Listen – P.S. Call Me Lulu – MP3
Sorry for the long time between posts, but week the last was quite busy, with work, life and even a little blog related vinyl to digital conversion on the schedule.
Today’s selection is – like the Peanut Gallery 45 I featured a while back – shrouded in an almost impenetrable shell of mystery. No matter how much I search, on paper or in the interwebs the Primrose Circus remains a pop enigma.
I first encountered the Primrose Circus and ‘PS Call Me Lulu’ many, many years ago during the peak of my garage/mod years when it was included on one of the Mindrocker comps. There, beside some excellent California garage was a slice of wistful, vaguely fuzzy pop that I fell in love with instantly. The tune quickly became a staple of my mix tapes, and years later, following the advent of the interwebs I began to search for a copy of the original 45. Oddly enough, that search only came to fruition in the last few months.
It was one of those weird instances where my want list and the Tao fell briefly into sync, where something prompted me to go do an Ebay search, and there, on the first try, after years of evading me sat a mint copy of the Primrose Circus 45 at a very reasonable “buy it now” price, and so, as you’ve probably already surmised, buy-it-then I did.
One thing that always surprised me was that the sole 45 by the Primrose Circus was released on a fairly well known/well traveled LA label, that being Mira (sister label to the legendary mostly-soul label Mirwood).
Mira and Mirwood were one of the major stops on the curriculum vitae of the brilliant Fred Smith. Smith was one of the most important figures in L.A.-based R&B, soul and funk during the 60’s and 70’s, best known for his association with the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band (though as far as I can tell he had nothing to do with the sounds herein).
For years, based on what I was able to dig up in the field, my assumption had been that Mirwood was pretty much the “soul” label, and Mira mostly garage and pop. However, once you take a look at the discographies it becomes evident that although there was a preponderance of one style or another on both labels (as stated above), both labels features a wide variety of sounds. Mirwood featured garage bands like the Bees and the Gas Co, but Mira had the Leaves, Primrose Circus, the Forum and others. Both labels featured soul, R&B and soul jazz, as well as odd bits of mainstream pop and novelty sides.
When I first heard ‘PS Call Me Lulu’ I would have dated it to 1966 or so, but as it turns out it wasn’t released until 1968. I’ve always considered it a prime example of mid-60’s, Sunset Strip garage pop, but it’s not entirely out anachronistic in 1968, considering the wide variety of pop/rock styles in play in LA, including creations by Brian Wilson, Curt Boettcher/Gary Usher and the cosmic, pre-Gram sounds of ‘Dr Byrds’ era McGuinn.
Placing the Primrose Circus in this context is a little problematic, as there are only the two sides of the 45 to go by, but I’m willing to make an educated guess, and will gladly correct myself if anyone out there has some solid information in another direction.
Interestingly enough, ‘PS Call Me Lulu’ saw release in the UK on the President label (home to the Equals, among others) a year later.
Either way, it’s a very groovy record, and I hope you dig it.