A.J. and The Savages are another of those bands about which very little is known, apart from that they hailed from Chicago, Illinois and released one single in March 1967 on the Delaware label (also home to The Delights’ excellent ‘Long Green / Find Me a Woman’ 45 from 1965).
A-side ‘Long Long Time’ is a top drawer keyboard-driven garage blaster with fine harmony vocals and the barest hint of a swinging 60s style organ break.
Missing side: ‘Farmer John’, a cover of the garage standard written by duo Don and Dewey but made famous by The Premiers from San Gabriel, California, who had a hit with the song in June 1964. TeenBeat Mayhem! describes A.J. and The Savages’ version as “frantic”!
Reissues: ‘Long Long Time’ is on Teenage Shutdown Volume 15.
The Damascans were from Charlotte, North Carolina. The band consisted of high school students Jackie Holmes (bass) and brother and sister David and Toni Naples (drums and keyboards respectively), along with guitarist Buddy Hyman, who was older and studying at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. They were sometimes joined by singer Scott Pope.
Buddy Hyman happened to live next door to Arthur Smith who ran Pyramid Records and Arthur’s nephew Lanny managed the band. The Damascans played the usual round of teen clubs, Battle of the Band competitions, school dances and parties – alongside other local outfits such as The Ravens, The Paragons, and The Crested T.
Buddy wrote both sides of the group’s only single, which was released on Pyramid Records in March 1966. ‘Go ‘Way Girl’ has a classic garage chord progression, trebly in-your-face Hammond B-3 organ, a primitive but neat break (again on keyboards), and solid lead and backing vocals with lyrics that tell the time-honoured tale of a heartbreaking girlfriend. Surely everything you could ask of a teen beat single!
‘Go ‘Way Girl’
Sadly, the story of the band ends in tragic circumstances as in 1968 Buddy Hyman was murdered, shot by another UNC Charlotte student whose ex-girlfriend he was dating.
Missing side: ‘Diane’ is a plaintive, low-key ballad.
Reissues: ‘Go ‘Way Girl’ is on Quagmire Volume 3 or Tobacco A-Go-Go Volume 2.
The Breakers were high school friends from Memphis, Tennessee who came to the attention of singer Charlie Rich’s manager Sy Rosenburg. He drove the band to Nashville to cut their lone single, which was released in August 1965 on Amy Records.
‘Don’t Send Me No Flowers’ is a snarling, moody garage gem with plenty of effectively used fuzzy lead guitar. It was written by Donna Weiss, a Nashville songwriter who later composed the Grammy winning ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ with Jackie de Shannon (who incidentally wrote and produced the Raga and The Talas’ monster ‘My Group and Me’ covered in an earlier post).
The song was also recorded by another, more well-known Memphis outfit The Gentrys and appeared on their debut album Keep On Dancing on MGM, released in 1965 as well. And you can find a raw version by Batesville, Arkansas’ The Blue and The Gray from their 1966 single on Zay-Dee on Lost Souls Volume 1 (along with the raucous cover of ‘Wine, Wine, Wine’ that was on the flipside). And finally, The What-Knots shortened the title to ‘I Ain’t Dead Yet’ and added sax and organ for their 1968 single on Dial.
‘Don’t Send Me No Flowers’
Missing side: ‘Love of My Life’ (a mid-tempo folky ballad according to TeenBeat Mayhem).
Reissues: The a-side is on Pebbles Volume 10 (CD) or Volume 12 (vinyl) and A History Of Garage & Frat Bands In Memphis Volume 2.
Following on from my post about The Balloon Farm, today I’m featuring the a-side of the single put out by New York outfit Adam on the Mala label in December 1966. As I mentioned before, two of the band were later in The Balloon Farm, and ‘Eve’ is an interesting enough number to merit an entry in its own right.
‘Eve’ is an intense and moody garage punker with a thumping bass line and pounding drumming underpinning the gruff, powerful vocals and effective harmonies. There’s some neat fuzz guitar as well but the defining element of the song is the frenzied raga-esque guitar work that punctuates proceedings. The Byrds had released ‘Eight Miles High’ in March 1966 and it must be the case that Adam were homaging Roger McGuinn’s distinctive free-form guitar playing from that wonderful and influential record, albeit in more primitive fashion. Like The Baroques’ ‘I Will Not Touch You’, the song ends in almost throwaway fashion.
Missing side: ‘Where Has My Little Girl Gone’ (described by Teenbeat Mayhem as a “dramatic pop ballad with orchestration”).
Reissues: ‘Eve’ is on A Lethal Dose of Hard Psych or for those who prefer vinyl Incredible Sound Show Stories Volume 7.
An absolute stormer from this Urbana, Ohio outfit who released one single on the Catalina label in June 1967. A mournful organ introduction quickly gives way to a frenzied fuzz and keyboard pounder with strong vocals and melody, and excellent reverb-laden lead guitar work.
Missing side: ‘What Have I Done’ (described by Teenbeat Mayhem as a “melodic organ ballad”). A copy sold for $2,300 on eBay in 2012, so I don’t expect to be hearing the flip-side just yet.
Reissues: as there is little or no information about the band, it is fitting that ‘Wondering Why’ is on Garage Punk Unknowns Volume 2.
The name The Gentle Touch may conjure up images of sunshine psychedelic pop but ‘Visitors Parking Only’ is in fact a cool and moody garage number with a blistering guitar break and some very effective changes of dynamics in the second half of the song. It was one side of the band’s debut single, issued on RCA Victor in 1966 in a run of 500, some of which came in a picture sleeve with a photograph of the group. Needless to say, these are far more desirable than the copies in the stock company sleeve.
The group were from Hamilton, Ontario in Canada, and the line-up was band leader Bruce Ley, Ron Boyes, Jeff Snider and Alex Harrington. They started out as The Pharaohs but changed to The Gentle Touch to avoid confusion with a band playing in the United States with a similar name. The group performed several times on local TV station CHCH.
‘Visitors Parking Only’
Missing side: ‘One Way Ride’
There is also a 1967 single on Kapp by The Gentle Touch – ‘Among the First to Know / Merry Go ‘Round’ but this is the work of a different outfit.
Reissues: This is something of a lost gem as ‘Visitors Parking Only’ doesn’t seem to have been included on any commercial compilations. However, there is a series called Wyld Canada put together by a very generous collector that appeared for free a few years back and the song is on Volume 3. There were four volumes in total and they are all well worth tracking down.