The Sparkles from Levelland, Texas formed as early as 1957, though they didn’t release a record until 1962. The band had been through several different line-ups by the time they came to record their final and most celebrated pair of 45s for the Nashville-based Hickory label.
March 1967 saw the release of ‘No Friend of Mine’, a bona fide masterpiece covered shortly afterwards by The Swamps Rats, immortalised on the Nuggets compilation, and over time becoming an integral part of the repertoire of a whole legion of aspiring garage revival bands. This was swiftly followed in September of the same year with the awesome two-sider ‘I Want To Be Free / Hipsville 29 B.C. (I Need Help)’.
The a-side is a very enjoyable and atmospheric folk rocker with a nagging and insistent chord progression on guitar and organ that drives the song along.
‘I Want To Be Free’
But the flip-side sends us spiraling up into the stratosphere. Pounding drums introduce a killer guitar riff echoed on keyboards and bass. You have to listen carefully to fathom the lyrics on the verses but all is crystal clear on the chorus as the singer yelps: “I can’t help myself, how can I help you? I need help!”. And out of left-field, guitar and keyboards are for once not the instruments of choice during the break, where instead we are treated to a rumbling run on the bass.
‘ Hipsville 29 B.C.’
By one of those strange quirks of fate, the single was also released in France on Festival Records in the cool picture sleeve shown above.
Reissues: Sundazed have issued a vinyl EP with both sides of the single plus ‘No Friend of Mine’. You can also find ‘Hipsville 29 B.C.’ on Garage Beat ’66 Volume 1 or Mayhem and Psychosis Volume 2. The a-side is also on the rather unpleasantly named Turds On a Bum Ride CD.
- The U.T. / He Can’t Love You (Caron, 1962)
- The Hip / Oh Girls, Girls (Hickory, 1965)
- Something That You Said / Daddy Gonna Put the Hurt on You (Hickory, 1966)
- Jack and the Beanstalk / Oh Girls, Girls (Hickory, 1966)
- No Friend of Mine / First Forget (What Has Made You Blue) (Hickory, 1967)
- I Want to Be Free / Hipsville 29 B.C. (I Need Help) (Hickory, 1967)