Greg Dempsey and Kathy Yesse of the Gas Company,
a few years further down the line into Hippie-ville.
Listen/Download – The Gas Co. – Your Time’s Up
I love digging for records, but what I love even more is finding a record, digging for some info and discovering a whole new back alley, ripe for exploration.
The record I bring you today is a very recent acquisition, grabbed off of Ebay from a friend’s list, solely on the basis of the fact that it was a non-soul 45 on the storied Mirwood label.
Mirwood, and it’s sister label Mira operated out of Los Angeles from the mid to late 1960s. Mirwood was mostly devoted to soul and R&B, Mira mostly to pop and rock. Both labels had a smattering of the other’s stock in trade, but by and large they did not stray from their chosen style.
However, when they did (for no real reason that I know of) the results were often very cool.
I’d make an educated guess and say that this probably had more to do with an intersection of geography and zeitgeist, i.e. LA at mid-decade could not be – as the kids say – fucked with.
There was so much fuzz, jingle jangle, granny glasses and nascent flower power that almost everything heated in that particular crucible had something cool about it.
So, that’s explains why I bought ‘Your Time’s Up’ by the Gas Co. (the very first record released on Mirwood) without having heard a single note.
Of course when the record fell through the mail slot and onto the turntable, my ears started to tingle, since what I was hearing was Grade A Prime, number one, high quality, furry vest and pageboy Sunset Strippery.
None of the names on the label rang any bells, so I set off into the wilds of the interwebs, and before you know it I find out that the man behind the Gas Company, Greg Dempsey has himself a very interesting history.
I’ve gone on at length in this space about my worship of the one Leon Russell, and as it turns out, Greg Dempsey was an old buddy of Leon’s (and Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jesse Ed Davis and JJ Cale) from way back in the Tulsa, Oklahoma days.
At some point in the mid-60s, Dempsey headed west (as did many of his homeboys) with his partner Kathy Yesse (later Kathy Dalton*), where the two of them formed the Gas Company.
As ‘Your Time’s Up’ displays, they had a healthy dose of Sonny and Cher in the mix. Those who say that the similarities have more to do with common roots than pure imitation might have a point, but there are sounds herein that at least to me point directly toward Mr. & Mrs. Salvatore Bono.
This is not to diminish the coolness of ‘Your Time’s Up’, since what we have here is a stunning slice of jangly, punky 1965 Sunset Strip wonderfulness.
I mean, honest to god, were you to imagine a band conjured up for a period TV show character’s trip to the Strip, you could not do better that the Gas Company. And it was produced by the mighty Jack Nitzche!
Dempsey and Yesse went on to record four Gas Company 45s (one for Mirwood, three for Reprise) between 1965 and 1967, before evolving into the Daughters of Albion (pictured above), and recording an album under that name for Fontana (produced and arranged by Leon Russell) in 1968.
Dempsey also had some success as a songwriter, co-writing Don and the Goodtimes’ ‘I Could Be So Good For You’ (with Nitzche) and ‘Prince of Peace’ and ‘Roll Away the Stone’ (both with Leon Russell) from Russell’s first solo album.
Now all I have to do is find those Reprise 45s….
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back next week.
*Kathy Dalton recorded a few albums in the early 70s (produced by Dempsey) that featured the participation of Little Feat