Spin the colour wheel of switched on pop
Welcome to this hip joint where pop lyte is where it’s at. Opening the series is a studio incarnation tagged Genesis and their weird instrumental “Journey To The Moon”.
Narration is by Victor Jay. Buddah Records also released a spaced out studio album by Genesis to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Avant Garde were duo Chuck Woolery and Elkin Fowler and their sound is like a psychedelic Simon & Garfunkel with that all important psych lyte. “Naturally Stoned” was a top 40 hit on Billboard in the Summer of ’68.
“Revelations, Revolutions” was the flip to another small hit “Fly With Me” in early ’69. Production by Billy Sherrill who is best known for his work with Tammy Wynette.
“Cloudy” was covered several times in the ’60s but perhaps the best was by The Guild Light Gauge who had Paul Simon’s brother Eddie in their ranks. “14th Annual Fun And Pleasure Fair” was written by Steve Duboff and Artie Kornfield of The Changin’ Times.
Bob Morrison‘s song “Then Suddenly” is as smooth as silk and is obviously honey for your ears. His best known song was the ultra cool folk rock gem “Hey Puppet Man”. This time around though the former is a pop lyte aural dream.
Spindrift have sadly never troubled the compilers before so here’s the top side of their only 45 released in 1968 on Scepter Records.
“Time Stands Still For Me” is a gently psych lyte winner with a touch of the baroque.
In 1970 the band would release an album titled “Pirates Of Penzance” which is highly recommended. Don’t let the fact that it’s a rock opera cloud any decision to investigate it’s worth.
“Strawberry Tuesday” by The Sidewalk Skipper Band is the definitive sunny flower power pop mover but flip it over for the equally charming “Cynthia At The Garden” notable for mixing harpsichord and a xylophone.
Soft and breezy lyte psych just doesn’t get much better than this. Considering that The Sidewalk Skipper Band were a group of hip students from a Milwaukee college they certainly did well chart wise with this 45.
The follow up “Seventeenth Summer” flopped. It also failed to garner a place on my compilation.
Albuquerque band The Saliens were a popular draw locally but they failed to break out anywhere else. Both sides of their 1967 single on Look Records are compiled here for your listening pleasure.
Ireland was not exactly a hot bed of pop talent in the ’60s but The Trixons released a pleasant two sider in October 1968.
“Just Another Song” has distorted lead vocals with a soul backing and brass. It has an air of lyte psychedelia and sounds very accomplished.
The flip “Sunny Side Sam” is another winner but with a touch of bubblegum in the mix.
Kapp Records signed Marshmellow Highway in early 1968 to bolster their artists roster but only one single materialised. Nothing else is known.
I’ve been unable to find any information about Saturday’s Photograph who recorded the hippie “San Francisco Man”. The flip “Summer Never Go Away” is an equally endearing triste.
Proof Of The Puddin’ are an undocumented band who had one single on RCA before vanishing. “Flying High” is a cool pop psycher. The flip “Color Wheel” is compiled on Volume 2 of this series.
Omaha rock group The Rumbles a.k.a. Rumbles Ltd were a very prolific singles band releasing many 45s on various labels such as Soma, Mercury and Sire as well as “Try A Little Harder” on GNP Crescendo.
Milwaukee sensations The Robbs recorded many memorable sides for Mercury in the mid ’60s before switching to Atlantic then Dunhill for further releases. “Violets Of Dawn” from 1967 is a pure pop delight.
3’s A Crowd from Vancouver, Canada, signed to Dunhill records in late 1967 and they had high hopes for the band. Their debut single for Dunhill “Coat Of Colours” was even released in a picture sleeve but record sales were disappointing.
Florida based vocal harmony outfit The Proctor Amusement Co nailed the Beach Boys sound with “Heard You Went Away”.
The record was first released on local label Scott Records in mid ’67, then picked up by Laurie Records.
Opening this second set of lyte wonders are The Chevrons, a band from Omaha. “Dreams” has only ever appeared as a tape only collection called “Monsters Of The Mid West” and that was way back in the mid ’80s.
The 45 was originally released in 1968 on the small local label MMC Records before being picked up by Independence Records.
Previously called The Sleepers, this Ohio band changed its name to Wildlife in 1967 and cut three singles for Columbia Records. “New Games To Play” was their second single for the label.
“Sunshine Day” is a refreshingly lyte pop song. Impact Express were previously known as The Impacts and had a strong following in Oregon but nationwide acclaim eluded the outfit.
The Visions hailed from Mineral Wells, Texas and released several singles on various labels including Vimco and UNI. The band are probably best known for “Route 66” which was compiled on “Texas Flashbacks Volume 3”.
“Black And White Rainbow” is a perfect lyte harmonious tune.
The album “Island In The Sky” by The Tuneful Trolley is an overlooked psych pop gem and “My Apple Pie” from the long player was released as a single.
Listen out for some killer organ / guitar interplay. It’s hard to comprehend that this Long Island, NY band were all still teenagers at this point.
Both sides of The Spindle‘s early 1968 single on Piccadilly are presented here. The band hailed from the Seattle area and were produced by Gil Bateman. There is an obvious Hollies influence to their sound, especially on “Little Lies”.
The U.S. Males, a Houston outfit, were previously known as The Coastliners. This 1968 B-Side and Five Americans cover is a fine example of lyte baroque pop. It leaves the listener wanting more of the same but this release signalled the end of the band.
One of the most successful Canadian pop bands were The Staccatos who emerged from Ottawa in 1963/64 with a British Beat sound. They swiftly outgrew the basic sound of beat and added vocal harmonies to their original material and one of the better examples of this Beach Boys / Hollies crossover was the lush pop of “She Fancies Herself A Lady”.
The Staccatos would move base to U.S.A. and record several singles, all of which flopped, including this one. They then changed their name to The Five Man Electrical Band but still success in America never materialised.
“California On My Mind” was The Coastliners fourth and final single before they changed their name to The U.S. Males. Here the band go all harmony pop.
They are better known for garage punk tunes “Alright” and “I’ll Be Gone”.
Florida band The Gas Company were a popular local harmony group but because another outfit had registered this name the manager came up with The Proctor Amusement Co. The Beach Boys ringer “Heard You Went Away” can be found on “Turn On The Lyte Volume 1”
The sunshine flip “Call Out My Name” is included here.
The Clefs Of Lavender Hill formed in Miami, Florida in ’65 and “Stop! Get A Ticket” was their first 45. It was released on a local label Thames Records and quickly became a big hit.
This prompted a national release on Date Records in June 1966.
The flip “First Tell Me Why” is a charming folk rocker. Travis Fairchild, singer / songwriter for The Clefs also wrote a couple of songs for The Echoes Of Carnaby Street.
Roman Rebellion released two sunshine pop 45s in 1968. The second and last release was “The Weather’s Getting Bold” / “Every Groovy Day”. The latter was compiled on my recent bubblegum expose “Ride 2”.
Hopefully The Robbs will get the full re-issue release that they deserve but until then the band will remain a gnostic secret and part of the colour wheel of switched on pop.
“Cynthia Loves” and “Girls, Girls” are two more examples of this Milwaukee band’s pop credentials.
“Violets Of Dawn” can be found on “Turn On The Lyte Volume 1”.
Over the years I’ve also picked up some of their compelling single sides for various projects. The folk rock wonderments of “Bittersweet” and “Rapid Transit” were compiled on Cavestones and the bendy psych of “Castles In The Air” can be found on “Gear! Volume 2”.
Proof Of The Puddin’ are a mystery. “Color Wheel” is the flip of “Flying High”, compiled on the first volume of this series.
Closing this interlude of lyte pop is an unknown band called Sounds Of Dawn. Their 45 was released on Dot in 1967.
I never researched or wrote any liners for all subsequent volumes of “Turn On The Lyte”. However, I did create artwork and song lists. These are uploaded below.
All volumes of “Turn On The Lyte” were pieced together from original vinyl records during 2010 to 2013 and are available to stream on Acid Revolver.