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

The Love Exchange: An interview with Fred Barnett

“Love Exchange” LP (Tower ST-5115) 1968

The first time I heard any Love Exchange was in the late 80s. Their song ’Swallow The Sun’ was compiled on a Rhino Records compilation titled ’Nuggets Volume 10 – Folk Rock’ and the song was memorable for me because it didn’t sound much like anything else that was on this collection (others included folk rock tunes such as ’Mr Tambourine Man’ by The Byrds, ’It Ain’t Me Babe’ by The Turtles and ’San Francisco’ by Scott McKenzie.

’Swallow The Sun’ has a groovy organ sound and made an immediate impact as did ’It’s A Happening Thing’ by Peanut Butter Conspiracy (also on the Nuggets – Volume 10 LP).

Now here’s the spooky part: ’Swallow The Sun’ written by John Merrill, is a re-titled cover of ’Dark On You Now’ by Peanut Butter Conspiracy (but I didn’t realise this at the time) – it was also recorded by John Merrill’s previous band The Ashes.

Anyway, I digress. Back to The Love Exchange.

Before I was a ’45’ collector I used to spend most of my disposable income on albums so I naturally decided to hunt down a copy of The Love Exchange LP when I discovered that they had released one on Tower Records in ’68.

Nothing on the album proved to be as ’instant’ as ’Swallow The Sun’ but repeated plays soon brought more favourites. Much of the music on offer is an amalgam of light and trippy psych with occasional acid rock guitar licks on songs such as ’Meadow Memory’ and ’Saturday Night Flight 505’.

Because the band utilized a female lead vocalist (Bonnie Blunt) they have those typical West Coast male/female harmony parts and a very mellow flower power trip going on. The album opener ’Get Out Of My Life, Woman’ is a fine example of this. This is an often covered song but it’s never been ’hippiefied’ like this version before (at least not that I know of).

The moons must have been aligned with the spirits in the skies last week because Fred Barnett, guitarist from The Love Exchange, emailed me having read a review I wrote about The Roosters 45s.

I asked Fred to fill me in with some information about his band and he kindly responded with the following information.


The Love Exchange evolved out of surf bands Scope Unlimited and The Sidewinders who got together while still attending Westchester High School, Los Angeles. The line-up of Scope Unlimited included Fred Barnett, his brother Jeff Barnett, Dan Altchuler and Walt Flannery.

Dan Altchuler and Walt Flannery soon jumped ship but eventually formed a new band called Freddy and The Fanatics which included Mike Joyce and those Barnett brothers. They would eventually change their moniker to The Love Exchange after being persuaded to by producer Larry Goldberg, who got the band to travel to Golden State Recorders studio in San Francisco to record some songs.

By now a teenage girl called Bonnie Blunt had been recruited as lead singer. Her voice added a certain charm and hit potential. 


Q1. Did The Sidewinders or Scope Unlimited play gigs or record any music?

Scope Unlimited and The Sidewinders played mostly Westchester (recreational centers) and School dances. We played surf music and at first sang our vocals through a huge metal outdoor speaker made for public address systems. We recorded a ”Square Dance” (still surfy) and another surf instrumental that I wrote, but I’ll have to find the recording to find the name of it. Can’t think of the epic’s name at the moment.

Q2. What style of music did these bands play?

Surf. Mostly Dick Dale , Surfaris, Pyramids,. We started with Dwayne Eddie actually. 

Q3.Why/when the name change to The Love Exchange?

Manager Barry Kaye’s Idea. A real Hollywood creep. He took every penny we made off of some real big gigs. (L.A. Sports Arena etc.).

Q4. Where did the band hail from and how old were you all at that time?

At first we were all Westchester boys and rehearsed in my family’s garage for almost 8 years. Poor neighbors.

Q5. What venues did The Love Exchange play?

L.A. Sports Arena, some very big nightclubs (all over L.A., Orange County, Newport – very BIG venues set up for big dance crowds) I have a scrapbook somewhere. But Danny Altchuler probably remembers all of them. He was, more or less, our leader.

Q6. Were you around on the scene as a band during the Sunset Strip riots? If so, memories of that?

Yes. We played at a tiny place called Pandora’s Box as well as a few other Sunset Strip, Clubs that I cannot remember the names of. Actually we played all of the Sunset Strip Clubs. Some famous.

Oh! one of Walt Flannery’s trademarks as our lead singer was to wear either a biker jacket or a monk’s robe with chains on stage. Then when he would start to sing, usually a Rolling Stones song, he’d bite down on packets of ketchup so it would look as though he was spitting up huge amounts of blood (and that was still in the 1960s!).

Walt could also eat 5 Double Tommy’s cheeseburgers at one time after our gigs. He would drive 79 miles to surf at Rincon in Santa Barbara at an average of 100 miles per hour at 4 in the morning. We always got there first.

Q7. Did you mix with other musicians from other bands?

Not too much. However, Frank Zappa & his friends invited us to parties a few times after we played with him and Alice Cooper in Phoenix, Arizona.

Q8. What was the L.A. music scene like for you. Was it as exciting as I’ve read numerous times?

It was full of psychedelic drugs, late-night Tommy’s Cheeseburgers, and lots of fun. That’s why i cannot remember most of it. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Q9. According to the back of the LP on Tower Records the songs were recorded at Golden State Recording studios in San Francisco. However, I’ve read elsewhere that most of the songs for the album were recorded in L.A. Who’s right?

When Walt Flannery finished ”extra” (The band had broken up by then) songs under the name Charity (I believe with Barry Kaye) they were probably done locally in L.A. We never received royalties for anything , though we wrote half of, what I admit, was total crap.

Q10. Were you all satisfied with the recordings?

We thought we were going to be stars. Our slick manager (Barry) convinced us. Though we knew most of it would have sounded better had it been someone scratching a chalkboard with his fingernails.
The entire album was recorded in ONE day.

Q11. How/why did Larry Goldberg annoy you all so much?

He put his name on our songs. (the few that actually made royalties). And his name on everything else. Just another creep. But we sure had fun!!!!

Walt Flannery and Bonnie Blunt married each other but sadly, Jeff Barnett passed away in the late 70s and Mike Joyce died last year.

Originally posted on ’Flower Bomb Songs’ September 2009

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