The Baroques were from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and had been signed by Chess Records, releasing a single and album in June 1967. Chess was primarily an R&B label and this was one of their periodic attempts to break into the new pop market (they also set up a subsidiary label Cadet Concept for this purpose).
Apparently Chess had ideas for the band that they didn’t share: suggesting that they add Minnie Riperton as vocalist – in the event she ended up with The Rotary Connection – and encouraging them to record dreadful sounding novelty material such as ‘Chippie, The Hippie From Mississippi’ (I’m sure we are all glad that they didn’t do that)!
Needless to say, when the album (though a most enjoyable record for us garage and psychedelia aficionados) didn’t prove to be the success the label had hoped, The Baroques found themselves out of a contract and their second single was released on their own Baroque label in April 1968.
In the sleeve notes on their album, vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist Jay Borkenhagen says “I’ve been told our songs are psychedelic, which, depending on your interpretation, may be. But to me they are not…”. By 1968 maybe he and the band had revised their opinion as ‘I Will Not Touch You’ certainly sounds like a prime example of 60s psychedelia to these ears. After a quiet and mysterious beginning, we are soon catapulted into an Eastern sound-scape with snatches of backwards instrumentation, and even some tastefully used brass, with cryptic lyrics half lost in the kaleidoscope of noise. And then, with almost throwaway guitar chords it is over.
‘Remember’ is a lysergic ballad of the first water with flute added to the snaking guitars and percussion to great effect.
In the grainy picture of the band above, you will notice a white stove on the lefthand side. The band always played with this on stage and it contained the controls for their light show.
Reissues: both sides are on the Glimpses Volumes 1 and 2 CD. ‘I Will Not Touch You’ is also on Gone Volume 1, the flip on the vinyl version of The Psychedelic Experience Volume 1.
- Mary Jane / Iowa – A Girl’s Name (Chess, 1967)
- I Will Not Touch You / Remember (Baroque, 1968)
The Baroques (Chess, 1967)