The Mark V / C-Minors / Intercoms / Peppermint Trolley Company

I wrote about the Impression label back in 2006, but at the time I didn’t know the full story behind the Intercoms record, and had not yet heard the Mark Five or C-Minors 45s. As it turns out, the Mark V of Redlands, California was responsible for all three of these releases, and a few members also backed Jimmy Robins (aka Jimmy Robbins) on his soul classic, “I Just Can’t Please You”.

The Intercoms’ “Unabridged, Unadulterated, Unextraordinary, Ordinary, Mediocre Unoriginality Blues” (Impression 107) is a cynical parody of protest songs, and one of my favorite Dylan send-ups. Opening verse: “Well I sit right down to write myself a protest song/and I try to think about something particularly wrong/but I couldn’t think of nothing that hadn’t already been said/ I couldn’t get the Siamese cats out of my head.” It was written by Danny Faragher of the Mark Five and M. Fouch. The flipside, Please Try And Understand was written by Dave Kelliher.

I asked guitarist and vocalist Dave Roberts (Dave Kelliher) of the Mark V about the band:

The Mark V (Redlands, CA) was basically a dance combo (piano, drums, bass, trombone, sax, and trumpet) but we dabbled in guitars, harmonicas, and tambourines. The Mark V band members were:

Brad Madson (piano)
Steve Hauser (sax, clarinet, flute, vocals)
Dick Owens (drums)
Danny Faragher (trombone, harmonica, vocals)
Jimmy Faragher (bass, guitar, vocals)
Dave Kelliher (aka Dave Roberts) (trumpet, guitar, vocals)

We had recorded an instrumental at Universal Studios at 5539 Sunset Blvd. in 1964. Instrumentals (particularly surf tunes) were hot. But also you had songs like Wonderland By Night, Midnight in Moscow, The Lonely Bull, The Theme from Mondo Cane, and all of that Al Hirt and Tijuana Brass stuff on the charts in the early 60’s (a lot of trumpet solos there…). Also, novelty songs were big (“No Matter What Shape Your Stomach’s In” from the Alka Seltzer commercial).

Well, there was a fairly new corn chip on the market called Wampums so…we came up with this little gem on our own…and believe or not, it was a big hit at dances and proms…girls in huge prom dresses, dancing like Indians and doin’ the Wampum battle cry…it wasn’t pretty. And Steve Hauser was one helluva saxophonist, as you can hear. Steve, by the way, was the leader of the band and probably has more (and perhaps more accurate) accounts of all of this.

The Mark V – Wampum (Universal Studios demo)

We went back a year later to get our masters but Universal was out of business, replaced by Impression Records. We had some other demos we were shopping around on our own–recorded at Wm. Locy Sound Studio in Riverside, CA. in 1964. No producer, just us and whatever studio time a hundred bucks would buy.

The Mark V – I’m Through with You (Locy demo)

Now, to my ear, it’s got more “soul” to it [than the remake on Impression], as rough as it is. Brad Madson’s piano work is really featured here, with a kind of haunting Gerry & The Pacemakers sound. (Okay, and I like my trumpet solo better.)

We were greeted by Sonny and Al Jones who want to hear our stuff. In no time we signed with Impression and cranked out a couple of things under Mark V, the one record as Intercoms, and another under the C-Minors. But it was the same six guys. It was heady…I was the youngest at 15 and the oldest was 17. Al and Sonny were country guys…Dorsey Burnette used to hang around there all the time.

Al and Sonny needed something quick and probably had a narrow window in which to work with John Fisher, who was riding high with “Suspicion” by Terry Stafford. (Fisher loved to tell the story of how they got that strange sound in “Suspicion” …they put a paper bag over a the organ’s Leslie speaker.) And you can’t underestimate how the British Invasion really fired up the band scene in L.A.

So, they threw all against the wall to see what would stick. We did hear “I’m Through With You” on local radio (KMEN, San Bernardino; KASK, Pomona) and it apparently got a little action in various small markets around the country. I don’t think the other stuff modulated many transmitters out there. They all came out at the same time.

By the way, we hated those other names but we figured they knew what they were doing.

The Mark Five’s first Impression release [is] “I’m Through With You”. They brought in a session guitarist for this and it was either James Burton or Jerry McGee. Both were on one of our recordings and I’m pretty sure it was the former. You could probably tell by listening…at 15 I had no idea I was in the presence of a phenom. Even though I didn’t get to play guitar on it, that is me on the trumpet.

The flip side – “I’ll Keep On Trying”. Again, I’m pretty sure this is Jerry McGee on guitar (think Rita Coolidge riffs). By the way, both were produced by Al Jones, Sonny Jones, and John Fisher.

A Mark Five record released as the C-Minors – “Just A Little Feeling,” / “Don’t Go” Impression 106. That is me on guitar and of course, trumpet, back up vocals, nail biting, etc.


l-r: Dick, Steve, Brad, Dave, Danny & Jimmy


The Intercoms

I wrote “Please Try and Understand” (okay, so my English was bad…not as bad as my singing or guitar work for that matter), the song on the flip side of “Unabridged, un…” I also sing lead and lead guitar. I owned only one copy of it (I was 17) and it warped (and subsequently cracked) in my car trunk.

Three of us did play on “I Just Can’t Please You” by Jimmy Robins: Dick Owens (drums), Danny Faragher (trombone), Dave Kelliher (trumpet). Jimmy Robins is on keyboards and that string-stretching is Sonny Jones on guitar. It was originally on the Impression label.

We left Impression in 1966 to be managed by Dan Dalton (Back Porch Majority). He changed our name to Peppermint Trolley Company (did somebody say 1910 Fruitgum Company?), got us a gig at Disneyland, put us in red-striped pants, blue blazers, and red ties.


“About a month into our new name on a big photo shoot at Knott’s Berry Farm. These handsome lads are (l-r): Danny Faragher, Dave Kelliher (Roberts), Brad Madson, Dick Owens, Jimmy Faragher, Steve Hauser.”
We signed with Valiant, recorded at Moonglow studios, and did get some serious airplay with “Lollipop Train” (P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri; Grassroots had done it on one of their albums) in September of 1966.

“Bored to Tears” – written and sung by Jimmy Faragher; we got the chance to go back to our Dixieland roots. It actually had some relevancy given the popularity of “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers about a year before. Buzz Clifford (“Baby Sittin’ Boogie” from the early 60’s) also released this song in about 1967 (he was a Dan Dalton act). We were wildly received with songs like this at Disneyland…a Mickey Mouse gig, but it was Union scale.

Back to “Lollipop Train” … Dan couldn’t get the kick drum sound he wanted at the beginning of each verse so Dick Ownes (drummer) overdubbed the beating of the kick drum case with a tympani stick.

Considering that this was just months after the stuff we recorded at Impression, I think this really does speak to Dan Dalton’s talents as a producer. Valiant Records’ biggest star was The Association, they played right behind us — literally across the alley — at Disneyland that year. We were in the Carnation Pavilion and they were starring in the Pepsi Theatre in FrontierLand.

We disbanded in early 1967. Our break-up was very gentlemanly. We had been playing together since the 8th grade and now we were freshmen and sophomores in college…all at different colleges. We all needed to stay in college or be drafted. Lollipop Train didn’t “pop” (Valiant was purchased by Warner Bros. and phased out; they really only wanted the Association).

I was the one who started it, leaving the band to go off to be a disc jockey. The others decided that their interests, strengths, and weaknesses all differed and they decided to disband. As noted earlier, Danny and Jimmy Faragher took the Peppermint Trolley Company forward with a lot more fame with two other guys we all knew from Junior High/High School. Both good guys and very talented. Danny & Jimmy then formed the Faragher Brothers with two other family members. Very talented family … little brother Davey Faragher is bassist for Elvis Costello.

Now, as I understand it, but grist for revision: Steve actually worked the rest of his way through college and law school playing with bands in Vegas. Brad graduated from the prestigious University of North Dallas School of Music and is a professor of music (jazz) at Jefferson College in Jefferson, MO. Dick went on to become an executive at Broadway Department Stores. I stayed in radio, earned a PhD in Communication, was a VP at RKO Networks and CBS Radio, and became a research consultant. I still have a guitar, drums, trumpet, and my voiceover studio (and this big smash hit in my own mind and about 15,000 “internet hits”: “Armadillos In Mourning” (A parody of Amarillo By Morning by George Strait, written by Terry Stafford).

It’s hard to believe that 40 years later it is this much fun!

- Dave Roberts, February 2008

In August of 2009 Danny Faragher wrote to Garage Hangover:

Here’s a bit more information concerning my song, “The Unabridged, Unadulterated….Unoriginality Blues”. We had recorded “I’m Through With You”/”I’ll Keep On Trying” in August of 1965. In September, I started attending San Bernardino Valley College as a music major (One of my classmates was Jimmy Webb). It was hard for me to focus on my studies. All I could think about was making rock and roll records. A couple of weeks into school, I sat down at the piano in the commons, and performed Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” to a packed room of lunch eaters. I sang every verse with all the inflections, and got a rousing applause, which of course I dug completely. In fact, I wanted more, and I wanted it SOON!

A couple nights later I got the idea for a song which would kind of riff off the “Dylan protest thing”. My good friend Michael Fouch sat next to me as I composed the tune, acting as a sounding board and cheering squad (I don’t think I’d have written it without his being there. Hence the writer credit). The next day I performed the song for the lunchtime crowd. Of course, as people didn’t know the tune, they didn’t respond with the same enthusiasm, but a lot of the students dug it. At the next band rehearsal, we worked it up. In February of 1966, I believe, we recorded it for Impression. Incidentally, I have just recently reconnected with Michael after thirty plus years.

Another bit of information… My brother, Jimmy, and I are going to attend a reunion party for the Inland Empire bands of the Sixties on August 29th. It should be interesting.

The six Impression sides have now been included as bonus tracks on the CD reissue of the Peppermint Trolley Company’s 1968 album, entitled “Beautiful Sun”. The CD is selling well.

I have a website up (www.dannyfaragher.com) up with bios of all the bands I was in, including the Mark Five. The bio fleshes out the story even more.

 

Thanks to Mop Top Mike for mp3 of the Intercoms ‘Please Try and Understand’, and special thanks to Dave Roberts for his history of the band and mp3s of their songs. Dave has his own voiceover business, www.DaveRobertsVoiceover.com. Also thanks to Danny Faragher for adding more to the story – check out his site, www.dannyfaragher.com/markv as there’s a lot more information there.

8 thoughts on “The Mark V / C-Minors / Intercoms / Peppermint Trolley Company”

  1. Steve Stanley of The Now Sound label would be the best choice for re-issuing this. If tapes are available, I’d
    contact him at luxuriamusic.com!!! The Now Sound is a subsidiary of the RevOla label and The Peppermint Trolley Co.
    is right up their alley.

    Gary

  2. The story doesn’t end here, this is only where Dave departed. The Faraghers added 2 new members & of course had their wonderful LP on Acta, as well as some top notch 45 releases before becoming “Bones”. No company has managed to release their material on legit CD yet, which is an absolute travesty. See my SuperOldies.com site (Featured Artists section) for the rest of their discography and memorabilia courtesy of Danny Faragher

  3. Shawn is absolutely right…Danny and Jimmy Faragher did team up with drummer Casey Cunningham and guitarist Greg Tornquist after I and the rest of the band went our separate ways. That iteration of the Peppermint Trolley Company turned Bones turned Faragher Brothers is “the rest of the story” and it is a great one. Good job, Shawn…keep Danny talking because he’s got great stories and some tasty cuts. DR

  4. …they were also on Mannix, shown briefly practicing in the studio – check out YouTube of course. Why Sundazed, Cherry Red, or Rhino Handmade doesn’t have a good package out on the group is beyond me. The tapes are just sitting in the vaults collecting dust.

  5. As many of you may already know, this has happened exactly as stated above. It was released March 23 on Now Sounds with many bonus tracks, and hopefully from a good tape source!

  6. Unfortunately, the CD is all from vinyl. Unknown whether or not tape sources still exist but there is no mention of Universal (who now own Acta) on any of the packaging. Could be the tapes burned up in last year’s fire. I wish they would have included the last 2 singles, even though there were some band member changes.

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