The Apollos were from McLean, Virginia and formed in 1964. They made a four song demo in 1965 at Edgewood Studios in Washington, D.C. as the prize for winning a Battle of the Bands competition. The group originally planned to release one of the recordings, a cover of The Videls’ doo-wop ‘Mister Lonely’ from 1960, as the a-side of their debut single. In the event they opted to re-record two original compositions from the demo session and the 45 appeared on their own Delta label in December 1965. This turned out to be a very wise move as top side ‘That’s The Breaks’ is a sparkling garage number with prominent Vox organ, and flip ‘Country Boy’ a catchy Shadows style / surf-beat instrumental.
The single was a local hit and there was talk of MGM picking up the record for national distribution, but this didn’t happen. The band were also approached by agents from Paramount who spotted them playing at Mack’s Pipe and Drum in Washington but The Apollos turned down the offer as the label wanted them to replace manager Bill Mosser.
The outfit’s follow-up single was issued on Montgomery Records in November 1966 (a label that was also home to the fine ‘All Psyched Out’, another 1966 release by The Spectrum Five from Newark, Delaware). ‘Target Love’ adds fuzz to the already potent Apollos’ mix from the first single. It is an infectious punker with top notch harmony vocals and a lively guitar break.
Flip ‘It’s a Monster’ keeps up the excellent high energy work, and has a frat feel on the chorus thanks to novelty Munsters style “monster” vocals that are actually very effective .There’s also a great swinging keyboard solo.
If you are interested in hearing what the band sounded like live, albeit in lo-fi quality, The Battle of the Bands Round 2 with The Apollos Live, 1966 on Cicadelic has them running through a set of covers including ‘Dirty Water’, ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’.
Reissues: Three of the single sides (not ‘Country Boy’) are on the vinyl only Washington D.C. Garage Band Greats: The Apollos vs. The Mad Hatters. Both sides of the second 45 are also on Pebbles Volume 13 (vinyl) and ‘Target Love’ on The Finest Hours of U.S. 60s Punk (CD).
- That’s The Breaks / Country Boy (Delta, 1965)
- Target Love / It’s a Monster (Montgomery, 1966)