Funky16Corners/Iron Leg 2009 Pledge Drive b/w ILDT#5 Reprise

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Greetings all.
I was originally going to post something new (old) today, but I changed my mind and decided to tie into the Funky16Corners 2009 Pledge Drive by re-posting what is by any measure my favorite mix from the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive, ILDT#5 – The Party.
I didn’t link the two last year, but since both blogs originate in the same sick mind (that would be mine), and have all of their files, mixes etc stored in the same space, I figured that the cause was the same.
If you are so inclined, and can afford to in these dire times, take a second and send along a contribution (any amount) for the Funky16Corners 2009 Pledge Drive. This will help to pay for the server space wherein both blogs, as well as the Funky16Corners web zine reside on the interwebs.
So, as they say on PBS, pardon the interruption, give what you can – by clicking on the link below –  and we will return you to your regularly scheduled programming next Monday.
Thanks
Larry

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This mix can be heard in the Iron Leg Digital trip Podcast Archive

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 brand new, slamming soul mix for the Pledge Drive!

John Barry – A Man Alone (Jazz Version)

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John Barry

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Listen -John Barry – A Man Alone (Jazz Version) – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope all is well with you this fine Friday (or Thursday late depending what position you hold on the globe).
The tune I bring you today is something groovy with a dash of international intrigue.
A variation on the theme from the ‘Ipcress File’ (a different arrangement of the same number appears on the other side of the 45) ‘A Man Alone (Jazz Version)’ is one of my favorite John Barry selections. Barry, who has been featured here before (in his pre-soundtrack era) composed and performed the soundtracks to countless films and television shows from the early 60s on.
‘The Ipcress File’ was the very first ‘Harry Palmer’ film for the mighty Michael Caine and was adapted from the novel of the same name by Len Deighton. The 1965 espionage thriller is a primed example of a swinging 60s take on the ongoing cold war, and Caine is – as always – the very epitome of dry, limey cool.
‘A Man Alone (Jazz Version)’ swings along aggressively with a beatnik edged hi-hat and bongo pulse, before the main theme is stated by the unofficial spy theme instrument of record, the cymbalum (or some variation on the cymbalum/santoor dulcimer-esque hammered thingy), which carried in its tinny strings the very essence of mysterious international intrigue, with the fezzes, lugers, dark Eurasian back alleys and trench coats.
Barry does change things up a little (the “jazz version” one would assume) with a decidedly English-sounding horn chart, featuring a just-this-side-of-incongruous alto sax (maybe doubling a muted trumpet?) solo.
Sit back, close your eyes and visualize Caine speeding down a dark, rain-slicked street chasing (or being chased by) nemeses from behind the Iron Curtain.
Groovy indeed.
I haven’t seen the movie in a few years, and I can’t remember if this piece actually appears in the film. If you know (this means you Bill…), drop me a line.
In other news, this coming Monday will mark the third annual Funky16Corners Pledge Drive, in which yours truly comes to you in search of donations to keep the blogs (and the server space where all of the sound files and both podcast archives reside) up and running for another year. I’ll make sure I go into further depth on Monday, along with Paypal links.
Have a great weekend and I’ll see you soon.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some wailing Chicago funk.

NJ/Delaware Garage Explosion aka Forward Into the Past

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Listen – The Enfields -In the Eyes of the World – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope everyone had a most excellent weekend.
I know I did, heading down to the World Famous Asbury Lanes to see my brother (CJ Grogan) play on the same bill as my old friends Mod Fun. It was a reunion of sorts, with several 80s garage/mod musicians (members of Mod Fun, Phantom Five, Lord John, Tiny Lights) and scenesters getting together – many for the first time in two decades – including all surviving members of my own band the Phantom Five.

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The Phantom Five: Larry Grogan, CJ Grogan, John Rahmer, Bill Luther, Vince Grogan

Yours truly got up on stage with my old bandmates (with Chris Collins of Mod Fun on drums) for a reprise of our old fave ‘She’s Not’, which was a gas. I think I’m years past wanting to play in a band on a regular basis. This is a fantastic indicator of how time does indeed fly, since I can remember a time when that was all I wanted to do (a period that lasted almost fifteen years). Ex-Phantom Five rhythm guitarist Bill Luther was kind enough to film the performance, and post it on YouTube.

The old(er) school tune I bring you today is one of the mellower sides by the legendary Delaware garage band the Enfields.
Back in the day the always groovy Get Hip label released a compilation of all of the Enfields’ 45s, as well as a number of tunes by band leader Ted Munda’s later band the Friends of the Family. Unlike many such releases – wherein the obscurity/rarity often outweighs the musical quality – the Enfields comp was a revelation, exposing to many for the first time a really talented group that never broke out of their regional scene. If you haven’t heard it, and can still find a copy I recommend it highly, especially for tunes like ‘Face to Face’ and ‘Time Card’.
Today’s selection is the tune ‘In the Eyes of the World’, which has the vibe of a classic garage folk ballad. I dig the ringing guitars, and the haunting melody.
I hope you do to, and I’ll back later in the week with something groovy

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some sweet soul by Curtis Mayfield.

Iron Leg Digital Trip #24 – Rope Ladder to the Moon

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Playlist
Terry Reid – Superlungs (Epic)
New Zealand Trading Co. – Jam and Anti-Freeze (Memphis)
Wizards From Kansas – Codine (Mercury)
JK and Co – Land of Sensations and Delights (White Whale)
Robin McNamara – Aren’t You Thinking of Me (Steed)
Janis Ian – Son of Love (Verve)
Mighty Baby – Same Way To the Sun (Head)
Jack Bruce – Rope Ladder to the Moon (Atco)
Love – The Red Telephone (Elektra)
Holy Mackerel – Wildflowers (Reprise)
Tommy Roe – Cry On Crying Eyes (ABC)
Association – Birthday Morning (WB)
Kak – Rain (Epic)
This mix can be heard in the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive

Greetings all.
I hope the beginning of yet another new week finds you well, with plenty of space inside your head reserved for something tasty.
During my last vacation, in addition to a grip of unusual pop stuff, I also managed to score some cool psychy stuff. That, in addition to existing examples of same in the Iron Leg/Funky16Corners archive, provided the fodder for a couple of new mixes, the first of which you see before you today.
Today’s edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip is designed to drill a little deeper withing the cranium, entering via the earholes and ricocheting about recklessly painting the inside of the brainpan with all kinds of groovy stuff. It’s not all dreamy (though much of it is) and there are a number of deliberately rough spots left in the finish so that you might be able to wrap your mind around the whole thing without slipping off.
There’s certainly enough trippy stuff here that you might want to slap it on the next time you journey on the psychedelic plane, but as one who’s all about the natural high these days (as in one produced from within, not like homegrown, though I supposed harvesting of a dreamlike state from within oneself might also be described as such), I can assure you it’s just as enjoyable that way too.
Things get off to a start with a tune by an artist that I’ve known about my entire rock consuming life, yet never actually heard until I picked up one of his albums this year. As you can imagine, I have spent much time since kicking myself in the ass, because Terry Reid had an awesome voice, the ability to write some excellent songs as well as that to interpret those of others as strongly, which is what he does here. Donovan originally recorded ‘Superlungs (My Supergirl)’ for the ‘Sunshine Superman’ LP, but it proved far too controversial, and the original remained in the vaults for more than 30 years, while a re-recorded, expurgated version appeared a few years later on ‘Barabajagal’. Though Terry Reid’s take on the songs isn’t quite as lysergic as the OG by Mr. Leitch, Reid tears into the tune and when he starts telling the tale of his lust for the 14 year old pothead, you’re instantly reminded that this was recorded in the late 60s, where such sentiments might be wrapped in the banner of free love, instead of Terry, and Dono being clapped in irons and hung in the town square.
The next tune is by a group that I’d never heard of before I found their album. The New Zealand Trading Company may have recorded their LP in Memphis (for the label that took it’s name from the city) but they hailed from NZ, with a couple of Maori’s in the group. Though I’ve heard a couple of people rag on this album, they clearly haven’t listened to it with a clear head (or walked into it with any number of incorrect presumptions). Though the NZTC are a rough looking lot, and their album is on a label best known for its rare soul, their music is an interesting mix of psychedelia, harmony pop and slightly harder edged stuff. ‘Jam and Anti-freeze’ (some title, huh?) is a great, late 60s UK psych/prog-like tune which starts out with a rock shuffle and then slips ever so gently into a spacy vibe, with (wait for it, here it comes) some spacy vibes.
I bought the ‘Wizards from Kansas’ LP when I was up in Maine, only because I’d heard of the group, and the record looked cool. When I hit the interwebs looking for info on the band, I saw that the album often trades hands for a couple of hundred smackers. After some investigation, I’m inclined to believe that what I picked up was one of the earlier incarnations of a reissue, which since it only cost me 6 or 7 dollars is not tragedy, since any lack of resale value is more than made up for by the fine music trapped in the grooves. The track I bring you today is their dreamy take on Buffey Sainte-Marie’s oft covered (most famously by the Charlatans) ‘Codine’. Though they hailed from the land of wheat and tornadoes, the Wizards really had that West Coast vibe down pat.
I’ve featured tracks from the ‘JK and Company’ LP here before. It was a very lucky find of mine many years ago, and remains a fave today. The track included here, ‘Land of Sensations and Delights’ is yet another example of why everyone who’s heard the album wishes JK had spent more time in the studio, and less time vanishing into obscurity.
Robin McNamara was another New England find. When I grabbed the album, I had no idea that it included a genuine one-hit-wonder (‘Lay a Little Loving On Me’), but I grabbed it because it looked cool. Most of the record is unremarkable pop rock. McNamara was one of the stars of the original cast of ‘HAIR’, and was taken under the wing of Jeff Barry and the Steed label (also home to the Illusion and Andy Kim among others). The one track on the album that really stuck in my ears was the faux-operatic, somewhat psychedelic lament ‘Are You Thinking of Me’. I dig it.
If you get the willies when you see the name Janis Ian – assuming that you’re going to hear something like ‘At Seventeen’- rest easy my friends. As illustrated earlier this year when I posted a track from her first Verve LP, Ian recorded some excellent folk rock and even lite-psyche in the 60s. One fine example of the latter is the dreamy, echoey, fully tripped out ‘Son of Love’ which verily emits the smell of incense from your speakers.
Now, let me tell you about Mighty Baby. Many years back, my man Mr. Luther dropped a copy of the CD reissue of their first album on me as a gift, and it instantly became a favorite. Containing members of the mighty mod/soul band the Action (Alan King, Ace Evans, Roger Powell), Mighty Baby were more like a UK version of the psychedelic era Grateful Dead than they were a Maurice and Radiants tribute band. Their self-titled debut is just about flawless, featuring a grip of amazing tracks (including a couple that I’ll feature separately in the coming weeks). The tune I include in this mix is the trippy-on-the-way-to-heavy ‘Same Way To the Sun’, which has that sun rising over Stonehenge, making the Orange amps cast shadows on the tripping crowd thing going on. The heavy lead guitar by Martin Stone is, as they say, next level. Watch out for that trick ending…
The name Jack Bruce should of course be familiar to anyone that’s ever owned a Cream album. The tune that gives this mix its name, ‘Rope Ladder To the Moon’ is a bit of ever so slightly funky, folky, psych from the album that included the original version of ‘Theme For an Imaginary Western’. I really dig the ringing rhythm guitar, and the strings on this one.
Love, led by the mighty Arthur Lee, is of course my favorite band of all time. ‘The Red Telephone’ is my favorite song, on my favorite Love album, the justly legendary ‘Forever Changes’. “Sometimes my life is so eerie…” says Arthur, and you just kind of get a little chill, as you’re overcome with a wave of recognition. Heavy stuff indeed.
The next tune is a reminder that Paul Williams wasn’t always the co-star in Burt Reynolds movies and a comic foil to the Muppets. He was once (and still is) a brilliant songwriter, who just happens to have recorded an excellent – though rare (but reissued) – psyche-pop album with his first group the Holy Mackerel. One of the finest – and psychiest – tracks on that album is the excellent ‘Wildflowers’.
Going a step further into the world of pure pop, is ‘Cry On Crying Eyes’ by Tommy Roe. Yes, Tommy Roe, the man that brought you ‘Dizzy’ and ‘Sweet Pea’, was also the same cat that went into a studio with none other than Curt Boettcher (and several of his Ballroom, Sagittarius, Millennium pals) and recorded one of the great lost pop-psyche masterpieces of 1967, the album ‘It’s Now Winters Day’. I’ll be featuring a couple of the harder edged tracks from this album in the coming weeks, but dig the trippier side of the record with ‘Cry On Crying Eyes’. If you’re a Boettcher follower (as I am) you’ll recognize several of his trademark vocal accents in this tune. It’s a fantastic album, which has been reissued, so if you can’t find your own copy, grab the CD.
Now, when you’re talking about pure pop soaked in dreamy harmonies, you need go no further than the Association. One of those great bands that manage to have a dual legacy, one side huge chart success, the other enough of an edge for a well deserved helping of hipster cred, the Association made some of the finest pop records of the mid-to-late 60s, and ‘Birthday Morning’ is one of my personal faves from their catalog.
This edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip closes out with the last “movement” of the three-part track ‘Trieulogy’ by West Coast psyche masters Kak. The same group that brought you the classic ‘Lemonade Kid’, Kak recorded on LP and a couple of singles for Epic in the late 60s. The version of the song ‘Rain’ included here is from their LP (not the blazing, and blazingly rare 45 version of the song).
I hope you dig it all, and that you have time to turn out the lights, clamp on the headphones and give this one a nice, deep listen.

Peace
Larry


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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a couple of soulful cuts by Lulu.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

The Zoo – Where Have All the Good Times Gone

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Listen – The Zoo – Where Have All the Good Times Gone – MP3

NOTE: I received the following info in the comments to this post. Apparently I have incorrectly conflated two different bands called the Zoo, and their histories. My apologies!

>>I think you have your two “Zoo bands” mixed up. The Zoo which came from the Beau Denturies actually recorded the above record. However, there was no one by the names of Howard Leese and Mike Flicker in the band. Iknow this because my brother-in-law Garland Aberegg was the lead guitarist and lead singer of The Zoo. They were indeed from Akron, OH, but they never recorded and album entitled “The Zoo Presents Chocolate Mousse”. The Zoo did a reunion concert in 1991 in Tallmadge, OH for their class reunion. Doug Barber, who I think still lives in Tallmadge, was their keyboard player. Their first hit called “Straight Home” came out on an Encore Label.<<

Greetings all.

I come to you once more to tear yet another week off the calendar.
This has been one of those ‘it kind of sucks but there’s nothing I can do about it (which kind of makes it suck even more)’ weeks, where physical infirmity keeps chasing me like I owe it money. Things are improving in increments, but I wish the increments were bigger (but isn’t that the way of the world anyway?).
The tune I bring you today is from a 45 that I picked up years ago, by virtue of the songs alone (one side a Beatles medley, the other – the one I’m posting today – a Kinks cover), knowing nothing about the band.
Over the 20 or so years since I found it, all I found out is that the band the Zoo released at least one album, and that there’s another band with the same name, from around the same time.
However, in those two decades passed, the Google arrived, making random bouts of info-seek much more productive. Thanks to the mighty search engine, I discovered a few more pertinent facts.
First off, the Zoo were from Ohio (Akron, I think), and included among its members two cats named Howard Leese and Mike Flicker (more on them later). Founded in 1966 (out of the ashes of a group called the Beau Denturies who had a track comped on Vol 21 of Highs In the Mid 60s), they recorded one 45 for the PKC label (which I’ll assume was a local Ohio imprint), and then a second – the one you see before you – for Parkway (of which there were at least two pressings). They went on to record a full length LP – ‘The Zoo Presents Chocolate Moose’ – and broke up by the end of the decade.
Mike Flicker ended up working at the Mushroom recording studio in Vancouver, where Leese met up with him again, eventually forming the Mushroom record label, wherein Leese met up with a young band named Heart, which of course he ended up joining.
The record itself is quite good, with a rough and ready take on the Kinks classic. I am wholly embarrassed to admit that I knew this as a Van Halen song before I heard the OG by the Kinks, though I be lying if I said I didn’t dig the VH version, Diamond Dave and friends being a major staple of my longhair, late teens, grocery stockboy era.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Monday with an (if I say so myself) outstanding new psyche mix.
Have a great weekend.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a new edition of Funky16Corners Radio.

Traffic – Hole In My Shoe

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Messrs Wood, Winwood and Capaldi (but where’s Mason??)

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Listen – Traffic – Hole In My Shoe – MP3

Greetings all.

As related over at the mothership, I am recovering slowly from surgery performed upon my person Friday last, and am not firing on each and every intellectual cylinder. I’m in one of those bags where everything – mind, body etc – is tired, and needs rest.
However, I couldn’t very well leave you all hanging on a Monday, so I’ll make it short and sweet (and psychedelic).
The tune I bring you today is one that I didn’t hear until after I had heard it ripped off (or paid homage to…).
I was, in my long-haired rock guy years quite a fan of the later, jazzier incarnation of Traffic, once having taken a bus into New York City to procure a copy of the album ‘John Barleycorn Must Die’, then only available as a pricey import.
That said, I was, until my mid-80s garage/psyche road to Damascus moment (of sorts), utterly ignorant of the fact that those neo-jazzers had a seriously psychedelic skeleton in their closet.
The “homage” I reference above was the Dukes of Stratosphear song ‘Have You Seen Jackie’ (there’s also a similar bit between ‘Little Lighthouse’ and ‘You’re a Good Man Albert Brown’), which pretty much takes the spoken interlude from ‘Hole In My Shoe’ and runs with it. Of course I didn’t know this until I found a copy of the first Traffic album, and heard said song, at which point I was all “What ho?” and “Hey, wait a minute…”.
No matter really, since the compleat works of the Dukes (actually XTC) is as fine a bit of tribute to the first psychedelic era as has ever been recorded.
However, you’ve got to eat your broccoli or you don’t get your cake, so you simply must return to the source material in question.
The OG by Traffic, despite the picture above, taken from the back cover of the US release of their first album, was written by none other than Dave Mason, who in an odd bit of Stalinist purge was omitted from the cover (or personnel listing) on said record, which he is, of course, all over.
Mason made significant contributions to the early Traffic catalog, and ‘Hole In My Shoe’ is one of his best, with the sitar, the mellotron and the dreamy pace, and of course when the tot arrives to relate the tale of an albatross and the whole thing erupts into a tidal wave of English toffee, LSD and embroidered waistcoats.
Very groovy indeed.
Interestingly enough there was a cover of this song by Neil of the ‘Young Ones’.
Now I’m going to bed.
See you later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for an outstanding soul 45.

The McCoys – Say Those Magic Words

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The McCoys with the host of Upbeat, Don Webster on the drums

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The Birds, Ron Wood second from left

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Listen – The McCoys – Say Those Magic Words – MP3

Greetings all.

I come to you at the end of the week bearing an example of that rarest of animals, the American freakbeat 45.
Though the genre itself is somewhat amorphous, with all that “I know it when I hear it” collector-speak, the vast majority of records so classified have been UK and Euro.
The tune I bring you today is extra special in that regard, since it was written by some of the greatest US rock songwriters*, recorded by one of the great Nuggets-y bands of the mid-60s, and then covered by one of the greatest UK R&Beat acts.
The tale of ‘Say Those Magic Words’ is interesting. The tune as you will hear it today, reduced to the digital ones and zeros so that you might pull it through the strainer of the interwebs and into your earholes, is by the mighty McCoys. Though I doubt seriously anyone needs to hear them bash out ‘Hang On Sloopy’ again, I’ll step up to tell you that I ride rather strongly for their burning version of ‘Fever’, as well as today’s selection which I consider to be one of the great “lost” 45s of the 60s.
I’ve always been a collector of 60s era Bang 45s, first for the Strangeloves, and later for the McCoys and whatever obscure acts I could find on the label. The odd thing is, I first heard ‘Say Those Magic Words’ via its cover version, by the UK group Birds Birds.
If that name is not familiar, halve it so you’re only getting one (Birds that is) and you’ll have (of course) the Birds, the band that created some of the hottest examples of UK R&Beat, including their versions of ‘Leaving Here’, ‘No Good Without You Baby’, and ‘You’re On My Mind’, all of which are as unfuckwithable as those things get. The Birds, featuring Kim Gardner and a young bloke by the name of Ron Wood (who’s biggest claim to fame at the time was that his brother Art was in the Artwoods**) recorded some absolutely blazing stuff in their short tenure (and painfully brief discography). By 1966, at the urging of Robert Stigwood, following some legal hassles when the US Byrds alit in the UK, changed their name from The Birds to Birds Birds (huh???) and recorded their last 45, that being ‘Say Those Magic Words’ backed with the tune ‘Daddy Daddy’.
So, this was – via Mr Luther – the first version I heard of the song, and if memory serves I did not know initially that it had already been recorded by the McCoys.
This tale turns on the fact that when I did eventually find out, and dug up a copy of the McCoys 45 I was stunned to discover that my assumptions about “coolness” were off base, as the original version was – at least in my opinion – light years better than the UK cover.
The McCoys version is a killer on every level, earning its “US Freakbeat” label by virtue of it’s pop underpinning mixing in with the birth cries of psychedelia, all placed upon a rough, garagey foundation. It’s nothing like anything they did before, and about a hundred times better than most of what they did after. This, if you believe me, and why not, is the very zenith of the McCoys career.
Back in the olden days, when I was writing in paper fanzines (many years before the eruption of the interwebs) I wrote about this 45, basically saying that the McCoy’s version of ‘Say Those Magic Words’ is the kind of record that, if played in a frat party in 1966, would verily divide the room in two, one half unaware of the lysergic (or at least marijuanderful) filigree, and the other half suddenly set upon a path of longer hair, freakier threads and rather uncomfortable interactions with the campus underground in which they attempt to purchase mind altering substances for home use.
It’s that good.
The odd thing is, neither version of the song was a hit.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

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*Oddly, sometimes this song is credited solely to Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, and sometimes to those two giants, as well as the Strangeloves troika of Feldman, Goldstein and Gottehrer

**Gardner and Wood would both go on to join the Creation, and Wood would of course have a long and wrinkly career with the greatest of all zombie bands, Rolling Stones

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some hammond groove grease.

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