Classic Singles #60: The Bees – Voices Green and Purple / Trip to New Orleans (1966)

Bees_sleeveConfusingly, two bands with the name The Bees operated in California in the mid 1960s. This particular collection of hive minds was from Covina and issued their only single on the Liverpool label in October 1966. The other Bees (who had no connection with the Covina outfit) were from Los Angeles and released two appealing folk rocking singles in 1965, ‘Leave Me Be / She’s An Artist’ on Mirwood and ‘Forget Me Girl / Baby Let Me Follow You Down’ on Mira.

No survey of 60s garage and psychedelic music would be complete without ‘Voices Green and Purple’. It is a punkadelic monster of the highest calibre. The verse is driven along by a nagging, insistent guitar riff courtesy of Gary Briggs but it is on the chorus (if we can call it that) that all hell breaks loose with wild drumming, ferocious ascending and descending guitar chords, and wild shrieks and half garbled lyrics about the voices “coming through windows” and “crawling on the walls”.

‘Voices Green and Purple’

This is another example of a garage band imagining what a bad trip might be like rather than having experimented with hallucinogens themselves. In fact, the title of the song and the general idea of a drug experience gone really, really bad had been suggested by record producer Tom Willsie, who had been looking for a group to record original material when he ran into the fledgling Bees. Bassist and singer Robbie Wood then wrote the lyrics and devised the basic structure of the song, which was recorded along with the flip in around three hours at United Western Recorders in Hollywood.

As it says on the sleeve “for best results listen to this in total darkness”!

It would be harsh to expect the flip to match up to the a-side but ‘Trip to New Orleans’ has an unusual, very trebly jangling guitar sound and gets pretty wigged out itself when the harmonica joins in for the break.

‘Trip to New Orleans’

250 copies of the record were pressed and it came in a homemade-style picture sleeve (designed by Tom Willsie) that looks like something that could have come out of the Punk scene ten years later. It received some local airplay but the band broke up without having performed a single gig.

Reissues: needless to say original copies of the 45 are rare as hen’s teeth but Ugly Things magazine has issued a remastered version of the single with Robbie Wood’s involvement on green or purple vinyl with the original cover art reproduced. Alternatively, you can find ‘Voices Green and Purple’ on Pebbles Volume 3 or Best of Pebbles Volume 1, the flip on Teenage Shutdown Volume 9.

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