The Grains Of Sand hailed from Lomita in Los Angeles County, California and had been formed as The Rockin’ Bugs in 1964 by Doug “Red” Mark and Dave Hodgkins when they left the Navy. After changing name, the band released their debut 45 on Valiant in February 1966.
The a-side ‘That’s When Happiness Began’ was a catchy garage pop number written by fellow label artists The Addrisi Brothers – this song was also recorded later in the same year by both Mike Furber and the Bowery Boys in Australia and The Montanas (of ‘A Step In The Right Direction’ fame) in the UK. The flip ‘She Needs Me’ was an excellent, more hard edged band original.
By the time of the group’s second single, issued on the Genesis label in December 1966, The Grains of Sand had fallen under the influence of Svengali record producer Kim Fowley. He co-wrote the flip side with Michael Lloyd, a young musician, engineer and producer Fowley had struck up a friendship with after a chance meeting at Stereo Masters recording studio.
Lloyd was a founder member of the legendary West Coast Pop-Art Experimental Band, as well as being the driving force behind top 1968 pop-psych albums by The Smoke and October Country. He was appointed Vice President of A&R at MGM Records in 1969 at just 20 years of age and went on to be a very successful record producer with the likes of The Osmonds and Shaun Cassidy.
‘Goin’ Away Baby’(also co-written by Lloyd, this time with Sean McLeod) is a wondrously infectious high-energy garage raver with driving guitar and organ and a devastating keyboard break.
‘Goin’ Away Baby’
‘Golden Apples of the Sun’ is an entertainingly weird slice of proto-psychedelia with monotone, staccato vocals and vaguely tuneless background chanting, a dizzying acid guitar solo, and what sounds like a flute rather than keyboards as part of the pummeling accompaniment. And all rounded off with the sage advice: “Don’t pick the flowers”!
‘Golden Apples of the Sun’
The band managed one more single, this time for Phillips, in a more mainstream pop vein, though they apparently recorded an album’s worth of material for the label that has never seen the light of day.
Reissues: Both sides are on Kim Fowley – Outlaw Superman or King Of The Creeps Volume 3. The a-side is also on Pebbles Volume 1, and the flip on Highs In The Mid-Sixties Volume 3.
- That’s When Happiness Began / She Needs Me (Valiant, 1966)
- Goin’ Away Baby / Golden Apples of the Sun (Genesis, 1966)
- Nice Girl / Drop Down Sometime (Philips, 1967)