Listen/Download 42MB Mixed MP3
ORIGINALLY POSTED AUGUST 2008 – NOTE: I’ve been away this weekend at a family reunion and didn’t have time to get a new post ready. This is one of my favorite mixes in the Iron Leg Digital Trip Archive.
I hope you dig it too, and I’ll see you all next week with a new episode of the Iron Leg Radio Show.
I hope all is well on your end and that everyone had a relaxing Labor Day weekend. The mix I bring you today in the guise of Iron Leg Digital Trip #16 is one that has – how do they say? – been percolating in my fevered brain for nigh on 20 years.
Back in the day, when pageboy, Beatle booted thugs roamed the earth swilling cheap beer and digging for old garage 45s, I happened upon a the disc that opens this mix. My reaction, in a word, was ‘WOW!’.
I first heard the Rationals years before I considered myself a garage punker, on a compilation called ‘Michigan Rocks’, which I purchased solely to get my hands on the cover of the Velvet Underground (a band I had yet to hear about) tune ‘Rock’n’Roll’ by Detroit (Mitch Ryder’s post-Detroit Wheels band).
It’s safe to say that that album verily blew my mind, as it included (nay OPENED WITH) the Stooges ‘1969’ (which I probably played 10 or 15 times in a row) and moved on to ‘Kick Out the Jams’ by MC5 (also new to me), ‘Heavy Music’ by Bob Seger, as well as numerous lesser known Michiganders like the SRC, Frost and of course the Rationals.
The 45 I picked up a few years later was ‘Feelin’ Lost’ on Cameo. The first time I dropped the needle on the wax my hair pretty much stood on end as visions of ‘Help’ outtakes danced in my head. ‘This song’ I thought ‘is as Beatle-y as anything I’ve ever heard by a band that was not themselves the Beatles!’ And it was.
In the two decades since those days, I’ve made is a sideline of sorts putting such records aside as I found them. Pre-podcasting, this collecting manifested itself via mix tapes and CDs, via which I podcasted in the comfort of my automobile, waiting for the birth of the interwebs so that I might share my mania with the world.
So, after I got the Iron Leg-adelicament thang up and running it was only a matter of time before the mix you are downloading/listening to today made its way onto the blog.
The vibe here, as suggested by the title ‘Almost Fab’ is a number of attempts to emulate the Beatles and their British Invasion ilk, with varying degrees of success, from pastiche to what would be referred to some 40 years on as sampling.
The opening track, ‘Feelin’ Lost’ sounds like somebody borrowed the acoustic rhythm guitars from 65-era Beatles and drove them to Detroit where they were used as the cornerstone for the Rationals 1966 45 – released locally on A2 and nationally on Cameo. Though the Rationals recorded some fine R&B/garage material, ‘Feelin’ Lost’ will always be my favorite tune by the band.
I can’t tell you much of anything about the Profile, other than ‘The Touch of Your Hand’ sounds like these boys had themselves a well-worn copy of ‘Meet the Beatles’.
The Naturals – and the song ‘It Was You- are unique in this set list as they apparently hailed from the UK. They even recorded a cover of an actual Beatles song – ‘I Should Have Known Better’ – in 1964 (the same years as this track). I’ve seen a reference that suggests that the song in this mix was co-written by Pete Townshend of the Who. The tune was also covered by the group Chaos and Co. If anyone knows if the Who connection is valid, please let me know.
Of the American groups that came to prominence in the wake of the British Invasion, the Beau Brummels were one of the finest. Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area the band hit the US charts half a dozen times in 1965 and 1966. ‘They’ll Make You Cry’ was the flip side of their 1965 Top 20 hit ‘Just a Little’. The song is a great, beat-ballad-ish number that sports and eerily Lennon-esque vocal and harmonica combo.
The British Walkers were one of the finer garage bands to come out of the Washington DC area in the 60s. They recorded several killer 45s for a variety of local and national labels, and included in their ranks (at different times) both Roy Buchanan and John Hall (later of Orleans). ‘That Was Yesterday’ – the flip of their cover of Sam Cooke’s ‘Shake’ – is another cut that sounds like early stage Beatles, though it was released in 1967. Interestingly enough ‘That Was Yesterday’ was written by Frank Dillon and Vernon Sandusky of one of the more successful Beatle-esque bands of the era (along with NJs Knickerbockers), the Chartbusters.
Speaking of songs that sound like actual lost Beatle tracks, ‘Till We Kissed’ by the Guess Who has to be near the top of the list. The flip side of their first hit, the smoking cover of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates ‘Shakin’ All Over’, the 45 was originally issued as having been recorded by ‘Guess Who?’ in an attempt to suggest that it may have in fact been the boys from Liverpool. ‘Shakin’…’ was such a big hit that the band (who were still performing as Chad Allan & the Expressions) had to change their name, and the rest as they say is history.
Tony’s Tygers* were a Milwaukee, Wisconsin band who recorded a number of 45s and an LP in 1968 for the local Teen Town label. One of those 45s ‘Little by Little’ and ‘Days and Nights’ was picked up for national distribution by A&M. ‘Days and Nights’ was another number that came from late in the decade but had that 1964/65 sound.
Another band from Milwaukee – and apparently one of the biggest local bands of the early 60’s, having several big local hits – were the Legends. Their 1964 45, ‘Here Comes the Pain’ b/w ‘Don’t Be Ashamed’ (both side of which are featured in this mix) is perhaps the perfect example of a 45 influenced by, and yearning to be the Beatles. Both ‘Here Comes the Pain’ and ‘Don’t Be Ashamed’ echo ‘She Loves You’, subtly in the former, not so much in the latter. It’s really the 45 that more than any other represents the “movement” (if you will) that spawned this sound. Though it certainly influenced no one outside of the Milwaukee area (it might have had it caught on nationally) it’s a microcosm of local rock and roll bands who were inspired by, and aspired to be the Beatles.
Aside from the fact that they recorded two 45s for United Artists in 1967 and 1968, I can’t tell you anything about Terry and the Chain Reaction. ‘Stop Stopping Me’ is one hundred percent pure, mop top jangle, aping the Fabs in a way that can only be described as Rutle-esque with an opening borrowed (sort of) from ‘Do You Want To Know a Secret’.
Though it falls somewhat outside the theme of the mix, I couldn’t avoid including a slice of pure exploitation, that being a cover of ‘Ticket To Ride’ by British Beat A Go Go. I have no idea who actually plays on this album (probably a studio group), but it was released by (and probably sold in the stores and catalog of) the Montgomery Ward company, second only to Sears Roebuck as a mail order department store of sorts. Released on the Majorette label, the LP (with no group pictured on the cover) is composed entirely of British Invasion material (mostly Beatles) and is a perfect example of the kind of quick buck, corporate exploitation of the day.
Denny Belline and the Dwellers were a Long Island, NY band that eventually turned into the Rascals-esque group Denny Belline and the Rich Kids, who recorded an LP for RCA. ‘It Happens That Way’ was the A-side of their 1965 debut 45 and though the vocals aren’t exactly ‘Liverpool West’, the backing track is decidedly Beatle-y.
The track that closes the mix is the aforementioned ‘Don’t Be Ashamed’ by the Legends, which has the British Beat sound, a repeated ‘She Loves You’-esque rhythm guitar riff and an ending that is an outright bit of thievery (though they’d probably call it an homage). I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll be back next week with some more cool stuff.
*Not Tony & the Tigers, a band from around the same time that featured Hunt and Tony Sales, sons of the famous Soupy…