Some of my favorite garage/ psych sounds of the '60's were released on the Dunwich Record label, which began at the dawn of the garage era in 1965. Three Chicago based producer/ A&R types (Bill Traut, Eddie Higgins and George Badonsky) changed the name of the label which they started in 1963 with little success (Amboy), and scored a massive regional hit straight out of the box with The Shadows Of Knight's version of the recently released 'Gloria', waxed by (Van Morrison's) Them. The trio also acted as a production team that licensed many excellent (and marginal) records to other labels up until the 1970's as well.
When it comes down to it, "Last Time Around" from The Del-Vetts may be the ultimate Dunwich moment (although my wife would argue for The Banshees 'Project Blue', but I'm not the biggest fan of that record, personally). With an infectious stop-start arrangement, this fuzzed out monster is easily one of the finest records of its type! Surprisingly, this record actually made the national top 40, which I was very surprised to learn (although it's not an easy record to find). Sadly, singer Jim Lauer also ended up in a mental institution.
Back to that intial release; The Shadows Of Knight featured Chicago's answer to Mick Jagger (Jimmy Sohns) as their lead vocalist, and my father in law has great stories of seeing The Shadows Of Knight at teen clubs, and how Jimmy was a true showman of the highest order and influenced HIM to start his own garage band (The Id), who released a 45 in 1966 (but that's another story). while the Shadows version of 'Gloria' is cool, it's the flip, 'Dark Side', that I dig the most. Written by band members Warren Rogers and Jimmy Sohns, this number has a gothic garage vibe that is far more exciting to me than their cover of 'Gloria'. Dunwich Records began to be nationally distributed through Atco almost immediately, upon the success of this single.
If The Pride And Joy sounds similar to the Del-Vetts (especially in that wicked fuzz tone and snotty vocals) it's no coincidence- they are the same group. Allegedly, the Del-Vetts fan club suggested that they change their name to The Pride & Joy and the group obliged (such nice Chicago boys!)
This record also boils over with driving fuzz tone intensity but adds an amazing melodic sense that, in a perfect world, would have been a massive hit. These guys were VERY good- listen to those spot-on group harmonies on the chorus as well as the fantastic musicianship that seems ready made for your very own perfect world mod freakout dance scene complete with flashing lights and beautiful go-go girls dancing in, out, or around cages. Ah, for a perfect world...
Saturday's Children were probably Dunwich Records most musically advanced group. Lead singer/ co-writer Ron Holder of the fantastic group Saturday's Children passed away about a year and a half ago. A friend of his was kind enough to share the fantastic photo of Ron taken back around the time this record was released. Look closely at both the back wall and drum head to see "Saturday's Children" proudly on display.
There's no denying that the harmony and hook laden 'If You're Ready' is an excellent Beatle-esque number! Ron Holder and Geoff Boyan acted as the groups' Lennon/McCartney and penned tunes that were sophisticated, catchy and a perfect fit for those times AND these times. The group certainly deserved the success they never achieved, as they were clearly a talented bunch on every front. The group *did* open for the Beach Boys at McCormick Place in Chicago in 1966, which was probably one of the most exciting moments of their too-short career.
Saturday's Children released three 45's; one of which is the incredible Christmas single 'Deck Five b/w Christmas Sounds" that I traditionally share every December on the Daily 45.