few folks who had been old enough to have bought their Chocolate Watchband 45s off the shelf, but not many.
Though there were those that went beyond mere collecting to track down and interview the people that made the music, the vast majority of us were consumers of a lifestyle that we connected to via old records and bootleg video, less recreating than recasting the mid-60’s, patching together a quilt of sorts made from mod clothing, hairstyles, music and films. What we were doing – though we would have been loathe to admit it at the time (and some even today) – was play-acting at 1966-ism through an American International Pictures prism in what amounted to a Vietnam-free vacuum in the middle of the blissfully idiotic Reagan years.
I mention all of this because the roots of this podcast reach back to those years, when my own fascination with the era began to get a grasp on certain small micro-zeitgeists within the larger picture, i.e. biker films, spy movies, garage punk and psychedelia.
The heart beating at the center of ‘The Party’ is in fact a film called – not surprisingly – ‘The Party’.
If you haven’t seen it, go out and find it, because while it may not be a particularly good film (using generally accepted criteria of quality cinema), it is an amazing artifact, offering up within its frames something akin to the magnetic center of a long gone, but amazing vibe.
My good buddy Voger and I have – over the 20+ years we’ve known each other – had a recurring discussion about a certain kind of Hollywood product, in which a warped conception of the “hip” world was created by middle-aged, cigar chomping suits and thrown up on the screen for popular consumption. The end result of this was the worlds of youth culture, the international jet set and rock music intersecting where cultural icons (starting with beatniks and ending with hippies) continued to appear years after their real world counterparts had moved on. The product generated was utterly without authenticity, but in a strange way incredibly compelling. What was created was a kind of cultural shorthand that 20 years hence would set our synapses firing wildly.
The kinds of movies I’m talking about range from things that were clearly aimed at kids – i.e. ‘Riot On the Sunset Strip’ – slightly more sophisticated (yet no closer to the mark) fare like ‘The Sweet Ride’, and completely insane creations like ‘How To Commit Marriage’ (Bob Hope in a Nehru jacket and sideburns) and the ne plus ultra of these relics, ‘Skidoo’.
All of these films (and hundreds more) had one connecting thread, that being an attempt to capture the “Swinging 60’s”  from various levels of exploitation and with widely varying levels of success.
Where this all came together – at least for me – was my generation, obsessed with the 60’s devouring these bits and pieces of artifice like so many handfuls of candy, i.e. pop culture as so many empty calories, guaranteed to provide a momentary boost but essentially without nourishment.
‘The Party’ sees Peter Sellers engaging in a bit of South Asian minstrelsy that would be all but unforgivable today, but which in 1968 was just another dash of international seasoning in Blake Edwards cinematic stew. There’s no doubt in my mind that Sellers character ‘Hurundi V Bakshi’ was a proxy for the cultural fascination with the Indian subcontinent, sitars, gurus and the spiritual tourism of the Beatles. Bakshi is accidentally invited to a Hollywood party, thrown by a producer whose latest film he (Bakshi) is responsible for wrecking.
The film is little more than an extended string of fish out of water gags and broad physical comedy which is in the end only slightly amusing.
However (and this is a big however kids), the soundtrack, composed by the genius Henry Mancini features a title song that seems built from all of the elements I’ve been talking about. Mancini’s tune ‘The Party’ is a Hollywood establishment version of rock music, wrapped tightly in an electric sitar riff. What you end up getting with ‘The Party’ is the distillation of a mid-decade discotheque vibe where studio “straights” were gathering – magpie like – shiny bits of pop music ephemera and reassembling them into a strange approximation of the real thing, where walls of brass butt up against sitars, cheesy combo organs and pounding drums to create the pulsing soundtrack to an imaginary discotheque where aging swells in crushed velvet dinner jackets and frilled shirts are doing the frug with heavily made up dolly birds (or almost any episode of Playboy After Dark featuring a rock band).
The motif of the discotheque scene, in movies and television became a visual shorthand for all things “swinging ‘60s”, even long after the international jet set dance floor had been surpassed in the public consciousness by images of muddy fields filled with bare-chested longhairs (though, once again Hollywood continued to use these scenes long past when they had peaked in the real world).
Iron Leg Digital Trip #5: The Party was a work in progress years before Iron Leg the blog ever got started. Beginning with Mancini’s ‘The Party’ as a hub of sorts, I kept my eyes out and my ears peeled for records that could radiate from it providing complementary sounds. Certainly, not all of the records in this mix fit the definition above, at least in the sense of their individual creation. While some of the selections herein come from that mainstream Hollywood machine, there are also contributions from the “Easy” side of things, as well as jazz, funk, soul, library music and rock.
I should mention that when I was getting ready to put the mix together the specter of ‘Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In’ loomed large. ‘Laugh-In’ was really the ultimate distillation of the leitmotifs above (again in a largely artificial, Hollywood-ized way). On ‘Laugh-In’ two nightclub comedians presented a wide range of ‘hip” archetypes (in the regular cast, and the guests) week after week in what amounted to a psychedelic (looking) vaudeville.
‘Laugh-In’ mixed traditional comedy with topical and vaguely outrageous (for the time) material presented in a fast moving, colorful format, that while fairly far removed from actual hip culture, presented a passable simulacrum thereof for the millions of straights watching at home. Though I remember enjoying the few episodes I was able to watch at the time (it was on from when I was 6 to when I was 11) looking back on the show today it seems not only horribly dated, but also the kind of thing no self-respecting member of the counterculture would ever have given a moment of their attention. When I think of ‘Laugh-In’s relation to the counterculture, the image that comes to mind is of something like the Bob Hope of ‘How To Commit Marriage’, i.e. the establishment taking some time out to slum amongst the unwashed hordes, if not actually exploiting hip culture, coming awfully close.
So crucial is ‘Laugh-In’ to the vibe I’m trying to nail down, that I decided to use excerpts from the show (all taken in fact from a single four-minute track on a 1969 ‘Laugh In’ LP) as the “connective tissue” in the mix. In it you get to hear cast members who went on to become the establishment (like Goldie Hawn) and others who are remembered solely as relics of a bygone era (Arte Johnson anyone?).
Either way, if you’ve seen the show, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, it has been re-released on DVD and is definitely worth a viewing.
The mix itself begins and ends with two versions of the theme from ‘The Party’ (vocal and instrumental). The musicians on the track are a who’s who of West Coast session musicians/jazzbos, with the vocals credited to the “Party Poopers’. Some years ago the Wondermints recorded an outstanding cover of ‘The Party’ for a Mancini tribute LP.
Next up is Keith Mansfield’s rare US 45 of his track ‘Boogaloo’ (also included on his 1968 LP “All You Need is Keith Mansfield’). I picked up this 45 years ago (at what turned out to be a bargain price) sight unheard (as it were) and was blown away when I finally put it on the turntable. Of all the tracks in this mix, ‘Boogaloo’ is probably the one where you can close your eyes and really “feel” what it is I’m talking about. Vaguely funky, featuring an interesting array of percussion and (what I believe to be) the Hammond stylings of none other than the legendary Alan Hawkshaw (the man behind the Mohawks). Mansfield manages – like Mancini – to mix a rock rhythm section with a highly polished backing of horns and woodwinds.
Enoch Light’s version of the Yardbirds’ ‘Over Under Sideways Down’ is really a perfect example (maybe more so than any other track in the mix) of the sounds of youth culture being put through the Cuisinart by a pack of straights. This is not to say that Light was incapable of capturing a sort of funhouse mirror vision of the hip world, but that hearing the fuzzed out psych of the Yardbirds reshaped thusly is a fairly jarring experience. This in addition to the fact that Light was (via his Command and Project 3 labels) a sonic pioneer of sorts, experimenting with recording formats (like going directly to 35MM film) and unusual material.
Moe Koffman is an interesting guy. Hardly a “straight” Koffman got his start as a popularizer of jazz sounds (‘The Swinging Shepherd’s Blues’) and made some very groovy albums in the 60’s and 70’s. ‘Dr. Swahili’ was on his 1966 LP “Moe Koffman Goes Electric’, and features both electrified flute (Koffman’s main instrument) and electric sitar.
Mr. Jamo was another incarnation of the Bahamian singer Jamo Thomas who made some ace soul records for Chicago’s Thomas label in the 60’s (‘I Spy For the FBI’ among others). What happened to him between ‘I Spy’ in 1966, and ‘Shake What You Bought With You’ in 1970 is a mystery, but by the sound of the latter record, it may have involved a drop or two of Mr. Owsley’s finest. In my many years of collecting and listening to music, few 45s have hit me the way this did the first time I heard it. ‘Shake What You Brought With You’ is a bizarre (and amazing) mix of styles that comes very close to being a humorous and somewhat more lighthearted cousin of the soundtracks of Manfred Huber and Siegfried Schwab. There are bits of funk, soul and psychedelia bouncing around in the mix, all woven together with Jamo’s insane vocals. I mean,

‘BAYGODAH! BAYGODAH!’.

What’s that supposed to mean? Is it a strange, inspired one off, or is ‘Shake What You Brought With You’ the mysterious Rosetta Stone that links together Jamaican toasting, the sounds of Disco Tex and rap? In the end it matters not a whit. It’s just brilliant.
Dick Hyman has been featured in this space before, and if ‘The Liquidators’ is any indication; he will be in the future as well. Recorded for the Command label (Hyman would record several LPs as leader and sideman for Command) and appearing on the excellent ‘Man from O.R.G.A.N.’ LP, ‘Liquidators’ was written by Lalo Schifrin (no slouch he). It’s typical of Hyman’s Command recordings in that his jazzy style rises above the high gloss (it helps that any of his sidemen were veteran jazzmen as well).
Brazilian organist Walter Wanderley is best known for his 1966 hit ‘Summer Samba’, a key part of the 1960’s lounge/easy canon. Wanderley recorded for a wide variety of labels in Brazil and the US, but he is remembered mainly for his work for Verve. I was first turned on to ‘Kee Ka Roo’ by my old buddy Haim (a man responsible for countless such acts) who eventually passed on to me my copy of the album of the same name. The tune (which incidentally features playing by Bucky Pizzarelli and Bobby Rosengarden, two compadres of Dick Hyman’s) is a great combination of upbeat, jetset lounge and Brazilian flavor, sounding like it came from some Amazon spy caper.
My initial interest in the movie ‘Sweet Charity’ was in its status as a remake of Fellini’s ‘Nights of Cabiria’. As it turned out, the movie was a great time capsule of the late 60’s, very colorful and with some cool incidental music on the soundtrack (not to mention a very groovy turn by none other than Sammy Davis Jr.). The coolest bit is ‘The Pompeii Club (Rich Man’s Frug)’ which clocks in at just under two minutes of fuzz guitar and horns.
Despite some research, I’ve never been able to nail down exactly who ‘John Phillip Soul and his Stone Marching Band’ were. They most definitely hailed from Memphis (aside from the title of the tune ‘That Memphis Thing’ Pepper was a Memphis based label) but aside from that anything I offer you is no more than an educated guess. That said, my educated guess is that this is probably a grouping of studio players, perhaps the American Studios crew. Aside from the goofy (and likely pseudonymous) band name, there’s also the big, BIG production, which doesn’t sound at all like the work of an anonymous, one-off crew. I wish I had more details, as the tune opens with a sweet drum break, and the organist is a killer.
Belgian organist Andre Brasseur had a long career in Europe, but only glanced the US charts with ‘The Kid’ in 1966. ‘The Duck’ – a record you won’t soon forget – dates from 1968. His discography is an interesting mix of exciting, Mod-ish Hammond grooves and somewhat weaker novelties, but as you’ll hear with ‘The Duck’, when Brasseur was on, he was ON. Each and every time I spin this tune in a club, without fail someone comes up and has to know what this song is. Unfortunately it’s a pretty scarce record to turn up, especially on 45.
We return to the sounds of Keith Mansfield (indirectly) with drummer Tony Newman’s cover of ‘Soul Thing’. The original version of ‘Soul Thing’ appeared (as a piano feature with a very sweet drum break) on the ‘All You Need Is Keith Mansfield’ LP. Newman’s cover features Alan Hawkshaw on the Hammond, and give the tune a much more muscular, dare I say funky vibe. This is the version I remember hearing as a kid, used behind a PSA on local New York TV, and (as it was used in Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’) as incidental music during coming attractions in the movies, betraying its roots as a bit of ‘library’ music.
Jimmy Caravan (who’s made a couple of appearances in Hammond mixes over at Funky16Corners) recorded two very cool albums in the late 60’s for the Vault and Tower labels. The Vault LP, ‘Hey Jude’ has a lot more to offer for funk fans. The Tower LP ‘Look Into the Flower’ is composed largely of then current pop and rock covers. One of the few originals, the title cut has a very cool au-go-go flavor with some excellent playing by Caravan. Oddly enough, one of the few other things Caravan ever did was play keyboards on Captain Beefheart’s 1974 ‘Bluejeans and Moonbeams’ album.
If the name Vic Mizzy isn’t ringing any bells, his music ought to. During the 1960’s Mizzy was one of the busiest composers of soundtrack music, with a very distinctive style. Mizzy is responsible for the music to ‘The Addams Family’, ‘Green Acres’ as well as a string of Don Knotts films (‘The Ghost and Mr. Chicken’, ‘The Reluctant Astronaut’ etc.) . Mizzy had a great, lighthearted sound with a humorous edge, often accented with elements like harpsichord and chromatic harmonica. ‘Vox Box’ is from the soundtrack to the 1967 film ‘Don’t Make Waves’ remembered mainly for its inclusion of an otherwise unreleased Byrds song.
The New London Rhythm & Blues Band is another one of those great mysteries I’d like to get to the bottom of. I picked up the album years ago (pre-portable) because there were some interesting cover songs. Imagine my surprise when I get the record home and it turns out to have some slamming Hammond sounds. My assumption has always been that this album has its roots in the UK library scene, but I can’t say for sure. What I do know is that the record (with a few minor variations, like the group name) was repackaged and released in a number of countries. Either way, ‘Soul Stream’ is amazing.
The film of Terry Southern’s ‘Candy’ is mainly remembered as a star-heavy relic of a bygone age, but if it has anything going for it, it would have to be the track ‘Ascension to Virginity’. Composed by Dave Grusin, the tune opens with (and repeats) a heavy breakbeat, the tune only gets better with ringing guitars, hand claps and odd (but engaging) female vocals. I have no idea who’s playing on this, but both the drums and guitar are outstanding. ‘Ascension to Virginity’ clocks in at around the five minute mark, but you’d never know it.
Things come to a close with the instrumental reprise of ‘The Party’, opening –not surprisingly – with a short sitar interlude before returning to the original theme.
That said, I hope you dig this little experiment of mine. Give it a listen (or two) and maybe throw it on the next time you throw a wingding of your own.

Peace
Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a new Hammond Grooves mix!

The Robbs – Rapid Transit

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The Robbs

Listen – Rapid Transit – MP3

Greetings all.
First off, if you dug the track I posted by the Lime, check back to the bottom of that post for a link (sent to me by a reader) to a great site about Ohio rock bands of the 60’s. There’s a bunch more information about the Lime, including the fact that they recorded a second 45 (released locally and nationally), which I will of course be looking for. I really appreciate feedback like that. So many of the artists featured here (and over at Funky16Corners) are by any standard pretty obscure, and I dig when someone with an important missing piece of the puzzle takes the time to stop by and contribute.
Today’s selection is one of my favorite cuts by a group that hovered just outside the borders of fame and fortune (the supposedly held the record for the number of singles to achieve “bubbling under” status without actually making it into the Hot 100).
I can’t remember exactly when I picked up my first Robbs record, but I’m guessing it was in the mid-to-late 80’s. I found a very nice copy of the 1967 self titled Mercury LP at a record store that was breathing its last, because it looked cool, and they did a cover of Eric Anderson’s ‘Violets of Dawn’ (a tune which I had been digging on a reissue of recordings by the Daily Flash, having not yet heard the original).
So, I get the record home, drop it on the old turntable and was very pleasantly surprised. The album was a cool mixture of sunshine/goodtime pop, folk rock and just the tiniest bit of garage edge. In the next few years I managed to dig up a bunch of their Mercury 45s, including one (‘Bittersweet’*) that I will most certainly feature here in the future.
The Robbs, Dee, Bruce, Joe and Craig (in actuality brothers David, Robert and George Donaldson and non-relation Craig Kampf respectively) were a Wisconsin-based combo that had played under a few different names before settling on the Robbs in the mid-60’s. They were discovered by Dick Clark when playing a show in Chicago in 1966, and eventually relocated to LA where they became regulars on Where the Action Is.
The Robbs signed with Mercury Records and released their first 45 under that name in 1966. In the next few years they would release a number of 45s, a few of which generated substantial regional chart action (mostly in the Midwest, but occasionally elsewhere), but they never really broke through into the national charts.
‘Rapid Transit’ was issued as a 45, and was included on the ‘Robbs’ LP in 1967 (the version you’re hearing today was pulled from the LP as I didn’t feel like digging out the single). The tune is a great showcase for their sound, which was a solid mix of pop jangle and tight harmonies that always managed to include a bit of sweetness without becoming cloying. Dig if you will the “tribute” in the chorus to the Five Americans ‘Western Union’.
After parting ways with Mercury, the Robbs recorded singles for ABC/Dunhill and Atlantic, before changing their name to Cherokee in 1971. Interestingly enough, though they stopped performing, they took the name of their last band and (in the mid-70’s) opened Cherokee Studios in LA where a number of major hit albums have been recorded in the years since.
I hope you dig it.

Peace
Larry

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*I have ‘Bittersweet’ in a cool picture sleeve, and if I can find it an old teen magazine (maybe ‘16’) with some great photos of the band.

Buy – The Robbs – at Amazon.com

The Lime – Love a Go Go

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The Lime (sorry about the crooked scan)

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Listen – Love a Go Go – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope everyone had an excellent weekend and is ready and raring to go with some new grooves for the new week.
Today’s selection is something I referenced a while back when I included its b-side (a cover of the Doors ‘Soul Kitchen’) in Volume 2 of the Iron Leg Digital Trip.
The tune I bring you today – with, finally the picture sleeve and label that I promised I’d scan – is ‘Love a Go Go’ by the Lime.
As I mentioned previously, it was probably more than 20 years ago when I dug not one but two copies out of a dusty bin at a supremely unlikely record store in Keyport, NJ. At that time I made the (incorrect) assumption that this was a local 45. It was only many years later, after the advent of the interwebs that I discovered that this was in fact an Ohio (the band was apparently from Canton) 45, and that ‘Love a Go Go’ had seen a second, national issue (with a different b-side ‘Hey Girl’) in 1968 on the Chess label!
Oddly enough – and you’d never know it from the pure garage pop sounds emitting from the grooves – ‘Love a Go Go’ is a soul cover – which probably got it issued on Chess . The tune was originally recorded by none other than Stevie Wonder on his 1966 ‘Uptight’ LP. If you get a chance to check out the original – it’s available on iTunes – you can see where the Lime pretty much sucked the Motown out of the song, replacing the ‘Dancing In the Street’-ish horns with a ringing organ line. This is not to say that I don’t dig their version – if I didn’t it wouldn’t be here – but that it’s a very different experience in its original form.
I’ve never been able to track down any other info on the Lime, so if anyone out there has some, please drop me a line.
Peace
Larry

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PS For a LOT more info on the Lime go to Buckeye Beat and search the Bands section. Thanks to the reader that forwarded the link

The Clique – Superman

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The Clique

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Listen – Superman – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope all is well on your end.
I just finished reading Paul Drummond’s outstanding biography of the 13th Floor Elevators (highly recommended). I’ll be posting some more Elevators vinyl – with a longer essay – in the coming weeks, but first a detour to one of their fellow Texas groups, that just happened to have recorded probably the earliest cover version of a 13th Floor Elevators tune (Splash1), the Clique.
To most people, the Clique are best known as the band that recorded the original version of today’s selection ‘Superman’, which R.E.M. resurrected and made a hit in 1986.
The Clique – who played under a few different names before settling on the Clique in 1967 – played all over East Texas, including many of the same beach resorts as the groups whose members would form the Elevators, the Spades and the Lingsmen. They recorded their cover of ‘Splash 1’ at the Andrus Studio (where the Elevators also recorded) in 1967. The record was first released on the local Cinema label, and after charting all over Texas it was picked up for national distribution by Scepter.
The Clique signed to White Whale records in 1968 and recorded their eponymous LP that year. They had a Top 40 hit in the summer of 1969 with a cover of Tommy James & the Shondells ‘Sugar on Sunday’ and hit the upper reaches of the Top 100 a few times, including with that song’s B-side ‘Superman’.
The band stayed together until 1972, and would likely be remembered only by record collector types, had not one particularly well connected collector – one Peter Buck – brought the tune to his band R.E.M.
The Clique’s version of the song is – aside from their cover of ‘Splash 1’ – the finest thing they ever did, especially compared to the more lightweight pop offerings on their LP. Reportedly, only the Clique’s lead singer Randy Shaw appears on the album, backed mainly by LA studio pros. The Clique LP has been reissued, but sadly the ‘Splash 1’ 45 was not included.
I hope you dig it.
Peace
Larry

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PS if anyone out there has a line on a copy of the ‘Splash 1′ 45, please drop me a line…

The Dillards – Lemon Chimes (LP Version)

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The Dillards

Listen – Lemon Chimes – MP3

Greetings all.
I’m back following the long holiday stretch, hoping that you all dug the last podcast and are ready for more goodness.
On the podcast tip, as I stated in the last post I have a very cool mix in the hopper that will probably drop in this space next week. It’s something that I’ve been cooking for a long time and it finally came together during December, so stay tuned.
Today’s selection is a very nice bit of country/folk/rock by one of the more interesting and influential groups of the 60’s.
The Dillards came got their start in the early 60’s primarily as a bluegrass band. They came to fame via appearances as the fictional Darling family on the Andy Griffith show between 1963 and 1966.
The Southern California country rock scene included number of former bluegrass musicians, like Chris Hillman and Clarence White of the Byrds and David Lindley of the Kaleidoscope. The Dillards became a huge influence on this scene, with Doug Dillard playing on the seminal country rock LP ‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’, after which Dillard & Clark were formed and recorded two albums for A&M.
Just before this period, when the Dillards were first exploring electric instruments and fusions of country, folk and rock they recorded the LP ‘Wheatstraw Suite’.
Back when I was a kid, and reading everything I could get my hands on about rock music, ‘Wheatstraw Suite’ was often cited as an important album in the creation of country rock. This has always been an especially interesting period for me, not only because I’m a fan of the sound, but because the musical history often contradicts the conventional wisdom on the subject.
While some would have you believe that country rock got its start with the likes of the Eagles, there were numerous examples of formative instances of the genre years before the members of that particular band started hating each other’s guts.
The earliest “major” group working in the genre was of course the Byrds, recording electrified versions of straight country – like Porter Wagoner’s ‘Satisfied Mind’ – on their early albums. There were also efforts by the Monkees (mainly Nesmith influenced), International Submarine Band (featuring early work by Gram Parsons), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rick Nelson and of course the band that Chris Hillman would form with Gram Parsons, the Flying Burrito Brothers*.
On “Wheatstraw Suite” the Dillards were working a lot more on the country/folk side of the street, but there is a definite pop thread running through the entire album, with covers of tunes by the Beatles (‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’), Tim Hardin (Reason to Believe) and Jesse Lee Kincaid of the Rising Sons** (‘She Sings Hymns Out of Tune’ which was covered around the same time by Harry Nilsson).
Today’s selection ‘Lemon Chimes’ was recorded in a different version prior to the ‘Wheatstraw Suite’ album and released as a 45 (the version you’re hearing today is from the LP). The tune was written by the drummer on this session, Dewey Martin who went on to play with the Buffalo Springfield. Interestingly enough, that 45 was produced by none other than David Axelrod during the Dillards very brief (two singles) sojourn at Capitol Records following which they re-signed with their longtime label, Elektra.
Though I haven’t heard that earlier version, I love the rerecording on the LP, where the Dillards managed to create a unique fusion of countrified Sunshine Pop. Listening to the tune it’s hard to imagine that the group performing it were a straight bluegrass band but a few years before.
I hope you dig it.

Peace
Larry

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*Interestingly enough two of these groups contributed members to the Eagles, with bassist Randy Meisner coming from Rick Nelson’s band and Bernie Leadon coming from the Flying Burrito Brothers.

**The Rising Sons also included Ry Cooder (pre-Beefheart), Ed Cassidy (pre-Spirit) and Taj Mahal

Buy – The Dillards – There Is A Time (1963-1970) – At Amazon.com

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