Garage Gold #30: The Third Booth – Sound Inc. / Mysteries (1967)

Third Booth-labelThe 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.

‘Mysteries’

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!.

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Classic Singles #101: The Escapades – I Tell No Lies / She’s The Kind (1966)

Escapades-labelThe Escapades from Memphis, Tennessee were formed in late 1965 by singer Tommy Minga after he had been forced out of another local band The Jesters (who later released a 45 on Sun Records, ‘Cadillac Man’ credited to Minga though in fact written by their guitarist Teddy Paige).

The debut single from Tommy’s new group appeared on the Arbet label in February 1966 and was reissued a month later on XL. A-side ‘I Tell No Lies’ is a top notch garage swinger with swirling keyboards, confident vocals, and a simple but effective guitar break from Bennie Kisner, all anchored by a neat driving bass-line. The song was composed by keyboard player Ron Gorden and drummer Ronny Williamson.

Flip ‘She’s The Kind’ is a more moody affair, again with keyboards in full effect. This was written by Minga, Gorden and bassist Dale Roark.

The success of the 45 locally led to a deal with national label Verve, a subsidiary of MGM, and a second single was issued in May. ‘Mad Mad Mad’ is an excellent up-tempo raver with fuzzy guitar and a catchy main riff, and ‘I Try So Hard’ is an urgent folk-rocker. The band also took part in a grueling tour of the southern United States supporting The Swinging Medallions and Sam The Sham. The headline acts flew from venue to venue but The Escapades had to drive punishing distances in their converted hearse (yes, another garage band with one of those!).

The band split up in 1967 when three of its members were drafted.

‘I Tell No Lies’

‘She’s The Kind’

Reissues: ‘I Tell No Lies’ is on Pebbles Volume 5 and A History of Garage and Frat Bands in Memphis 1960-1975 Volume 1. The flip is on Sixties Rebellion (or Volume 1 of the vinyl). Both sides of the single plus ‘Mad Mad Mad’ and an unreleased number ‘What You Know About Love’ are also included on Big Beat’s compilation of The Jesters, Cadillac Men: The Sun Masters.

Discography
  • I Tell No Lies / She’s The Kind (Arbet / XL)
  • Mad Mad Mad / I Try So Hard (Verve)

 

Classic Singles #100: The Paragons – Abba / Better Man Than I (1967)

Paragons-labelIf I had to pick a song that epitomises the youthful exuberance of 60s teen garage in all its glory then it might well be the anthemic ‘Abba’, a-side of the only single from Charlotte, North Carolina’s The Paragons.

The 45 appeared on the Bobbi label in January 1967 and was a sizable local hit, receiving considerable airplay. At the suggestion of the group’s manager Bobbie Cashman, it had been recorded at Arthur Smith Studios in Charlotte (whose owner Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith composed ‘Dueling Banjos’, the instrumental made famous by the 1972 film Deliverance).

‘Abba’ was selected as one of the songs for the single as it was the only original number in the band’s set. Its structure is ridiculously simple, a chorus-like opening followed by a verse ending in call and response shouts of “Yeah”, then repeat. There’s no instrumental break but the infectious melody backed by a classic garage chord progression from the jangling lead, fuzzy rhythm and keyboards is all that is needed.

‘Abba’

The flip is the band’s take on ‘Mister You’re a Better Man Than I’, a number written by Manfred Mann’s Mike Hugg and his brother Brian and recorded by The Yardbirds on their 1965 Having a Rave Up album. Like so many garage bands, The Paragons were heavily influenced by the British Invasion groups and this was no doubt a staple of their live set and features plenty of fuzzy lead guitar.

‘Better Man Than I’

Though credited to Danny Huntley and Johnny Pace on the 45, ‘Abba’ was in fact written by high school student Jim Charles while he was living in Killeen, Texas. The inspirations for the song were a cartoon character on the television who sounded like he was saying “abba dabba” and Jim’s father, who was always telling Jim and his brother to turn off the lamp in their room (the so-called Abba lamp, complete with red light-bulb). Over the course of time the lyrics were adapted so that they were about a girl and the light going off became a lovelight going on. The brothers debuted the song live in their outfit the Lily Whyte Lyres, complete with the Abba lamp, which was turned on for the duration of its performance.

In Spring 1965 Jim’s family moved to Charlotte. He heard a band playing in Freedom Park and offered to sing for them, then later met members of the Paragons (then known as The Pagans) at Charlottestown mall and was invited to join them on guitar. For a while Jim was playing in both bands, The Abbadons and The Paragons, with each performing their own version of ‘Abba’, until a falling out with Johnny Pace over a girl led to Jim leaving The Paragons. He was replaced by Pat Walters, from another local band The Barons, to complete the line-up that appears on the single – Johnny Pace on drums and lead vocal, his brother Bobby on bass, Danny Huntley on rhythm guitar, Tim Moore on organ, and Pat on lead guitar.

The band rehearsed at the Pace family rec house and played the usual array of school dances and teen clubs, as well as shopping centre parking lots and opening slots for The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits, traveling to gigs in a hearse.
After The Paragons broke up, Johnny Pace moved on to The New Mix, who recorded a fine pop-psych album for United Artists in 1968. Pat Walters formed The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with Bobby Pace, was later in Jeremiah who made two pop-rock albums on Uni in the early 1970s, but is best known as a member of power-poppers The Spongetones who formed in 1979.

Reissues: You can find ‘Abba’ on Teenage Shutdown Volume 5, Le Beat Bespoke Volume 3, or Tobacco-a-Go-Go Volume 2. The flip is on Bury My Body and Yesterday’s Dawn. For more information on The Paragons and the music scene in Charlotte and North Carolina in the 1960s I thoroughly recommend Jacob Berger and Daniel Coston’s 2013 book There Was a Time.

Footage still exists of the band’s lip-synched appearance on The Village Square, a variety show that started out as a local North Carolina program but was later syndicated across the United States. The picture quality isn’t perfect but it is amazing to have any visual record of the group at all. So, enjoy!

 

Garage Gold #29: The Caravelles – Lovin’ Just My Style / Self-Service (1966)

Carvelles-label

‘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’

‘Self-Service’

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.

Garage Gold #28: The Black Watch – Left Behind / I Wish I Had The Nerve (1967)

Black Watch-labelWith 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.

‘Left Behind’

‘I Wish I Had The Nerve’

One Side Wonders #19: A.J. and The Savages – Long Long Time (1967)

AJ and The Savages - labelA.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.

 

Garage Gold #27: The Banshees – They Prefer Blondes / Take a Ride With Me (1965)

Banshees_labelThe 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.

Discography
  • 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)