The Heard were from Longview in East Texas and were formed in 1965 by twin brothers Andy and Randy Clendenen and three of their high school classmates. After gaining notoriety playing locally, the band travelled further afield to the metropolises of Dallas, Austin and Houston. While taking part in a Battle of the Bands contest at Houston’s Catacomb Club, they caught the attention of the manager Bob Cope and he invited them back to play the venue several times, including an opening slot for The Five Americans.
‘Exit 9’ was recorded at Robin Hood (Brians) Studio in Tyler (like The Basement Wall’s ‘Never Existed’). A short, raga-like introduction and the announcement “Collision course – Exit 9” introduce a punkadelic monster with pulsing fuzz guitar and swirling keyboards. There’s even a touch of what sounds like harpsichord in the song’s more reflective moments, and it culminates in a nicely tripped out solo accompanied by bizarre chanting.
The recording used a new electronic delay device called the Cooper Time Cube, which included a length of garden hose as one of its components, and this helped to make Andy Clenenden’s lyrics rather difficult to understand. They are in fact pretty scathing of the counter culture – the opening lines for example are “You wake in the night but the light’s so bright, You lie in the corner with your eyes in fright, You run for your trip most every night, You know it’s wrong but you think it’s right” and later he exclaims “take your hippies and leave me child”!
The band originally decided to end the song with the sound of a toilet flushing but this was omitted from the final version as they felt it might put off DJs from playing the record.
Having used up all their time at the Robin Hood Studio, the band moved to the less expensive Steve Wright Studios a week later to record the single’s flipside. They chose to cover The 13th Floor Elevators’ ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, a number that always went down well when they played it live. Theirs is a very spirited extended version, adding keyboards and replacing the harmonica with an excellent fuzz guitar solo, and the bass even does some impressive Tommy Hall style jug-like runs to finish.
‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’
500 copies of the single were pressed on the band’s own One Way label in June 1967 and were sold mainly at gigs. The 45 did receive some local airplay, though its success was limited to making number 1 in Center, a small town 75 miles south of Longview, leading to a gig there and a radio station interview.
Reissues: both sides are on Texas Flashbacks Volume 4. ‘Exit 9’ is also on The Cicadelic 60s Volume 5 (vinyl) and the flip is on Songs We Taught The Fuzztones. There is also a vinyl EP on Break-a-Way Records coupling The Heard’s 45 with a 1966 single by another Texan band The Only Ones.