The Five of Us came from Tuscon, Arizona. Members included Paul Canella on lead guitar and George Maryville on bass (also sometimes spelled George Miraval), Alex Valdez on drums and vocals, Lee Stansrud on vocals and Richard Gomez on organ.
In 1965 they backed Tommy Gardner, a singer who sounds a lot like post-army Elvis on “Why Oh Why” / “Pretty Baby” on Keeson Recording Ltd KRL-125. The labels credit the single to Tommy Gardner and the 5 of Us. Both songs were Gardner originals, published by Keeson BMI and produced by E.M. Keener. This is the same Tommy Gardner who cut “Why” / “That Kind of Love” with the Versatiles on Rev Records.
Without Gardner the Five of Us cut an interesting single on Platt Records GMJ-8149 in May 1966, “Hey You” / “I Don’t Believe” – covering both sides of the Guilloteens first single on HBR 446 from June of the previous year. The Five of Us version of “Hey You” is almost as good as the Guilloteens, but the group is a little shaky on “I Don’t Believe”. The Platt label has no publishing info; deadwax has the Monarch delta # 61973 and CJM 8149. I can’t think of any other single that covers both sides of another artist’s release.
The next single would be their best, the band original “Need Me Like I Need You” published by Wayne-Houle BMI, with a repeat of “Hey You” from their Platt single. The Current Records label released it in July 1966.
Think of the Good Times: The Tucson Sound features the previously unreleased “Let Me Explain”, recorded in 1966. There’s another unreleased song titled “I Lied” that I haven’t heard yet.
When the Five of Us split, Paul Canella and Alex Valdez joined the Yellow Balloon, and would continue into The Popcorn Explosion.
In 1964, John Fisher was president of Crusader Records, where he produced a sizeable hit, Terry Stafford’s “Suspicion”, the second release on the label, as well as a 45 by Johnny Fortune. A notice in Billboard on August 15, 1964 announced that Fisher departed Crusader suddenly, to be replaced by Harry Maselow.
The notice doesn’t say why Fisher left or his next plans, but within short order his name appears on the Current label, which I’ve read he owned. His name is on almost every Current single as producer.
Bob Moline’s “Forbidden” saw release on the Imperial label in September of ’64, but I’ve read a Current label version of it exists. If so, I’ve yet to see a copy – if anyone has it please send a good quality scan in.
Johnny Fortune (John Sudetta) was a fine guitarist with a number of surf recordings prior to his Current singles, first on Emmy Records out of Paul Buff’s Pal Studios in Cucamonga (same label for Johnny Fisher’s own 45, “Tell Me Yes” / “Dream Tonight”). Johnny Fortune’s biggest was “Soul Surfer” on Park Ave Records, also produced by Fisher.
Johnny had three 45’s on Current. I’ve heard both sides of the first, the light pop songs “Say You Will” / “Come On and Love Me”. Better is the top side of Current 104, “Don Stole My Girl”. I haven’t heard the flip to that or his third 45, “I Am Lonely For You” / “I’ll Never Let You Go”.
Two other singers represented on the label include Carl Otis, who has what I believe is a soul 45, “Let It Be Me” / “Never Take Away My Love”, and Bobby Jameson, whose “All Alone” is a fine Stones-y r&b with harmonica, backed with the poppier “Your Sweet Lovin'” came out in early ’65, after his Talamo singles.
The Avengers were from Bakersfield, and are best known for their 45 on the Starburst label, “Be a Caveman”. Both sides of their Current 45 are also excellent, “Open Your Eyes” / “It’s Hard to Hide”. You can read the full story of the Avengers at Flower Bomb Songs.
I’m not sure how the Five of Us, a group from Tucson, Arizona wound up on a California label. For more on that band see the separate entry here.
The Tongues of Truth were really known as the Grodes and also came from Tucson. Manny Freiser of the Grodes had long-standing connections in L.A., first with Jerry Kasenetz who produced his first recording, “I Won’t Be There”. Kasenetz’s roommate Jerry Bruckheimer brought in a the Hustlers to work with Manny and they became the Grodes. Though the band made Tucson their base for live shows, they made further L.A. connections including the disc promoter Mike Borchetta, actor Cass Martin and KRLA DJ Emperor Bob Hudson.
Emperor Hudson had his own 45 on Current, also released on RPR records, the very demented “I’m Normal” (“I fill my bathtub with strawberry jam, and feed my squirrels sugar-cured ham and I spread rumors that Stalin is dead, has to do with wearing a sheepskin when he died in bed … made that up!”), The Emperor’s Friend may be Ron Landry.
For an interesting look at Bob Hudson check out George Lucas’ student film The Emperor:
The Tongues of Truth is of course, the Grodes, and “Let’s Talk About Girls” was the original version of the song later covered by the Chocolate Watchband. The Grodes fired their manager Dan Gates for changing their band name for the single. To add to John Fisher’s connection with the Impression label, the Grodes also issued a 45 on Impression, “What They Say About Love” / “Have Your Cake And Eat It Too” (anyone have a good scan of that 45?).
Current Records 45 discography (any help to make this complete would be appreciated)
Current 100 – Bob Moline “Forbidden” / “If I Were An Artist” (need a scan for this one, either side) Current 101 – Johnny Fortune “Say You Will” / “Come On and Love Me” Current 102 – Carl Otis “Let It Be Me” (E. James, Carl Otis for Lightswitch-Jinco BMI) / “Never Take Away My Love” C-1115 prod John Fisher Current 103 – Bobby Jameson “All Alone” / “Your Sweet Lovin'” (Monarch press #54578/9, Oct. ’64) Current 104 – Johnny Fortune “Don Stole My Girl” (J. Sudetta, Lightswitch/Algrace BMI) / “You Want Me to Be Your Baby” prod. J. Fisher (Feb. 1965) Current 105 – Johnny Fortune “I Am Lonely For You” / “I’ll Never Let You Go” Current 106 – ? Current 107 – ? Current 108 – ? Current 109 – Avengers “Open Your Eyes” (G. Blake) / “It’s Hard to Hide” (G. Likens) both songs Lightswitch Music BMI, prod. by J. Fisher, distributed by Periphery Prods., Inc Current 110 – Five of Us “Hey You” (L. Hucherson) / “Need Me Like I Need You” (July ’66) Current 111 – The Emperor “I’m Normal” (Bob Hudson) / The Emperor’s Friends “The Crossing Game” (E. Mackinon), prod. by Fisher Current 112 – The Tongues of Truth “Let’s Talk About Girls” / “You Can’t Come Back” both by Manny Freiser for Lightswitch Music BMI (prod by John Fisher, May 1966)
This is not to be confused with the Current label out of Nashville in the ’70s.
John Fisher may have also owned the Rally label – I’d like to know more about this, if true. It seems he went back into promotions, as a John Fisher was working for Atlantic Records in the early ’70s.
In honor of the Chocolate Watchband playing the Underground Garage festival in NY this weekend, I’m featuring the original version of their most famous tune, “Let’s Talk about Girls”.
The Grodes and Tongues of Truth were two names for the same band – originally from Tucson, Arizona, but often recording in L.A. They were renamed Tongues of Truth without their knowledge by their manager and promoter, Dan Gates, dj at local KTKT in Tucson. Gates didn’t bother to tell the band about the rechristening until he announced the new single, “Let’s Talk About Girls”, over the airwaves. They stuck with it while the 45 had it’s time on the charts (#37 locally), then returned to being the Grodes. “Cry a Little Longer” is an earlier 45 on the Tri-M label, and one of their best.