Here’s an unknown group, the Four Counts, or the Counts Four, possibly from Reading, Pennsylvania. There’s a chance they could have evolved into the Counts who came from Valley View and cut “Last Train” / “I Will Lose My Mind” for the Kingston label in July of 1969, but from the small b&w photo I’ve seen of the Counts I’d say this is unlikely.
Barry Elam sent in the photos of his band the Specters, and wrote the following about the group:
The Specters from Kirksville, Missouri were active from 1967-1972. They were a popular band in Northeast Missouri and played many area dances, fraternity parties at Truman State University, and private events. The band’s material covered originals as well as top hits of the day.
Band members were Randy Crowder on vocals and guitar, Barry Elam guitar, Randy Grissom bass and vocals, and Charlie Harrington, drums.
The Specters did not release any records but we were friends with another local band that did, Friar Tuck and The Merry Men. My original guitar teacher was Bud Porter who was the lead guitarist for Friar Tuck. They had a regional hit called “Peanut Butter” on Sherwood Forest Records, released in 1966.
Here’s an excerpt of an alternate version of Baker Knight’s original “Are You Satisfied Now”.
The Reprise single version of “Are You Satisfied Now” has horns, a female chorus, a completely different band and a smoother vocal from Baker. It was the b-side of “The Verge Of Success”, Knight’s seventh and last release on Reprise Records from April, 1968. That version was produced by Jimmy Bowen.
This demo definitely comes from an earlier session, I’d guess around 1966 given the folk-rock backing and grittier vocal. Although this demo lists Hill & Range publishing, by the time Knight registered the song in 1968 that had changed to Smooth Music / Noma Music as it is on the single. In fact I don’t find any evidence of Baker publishing through Hill & Range during the mid-60s.
I only wish Knight would stop singing long enough for a guitar break, but he had plenty of lyrics to get through.
The Continentals cut two fratty originals, “Rufus Rastas” / “Donna” on Tortoise Records. I found a copy with an inscription on the “Rufus Rastas” label “First copy to Jim McKee, Oct. 12, 1965 … Joe Doll, President, Tortoise Records”.
I wrote to Mr. Doll and he while he didn’t recall Jim McKee, he replied,
I was president (and janitor, too!) of Tortoise Records. I began college at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio in 1963, then transferred to U. of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1966 to complete my Electrical Engineering degree.
I most likely met the Continentals when they were entertaining at one of the numerous fraternity/sorority parties in Delaware. Too bad, I have no recollection or documentation of the band members. I do remember the general parameters of the recording session with The Continentals, at the WSLN studios in Delaware, OH, north of Columbus. I also remember thinking at the time that their “Rufus Rastas” made a pretty good side. I don’t think we did a test pressing, so what you found was probably the top copy in the shipment from the pressing factory.
When it was over, they departed with their box of pressings and we had no further contact.
Tortoise Records was named for the very first band on the label, the Turtles, with their “Pungfoo Watusi” from 1964:
“Pungfoo Watusi” was the not-very-carefully-conceived B side of “Pungfoo”. It was the first record I produced.
“Pungfoo” originated with me and some fraternity brothers fooling around with a piano, sax, and drum set in the parlor of our fraternity house. We whimsically called ourselves Tuggy and the Turtles. The original title and lyric was “Fungu”. It was a made-up word, but someone thought that meant something bad in another language. One unreleased recording is “Fungu” recorded on cheap equipment in the fraternity house.
The record was taped at Fortune Studios in Detroit. I played piano, whistled, and hollered into some sort of trash can. Jim Guiness played saxophone. Our usual drummer, “Tuggy,” could not make it, so we picked up a drummer in Detroit. That’s why the group name is just The Turtles. A couple others assisted with clapping, which I believe we overdubbed.
I had done some work for the [Fortune] studio the previous summer, and they allowed me to use it without charge. I didn’t do a lot of work there, just came in to help them adjust and maintain their equipment from time to time.
Frank Uhle, who took on the project to do a 50th Anniversary re-release of the Beau Biens record, at one time contemplated a vinyl album that would contain some unreleased material. I have about a half hour of covers recorded by the Mark V, a pretty good rock band that played fraternity/sorority parties at Ohio Wesleyan. I recorded them in the WSLN studios, like the Continentals. There was an outfit called the Crystal Set Radio Band for whom I taped several tunes, originals I believe, in the WCBN studios. Ken Phillips, a U of M student, recorded with a small group a couple of tunes he had written and had them pressed as a demo record.
Joe Doll would become a DJ at WCBN at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he would record the Aftermath and the Beau Biens on Malibu Records. For more info please look at Joe’s website.
Tortoise Records discography:
Tortoise T 64001 – Turtles “Pungfoo” / “Pungfoo Watusi” (both by Joe Doll)
The Penetrators came from Crown Point, NY, on the west shore of Lake Champlain above Ticonderoga.
Members included Dan Rabideau and Larry Rabideau, Kim Joiner and Joe Dugan on bass. John Hoffman seems to have been a later member of the group.
In March of 1968 they made their first record, the cool garage original “I’ll Make You Mine” by Dan Rabideau and Kim Joiner, backed with a good instrumental, “Splitter Splatter” by Dan Rabideau and Larry Rabideau.
The 45 came out on Ferus Records FR 4958. Ferus had an address of 64-12 60th Pl., Brooklyn 27, New York. Tommy Wilde produced the single, I’m not sure how the band came to find Ferus.
This is a styrene 45 with the Columbia custom pressing code ZTSP 124958/9. Both songs published by Ferus Music BMI.
As Danny and the Country Penetrators they put out a single that I haven’t heard, “She’s My Mother-In-Law” / “I’ll Be Waiting” on Delta Records in June of 1968.
The band was well known locally as as Danny and the Penetrators. They appeared on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and continued with local bookings into the 1970s.
From a 1971 news item, it appears the Rabideau’s mother Doris managed the band.
The Ugly Z are a mystery band to me. There are plenty of names on the labels, but it may be that none of them belong to the band’s members.
“Down to My Very Last Tear” has a cool twelve-string guitar opening and a good band performance full of harmony singing. It was credited to the Ugly Z and Steve Fazio Jr.
Chris Crocket wrote “Kathy’s Back” which is similar to the flip in sound and almost as catchy.
Rick Lawrence, Stuart Richard produced the record, with Richard also arranging both sides.
It was released on Rondo 9158 in June, 1965, as shown from the Alco delta numbers: ∆57098 / ∆57098-X. Rondo had its address at 15101 Magnolia Blvd in Sherman Oaks, CA, and also published the songs through Rondo BMI.
Steve Fazio would show up about a year later as a talent scout for Valiant Records and producer Al Kavelin. Steve Fazio, Jr. also wrote “All Because Of You” recorded by Guiseppi Apollo with the Revels & the Mapes Sisters on Impact 12-IMX, published by Anthony Music.
Steve Hill sent in the cool photos and news clippings about the Tierdrops, a fellow band to the Devil’s Own, and one of several groups from Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the mid-60s. Steve gives info on the band:
The Tierdrops were a Portsmouth top 40 rock band. We were the house band for the EM club at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and frequently played at the Pine Grove Pavillion as well as the PAL club in Lewiston, ME and the PAL club in Rockland, ME.
Joey Wilbur – lead singer Rick Shelton – lead guitar George “Spike” Browning – organ Steve Hill – bass guitar Wendell “Pete” Peterson – drummer
“Spike” Browning managed the Devil’s Own and us. Joey played guitar with the Devil’s Own and later became our lead singer and Spike wanted to play so he came to us and became our organist. We did not record a record. Spike did record us on many occasions with his Akai reel to reel, however, the tapes are lost.
We had tried out to become a “surf” band along with bands such as the Rockin’ Ramrods, the Pilgrims, the Techniques, and several others and were accepted, however, I was drafted before we had our first gig as a surf band.
Thank you for keeping the bands of that era alive.
The Alan Franklin Explosion have received some attention from collectors of private underground albums, but this 45 is worth discussing. Both “Piece of My Heart” and “Bye Bye Baby” were taken from Alan Franklin’s second LP, the one that has his b&w photo and both “The Alan Franklin Explosion” and “The Blues Climax” on the front cover, on the Horne label, J.C. 888-L.
Franklin was from Tampa, Florida, but recorded at Bee Jay Recording Studio in Orlando. The musicians were:
Alan Franklin – lead vocals, rhythm guitar Chris Russel – lead guitar Buzzy Meekins – bass Dave Dix – drums
Apparently this was not an actual band but consisted of some teenage musicians invited to play with Alan in the studio. David Dix would go on to join the Outlaws.
“Piece of My Heart” is a wild, weird come-on, you can hear this version on youtube. “Bye Bye Baby” more conventional blues-based rock. The label was Horne, with a release # J.C. 888-4. These two songs were included on the first side of the album, Alan Franklin Explosion – The Blues Climax cut in 1969 and 1970. Alan Franklin produced and Bill Vermillion engineered. Alan Franklin wrote all the songs, published by Penetraion Sound Publishing Company.
The notes on the back cover of the LP are worth quoting in full for their hype:
This is a wild savage approach to hard rock blues combining vicious jungle rock rhythm with very tight and lightening fast rhythm and lead progressions with a base that goes right inside of you. The vocals are wild and insane yet loving and caressing. The sound that these four cats put out is so fantastic that you won’t be able to turn it off. This is a new sound, a sound as wild and free as the Climax itself. For the Climax is made up of four rebellious wild fanatical musicians who literally go insane on stage, causing riots at every performance. People are going all the way with the Blues Climax. If you like hard rock music then you will love the Blues Climax.
– Albert Freeman ~ Penetration Publishing Company
The LP was chosen as Album of the Week in a small ad featuring “Brite Star’s Pick Hits”, run by a Nashville promotion company that was probably paid for the endorsement.
Alan Franklin’s first LP was called simply Blues Climax, recorded about 1968. The musicians are only Alan Franklin on guitar and vocals and Ray Vaughn on drums. It was released with red Horne labels, J.C. 333-7. Three of songs on this first would appear on the second LP in somewhat more polished versions. This earlier version of “Piece of My Heart” is so amazingly raw and crude, with great Bo Diddley type rhythm guitar playing:
His next LP seems to be titled Alan Roy Franklin released sometime in the 1970s. I haven’t heard any of it, nor his 1980 LP, Come Home Baby, credited to The Alan Franklin Explosion. This last one has a cover that has to be seen to be believed: Alan reclines on a bed, long-haired and shirtless, a jug of wine, copy of High Times, some cash and what looks to be a bong next to him on the red velour sheet.