Baton Rouge, Louisiana was home to The Basement Wall, whose lone single on the Senate label was released in June 1967. The band were regulars at venues across neighbouring Texas and even ventured as far afield as Los Angeles, and their 45 was recorded at Robin Hood (Brians) Studio in Tyler, TX. It was produced by Wes Farrell, who was also a songwriter, having co-written The McCoys’ 1965 number 1 hit ‘Hang On Sloopy’ (and later worked extensively with The Partridge Family in the early 70s!).
‘Never Existed’ is a melodic garage psycher that contrasts a relatively understated verse with a full-on chorus, courtesy in no small part to some ripping fuzz guitar (it has been suggested that Ronnie Weiss from Mouse and the Traps provided this). There are great lead and harmony vocals throughout and a scintillating break. And you simply can’t ignore lyrics such as “I thought I would cry, girl, but to my surprise, no tear can form, girl, without any eyes”!
Flip ‘Taste of a Kiss’ is very catchy up-tempo keyboard-driven harmony pop with yet more strong vocals and a classy arrangement.
‘Taste of a Kiss’
The single was a big regional hit and a number of other tracks were recorded for a possible album. This was rumoured to have been released at the time but it is now known to have “never existed”! The unreleased songs did finally see the light of day on a 1985 retrospective on the Cicadelic label called The Incredible Sound of the Basement Wall and this set is well worth acquiring (it later appeared on CD on Collectables as a 2-for-1 with the New Breed retrospective Want Ad Reader).
If you want to get some idea of what the band were like live, then Volume 2: There Goes The Neighborhood on Collectables has a whole album’s worth of recordings from Houston, TX’s Act III Club from 1967, mainly covers and in lo-fi quality. Additional material from this performance is on the Acid Visions – Complete Collection Volume 3 CD (or Texas Punk Volume 8 on vinyl).
Keyboard player (and writer of both sides of the single) George Ratzlaff went on to Southern rockers Potliquor who recorded for the Janus label in the early 70s.
Reissues: Both sides are on the retrospective The Incredible Sound of the Basement Wall. ‘Never Existed’ is also on Boulders Volume 10 and the Relics Volume 1 and 2 CD. Note that the ‘Never Existed’ on Garage Beat ’66 Volume 5 is an alternative version that doesn’t have the same punch as the superior single side.