Strange Things Are Happening: Library Of Lost & Rare Recordings
This is one of my all time favourite ’60s compilations. It was released on the short-lived Strange Things record label in 1990. The latter were probably better known for publishing their psychedelic bi-monthly magazine (which was also short-lived).
I’ve been playing this classic LP on a regular basis this month, even spending some hours mastering the vinyl to the digital format. It sounds very impressive, according to the liners on the back of the cover Phil Smee used mostly original 45s, mentioning that some master tapes were long since missing. I doubt that he had access to any of the master tapes.
“From The New World” has it’s main focus on American folk-rock janglers, a most beautiful sound of twelve-string guitars, tambourine and if groups were vocally talented enough – god-like harmonies.
Back when I was an active 45 record collector I made it my mission to track down each and every one of the singles used on this compilation. The final piece in the jigsaw was when I secured a copy of the very rare Peabody release, a record that took me a number of years to find!
- Webs – You Pretty Fool
- Fountain Of Youth – Take A Giant step
- Shaggs – Ring Around The Rosie
- Palace Guard – All Night Long
- Corporate Image – I’m Not The Same
- Christopher & the Chaps – They Just Don’t Care
- Peabody – Forever Eyes
- Peppermint Trolley Company – Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind
- *** mystery track is the Left Banke ‘Coke Spot’ radio promo
- Sheppards – When Johnny Comes Marching Home
- Onion Rings – I Feel Teardrops
- Uncle Sam & the War Machine – Hold On
- Dave & the Customs – I Ask You Why
- Penthouse Five – In His Shadow
- Jagged Edge – How She’s Hurtin’ Me
- Evil Incorporated – All I Really Wanna Do
- Chozen Ones – How Many Times
- Palace Guard – A Girl You Can Depend On
The Webs – “You Pretty Fool” (MGM K13602) 1966
A record from October 1966 by The Webs. They were better known as The Candymen and performed as Roy Orbison’s backing group. “You Pretty Fool” has a low-key pure psychedelic pop sound. Would have been a perfect song for The Monkees.
Fountain Of Youth – ’Take A Giant Step’/’Don’t Blame Me (For Trying)’ Colgems 66-1024) June 1968
So who were Fountain Of Youth? I know nothing about them apart from the fact that they released four singles on Colgems. According to FA&F they hailed from Fredericksburg, Texas. Hopefully someone will get in touch with more information.
’Take A Giant Step’ written by the Goffin-King partnership is pop perfection and this version is more bubblegum than the recording made by The Monkees.
It was also recorded by The Rising Sons. The sublime arrangement is credited to Hollywood session guitarist and producer Richard Podolor who has been mentioned on my Blog before for his work with The Chocolate Watch Band and The Standells.
The 45 got a ’Special Merit Spotlight’ mention in a June 1968 edition of Billboard.
The flip ’Don’t Blame Me (For Trying)’ has a tougher edge and was compiled on Boulders Volume 8 back in the 80s. I had one of those vinyl only Boulders comps but the sound quality was worse than appalling and I quickly sold it on. No doubt it sounds awful on that series.
The Palace Guard – ’All Night Long’/’Playgirl’ (Orange Empire Records OE-331) Aug 1965
Now for my favourite musical genre (ie) folk rock/12 string janglers and none better than this gem by The Palace Guard who mixed merseybeat with folk rock to rather great effect on ’All Night Long’ and achieved a deserved local hit in Los Angeles but remained unknown beyond southern California.
They were a big attraction in L.A, becoming the house band at the Hullabaloo Club in Hollywood despite wearing ridiculous Buckingham Palace style guard uniforms.
Christopher & the Chaps – ’They Just Don’t Care’ / ’It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding’ (Fontana F-1530) November 1965
Here’s a collectable 45 for folk-rock lovers and Left Banke fans. Christopher & the Chaps hailed from Long Island, NY and included in their ranks Michael Lookofsky a.k.a. Michael Brown who later became a member of The Left Banke.
”They Just Don’t Care” is a gritty protest song in the folk-rock tradition of ’65. It was compiled on ”From The New World” on the short lived ’Strange Things’ label. I wrote about this compilation some time ago as it’s one of my favourites.
The other side has a vibrant rendition of the Bob Dylan tune ”It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding”
Dave & the Customs – ’I Ask You Why’ / ’He Was A Friend Of Mine’ (DAC Records 503) 1966
According to ’Teenbeat Mayhem’, Dave & the Customs hailed from Pomona, CA. The group were surf based initially and their earlier single on DAC Records ”Shortnin’ Bread” / ”Ali Baba” is considered an underground surf classic. As far as I know, this earlier 45 was released sometime during 1964. It’s quite rare and has sold a couple of times recently for over $250.
Step forward a couple of years and Dave & the Customs have resurfaced as a folk-rock group with longer hair, 12 string guitars and Jim McGuinn style glasses. The Byrds were obviously a huge influence on them and a version on ”He Was A Friend Of Mine” was recorded and can be found on the flip of this record.
A local TV Show performance from 1966 has survived and can be found on YouTube showing Dave & the Customs performing ”He Was A Friend Of Mine”, an amazing find and well worth watching.
”I Ask You Why” is a loner folk-rock jangler written by the Zdunich brothers. This song surfaced on the early 90s compilation ”From The New World”. As you can see the label of my copy has been defaced with ”Marko + David” which I’ve worked out is Mark & David Zdunich, so perhaps one of them did this to the label. More importantly is the scribble ”recorded June 1966” which accurately dates the disc. Several websites have this single recorded as a 1965 release.
Peabody – ”Days Of Rest” / ”Forever Eyes” (Busy-B 7) January 1968
I’ve finally managed to locate this 45 by New Orleans group Peabody and it’s taken quite some time, rarely appearing on eBay or collector sales lists leading me to believe that it’s one of the rarest Busy-B releases.
The simply beautiful folk-rock tune ’Forever Eyes’ was compiled way back on ’From The New World’, a compilation I wrote about some time ago. For fans of the folk-rock and baroque pop sound this album is essential.
The other side of the 45 ’Days Of Rest’ appears to have been the plug side, I’m only assuming this based on the ”X” marked on white label promos. This side is less immediate but still good. Both songs were written by Mike Presti who prior to joining Peabody was a member of The Zoofs.
’Days Of Rest’ can be found on a CD compilation from 1990 and was released on the Strange Things label which was put together by Phil Smee, no doubt in conjunction with his magazine of the same name from the late 80s.
According to Mike Presti (in an interview given to 60sgaragebands.com) he confirmed that Peabody were formally called Lady Chatterley’s Lovers but changed their name to Peabody during late 1967.
The line-up for Peabody was:
Mike Presti (lead guitar)
Mike Chassaniol (lead vocals)
Gary Furlow (rhythm guitar)
Clark Vreeland (drums)
Nick Buck (organ)
Sadly, Clark Vreeland, who became a well known musician in New Orleans during the 70s/80s died recently (26/12/13) aged 62.
His ex-wife contacted me a couple of days ago and sent me a fabulous colour photo of Peabody, which I’ll share here. Clark is pictured at the front wearing a cap and a claret scarf.
The Sheppards – ’When Johnny Comes Marching Home’/’Poor Man’s Thing’ (Impact Records 1018) August 1966
I first heard ’When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ on a 60s folk-rock collection from the late 80s called ’From The New World’ and it ticked all the right boxes so I needed to buy an original copy of the 45. This proved difficult as it seemed to be quite hard to find, however I managed to secure my copy a couple of months ago.
The top side is an updated folk-rock version of an old song believed to have been written during the American Civil War. The Sheppards add some toughness and jangle, very cool interpretation. It was also compiled on ’Garage Punk Unknowns’ Volume 5.
Another gem can be found on the flip. ’Poor Man’s Thing’ is a tough folk punker with some cutting vocals, this singer is pissed off that his girl has chosen another guy over him. All ain’t lost though as the singer is not gonna hang around and go all wimpy.
Hell no, he’s got another chick lined up already.
”You’ve got another feeding you a line
He’s got money and a car and looks real fine.”
followed by ”I ain’t waiting for you no more.”
The Onion Rings – ’I Feel Teardrops’/’She’s Gonna Cry’ (Blue Onion BO-102) 1967
The Blue Onion label owner was Dale Davis and he wrote both songs on offer on this beautifully haunting double sider by The Onion Rings. So, perhaps the latter were in fact Dale’s own group.
Whatever the precise details The Onion Rings were likely to be from Cleveland, Ohio.
Strangely, they didn’t warrant a mention in FA&F and information in other publications I’ve researched and also the internet have not provided me with any facts.
’I Feel Teardrops’ is a fine folk-rock interlude tinged with psychedelia. The addition of brass enhances the sound in this instance producing a moody lysergic soundscape. Both songs were compiled on my Gear! Volume 6 compilation years ago.
Uncle Sam & the War Machine – ’Spy Girl’/’Hold On’ (Blue Onion BO-103) September 1967
It is believed that the fabulously named outfit Uncle Sam & the War Machine hailed from Massachusetts and as far as I know this was their one and only shot at stardom – not that any kind of recognition appears to have been forthcoming.
The A-Side was ’Spy Girl’, a rather neat psychedelic pop tune with bubblegum intent. The lyrics indicate that the ’spy girl’ in question was possibly Emma Peel from British TV Show The Avengers.
’Hold On’ is an immaculate slow paced and mournful folk-rocker. I’d like to know more about this combo but information is scant to say the least. Thankfully, the Blue Onion label were around to release such a gem of a 45.
Followed your post on YouTube…..hoping to hear Spy Girl here, I’ll keep looking….I used to follow this band back in the mid Sixties when they were called the Challengers, from Springfield MA. They were primarily a cover band (a very talented and tasty cover band) and apparently changed their name when they released this record.
The Penthouse Five – ’In His Shadow’ /’Bad Girl’ (Solar Records 7665) June 1966
This combo were short lived, maybe less than two years but fortunately they released a couple of singles and recorded more studio material, unreleased during the 60s but fortunately released back in the mid 80s on Cicadelic Records.
They were formed in the wake of the British Invasion sometime in 1965 and common with a large majority of US groups during this time, they were all still teenagers. According to Bill Looney
The Penthouse Five were a popular group in their home City of Dallas and enjoyed regular gigs and radio playtime.
Their first single was the jangle folk-rocker ’In His Shadow’ which has been one of my many fave rave janglers since I heard it via that Cicadelic Records LP ’Texas Punk Volume 4’ all those years ago. By contrast, the other side ’Bad Girl’ is a Kinks style beat rocker, also great.
By the start of 1967 the group dropped the ’five’ and were simply known as Penthouse. A second single followed in February 1967 on Hawk, ’You’re Gonna Make Me’ / ’Don’t Mess Around With My Dream’.
Rob Graham (lead vocals/keyboards)
Steve Wood (vocals/rhythm guitar)
Justin Brown (lead guitar)
Mark Porter (drums)
Bill Looney (bass)
The Jagged Edge – ’How She’s Hurtin Me’ / ’You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down’ (Gallant GT 3017) June 1966
The Off-Set – ’Xanthia (Lisa)’ / ’A Change Is Gonna Come’ (Jubilee 45-5542) 1967
Here are 4 excellent songs by a bunch of teens from Brooklyn, New York. The first record on Gallant sold quite well in New York. ’How She’s Hurtin Me’ is in my top ten folk rockers list.
Both sides were written by Drew Georgopulos. Credits on label read A. Georgeopulis. Is this a typo?
Fortunately no one cares because it’s a sparkling jangler with rattling tambourine and a teen punk guitar break that pretty much elevates the song into my top ten folk rock list.
I’m surprised that it’s only been compiled once before on From The New World back in the 8os. This was a vinyl only release. ’You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down’ is more garagey and far less tuneful but still good none the less.
The band changed their moniker to The Off-Set for their next release a year later on Jubilee. Another cool song, again written by Drew Georgopulos is ’Xanthia (Lisa)’ This one is a psychedelic effort with weird noises, jangly guitar, finger cymbals and plodding bass. Almost Byrdsian but on a much smaller budget of course.
The other side written by S. Cook is back to the jangle folk rocker mode with what sounds like an opening barrage of fuzz bass. All four songs were produced by Cis-Trans Production team.
Band members on these two 45s were:
Elliot Ingber (vocals)
Harley Wishner (bass)
Kenny Bennett (drums)
Art Steinman (lead guitar)
Drew Georgopulos (rhythm guitar)