The Lamp of Childhood
As a record collector of long standing, I often find myself entranced by the output of a particular label, usually because the imprint in question had its own special “sound”.
One such label is the storied California folk rock house of Dunhill.
Started as a production entity for the music of Johnny Rivers, Dunhill (led by Lou Adler) became a label in 1965.
Though it released all kinds of music, it is best known (rightly so) as one of the premiere producers of mid-decade, California folk rock.
Dunhill was home to the Mamas and Papas, Grass Roots, Barry McGuire, PF Sloan, the Thomas Group and today’s artists, the Lamp of Childhood.
Lamp of Childhood had a very interesting line up. The group’s founder was Jim Hendricks, who had been in the Big Three and the Mugwumps with (and was married to) Cass Elliot, featured a pre-Mothers of Invention Billy Mundi on drums, as well as the songwriting, keyboard and production input of Gabriel Mekler, who would go on to produce Steppenwolf.
Lamp of Childhood only ever released three 45s for Dunhill (all of which are excellent), and had a minor hit with 1967’s ‘No More Running Around’.
I find their output particularly interesting because their records encapsulate all that was great about the 1966 LA sound. They managed to combine folk rock, pop and the very first stirrings of the more progressive, psychedelic sound that was on its way in at the time.
There’s no better example than today’s selections. ‘Two O’Clock Morning’. Co-written by Hendricks, bassist Mike Tani and lead guitarist Fred Olsen, ‘Two O’Clock Morning’ features a rolling, Taxman-inspired beat, Mamas and Papas-style harmonies and a really interesting arrangement that incorporates brass and strings in an unusual way.
‘You Can’t Blame Me’ is slightly more straight ahead in a harmony/folk rock vibe, and includes some very cool lead guitar, which reminds me a little of the Buffalo Springfield.
After leaving the Lamp of Childhood, Jim Hendricks went on to write ‘Summer Rain’ for Johnny Rivers.
The group’s 45s aren’t terribly expensive, but they can be kind of scarce.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you all next week.