Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Dig That Underground Sound (Rhino Custom)

Dig That Underground Sound

10 years ago Rhino released two fine 24-track CD compilations, Come to the Sunshine and Hallucinations, both subtitled “Nuggets from the WEA Vaults.” These compilations made thematic sense and included a lot of unfamiliar music. The sound was consistent as most of the songs came from the Warner Bros./Reprise labels, with a smattering from labels like Cotillion, Atco and Valiant.

I was hoping this approach would be repeated for this 3 CD set, Dig That Underground Sound! Rare Garage Rock from the Vaults of Warner Bros., Elektra & Atlantic Records. It’s a well-programmed selection of music, mixing familiar songs with the obscure, but that’s about the only thing I like about this release.

Unfortunately, there’s no unifying theme to this compilation. “Farmer John” follows “Black Roses”, and is followed by the Association. Most selections are singles, but then there are album cuts by the Fugs and Iron Butterfly. A few UK singles are mixed in, for no particular reason other than that they were released on Atco or Elektra. There are even a couple Flamin’ Groovies cuts from 1976, originally released on Sire!

Nor is there anything approaching ‘rare’ on this set. The only song that hasn’t already been reissued on CD is the Waphphle’s “I Want You”, which is hardly essential. There are no previously unreleased tracks. 13 tracks appeared on Rhino’s earlier CD set, Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets: 1965-1968 including the most inspired choices of obscure songs, such as “The Rebel Kind” by Dino, Desi & Billy, and “Come Alive” by the Things to Come.

A third of the selections come from the Warner Bros./Reprise labels, including oft-reissued fare by the Electric Prunes, the Music Machine and the Premiers. This set would have benefited from songs like the Magic Mushroom’s “I’m Gone”, the New Order’s “Why Can’t I” & “Meet Your Match”, and the Gates of Eden “Elegy”, all originally released on Warner Bros and never officially reissued.

Other than three songs from Love, Elektra is only represented by Leviathan’s “Remember the Times”, Clear Light and the Waphphle (the undeserving “I Want You” instead of the better “Goin’ Down”).

Atlantic/Atco provides the Vagrants (three songs), The Common Cold, Rose Garden, Iron Butterfly, and a couple UK artists: Vamp (“Floatin'”) and Sharon Tandy. The rest of the tracks are from other labels controlled by Warner Music Group, such as Dunwich, Mustang, Roulette, Mira, Original Sound, Autumn, many of which are good selections.

The sound quality is generally good but suffers on certain tracks, such as the Shadows of Knight’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” which is brittle and lacking in bass. The clipping was obvious when I opened the file up in an audio editor.

Other than a few nice Record Store Day 7″s, the Rhino Custom imprint seems to specialize in unexciting rehash of old music. The six page booklet has short bios on the three primary labels and ten of the bands. It’s a cheap package, but at 15 tracks per CD, it’s not even a bargain.

The Ugly Ducklings – Somewhere Inside & Thump and Twang CDs

The Ugly Ducklings – Somewhere Inside (Pacemaker PACE-086, 2011)
The Ugly Ducklings – Thump & Twang (Pacemaker PACE-087, 2011)

Review by Rebecca Jansen

Considered by many to be Canada’s premier ’60s garage rock outfit, for decades fans of The Ugly Ducklings had to content themselves with the group’s handful of Yorktown singles and one LP, Somewhere Outside. So it was with some shock I discovered these two (two!) CDs just released by Pacemaker, and as far as I can tell all but one cut on them are previously unavailable!

The Somewhere Inside set comes first chronologically and has as its basis a January 1967 appearance on CHUM radio in the Ducklings’ hometown of Toronto. Framed by on-air interview segments are six live in studio recordings, three demos, and one alternate mix. The live in studio tracks are all of good fidelity, and of the familiar numbers also recorded for Yorkville, “Nothin'” features a more elastic and looser Roger Mayne lead guitar, while this “My Little Red Book” is a bit faster and more like the Love version.

Another of the tracks listed as “live” is “My Watch” which is an original Dave Bingham and Glynn Bell composition and has a solid funky blues quality to it. The cover of “I’m A Man” did turn up previously in Sundazed’s Garage Beat ’66 compilation series, but it goes well with the short take on “Home In Your Heart”.

Of the three songs listed as demos (only here does the fidelity vary, though never too badly), all are covers. “Somebody Help Me” was a hit for the Hollies, “You’ve Got It Made” is the blues song, and “Out Of Sight” the soul number. There is also a great alternate mix of “Postman’s Fancy” which has a more psychedelic effect than the original side. With all the historic interview and radio segments this disc makes a good addition to the Ugly Ducklings collection.

The recordings on Thump & Twang begin with a November 1967 studio session wherein new member Mike McKenna’s original “The Blues Fell This Morning” is cut. Following Glynn Bell’s departure the Ducklings continued recording as a four piece, still fronted by singer Dave Bingham and backed by original drummer Robin Boers who is said to have added a second bass drum ala Ginger Baker at this time. Aside from two takes of Bo Diddley’s “You Can’t Judge A Book” (one being from a TV appearance), all tracks are written by Bingham and/or McKenna. They’re all solid early 1968 vintage blues rock pointing toward the future Mainline group and sometimes with a bit of a Byrds country vibe. Apparently this was not the kind of hit single music Yorkville had been hoping for however, and after the falling out with their label the Ugly Ducklings broke up.

See the Pacemaker site for more information on this release.

Rebecca Jansen’s writing and artwork can be seen at Hippies stole my blog! *.

Garage Hangover accepts recently-released LPs, CDs, books and DVDs for review. Please contact us for a mailing address.

The Esquires – The Singles … Plus (CD)

The Esquires – The Singles… Plus (2011, Pacemaker PACE 085)
Review by Rebecca Jansen

It’s been two dozen years now since a short b&w film clip of a well-groomed skinny-tied early ’60s instrumental combo began showing up on the Canadian music video channel. They played an original Shadowsesque toe-tapper on Fenders and a Gibson whilst a not too serious drummer paradiddled at a kit with a bass drum that read “The Esquires”. It was too perfect to be a hoax, and the song burrowed into my mind even more than the drum lettering.

About a dozen years ago a CD series was launched by EMI Music Canada called the “Northern Heritage Connoisseur Series,” and part of this series was the 1963 album Introducing The Esquires. Remembering the Shadowsesque group in the film clip and seeing the cover made up to look like the Shadows own famous first LP (right down to the guys’ sweaters) I knew this must be that Esquires. It was, and I would hit replay after the track “Man From Adano” so many times I risked wearing out that button! I don’t know if it’s the memory of the almost Devo-like vintage film clip appearing anachronistically among a lot of modern videos, or the interweaving of guitar and background aaaah-aaaah-aaah-aaahs, but I’d almost swear The Esquires were more the Shadows than the Shadows ever were for this sligthly under two minutes. Like Les Paul’s “Nola” or Link Wray’s “Rumble” before it, it’s one of those tunes that branded itself right onto my brain and will never go, and yet somehow with each relistening making the mark deeper it feels good there.

Now Pacemaker has collected up seemingly everything else by the Esquires of Ottawa and with a photo-festooned and informative book I can scratch this itch all over again. In the manner of England’s Fluer De Lys or Germany’s Rattles, the Esquires of the earliest demos included here are a totally different group of people than the ones who play on their final Columbia single some years further along. In between still other members came and went, like singer Don Norman who dominated vocally and lyrically for the third through fifth Capitol singles only and then went on to lead Don Norman & The Other Four. Norman’s style was very smooth mid-60s Cliff Richard, and his original songs are as satisfyingly hook-laden as anything by bigger names of the era, particularly “So Many Other Boys”.

Don Norman has become somewhat familar to me before this release, so the real revelation here are the final two Columbia singles from 1966. With new members Ted Gerow on keyboard (a future Staccato, see Pacemaker’s great two disc First Sparks collection), and John Cassidy on guitar the Esquires took a moddish r&b turn for the interesting. Still with second drummer Richard Patterson (destined for 3’s A Crowd), and lead vocals from Brian Lewicki, “It’s a Dirty Shame” is a solid garage-rocker that escaped my ears until now, and the follow-up “Love Hides A Multitude Of Sins” is a totally infectious dancable raver (reportedly Zombies inspired). My poor replay button! The flipsides of both are almost equally deserving of attention as well, and yet what with the lack of support in Canada for homegrown rock & roll this was to be the last heard from the Esquires until much later reunions.

This CD is however loaded with bonus tracks from unissued demos and TV appearances to quality live recordings. And now finally, wonder of wonders, that film clip that haunted me all this time itself is explained; “shot in 1963… (two clips, one I’ve yet to see) are considered the first-ever Canadian pop videos and were made when a local vending machine entrepreneur brought back some early video machines [Scopitones] from France. Having nothing but French pop stars on them, he decided to feature Canadian acts.” That 16mm film of “Man From Adano” stands as a peek into a different time and sound as iconically as the celebrated 1906 Market Street in San Francisco film, as only a few weeks later the Beatles began their invasion! In the footsteps of Lonnie Donegan, Cliff and the Shadows, the Beatles hit first in Canada (many later-famous U.S. musicians have noted how they first heard that group while in Canada), but for me ‘Man From Adano’ will always be the coolest piece of Canadian rock.

See the Pacemaker site for more information on this release.

Rebecca Jansen’s writing and artwork can be seen at Hippies stole my blog! *

Garage Hangover accepts recently-released LPs, CDs, books and DVDs for review. Please contact us for a mailing address.

The Remains – ‘Let Me Through’ b/w ‘Why Do I Cry’ – Review


The Remains – ‘Let Me Through’ b/w ‘Why Do I Cry’
(2011 Sundazed S-231)

Review by Rebecca Jansen

“The new single by The Remains,” now doesn’t that alone sound good? Fortunately this vinyl debut of an original Barry Tashian and Vern Miller composition does sound very good indeed! Performed live on Ed Sullivan’s CBS television studio stage, Sunday December 26th, 1965, Barry’s snarling Guild lead guitar is in good form as the group soars (and sometimes stumbles, true) through some Psychotic Reactions style tempo changes. Very fearless on a national show with a song only cooked up a couple weeks before! Topo Gigio was probably forced into hiding while this punky racket was flowering, not that the sound quality is at all lacking with the minor exception of some audience applause at the start and again at the conclusion.

Sundazed’s sleeve is based on a vintage picture sleeve used by Epic, same design but different shot from the same photo shoot, and it’s that attention to detail that keeps Sundazed high in afficianados’ regard. The flip is a version of “Why Do I Cry” from the essential Session With the Remains LP also available through Sundazed. This single is more fun than Senior Wences’ plate-spinner eating goats; I predict it’ll be really beeg with all the kiddies in the garage!

This 45 is available through Sundazed.

Rebecca Jansen’s writing and artwork can be seen at Hippies stole my blog! *.

Garage Hangover accepts recently-released LPs, CDs, books and DVDs for review. Please contact us for a mailing address.

Rob Chapman – Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head


Da Capo Press edition (US)

Faber and Faber edition (UK)
Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head by Rob Chapman
(Faber and Faber [UK]; Da Capo Press [US], 2010 hardcover/2011 paperback)

Review by Rebecca Jansen

I’ve managed to avoid reading much about Syd Barrett, other than Nick Mason’s lavish Floyd book of a few years ago, and one chapter of Richie Unterberger’s Unknown Legends. Which isn’t to say I haven’t admired and enjoyed his music many times. Unlike some of the people quoted in this book, however, neither he or his work have come close to changing my life or becoming a major obsession. Here is my outsider’s take then, which seems appropriate as in many ways Syd was an outsider to the commercial pop music scene he functioned within for awhile.

Unlike Syd’s own prose, at 400+ pages the biography is not economical; it is full of details and cross-references pertaining to poets and painters mostly outside the commercial arts, and of eras beyond Syd’s own. How necessary this is may depend on how much the reader wants to see Barrett’s work as singular and fueled by intangible outer realms of mental mystery. The author argues for the influence of his peers and surroundings rather than chemical inspiration, such as the often overlooked influence of Mike Leonard’s light show on the music of Pink Floyd. Personally, I like my non-fiction cluttered with details and tangents, so encountering John Clare, Bob Cobbing, Chaim Soutine and Edward Lear in these pages heightens my interest and appreciation.

Another way in which this book seems very unlike its subject, and my only real criticism of it, is in the sharply dismissive criticisms of music made by the author and other fans of Syd Barrett. I suppose that in their zeal to impress their love of Syd’s best work they think savaging such things as later Rolling Stones and Lennon & McCartney music will make Barrett’s work shine the brighter. There is even the opinion that all pop or rock music since the late sixties is retrograde or simply not trying in the least. This in a book about the virtual poster boy for retreat, inactivity and regression? These sorts of harsh judgements are only aimed at Syd’s work in so far as the author castigates the 1965 demo “Lucy Leave” as unworthy of much notice. The first original recording by the book’s subject and Pink Floyd not worth much attention? Only for somebody overly fixed on one style and time period of music. Many people have found that recording genuinely awe inspiring. Syd’s surly proto-punk vocals are startlingly on a par with Mick Jagger, Sky Saxon and Iggy Pop here, making it seem a shame that a “Lucy Leave” b/w “King Bee” single couldn’t have materialised at the time. I wonder what might have followed such a single.

The author is probably right in it ultimately being a good thing that nothing came of the recording and that Bob Klose the lead guitarist left soon after. The breakthrough psychedelic Pink Floyd sound might never have happened otherwise, and the pop music business would have forced Syd into retreat that much earlier. The opinions about other musical artists here are all about their authors and nothing really about Syd himself. If something wasn’t interesting to him it seems he simply opted out and gave it no attention or effort to the point of seeming rude. Having no opinion, or suspending closure to use the psychological jargon, did have a lot to do with his creativity. The reader is regularly shown how during the height of production Syd created stream-of-consciousness style without editing or censoring, or closing off from what was current in his surroundings. The few times he does voice an opinion in the few interviews he gave it is always amenable to being altered with any pressure. His facile mindset is part and parcel of the creator and his human condition.

That aspect aside, anybody interested in further exploring Syd the artist will find a lot in this book to think about and follow up on. If your interest is more for a good read storywise, as many music bios are, you will probably find this pretty bumpy and a bit dry. Chapman spends a fair amount of the time debunking and questioning the scale of the purported negative influence from drug use, and I think does a good job of untangling that layer of sensationalist hype from what the reality was. Other factors to do with the restrictions and demands of commerce and the stultifying influence of some people literally surrounding him are as or more likely to have caused the gradual backing away and undoing as the taking of too much acid. A number of friends, family and associates were interviewed for the book who have not been heard from before.

Rebecca Jansen is the one of the English-speaking world’s foremost authorities on Los Machucambos. Her writing and artwork can be seen at Hippies stole my blog! *.

Garage Hangover accepts recently-released LPs, CDs, books and DVDs for review. Please contact us for a mailing address.

A Song For You: The Quest of The Myddle Class by Kathy West


A Song For You: The Quest of The Myddle Class by Kathy West (Xlibris)
Review by Chris Bishop

Myke Rosa, Rick Philp, Dave Palmer, Dan Mansolino and Charles Larkey

The Myddle Class were a sensation in New Jersey, in Greenwich Village and even in Albany, but none of their singles made the national charts and the band faded away as members went off to college and found other musical avenues to pursue. This was a common story in the 1960s, and one that usually would not be worth writing a book about, but the Myddle Class was not an ordinary band, and their story is far more intricate and compelling than most. It’s welcome to read Kathy West’s A Song For You: The Quest of The Myddle Class, a personal history of her experiences with the group, especially with their guitarist Rick Philp and one of their producers, Carole King.

Kathy started dating Rick when the band was known as the King Bees. Al Aronowitz became the band’s manager and introduced them to Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and Kathy became good friends with Carole as a result.

Rick and Kathy maintained their relationship for the next several years despite long separations at different colleges, she in Virginia, he first at Gettysburg and later Emerson College in Boston. They wrote frequent letters to each other while away, and reunited during vacations. Kathy portrays Rick as a talented musician and loyal friend who was sometimes withdrawn or occupied by conflicts such as his father’s disapproval of his musical pursuits. Kathy has not just her own memory to draw on, but letters from Rick, Carole and other friends to round out the picture.

Rick and Kathy spent the summer of ’68 together in Los Angeles for Rick to record with Carole King on early sessions of The City album. Kathy briefly enrolled in school at U. Mass in Boston to be closer to Rick, but she returned to Virginia after less than a month in order to give Rick room to work out the personal and academic pressures he faced. One of Rick’s problems was his Emerson roommate “Dog”, a closeted homosexual who purposely worked to undermine Rick’s friendships (including his relationship with Kathy), stole his mail and guitars and tried to exert control over Rick.

 DJ Scott Ross and Al Aronowitz
DJ Scott Ross and Al Aronowitz

Despite the obstacles Rick faced, there were promising developments happening in his life. He was on his way to finishing college, an important personal goal. He was also writing songs with Gerry Goffin and Myddle Class vocalist Dave Palmer, cutting demos and planning to form a new group with all the members of the Myddle Class plus pianist Lloyd Baskin.

Kathy last saw him on a visit home in early May, 1969. A few weeks later she heard the terrible news that Rick was dead, murdered by the former roommate who was jealous that Rick was exerting his independence. It’s a tragedy that clearly still hurts all the people who knew Rick. This loss of a lover, good friend and promising musician lies at the heart of A Song For You and makes it a very touching story to read, even if, like me, you only know the band through their music.

Dave Palmer and Rick Philp

Kathy published this book herself through Xlibris. Like many self-published books, it has idiosyncrasies: over-large type, a cover illustration that fits the subject but is somewhat generic, and occasional repetition or digression that a good editor would have corrected. Kathy provides a number of yearbook photos, news clippings and shots of locations around Boston, but I would have liked to see some candid photos to accompany the fine account she has written (Kathy sent me additional photos of the band to add to this review, including a striking shot of Dave Palmer on stage with Charlie and Dan, below.) Ultimately these are minor quibbles that do not lessen the book’s importance.

Kathy West’s A Song For You is a rare portrait of the Myddle Class that I find invaluable and recommend highly.

A Song For You is available in printed and digital editions through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Kathy also has signed hardcovers editions for sale; email her directly at kklew99@optonline.net.

On stage: Charles Larkey, Dave Palmer and Dan Mansolino

The Pleasure Seekers – What a Way to Die (CD)

The Pleasure Seekers – What A Way To Die (2011 Cradle Rocks Music)
Review by Rebecca Jansen

Following an entertaining intro (by DJ The Lord, of Shangrlaradio.com), the Quatro sisters original composition “Gotta Get Away” comes on heavy with a wall of organ and guitar likes a snarly Detroit version of an Avalon ballroom mainstay! This is the first taste of seven previously unreleased ’60s recordings by Michigan’s Pleasure Seekers. It was long rumored the girls had laid down more in the studio than the three singles well known to serious rock & roll fanatics, but now the wait is over.

The first thing that becomes clear is how Arlene Quatro’s organ work is impeccable throughout, providing a solid foundation to the tracks she performed on. The second track “Never Thought You’d Leave Me” is of an earlier vintage however, when the Ball sisters, Nan and Mary Lou were in the group, and Arlene, the eldest Quatro had yet to join. Not yet out of their teens, Patti Quatro’s lead guitar and Suzi’s vocals are already solid on their 1966 debut on the Hideout record label, from the people who gave Detroit it’s Hideout club. Suzi’s bass is a real highlight here. On the title track from the same single you can hear how the Pleasure Seekers held their own on the same stages as The Rationals and Bob Seger & The Last Heard. In fact Suzi Q’s vocals are pretty much as strong they would be later at the height of her solo ’70s fame.

From the Mercury era the standout track here is “Light Of Love”, an upbeat rocker that equals the best sides by labelmates The New Colony Six. There is a cool chant aspect to the chorus here making me wonder why some glam group didn’t cover this in the ealry-mid ’70s, it would’ve outshone much of the repertoire from the period! Stax/Booker T style organ with soul harmonies tend to dominate the remaining cuts, but Patti’s guitar licks get elastic and really shine making possibly average material something more engaging. There is one great vocal performance, by drummer Darline Arnone apparently, on “Good Kind Of Hurt” also worth mentioning. The set closes with a slower experimental freak-out song called “Mr. Power” which comes over like Joe Meek, a great surprise and a cool note to end on definitely leaving me still wanting to hear more.

A pre-Hideout recording titled “White Line” for the Golden World label is missing or in that label’s archives. The CD also doesn’t include the song “Shame”, the b-side of one Mercury single. With the addition of Nancy Quatro The Pleasure Seekers evolved into the group Cradle, and there is an album’s worth of this material also available for the first time on CD.

Disc ordering info at: www.quatrorock.com.

Garage Hangover accepts recently-released LPs, CDs, books and DVDs for review. Please contact us for a mailing address.

The Ingoes – Before We Were Blossom Toes (CD and LP)


The Ingoes – Before We Were Blossom Toes (2010 Sunbeam Records, SBRCD5077)
Review by Rebecca Jansen

Among the also-rans of manager/producer Giorgio Gomelskiy’s stable of groups, The Ingoes proved to be tenacious as much as talented. After paying dues in German clubs The Ingoes, made up of former Gravediggers and Cheynes lead guitarist and songwriter Eddie Lynch, were found worthy of bookings at both the Marquee and the Crawdaddy clubs. From this period comes CD opener “Fast Eddie” a solid original instumental.

Lynch and Brain Godding sparked each other as songwriters and as vocalists, evidenced here by a further four originals, three of which would go unreleased entirely. The recordings from this period would rate as excellent album cuts from any group in Englabnd if not quite hit single candidates (one would turn up as a b side to French and Italian versions of the Beatles’ “Help” however).

In early 1965 The Ingoes headed to Paris and a residency at The Bus Palladium. It was while here that Gomelsky engineered Lynch’s replacement with Jim Cregan and the group’s lone EP was issued for the French market. Unfortunately for lovers of variety all four tracks on the record have the same beat for the listeners to dance something dubbed the “Monkiss” with photo dinstructions on the back sleeve. Remaining unissued however were better cuts of “Watcha Gonna Do About It” and “Jump Back”, plus an original by Godding “Ready Packed People Of Today” which attempted to be meaningful but would not have been out of place on an early Bee Gees album. The Monkiss dance EP failed to set the Continent alight for the Ingoes never mind getting any airplay back home in England. The next Gomelsky plan for the group would involve a name change.

So, what of The Ingoes? Going by this collection they’d have to rate as a promising Mod leaning group, but mainly a footnote to the Blossom Toes story following the departure of Eddie Lynch. While Godding and Lynch were collaborators though they showed a lot of potential, and had that group been given a chance in their homeland might’ve been spoken of alongside The Creation or even The Small Faces. Sunbeam as usual provides a great looking and sounding package with enlightening liner notes by Brian Godding himself (dated April 2010). There are many rare photos, scans of the rare picture sleeves, and fifteen tracks total including every vintage released Ingoes recording.

Both CD and LP are available from Sunbeam Records in the UK and various retailers elsewhere.

Garage Hangover accepts recently-released LPs, CDs, books and DVDs for review. Please contact us for a mailing address.