Chris and Craig

Updated to include information on the Chris Ducey album and the Penny Arkade

In 1965, Chris Ducey recorded the album Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest for the Surrey label (Mira’s budget subsidiary). Surrey had printed the sleeves when they realized they had a problem. Ducey was either under contract to another label or publisher, or he just refused to sign what was probably a one-sided contract favoring the label.

Supposedly Mira/Surrey label owner Randy Wood had already sold the album’s European rights based solely on the cover, a photo of Brian Jones at the Action Club in West Hollywood.

Randy Wood hired Bobby Jameson (who had not been part of the original album sessions) to write new songs to match the titles on the album! Jameson recorded these songs with Marshall Leib producing. Jameson claims he never signed a contract either, and that releases from then to now have all been illegal. All he was paid was $20 or $25 a song for writing and recording them.

The Leaves recorded Jameson’s version of “Girl from the East” as the b-side to their second release of “Hey Joe” in March of 1966, though when the song started breaking nationally, they dropped it in favor of a band original.

Some of the sleeves changed Ducey’s name on the front to “Chris Lucey”, but some still read Chris Ducey so there must have been a couple printings of the covers.

The album saw release again in 1966 on the Joy label, this time in Bobby Jameson’s own name and the title changed to Too Many Mornings with a photograph of smokestacks. For some reason this release changes the title of”With Pity, But It’s Too Late” to “Just One of Those Days”.

Read the full story on Bobby Jameson’s blog, bobbyjameson.blogspot.com

In 2012 Chris Ducey’s original version of the album showed up as an mp3 download on Amazon released by something called Essential Media Group, LLC. Though sharing the titles, the songs are completely different from Jameson’s, with different lyrics, tempos, and simpler arrangements. Overall it’s more of a folk session, dominated by acoustic guitar and Ducey’s voice. Neither the compositions nor the production are as adventurous as Jameson’s version.

Jameson wrote on his blog “I purposely didn’t listen to Ducey’s songs in 1965 for fear of being influenced by his work.”

After this debacle, Chris Ducey met Craig Smith while auditioning and landing starring roles along with Suzannah Jordan in a series pilot called The Happeners about a Greenwich Village folk trio. They performed their own original songs, and there was an appearance by the Dave Clark Five. ABC never picked up the series, and the pilot itself seems to have aired only once and is currently lost.

Craig Smith had been in the Good Time Singers for their two albums on Capitol in 1964.

Chris and Craig Capitol 45 Isha
Together Chris and Craig made the pop-psych gem “Isha”, released by Capitol in July of 1966, with “I Need You” on the flip. It’s their only 45 on Capitol that I know of.

Around the same time as this 45 came a single on Downey 140, which credits the artists as Craig & Michael. Both songs, “Drifty” and “That Kind of Girl” were written by Brian Carman and Steve Crawford, and I see it mentioned, accurately or not, that Craig was Brian Carman of the Chantays, so I’m doubtful this is Chris Ducey and Craig Smith.

They spent nearly a year rehearsing their originals with musicians including Don Glut on bass and Mort Marker on lead guitar. They cut a demo, now seemingly lost, “Rhyme or Reason” (written by Chris) and “(She Brought Me) Something Beautiful” (written by Craig) with John London of the Louis and Clark Expedition.

In 1967, they formed the Penny Arkade with Don “Marvel” Glut on bass and Bobby Donaho on drums. Michael Nesmith backed them with equipment and rehearsal space and they started playing live shows. Nesmith brought them into TTJ studios in Hollywood and Wally Heider’s studio. Late in 1967 they went into RCA studios to record songs for what they anticipated would be their first album, including the twelve-minute “Not the Freeze”.

Also at the end of 1967 the Monkees used a Craig Smith composition, “Salesman” as the opening song for their album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.. Smith placed other songs, such as “Country Girl” with Glen Campbell, and “Holly” with Andy Williams. He co-produced with Bob Thiele a single for Heather MacRae, his girlfriend at the time, writing both songs “Hands of the Clock” / “Lazy Summer Day”, and with the Penny Arkade providing the music.

Enriched by his songwriting royalties, Craig Smith decided to leave the Penny Arkade to travel in South America and Asia. He returned around 1970 a changed man. Monkees producer Chip Douglas ran into Craig in 1971. “He was spaced out and had come back from Peru and had an album he was selling hand to hand. He had a spider tattooed in the middle of his forehead. He was just a nice kid, a nice American boy. To see him years later it was pretty bizarre. He said ‘Remember me. I used to be Craig Smith'”.

Without Craig, the Penny Arkade recorded four more songs, “Woodstock Fireplace,” “Sparkle and Shine,” “Face in the Crowd” and “Year of the Monkey”, and then added a new lead guitarist, Dave Turner. Turner left and they added David Price on rhythm, John Andrews on lead guitar and Bob Arthur, and rechristened the band Armadillo for another year or so of live shows.

Craig utilized half a dozen Penny Arkade songs on his early ’70s solo albums, Apache and Inca under his new name, Maitreya Kali. The rest of the Penny Arkade tracks were not released until Sundazed collected what could be found on Not the Freeze, though many other recordings including their masters seem to have been lost.

Craig Smith passed away on March 16, 2012.

Sources include: Don Glut’s detailed history of the Penny Arkade (a good read, I recommend it).

The Bystanders

Vanco was a label from Vancouver, Washington, near Portland, Oregon, so bands on the label could be from either side of the Columbia River.

The Bystanders had at least two 45s on Vanco, but I haven’t been able to find out much else about the band. The label credits Rick Keefer as engineer – he later went on to produce the New Tweedy Brothers among others. “Just Exactly Off” is pretty fine garage. The b-side is a ballad, “Flower Song”. Songwriting credits for both songs are Robinson – Tobius.

Another band on the Vanco label was the Twilighters.

Anyone have a photo of the group?

The Bubble Puppy

Two non-lp sides by the Bubble Puppy, a Texas group based alternately in Austin and Houston, and recording on International Artists. To me this is probably their best work.

“Thinkin’ About Thinkin'” is intense guitar driven hard-rock, not garage. “Days of Our Time” is maybe too busy but still has a good momentum to it.

Members were:

Rod Prince – lead guitar and vocals
Roy Cox – bass and vocals
Todd Potter – lead guitar and vocals
David “Fuzzy” Fore – drums

Rod Prince wrote a good history of the band on their official site, which is otherwise kinda clunky.

I should expand this entry on the band if anyone is interested in helping or writing it…

Hurricane Katrina benefit at the Tainted Lady Lounge

Heaps of thanks to everyone who came out to the benefit last week at the Tainted Lady in Brooklyn.The turnout was fantastic, and we raised nearly $1,000 to benefit two charities: America’s Second Harvest and the American Friends Service Committee.The guest djs Bossy Boots, small¢hange, Ms. K, Kittybeat, Marty Violence, Michael Lynch and Josh Styles came through with excellent sets of soul, psych, garage and funk that didn’t let up til the doors closed at 4 a.m.

The Epics

The Epics, Bakersfield Californian, Nov 20, 1965
Poor quality photo of Howard Dumble of the Epics, Jeff Gustafson of the Addams Family, Karl Haas of the Glanz, and Ron Sackmann of the Amoebas, in the Bakersfield Californian, Nov 20, 1965

The Epics have one of the best Louie Louie takeoffs titled “Louie Come Home”.

It’s a very danceable number as I found out when I played this to a packed house at Pop Gear some months ago.

The band was from California, perhaps Bakersfield. It’s leader was Howard Dumble, according to a clipping I found in the Bakersfield Californian.

The flip was “Give Me a Chance”, written by Dumble, Ward, Concelez and Iger for Shindig Music BMI. I assume Ward, Concelez and Iger were the other members of the group.

Produced by Lou Bowden, the single was released on the Zen label in April of 1965.

Anyone have a photo of the group or more info on this band?

The Pazant Brothers

The Pazant Brothers’ “Juicy Lucy” / “The Work Song” have a free, New Orleans brass band spirit, though the Pazant Brothers were originally from South Carolina, and as professional musicians were based in New York.

Working with producer Ed Bland, Al and Ed Pazant and their band created a lot of great music for RCA, GWP, Vanguard and other labels. They even played the Museum of Modern Art.

Anyone have a photo of the group?

Ponderosa Stomp, 2005

When I returned to New Orleans in April for Ponderosa Stomp, I remarked at the time how little it had changed since 1995, or even 1986 when I first lived there. It’ll never again be the city I knew. All the closely-knit neighborhoods destroyed, people killed or scattered around the country, it’s crushing to think about.

It’s good to hear Irma Thomas, Eddie Bo, Allen Toussaint and many others are safe and accounted for.

Betty Harris, Ponderosa Stomp at the Rock 'n Bowl, 2005
Betty Harris, Ponderosa Stomp at the Rock ‘n Bowl, 2005

Betty Harris may not be originally from New Orleans, but she made her best records there with Allen Toussaint. She was also one of the highlights of the Ponderosa Stomp this year, coming out of retirement after 35 years to just floor the audience with her voice and charisma. It was a really stunning performance by a true star who hasn’t lost the least bit of her abilities.

Ernie K-Doe's van
Ernie K-Doe’s gone but his van drives on
Irma Thomas at the Lion's Den
Irma Thomas at the Lion’s Den
Little Buck at Ponderosa Stomp, tearing through Cat Scream and Monkey in a Sack
Little Buck at Ponderosa Stomp, tearing through Cat Scream and Monkey in a Sack
Little Buck's horn section at Ponderosa Stomp
Little Buck’s horn section at Ponderosa Stomp
Dr. Specs Optical Illusion downstairs at Ponderosa Stomp
Dr. Specs Optical Illusion downstairs at Ponderosa Stomp – they reformed for the Stomp, the highlights of their set being both sides of their awesomely rare and great 45.
Barbara Lynn with Buckwheat Zydeco at the organ
Barbara Lynn with Buckwheat Zydeco at the organ
Plas Johnson warms up
Plas Johnson warms up
Eddie's records
Eddie’s records
Julie digging
Julie digging
Eddie
Eddie back in April – he and his family are alive and well in Alexandria now, but they’ve lost so much

Dennis and the Times

Denis and the Times 1967
Dennis and the Times 1967

Dennis and the Times of Norfolk, Virginia were three brothers on guitars and vocals, along with a couple friends playing bass and drums. The Burlage brothers’ father helped them record and release two 45s on the Trend label.

Denis Burlage – vocals
Guy Burlage – lead guitar
Dean Burlage – rhythm guitar
Skip Watts – bass
Paris Aiken – drums

The first from November of 1967 included their psychedelic masterpiece “Flight Patterns”. The song was certainly inspired by “Eight Miles High”, though I also hear some of “Have You Seen Her Face” in it as well.

The flip, “Just If She’s There” also owes a debt to the Byrds.

They found a harder sound for their second single, “Denis Dupree From Danville”, from 1969, released as Denis & the Times with only one ‘n’ in Denis. The b-side is a good ballad, “Whenever You Want Me”.

Denis and the Times
Denis and the Times

James Mrdutt sent in the photos of drummer Paris Aiken seen here, and other photos of Paris with an earlier group, the Mustangs, that I’ve posted to a separate page here. James reported that Paris passed away on December 24, 2009. He also informed me that Paris Aiken played drums on the recording of Billy Joe Royal’s “Down in the Boondocks”.

Jim McGuinn with Paris Aiken
Jim McGuinn with Paris Aiken backstage

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