(Below) Not label honcho Ken Handler,
but the doll that bore his name (really)
Listen – Out of Breath – MP3
I hope the weekend finds you well (that it finds you at all, loitering about the interwebs with nothing else to do…).
Today’s selection is a longtime resident of my garage crates, and though I can tell you precious little about the group that recorded (so little in fact as to be practically nothing at all), there is in fact an interesting story surrounding it.
I probably picked up ‘Out of Breath’ by the Peanut Gallery more than 20 years ago (pre portable) and did so on the strength of the Canterbury label. I already had sides by the Yellow Balloon (the group that brought Canterbury its biggest hit) and the New Breed (like most groups on the label, painfully obscure but musically interesting).
So, I grab the record, which if memory serves was quite cheap, got it hope, slapped it on the tables and was, how do they say, gobsmacked.
While I was expecting (hoping for) garage punk, what came spilling out of the speakers was a horse of a slightly different color/sound. The Peanut Gallery – whoever they were – created a record that was an admixture equal parts, Sunset Strip pop, folk rock and utterly insane garage madness.
Things get started calmly enough, with a lead vocal that gives no clue as what’s coming. As soon as the chorus starts, things start to build, and build, until the end of the song where the vocalist seems to be going a little bit insane, tearing his hair out, knocking over instruments and wreaking all manner of havoc in the studio. While the contrast between the verse and the chorus is jarring, I like to think they kind of balance each other out in the end, making for an intriguing 45.
In the years since, I have neither seen another copy of this record, nor have I been able to find anything out about the group, even in these thoroughly Goog-ly times.
However (dot, dot, dot)
Here are some other interesting facts about Canterbury Records:
As I said, I already had a couple of Canterbury sides, one of which was ‘Yellow Balloon’, by (of course) the Yellow Balloon, a group that included in its ranks none other than the lead singer of the Greefs, aka Robbie Douglas, aka (in actuality) actor/singer Don Grady (of ‘My Three Sons’).
The label itself was L.A. based, and run by a cat named Ken Handler, whose mother just happened to be Ruth Handler, inventor of the Barbie doll. If you haven’t figured it out yet, her son gave his name to Barbie’s long time companion, that being Ken.
During its mid-to-late 60’s run, Canterbury issued a bunch of pop records, including those by Group Therapy and Lisa Miller who had previously recorded as Little Lisa on the Motown subsidiary VIP. Not coincidentally, Miller was the daughter of Kay Lewis of the Lewis Sisters, who also wrote and recorded for VIP, and moved on to be the A&R people for, here it comes, Canterbury Records (where they also wrote).
Canterbury also released swell regarded soul sides by Sandy Wynns, aka Edna Wright, later of Invictus/HotWax hitmakers the Honeycone.
So, once again the Iron Leg guarantee is fulfilled. If I can’t find anything out about the artist, I’ll track down something interesting in the periphery.
Hope you dig the song.