The Painted Ship from Vancouver in Canada were formed in 1965 by vocalist and songwriter William Hay while he was a student at the University of British Columbia, initially with the band name The Wee Beasties. Hay had been listening to the Northwest Sound of The Wailers and The Sonics and wanted to do something different to the commercial songs he heard on the radio or performing British Invasion covers.
The band signed for London in 1966 and ‘Little White Lies / Frustration’ was their debut single. ‘Little White Lies’ was meant as an antidote to the saccharine love songs to be found in the Top 40, with a more realistic view of how relationships often turn out. And how well The Painted Ship succeed! You can’t help but be swept along by Hay’s enthusiastic adoption of the cheating boyfriend persona in his delivery of the lyrics, and the spot on organ/guitar backing ensure this number is the very epitome of swaggering 60s punk cool!
‘Little White Lies’
The inspiration for ‘Frustration’ is a little different to your average garage tune. Hay wanted to present the “frustrating” tension he felt existed between the push of enculturation (the limiting need to conform to the values and beliefs of the society you live in) and the pull of individuation (embracing your individuality and uniqueness). The song itself is a moody masterpiece with almost spoken vocals, neat keyboard work and guitar break, and perfect build-up from verse to chorus.
The single was a hit in Vancouver with the flip receiving as much airplay as the a-side. The Painted Ship played at underground venues like The Afterthought and The Retinal Circus (along with other hip bands like The Collectors, My Indole Ring, and The United Empire Loyalists). Manager Doug Hawthorne also had his own Transeuphoric Express light-show and provided visuals for many of the local acts.
The group managed one more single – the more psychedelic ‘Audience Reflections’ backed by another prime slice of wild garage in ‘And She Said Yes’. Tantalisingly, the master tapes for an album’s worth of original songs recorded for Polydor were lost in transit to their offices in Chicago and a recording of an apparently incendiary live gig stolen and never recovered.
Reissues: Both sides appear on Acid Dreams Testament. The a-side is also on Back From The Grave Volume 8 and People of Tyme, the flip on Best of Pebbles Volume 2 and Garagelands Volume 2.
- Little White Lies / Frustration (London, 1966)
- Audience Reflections (From Polyana’s Dreamworld) / And She Said Yes (London, 1966)