documenting the optical sounds of '60s pop, Acid Punk & Psychedelia

The Evil I – Love Conquers All (Frog Records)

“Love Conquers All” / “Can’t Live Without You” (Frog Records FR-02) 1968

According to ’Sounds From The Woods’, The Evil I hailed from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and it’s safe to say that The Evil I were probably unknown outside of their domain and cast as outsiders within.

’Love Conquers All’/’Can’t Live Without You’ was released on Bridge Society Records. Sources claim a 1966 release but judging by the sound this outfit had I’m not convinced. I hear a much later vibe. If it was ’66, well, The Evil I were ahead of their time.

’Love Conquers All’ is laced with fluid acid lead guitar and loner, moody vocals. The ’singer’ sounds like he’s in a psychotic trance from an overdose of peyote or other chemicals. Very laid back psych greatness.

Copies on Bridge Society Records never turn up and the late 80s/early 90s re-issue on Frog Records was limited to 300 copies and is now long gone.

In December 2014 I was contacted by Evil I member Jim Lehrman who kindly supplied the following information:

Here is some accurate info: I played bass on this record, the drummer’s name is Ed Belden who now lives in Newville, PA. and Geoff McCabe, wrote both songs and plays rhythm guitar on them. His brother Tim McCabe played lead and John Dereamer sang. 

We were from Harrisburg, played in the mid-state area (from private parties to Universities) from 67-69 and recorded the record in Philadelphia late summer 68. The name of our band was Pandora’s Box and it’s a long story as to why that name does not appear on the record. 

By the way, we were 15 and 16 when we made the record. And our manager told us the recording studio we used in Philadelphia was one that Jimi Hendrix used. Which, of course, impressed us.

As Pandora’s Box, we played at our school (the Harrisburg Academy), at private parties, at the Rescue Fire Company’s dances and splash parties, the travelling “Reach Out” coffeehouse, concerts at the band shell at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg, Dickinson College and some other schools, and we were the “house band” at the teen dances at the Colonial Park United Church of Christ. We had no association with the church so I don’t know how we got that gig. 

We eventually got a manager, John Ulrich, who was also managing another local band, The Legends, who had Danny Hartman as their lead guitarist and singer.

The only times Pandora’s Box played with other bands was in various “Battles of the Bands” (we won some and lost some) and at the summer concerts at Reservoir Park bandshell, which were put on by Reach Out (which I was the “art director” of, and made all the posters).

We were “the” psychedelic band in the area, doing Grateful Dead type jams, often with what we considered an “Indian raga” vibe. At the time, we had never heard of the Grateful Dead. People occasionally asked us if we copied the Doors or if they copied us. Ha – we loved that!

As to why we changed our name from Pandora’s Box to Evil I, it appears that after we had recorded the 45, the step-mother of the songwriter/rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist told her stepsons that now would be the time to change the name to something less “sexual”, before becoming known (with the “success of the record”) as Pandora’s Box. I, myself, didn’t know the name was NOT Pandora’s Box until I saw the printed vinyl record.

These days, Geoff McCabe (rhythm guitar and songwriter) is in Los Angeles, doing music and also promoting some tremolo bar innovations he invented as well as additions to the bridge to make guitars more acoustically brilliant and powerful — he has at least 10 patents for this side of his work.

In the 70s and 80s, after a stint at Berklee School of Music in Boston, he focused on his music career in NY and produced two albums of his own jazz fusion compositions — Teseract Complicity which won 3&1/2 stars from DownBeat magazine for his freshman effort, and Fractal Architecture which he performed under his own name at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in the later 80s. He has a third jazz album written, Cartoons and other Heiroglyphs, and moved to LA in 2000 to pursue his non-instrumental work, where his new band, The Geofferson Lightship, was well received.

His brother, Tim McCabe (lead guitar) was not so lucky. He is in Sacramento, unfortunately living with schizophrenia in an institution. John Dereamer (lead singer) is in Harrisburg, mostly retired from doing contracting. He’s married and has grown kids. John was the oldest and, unlike the rest of us, went to Susquehanna High School. 

As for myself, Jim Lehrman, I played bass, having previously played drums in another band, The Statesmen. After Harrisburg, I played guitar in the Guru Blanket Band in Boston (Ram Dass’ “back up” band) and have done little musically since. I’ve been a psychotherapist for about 40 years and have been CEO and COO of the cutting edge educational centres Omega Institute in New York and Interface Foundation in Boston.

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