The Third Booth were from Canton, Illinois. They had previously been known as The What Four but changed name as they used to meet after school at the third booth of the soda fountain at the Lewis Pharmacy. This version of the band split up without making any recordings but main man J.C. Clore put together a new line-up to cut the outfit’s lone single.
The 45 was recorded at engineer Jerry Milan’s Golden Voice Studios in South Pekin, IL. Both sides were written by Clore and the single was released on the Thunder label in late 1967.
‘Sound, Inc.’ opens with a frenetic burst of fuzz and rhythm guitar before settling down into classic garage territory with a driving fuzz and keyboard riff. An almost ballad-like transition leads into a simple but effective organ solo, there is judicious use of echo, strong lead and backing vocals (both provided by J.C. Clore), and some neat ‘Gloria’-style dynamic changes on later verses to add variety. Topnotch!
‘Sound Inc.’ / ‘I Need Love’
Whereas the a-side had been meticulously rehearsed prior to recording, the flip ‘Mysteries’ was written and recorded on the spot, which perhaps accounts for its short duration. It’s another winner though, with a moodier feel and catchy melody.
The single was a local hit and was picked up by Independence Records in May of 1968 for national distribution. On the latter release the title of the a-side was altered to ‘I Need Love’ (the only sonic change is a slightly different mix).
Reissues: ‘I Need Love’ is on Pebbles Volume 1 (CD not vinyl), Garagelands Volume 1 and Shadows Falling. The flip is on the impressively titled Diana’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Wild Teenage Rock ‘N’ Roll Party!.
‘Lovin’ Just My Style’ by The Caravelles opens impressively with pounding drum rolls and staccato fuzz guitar chords before quickly settling into a sparkling up-tempo garage rocker with confident vocals from singer John Fitzgerald, stinging guitar, and a catchy chorus. And if that wasn’t enough, the band treat us to not one but two Yardbirds style rave-ups, one for the break and the other to conclude the song. There’s some great ‘call and response’ interplay between first guitar and bass, later guitar and keyboards and some truly frantic fret work. Awesome!
The band were from Phoenix, Arizona and their 45 was released in September 1966 on the Onacrest label. They were managed by Hadley Murrell, a DJ at the local soul station KCAC. He produced many of Phoenix’s soul acts at the time, including a group called The New Bloods, whose 1964 single on Madley, ‘Found a Love, Where It’s At / Self-Service’ had created enough of a local stir to be picked up for national distribution by 20th Century-Fox. The Caravelles covered the b-side on the flip of their 45, speeding the song up and adding some neat swirling keyboards.
‘Lovin’ Just My Style’
Shortly after the release of the single the band changed name to The Holy Grail and relocated to San Francisco, but no further recordings appeared.
Reissues: ‘Lovin’ Just My Style’ is on Boulders Volume 1 and Pebbles Volume 8. Dionysus Records also released a picture sleeve EP with both sides of the single and an instrumental take of the a-side.
With its driving fuzz guitar riff, swirling keyboards, and breezy vocal delivery, ‘Left Behind’ by The Black Watch is the sound of a band embracing the psychedelic sound of the Summer of Love, though the slightly primitive but very entertaining fuzzy solo shows their garage roots.
This track was the a-side of the group’s only single released in August 1967 on Fenton Records. The label was based in Sparta, Michigan – just a few miles west of The Black Watch’s home town of Cedar Springs – and was a hotbed for exciting new local bands (we’ve already encountered The Quest’s for example in a previous post).
By way of contrast, flip ‘I Wish I Had The Nerve’ is more typical garage band fare – a wistful b-side ballad with strummed acoustic guitar and another dose of neat keyboard work.
Reissues: ‘Left Behind’ is on the excellent Scream Loud!!! The Fenton Story or Teenage Shutdown Volume 7. ‘I Wish I Had The Nerve’ has not been commercially compiled to my knowledge.
The Banshees were students from Mills High School in Millbrae, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. The band formed as early as 1962 as an instrumental group called The Black Knights, but changed name in 1964 when they added a vocalist. Their debut single was recorded in the recreation room of the local Presbyterian Church, and was produced by fellow high school-er Lou Dorren and issued on his fledgling Solo label in July 1965.
Presumably the inspiration for ‘They Prefer Blondes’, apart from the usual teen-beat band fixation with members of the opposite sex, was the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, even if it was just the title rather than the film itself. The song is a vibrant, infectious rocker given a strong frat feel by Chris Guiver’s sax playing – and indeed he leads the charge in exemplary fashion on the break.
‘They Prefer Blondes’
‘Take a Ride With Me’ is another frat thriller with a rhythm and bluesy feel and stinging guitar solo.
‘Take a Ride With Me’
The single was a local success but Dorren wasn’t happy with the quality of the recording and so the follow-up was cut at a proper studio, Coast Recorders in San Francisco, and issued on Solo in December 1965. ‘Never Said I Loved You’ has a Merseybeat / folk-rock sound with strong harmonica and harmony vocals; ‘So Hard To Bear’ is a moody mid-tempo offering with the sax back in full effect.
In 1966 The Banshees were offered a recording contract by Mainstream and a single was recorded in Los Angeles. This appeared on subsidiary label Brent in November 1966 and was credited to The Ariel. I haven’t heard ‘I Love You’ but ‘It Feels Like I’m Crying’ is an excellent up-beat, melodic folk-rocker.
After the band split, main songwriter Jack Walter again worked with Lou Dorren, this time in Kensington Forest. Lone 45 ‘Movin’ On / Bells’ appeared in May 1967 on Bay Sound Records. Though completely different to ‘They Prefer Blondes’-era Banshees, both sides are well worth tracking down as they are superb West Coast psychedelia with male and female vocals and fine guitar work.
Reissues: ‘They Prefer Blondes’ is on Back From the Grave Volume 1 (or vinyl Volume 2) or Boulders Volume 4 (vinyl); the flip is on Teenage Shutdown Volume 11.
They Prefer Blondes / Take a Ride With Me (Solo, 1965)
Never Said I Loved You / So Hard to Bear (Solo, 1965)
As The Ariel
It Feels Like I’m Crying / I Love You (Brent, 1966)
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.
‘It’s a Monster’
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).
The Hatfields formed in Frankfort, Indiana and were originally known as Sherlock and The Homelies until a move to Chicago also prompted a change of name, presumably inspired by the feuding Hatfield and McCoy families from the late 1800s.
The band’s debut single was issued in November 1966 on Cha Cha Records (a label that also released the belting ‘Little Girl Gone’ by Mogen David and The Grapes of Wrath).
A pounding drum roll opens ‘Yes I Do’ and is soon joined by driving keyboards that propel this lo-fi but effervescent garage stomper along. The only downside is that the short but effective guitar break, though introduced by the requisite scream, is a little lower in the mix than we might have hoped. I find that that this song has one of those catchy choruses that you can’t help but sing along with.
‘Yes I Do’
‘When She Returns’ is a ballad, again with prominent keyboards, with a wistful feel and melodic chorus that are perhaps not immediately apparent due to the somewhat crude production. There’s what sound like a recorder too to add some variety at the break.
‘When She Returns’
The group’s second and final single from April 1967 is also well worth tracking down – ‘The Kid From Cinncy’ is a boisterous rocker with powerful drumming and ‘Lost In This World’ is more poppy but still a high energy performance.
Reissues: ‘Yes I Do’ is on Back From The Grave Volume 1 (CD) or Volume 2 (vinyl) and Garage Kings (vinyl); the flip has yet to be commercially compiled.
Yes I Do / When She Returns (ChaCha, 1966)
The Kid From Cinncy / Lost in This World (Cha Cha, 1967)
Another mystery band, this time from Espanola, New Mexico. Two of the outfit were brothers – Reynaldo and Michael Naranjo – and they co-wrote the a-side of the group’s only single, with Reynaldo alone composing the flip. The 45 was released in May 1967 on John Wagner Studios’ Delta label, based in Albuquerque (also home to garage singles by The Knights, The Defiant Four, and The Movin’ Morfomen, among others). Wagner himself had moved to Albuquerque from Clovis to set up the studio after a stint as a recording artist with record producer Norman Petty.
‘Girl in the Mini Skirt’ has a title redolent of the so-called Swinging Sixties of course. It starts with a short fuzz guitar riff that heralds greater things to come, before settling into a lively verse / chorus where each line from the singer is repeated by the backing vocalists in pleasing fashion. Then a slight pause, some powerful drumming and the fuzz guitar is back in full force as the song lifts to a new level, leading to a classic garage scream and neat wigged out break.
‘Girl in the Mini Skirt’
‘Stay With Me’ is a downbeat ballad with lyrics on the time-honoured theme of the relationship break up and a low key twanging guitar solo.
‘Stay With Me’
Reissues: ‘Girl in the Mini Skirt’ is on Sixties Archives Volume 4, Garagelands Volume 1, and New Mexico Punk From The Sixties. The flip-side has yet to be commercially compiled.
Fort Bragg in Mendocino County on the northern coast of California was home to The Living Children, an outfit who formed in the summer of 1966, though their roots can be traced back to surf band KW and The Evils earlier in the decade. The band apparently took their name from the song ‘Living Child’ by their friends The Boy Blues from Chico, and having won a Battle of the Bands contest at the 1966 California State Fair in Sacramento played gigs across the state.
Both sides of their only single were written by singer and guitarist David Green and recorded at Golden State Recorders in San Francisco. The 45 was released in March 1968 on MTA Records (also home to a couple of fine singles by The Flying Circus from San Anselmo, CA).
The Rolling Stones influenced ‘Crystalize Your Mind’ has a great main riff and pulsing bassline, and lyrics inspired by the Haight district of San Francisco that sound a note of caution about the love generation lifestyle – “keep on dropping, baby, gonna blow your mind”.
‘Crystalize Your Mind’
Good as ‘Crystalize Your Mind’ is, flip ‘Now It’s Over’ might well be the superior side. It is a moody ballad with an air of The Byrds about it, with hushed, melancholic vocals and a simple guitar break that fits perfectly with the downbeat atmosphere of the song.
‘Now It’s Over’
Departures from the group lead to a change of name to Truman Capote but no further material was released.
Reissues: Both sides of the single are on Garage Beat ’66 Volume 3, or alternatively Nuggets From the Golden State: Crystalize Your Mind.
Bobby Sharp’s ‘Unchain My Heart’, a hit for Ray Charles in 1961, was a popular choice to cover for many 60s garage bands. What sets apart the version by The Undertakers from Amarillo, Texas is its infectious enthusiasm and the searing fuzz laden lead guitar work of John Urenda that makes its presence felt throughout the song, not just on the excellent reverb tinged solo. A fairground carousel style introduction quickly gives way to a vibrant, high octane rendition with strong vocals and a pin sharp arrangement.
Flip ‘It’s My Time’ moves into garage psych territory with its high-pitched keyboard melody, nagging baseline and haunting shifts in tempo in the verse. In contrast, the chorus is ultra catchy and there’s a fantastic little unison guitar and keyboard riff that appears in the middle and outro of the song. Another winner!
‘Unchain My Heart’
‘It’s My Time’
The outfit’s lone single was recorded at local DJ Larry Cox’s studio in Amarillo and released in 1967 on the Studio 7 label.
Reissues: Both sides are on Sixties Archives Volume 2 (or Texas Punk Groups From The Sixties Volume 1 if you prefer vinyl). ‘Unchain My Heart’ is also on Texas Flashbacks Volume 3 and the Off The Wall Volumes 1 and 2 CD.
The members of The Bethlehem Exit were from Los Altos and Cupertino, towns just south of Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Their single appeared in July 1966 on Jabberwock Records, a label based in Walnut Creek (and not connected to The Jabberwock Club in Berkerley).
The title has been changed but a-side ‘Walk Me Out’ is in fact an excellent up-tempo, jangling rendition of ‘Morning Dew’, the folk song about survivors of a nuclear war composed by Canadian singer Bonnie Dobson in 1961 that came to be something of a standard in the mid to late 60s thanks to covers by the likes of Fred Neil, Tim Rose and The Grateful Dead.
Flip-side ‘Blues Concerning My Girl’ is an equally fine garagey rhythm and blues number. It is credited to band leader and guitarist Peter Sultzbach and singer and harmonica player John Tomasi, and appropriately enough contains some neat, intricate lead guitar work and wailing blues harp, along with at times furious drumming.
‘Walk Me Out’
‘Blues Concerning My Girl’
The Bethlehem Exit apparently continued on until 1970, though by late 1966 both Sultzbach and Tomasi had left to join The New Delhi River Band, a Palo Alto group that didn’t make any recordings but included guitarist David Nelson in its line-up, who later ended up in the Grateful Dead related New Riders of the Purple Sage.
Reissues: ‘Blues Concerning My Girl’ is on Pebbles Volume 11 (CD) or Volume 21 (vinyl); ‘Walk Me Out’ doesn’t appear to have been commercially compiled.