Everybody into the Sixties Garage subculture has heard of scenes from other parts of the world : "Transworld Beat", it's been tagged by collectors (including the Far-East... ). But, while most are familiar with Japanese G.S., Rare Groove Djs having sampled the "Shadow Music" sounds of Thaïland and beginning to crate-dig the still mostly uncharted sounds of "Off-Beat Cha, Cha", a Hong Kong speciality, and Dutch Beat experts already digested the "Indo-rock" instrumental sounds of migrating groups from far-off Indonesia, the Heavy-Psych guitar sounds of the late 60's/ early 70's underground Korean scene being now recognised by the hip cognescenti... I feel the Best of all this exotica Beat comes from Cambodia's "Circle Dance Music" that, on top of having the best heady mix of swirling Freak-out Fuzz guitars and Traditional Folk rhythm and melodies, one step above "Turkish Delights", tells a truly fascinating tale of Romantic doom.
Ever since Parallel World released that limited vinyl comp' in 1996 : "Cambodian Rocks" compiled by an American tourist named Paul Wheeler from some cassettes he bought in Phnom Penh from a local Taxi diver whose service he used while touring around, I grew increasingly fascinated with that sound and what seemed to be a lost scene wiped-out by the genocide brought by the Khmer Rouge takeover of the country in 1975. Indeed, most of the original musicians were murdered and executed in the "Killing Fields" of communist reeducation. What seemed more tragic then was that the song titles and artist credits were unknown, their legacy forever lost, or so one thought... Four years later, Parallel World reissued this compilation on CD with a
few extra tracks, but still without any identifying information.
But now, 7 years in the making a documentary full of never-before-seen archival footage and insightful present-day interviews is about to see the light of day : "Don't Think I've Forgotten - Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll". The movie director, John Pirozzi, is aiming to lock image by end of may this year, hoping before DVD release to get theatrical first!
... This in itself is something of a miracle, calling for a celebration all over the world of Garage-rock lovers, and the Mainstream Rock at large even! As it is one story untold that dies to be seen and heard, if only in respect to all the dead musicians : Rejoice! Thanks to the survivors, now mostly part of the Khmer refugees in America and the West Coast, these doomed artists will finally R.I.P.
They deserve to be known and acknowledged worldwide.
Here's the documentary synopsis by co-producer John Pirozzi "During the 60's and early 70's, as the war in Vietnam threatened its
borders, a new music scene emerged in Cambodia that took Western rock
and roll and stood it on its head - creating a sound like no other.
Cambodian musicians crafted this sound from the various rock music
styles sweeping across America and England, adding the unique melodies
and hypnotic rhythms of their traditional music. The b...eautiful singing of the renowned female vocalists became the final touch that made this mix so enticing.
As the peasant Khmer Rouge army closed in on the capital city of Phnom
Penh, Cambodian rock and rollers played at rooftop parties while bombs
ignited the evening sky.
After taking over the country on April
17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge began one of the most brutal genocides in
history, killing 2 million people - 1/4 of the Cambodian population.
Intellectuals, artists and musicians were murdered simply for their
status. Only a few miraculously survived to tell their story.
This documentary film, DON’T THINK I’VE FORGOTTEN, provides a new
perspective on a country usually associated with war and genocide. By
celebrating this powerful music, and the people who created it,
Cambodia's musical heyday emerges from the shadows of tragedy into the
light of history."
Check the Official trailer here :
(And you know what? ... Since then, some friendly contributors have dug
up all the missing info on that historical "Cambodian Rocks" comp'; here's the tracklist at last :
01. Yol Aularong - Jeas Cyclo (4:30) 02. Ros Sereysothea - Chnam oun Dop-Pram Muy (3:50) 03. Ros Sereysothea - Tngai Neas Kyom Yam Sra (2:14) 04. Yol Aularong + Tuk - Sou Slarp Kroam Kombut Srey (2:12) 05. Sinn Sisamouth - Srolanh Srey Touch (2:56) 06. Pan Ron - Rom Jongvak Twist (2:34) 07. Pan Ron - Knyom Mun Sok Jet Te (3:13) 08. Liev Tuk - Rom Sue Sue! (3:23) 09. Ros Sereysothea + Seang Vanthy - Jam 10 Kai Thiet (3:23) 10. Ros Sereysothea + Seang Vanthy - Jah Bong Ju Aim (3:36) 11. Sinn Sisamouth + Ros Sereysothea - Maok Pi Naok (1:54) 12. Sinn Sisamouth - Phneit Oun Mean Evey? (3:59) 13. Yol Aularong - Yuvajon Kouge Jet 14. Meas Samon - Jol Dondeung Kone Key 15. Ros Sereysothea - Kerh Songsa Kyoum Thai! 16. Ros Sereysothea - Chnang Jas Bai Chgn-ainj 17. Ros Sereysothea + Seang Vanthy - Kone Oksok Nas Pa 18. Ros Sereysothea - Kom Kung Twer Evey 19. Ros Sereysothea - Penh Jet Thai Bong Mouy 20. Pan Ron & In Yeng - Sralanh Srey Chnas 21. Sinn Sisamouth + Meas Samon - Komlos Teng Bey 22. Ros Sereysothea - Retrey Yung Joup Knea
The decade of the 1990's out with some real and genuine promise, and my ears were especially glued to the sounds that Creation Records in the UK was releasing; music that had one foot rooted in the '60's but music that also looked forward. The early '90's was also a peak in hip hop, and the best of this music still stands tall today and doesn't feel dated. It was also cool to see bands that I loved (Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Mudhoney to name a few) get signed to big labels and start making a bigger dent in the cultural landscape. However, the ensuing signing frenzy saw to it that every lame wanna be "alternative" act was getting signed to a major label. I won't name names, but I worked in a record store from '91-'96 and looking back I can't BELIEVE the amount of dreck that got released, and the phony marketing that attempted to make boring wanna be rock stars rehashing plodding 70's themes into "alternative" stars. While I graduated high school in '93, I have no nostalgia whatsoever for the decade that gave us rap-rock and half baked, poorly written "indie rock".
Lilys were one of the exceptions- led by the amazing songwriter and frontman Kurt Heasley and a rotating cast of band membership in flux, Kurt's dabblings in shoegaze and psychedelia earned him a contract with Warner Brothers records; the resulting LP, Better Can't Make Your Life Better is one of the greatest distillations of mid '60's beat, with a smattering of songs that derive from the past in a way that one could easily be forgiven in thinking it was a great lost Kinks track, and an equal number of unique, quirky songs that were obviously the work of a very creative songwriter with a knack for unusual hooks and chord changes. Perhaps The Lilys ultimate statement of swinging London transported from '66 into '96 was a single released on Sub Pop Records at the same time as their major label debut. I've spun "Baby's A Dealer" at mod events and always have people ask me "WHAT is that record?" and they typically can't believe it when I tell them when it was recorded. Kurt has continued to release amazing albums; while they may not have as strong of an overt '60's sound, they are great listens nonetheless and full of excellent songwriting.
Since their first "official" release in 1992, The Brian Jonestown Massacre has consitently released creative and mind blowing records driven by the vision and songwriting of Anton Newcombe. 'Hide & Seek" is purely realized action music- the sound is dense but uncluttered, the intro guitar riff is an amazing hook, the verse hypnotic, and the chorus transcendant. The single is a tidy (and perfect) 3:34, and live, this song drives the guitar hook over and over until the wash of sound levitates the room; I've seen it create a real frenzy among the audience, in the way that the greatest music can. Listen to it over and over, and just dig the placement of the acoustic guitar, backing vocals, percussion, feedback and marvel at how everything propels the song forward and upward. Thankfully, I was hipped to the BJM thanks to my own band at the time having an album come out on Bomp! records at the same time that Jonestown released their Methodrone album; being as I didn't live in the bay area at the time and had never seen or heard about their previous records, I listened to the disc and couldn't BELIEVE my ears. Once again, it was as if the rooting of the '60's was being transported into the future, just as My Bloody Valentine's Loveless had done a few years earlier, but with songs that were so full of hooks (yeah, it's SONGWRITING that gets my attention first and foremost)! Luckily I was able to snag a copy of the 'Hide & Seek' 45 shortly afterwords, and every subsequent release has been an inspiration. Anton also posts exclusive tracks and works in progress to his youtube account.
Welcome back cats and kitties; this week's post is the first in yet another series- namely, some lesser known garage-y tracks from my 45 stash.
First up we have Jim Valley, known forever as Harpo, as he was named during his tenure as on of Paul Revere's Raiders (thanks to a striking resemblence to Harpo Marx). In late '65, original Raider lead guitarist Drake Levin decided to join the National Guard, as he was up to be drafted into the army. In early '66, The Raiders snatched up Jim Valley from the Portland-based Don & The Goodtimes to fill the vacant slot. Harpo became very popular with the fans, although he left the group in the spring of '67; harpo was expecting some of his own songs to be recorded in the group, and these promises were never fulfilled. This 45 was his first outside of the group, and is a strong guitar driven beat number, co-written by Don Galluci (the Don of Don & The Goodtimes, a former Kingsman, and future producer of The Stooges FUN HOUSE LP). Jim has released several solo records, but has concentrated on the heroic mission of teaching music to children since the early 1980's.
The Fountain of Youth are quite mysterious; apparently from Texas, they ended up on Colgems Records (a division of RCA that was set up specifically for The Monkees). Perhaps there's a connection with Michael Nesmith? I don't know for sure... "Livin' Too Fast" is a great beat number that is too sophisticated to be called 'garage' as it features strings, but its heart definitely has an oil-soaked floor (to my ears)
I'm pretty sure that these December's Children are the same group that released the freakbeat classic 'Backwards And Forwards", but very little is known about THAT group, either. Pretty slick production overall, but that fuzz guitar and non-PC lyrics about a 16 year old girl prove, once again, has its heart right smack in the area where the lawn mower is stored.
The Myddle Class are perhaps best known as being the band that The Velvet Underground opened for at Summit High School in December 1965, causing a real furor for kids and teachers when they launched into "Heroin". The group were from the Passaic Valley of suburban New Jersey and, through the power of their live shows and how they affected his babysitter, caught the ear of influential writer Al Aronowitz. "Don't Let Me Sleep Too Long" was lifted from a traditional spiritual called "Wake Me, Shake Me", and in fact the Myddle Class lifted it from (NYC band) The Blues Project, put THEIR names as the writers, and released it BEFORE The Blues Project. The copy seen here is a reissue that came out a few years later, and credits The Blues project for the arrangement. Ouch! The song was a hit in Albany, NY and San Bernardino, CA in 1966 but failed to break nationally (probably due to the fact that its over 3 minutes long).
The Five Emprees hailed from the southern tip of Michigan, and had a HUGE hit in the Chicago area with "Little Miss Sad", a cover from a VERY obscure single by The Addrisi Brothers (acrobats turned musicians who scored a huge hit when The Association covered their "Never My Love" in 1967). Released in 1965, this record straddles the line between the softer sounds of bands that were swept away by the initial boom of British Beat, and the harder sounds that were just around the corner, thanks to the mass adoption of the fuzz pedal post-"Satisfaction". Even though the harmonies are slick and the song is gentle, the propulsive percussion pushes this record a step ahead of the lighter weight stuff.
Hailing from the same fertile mid-60's Boston rock n roll scene that birthed Barry & The Remains, the equally talented Lost released two amazing singles before breaking up in 1967.
The Lost was fronted by Boston rock/ punk legend Willie Alexander, aka Lou reed's "replacement" in the Velvet Underground. Bassist Walter Powers also ended up as another Velveteen Underground member. While Alexander is a FINE singer (as heard on these sides), history probably would treat the post-Lou velvets more fairly a) if the Doug Yule led band changed their name and b) wasn't forced by their manager to only allow Doug Yule to play on their final LP.
But back to The Lost- like so many baby boomer teens, the members of the lost (Willie Alexander, vocals; Ted Myers, vocals & guitar; Hugh
Magbie, vocals & guitar; Walter Powers,bass & vocals, and Tony Pfeiffer, drums) were highly influenced by the British Invasion, and formed a group around that sound and mod style (see the promo postcard below, borrowed from Alexander's website). The group, originally from Vermont, moved to Boston shortly after forming. The group's star rose quickly, and was scouted by Capitol Records who signed them in 1965.
"Back Door Blues" (written by Ted Meyers) was the single b-side, but I posted it first as its primal energy is a fantastic introduction to the band's energy, and has a nice little nod to Them's "Mystic Eyes". The actual "a" side, "Maybe More Than You" (written by Meyers and Alexander) was undoubtedly influenced by the folk rock movement (dig the 'Highway 61" style whistle effect), the song shows a strong sophistication in the writing and lyrical content, with a strong delivery by Willie Alexander, and superb musicianship from the group.
The group toured the east coast, and opened for the likes of The Beach Boys (, Sonny & Cher & The Supremes, but neither single gave the group more than a local hit. For their final release, the group once again kicked out a serious garage jam as the 'b" side, the strongly caffeinated "No Reason Why", featuring some insane pounding piano that would not be out of place on the Velvet Underground's White Light/ White Heat LP, and some seriously KINK-y guitar riffing.
The "a" side, "Violet Gown", carried on in the folk rock vein, but with an incredible droning chorus/ bridge section, that, once again, recalls the VU. Boston *was* the home of The Velvet Underground's biggest following, so it's probably no coincidence.
Here's the latest installment of my ongoing series of unusual covers; nothing like hearing a different rendition of a familiar song that can either put a different artistic spin on a classic or draw a mustache-on-the-mona-lisa, depending on your outlook.
"Girl Watcher" in its original version by The O'Kaysions is not only a soul classic, but somehow takes a subject matter that could be incredibly creepy, but somehow manages to NOT be, thanks to its breezy, lilting groove. In 1968, two years after The O'Kaysions original, a "Ginger Thompson" cut a gender reversed version. What a reversal; what red blooded male WOULDN'T wanna be watched by a lady with a cooing, sexy voice?
Wynder K. Frog was in actuality the alias of one Mick Weaver, British Hammond organist extraordinnaire. The frog band cut three albums, of which this SWINGING 1968 version of the then-brand-new Stones single was taken from their second LP. Mick went on to lay his organ out on dozens of sessions throughout the years; Steve Marriott, Buddy Guy, Keef Hartley all among them.Yes, you are allowed to use this jam as the theme song of the next party you throw, silk pajamas option but recommended.
Oooh what an intimidating label we see on the Nobody's Children release, especially with the cut-out BB hole on the label... All politics aside, I'm truly surprised that anyone would think there was any commercial potential in a record label with such volent connotations, especially during the year of peace and love that this record was released (1967). The band name Nobody's Children was used by several groups in the 60's, but these kids were from Washington D.C. While their version of the Evie Sands/ Hollies version is cool, it doesn't justify its position here until the 1;20 second mark when all hell breaks loose via an intense fuzztone break, lifting the song into total freakout territory.
The Cascades scored a massive hit in 1962 with the lovely 'Rhythm Of The Rain", and their blend of slick group vocal harmonies lends itself surprisingly well to this brilliant early Neil Young composition that is a highlight of the first Buffalo Springfield LP. I would be willing to bet that arranger Jack Nitzsche recommended that the group record this song, as he was also beginning his work with Neil Young the year this record was released (1967), and the duo recorded their masterpiece ("expecting To Fly") that same year. The Cascades released some SIXTY TWO singles between 1962-1972, none of which could get them a follow up hit to "Rhythm Of The Rain".
Mark was a Hell of a frontman and Great singer in the Best garage-rock band American 60's Pop ever had : the Raiders... Even when they started taking the Bubble-gum route : always that driving Beat with Fuzz guitar undercurrent backing a Powerful Vocal! You can't beat that, even the Rolling Stones (despite whatever fans of Jagger & Richards say and the phoney slapstick comedy they indulged themselves into routinely; what the Beatles got away with Ye Olde Music 'all way, may have been descrediting to the Raiders for the Hipper-than-thou Hyp'O'crit Frisco hippie crowd, then... But now, later Punks burried all that snub : The Raiders are recognised Great pre-Punk rockers to History)! So there, Long Live Mark Lindsay and his Raiders...
It's been nearly a year and a half since I posted the first installment of the Psych Psampler, but there's so many great records out there that between the nearly 1500 that I've featured on the daily 45 and the 100 or so I've featured here, the well of choice soul, r&b, rock n roll and all sub categories in between, seems to be virtually bottomless. First up we have the EXCELLENT 1968 track "All I See Is You" from Minnesota's Jokers Wild. The freaky sound isn't a theremin (ala "Good Vibrations") but that of a slide whistle- a cheap children's annoying noisemaker (I know I made my own share of annoying noise with a slide whistle in my early days), put here to perhaps its best ever use! The b-side, "I Just Can't Explain It" is pretty great as well, but for the time its British Invasion-esque sound was getting pretty dated. Sounds fantastic today though to these ears.
Next up we have a SLICK but ROCKING number from Boston's Orphans, who later dropped the "s' and became Orphan. Something about Boston bands of the time; they were REALLY tight (witness The Remains) and The Orphans impress with some fantastic harmonies here and a wild, freakout guitar solo from group leader Eric Lilljequist. This is one of those tracks that has grown on me more and more through the years. Unfortunately this side, far superior to the plugged A-side "This Is The Time", was relegated to b-side status and never achieved its hit potential. This was released in late '67.
Before they added violin, got 'heavy" and became a staple of the festival scene of the late '60's/ early '70's (I especially enjoy the story about Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant yanking them off stage when they went overtime, seeing an incredible sunset on the horizon which made for the perfect backdrop to Zep's 1970 set at the UK Bath Festival), Chicago's Flock were another band heavily influenced by the British Invasion. While "I Like You"'s lyrics are incredibly trite, something about the minor-to-major key change within the song adds a very west coast lysergic edge to this otherwise pedestrian number. My words may sound overly critical, but the charm of this song truly outweighs any negatives on my part.
I'll leave you with this real ass kicker of a track from New York's Group therapy. Allegedly, the band (who had worked as journeymen for several years) had a burst of inspiration during a UK tour supporting Moby Grape, where they delivered a devastating live show and were signed by Philips Records. Like a handful of other records from the post-Pepper era ("Susan" by The Buckinghams, "My world Fell Down' from Sagittarius, for example), this record features a bizarre middle section freakout that's undoubtedly inspired by "A Day In The Life".
1. Leavin' Here - The Rationals 2. You Got The Loving Touch - Buddy Lamp 3. Do The Boo-Ga-Loo - Tom & Jerrio 4. Peace Of Mind - The Magnificent Men 5. Maybe, Maybe Baby - The Magnificent Men 6. No Stranger To Love - Charlie & Inez Foxx 7. The Harlem Shuffle - Wayne Cochran 8. Goin Back To Miami - Wayne Cochran 9. Put Yourself In My Place - The Elgins 10. Heaven Must Of Sent You - The Elgins 11. I've Got News For You - The Magnificent Men 12. Respect - The Rationals