Updated March 27, 2008, to include comments by Doug Rankine.
The Quiet Jungle, one of the best bands to come out of Toronto in the ’60s. They only had two 45s, “Ship of Dreams” / “Everything”, and “Make Up Your Mind” / “Too Much In Love”.
I couldn’t find out much about them until Ivan Amirault set the record straight:
“Quiet Jungle started life as The Secrets. Same band as ‘Cryin’ Over Her’ fame on ARC Records. First they recorded a novelty pop tune called ‘Clear The Track Here Comes Shack’. A tune about a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player from right here in Sudbury, Ontario! The tune made it to number one on CHUM radio in Toronto for two weeks starting February 28, 1966. It charted for nine weeks.”
The Secrets were Doug Rankine on vocals and guitar, Bob Mark lead guitar, Henry S. on electric piano, Mike Woodruff on bass and Rick Felstead on drums.
“Clear the Track Here Comes Shack” and the flip, “Warming the Bench” are pure novelty songs. Eddie Shack spoke fondly of the song in an interview on www.riredsdvd.com (site now defunct). While successful, it hardly demonstrates the talents of the band.
Much better is their release on Arc Records, “Cryin’ Over Her”, featuring a solid beat, fluid guitar work and good contrast between the taut verse and melodic chorus. Bob Mark wrote “Cryin’ Over Her”, and would go on to write or co-write all four of the Quiet Jungle’s released sides.
In the interim, though, their association with Arc would lead to their recording a whole album of Monkees songs for the label, released anonymously with the title A Little Bit Me, I’m a Believer, She Hangs Out plus 9 other ‘Tail-Hanger’ Favorites. Their version of “Mary Mary” is as good as any track from the Monkees record.
There’s also the The Story of Snoopy’s Christmas LP that credits them by name, now changed to Quiet Jungle. The credits for this record list Doug Rankine, Bob Mark and Rick Felstead, as well as Henry Taylor on percussion, while Henry S. and the bassist Mike Woodruff aren’t named.
A Rolling Stones cover lp called Let’s Spend The Night Together was long rumored to be the Quiet Jungle playing anonymously, but Doug Rankine says the band wasn’t involved (see below).
“Ship of Dreams”, their first 45 as Quiet Jungle is a particular kind of 60’s song about bringing the girl who thinks she’s so hip back down to earth. There were more of these type of songs than you’d imagine!
The May, ’67 issue of Canadian Teen magazine gave “Ship of Dreams” the following review: “Good material with some weird sound effects but it lacks the professional touches and sound to make it a hit.” Take this with a grain of salt, the record the reviewer raves about on the same page is by Gordon Lightfoot!
Typically, it’s the b-side where a monster of a track hides, “Everything”, written by Bob Mark and Henry Taylor. The bass lays down the melody, a ferocious fuzz guitar dupes the riff, and the organ plays the changes in perfect textbook garage style. A minute and a half in, they repeat the break with the drums slamming away, the singer reaching his peak, and for a short while it’s as intense as this music gets.
Released in early 1967, “Ship of Dreams” reached as high as #31 in February, charting for five weeks on CHUM. The song was also featured on a compilation of Yorkville singles with a great cover called Yorkville Evolution
Their second 45, “Too Much In Love” / “Make Up Your Mind” is also first-rate work, and again the b-side is tougher. Ivan writes: “The ‘Too Much In Love’ single didn’t chart, and is much harder to find than the ‘Ship Of Dreams’ 45.”
There are possibly more tapes in the vaults at Arc, but who knows when those will come to light.
Vocalist Doug Rankine has been in touch, and kindly gave these detailed answers to my questions:
As the Secrets, we had recorded a couple of singles, “Cryin Over Her” the most notable. While playing at the Toronto Pressmen’s club, Brian MacFarland introduced himself to us and asked if we would record a song he had written for his friend Eddie Shack. At that time, we were under the impression he wanted it just for Shack. We didn’t know it was going to be released as a single and played across the entire country. Once it was released, we thought (or hoped) it would just disappear into the night and nobody would care about it. As fate would have it, it didn’t disappear. For some reason people loved it.
We were very young and like 100’s of bands playing the local scene at the time, we had our sights set on “Stardom”. Clearly, we needed a way to distance ourselves from a “novelty song” such as Shack. The most logical solution in the eyes of the execs at Yorkville records was to change the name and get a couple of singles into the marketplace under our new name “The Quiet Jungle” as soon as possible. We released our first single “Ship Of Dreams” on the Yorkville label and things seemed to have turned the corner.
Our bookings increased and we were playing right across Canada. Everyone booking us however, wanted the “Secrets” to play “Clear The Track Here Comes Shack” and not the group that just released “Ship Of Dreams”. I was 17 at the time and the money being offered was pretty good, so we decided to take the bookings and pocket the money!
The major influences for the Quiet Jungle were the Rascals, Animals and believe it or not the Mamas & Papas. I want to clarify one point. While we did cover a “Monkees Album” and “Snoopy’s Christmas Album” for Arc Records, we did not cover any songs listed in the “Let’s Spend the Night Together” album. I was only used for the picture of the album cover.
Q. Did the Quiet Jungle have anything to do with the Flower Power album released on Arc by ‘The Okey Pokey Band and Singers’?
No we had nothing to do with the “Flower Power” album. There were a couple of TV shows at that time called After Four and High Time that were on CTV. We were on those shows varily often. There was an album produced at the time called “After Four”. There are some great tracks on that album from the Ugly Duckings, Big Town Boys and Stitch In Tyme to name a few. At the time of the album we recorded a song entitled “Four In the Morning”. Without going into a lot of detail, we recorded it under the name of the Scarlet Ribbon.
There were a few reasons the band broke up. After four years (having the time of my life), I came to the realization that “I personally” was not a good enough singer to hit the big time. While traveling the country, I got to hear bands and singers that were 10 times better than I was and realized that even they would not make it. We were playing the “Red River Exhibition” in Winnipeg one summer when I got to hear a young guy by the name of Burton Cummings sing. As soon as he opened his mouth, I knew I was in the wrong business. There was no mistaking, he had a voice from the Gods and was truly destined for stardom.
Bob Mark and Henry Taylor were the true talent of our band. Both were extremely accomplished, Bob on the creative side (writing original material) and Henry as the musical side (arranging). Both Rick and Mike were very solid on drums and bass but it was Bob and Henry who carried the band.
Mike left the band and we continued for about a year as a four member group. I left after a year. If I remember correctly, Bob, Henry and Rick got a new singer (I’m sorry I forget his name) and added Ron Canning from the Rising Sons and continued to play for another year or so.
Bob retired some years ago and lives somewhere up North. Rick lives in the Durham area. I believe Mike is somewhere in Toronto. Henry is in Toronto and is still active in the music business playing part time with a Doors tribute band.
Thank you to Ivan for the info, scans of promotion material on the Secrets, and most of the mp3s featured here, and special thanks to Doug Rankine for his detailed story about the band. Thanks to David for the tip about the Eddie Shack interview.
If anyone has goods scan or photo of the various LPs mentioned in this article, esp. the Flower Power, CTV After Four or Let’s Spend the Night Together LPs please contact me.