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The Hardtimes - Blew Mind (1968)

The Hardtimes - Blew Mind (1968)


Hardtimes were a '60s rock band that were dubbed punk rock after the phrase came to be acknowledged. The U.K. release of BLEW MIND is the album's first compact disc pressing. This Rev-Ola catalog item includes the original 1968 World Pacific LP album, the group's final recordings under The New Phoenix, and some singles that were not included on the the original vinyl pressing of the album. 22 tracks total. One of the members was later in Steppenwolf.



San Diego's the Hard Times were a solid garage folk-rock outfit led by two gifted songwriters, Rudy Romero and Bill Richardson, but the band unfortunately never seemed to establish its own identity, drifting between folk-rock, sunshine pop, and a light psychedelia during its short history, breaking up almost immediately after releasing one album, 1967's Blew Mind, which is included here in its entirety along with a handful of non-album 45 releases, making this essentially the group's complete recorded output. There's a lot to like, certainly, from lovely covers of Bob Lind's "Come to Your Window" and Al Kooper's "Sad Sad Sunshine" (which is presented in both the album and single versions) to the spooky, atmospheric "Blew Mind," a Richardson original, and Romero's "Give to Me Your Love" (which was actually recorded under the group name New Phoenix and was produced by Mama Cass Elliot). There's also a lot to scratch one's head about, as well, like the odd, overly baroque version of "Candy Man" which opens this collection, a production approach that is also repeated on Hard Times' ill-advised cover of Donovan's "Colours." One can't help but wonder what might have happened if Romero and Richardson had been allowed to develop the band further on a second album, but that was not to be. When all is said and done, the Hard Times remain an intriguing footnote in the era between mid-'60s folk-rock and the emerging flower power scene of 1967 and 1968. ~ Steve Leggett

Mid Sixties pop/punk band from Los Angeles. They were regulars on Dick Clark's famed TV Show 'Where The Action Is'. The group included Larry Byrom (Steppenwolf), & Paul Wheatbread ( Gary Puckett And The Union Gap) 1st time on CD, this has 10 rare bonus tracks. The entire 1968 World Pacific label album, non-LP singles and the group's last two recordings as the New Phoenix that were produced by Mama Cass Elliot.

Personnel: Nick Robbins, Joe Foster (synthesizer).

Liner Note Author: Steve Stanley.


First time on CD for 1968 album from San Diego act who were regulars on Dick Clark's 'Where The Action Is' with The Robbs & Paul Revere & The Raiders. Includes the entire World Pacific album, non-LP singles, & their last two recordings (as the New Phoenix which were produced by Mama Cass Elliot). Features 22 tracks including 10 bonus tracks, 'You're Bound To Cry', 'There'll Be A Time', 'That's All I'll Do', 'Come To Your Window', 'They Said No', 'Sad Sad Sunshine' (Mono 45), 'Fortune Teller' (Mono 45), 'Goodbye' (Mono 45), 'Give To Me Your Love' (The New Phoenix) & 'Thanks' (The New Phoenix). 

The Hardtimes - Blew Mind (1968)


San Diego's the Hard Times were a solid garage folk-rock outfit led by two gifted songwriters, Rudy Romero and Bill Richardson, but the band unfortunately never seemed to establish its own identity, drifting between folk-rock, sunshine pop, and a light psychedelia during its short history, breaking up almost immediately after releasing one album, 1967's Blew Mind, which is included here in its entirety along with a handful of non-album 45 releases, making this essentially the group's complete recorded output. There's a lot to like, certainly, from lovely covers of Bob Lind's "Come to Your Window" and Al Kooper's "Sad Sad Sunshine" (which is presented in both the album and single versions) to the spooky, atmospheric "Blew Mind," a Richardson original, and Romero's "Give to Me Your Love" (which was actually recorded under the group name New Phoenix and was produced by Mama Cass Elliot). There's also a lot to scratch one's head about, as well, like the odd, overly baroque version of "Candy Man" which opens this collection, a production approach that is also repeated on Hard Times' ill-advised cover of Donovan's "Colours." One can't help but wonder what might have happened if Romero and Richardson had been allowed to develop the band further on a second album, but that was not to be. When all is said and done, the Hard Times remain an intriguing footnote in the era between mid-'60s folk-rock and the emerging flower power scene of 1967 and 1968. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi



The Countdown 5 – “Complete Recordings 1965-1969”

The Countdown 5 – “Complete Recordings 1965-1969”

The Countdown 5 – “Complete Recordings 1965-1969”




Members of the Galveston Bay, Texas’ rock scene of the middle to late 1960’s, The Countdown 5 were part owners of the renowned Houston recording studio Andrus Productions, where producer Walter Andrus recorded many bands, including the 13th Floor Elevators and Fever Tree. While the group never got the big break to record an LP, they did manage to release several singles on a variety of labels, and while none hit big in the US, years later the group did learn that one of their singles had actually topped the charts in Germany for a short period of time. Finally, nearly fifty years after the band called it quits, their entire recorded legacy has been compiled on a two CD collection by Gear Fab Records, and quite a treat it is.

The band consisted of Mack Hayes who possessed a wide, versatile vocal range and was quite comfortable fronting the band, while the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Tommy Murphy and drummer Tommy Williams was indeed formidable, always solidly holding down the band’s bottom end sound, Left handed John Balzer was one of the most talented, versatile and innovative guitarists of the day as well as being a fine singer in his own right and Steve Long’s keyboards gave the band their special style of 1960’s Texas rock, while he also contributed saxophone to the group’s sound. The Countdown 5’s recorded repertoire was mostly original material, with Hayes and Balzer being especially prolific writers, mixed with tasty covers of tunes written by the likes of The Isley Brothers and Johnny Otis. 

The Countdown 5 – Complete Recordings 1965-1969 (Gear Fab Records, 2018)

Disc one of the set opens with a series of rhythm and blues numbers, beginning with the saxophone led “Bamboo Hut,” a Balzer composition taking its title from the Galveston Beach club that the band often played. This was the Countdown 5’s debut single backed by a faithful cover of The Isley Brothers r & b standard “Shout,” highlighted by the band’s call and response vocals. “Do What You Do Well” was the a-side of their second single, with Long’s keyboards and the group’s vocal harmonies on display. These songs also contained the group’s Texas rock foundation reminiscent of Buddy Holly and The Bobby Fuller Four. Without question one of the collection’s highlights is the hard rocking “Uncle Kirby (From Brazil)” with its heavily echoed vocals from Hayes reminiscent of The Beatles and Balzer’s fuzzed out guitar filling the air. The tune contains a ‘George of The Jungle” chant giving it a danceable quality. Balzer also contributes a couple of hot solos to the track which unbeknownst to the band at the time found its way into European discos in the 1970’s and was a hit in London and Paris among other places. The versatility of The Countdown 5 is apparent throughout. Their cover of Johnny Otis’ “Willie And The Hand Jive” has a Bo Diddley feel while remaining rather loyal to the original. By contrast “We Are All One” features delicate, melodic vocal harmonies and harpsichord while “Shaka Shaka Na Na” is a dance number with its title becoming a repeated chant, yet Balzer’s fuzz guitar and a driving beat driven by Williams’ drums gives it lots of energy. Like “Uncle Kirby (From Brazil)” the song found its way into European discos and in fact topped the German Billboard charts for a period of time in 1968, a fact not discovered by the band until long after the fact. In “Money Man” the band exhibits Eastern influences, its gentle guitar intro emanating a raga feel. The songs repeated chorus of “Don’t Try To Impress Me” is accentuated by Balzer’s lead guitar slashing in and out, and the tune features not only another hot solo by Balzer but also a tasty organ interlude by Long. Two tracks from disc one come from compilation appearances, namely, “Candy” and “Sweet Talk” both feature Balzer’s guitar, snarling lead on the former, and hot dashes of stinging fuzz on the power pop latter. Also included on disc one are stereo versions of four of the single sides, with the bouncing beat, organ led “Time To Spare” and the previously mentioned “Uncle Kirby (From Brazil)” and “Money Man” in particular standing out. The track is rounded out by the acetate of “Something On Her Mind” a mid tempo keyboard driven tune spotlighting the band’s vocal harmonies.

The second disc of the set features eighteen unreleased tracks recorded at Walter Andrus Studio and two radio spots for a New Year’s Eve show. The first track, the interestingly titled “Don’t Buy Meat From The Milkman” sounds like Crosby, Stills and Nash, well before their existence, with its gorgeous vocal harmonies, tasty guitar and delicate keyboards added for texture. “Big Big Man” is folk rock melody with banjo and keyboards complementing luscious vocals. “Unfair To Me” is a snappy rocker featuring numerous tempo changes and the group’s ever present vocal harmonies. “Good Woman” is a mid-tempo song with a fuzz intro by Balzer and Farfisa organ by Long leading up to a fuzz filled solo that plays the song out. “I Gotta Keep What I Take” shows more Eastern influence with its insistent guitar riff, another fine lead guitar line, more Farfisa and a restrained guitar solo. Long’s harpsichord, Balzer’s understated guitar and vocal harmonies give “So Pass Me By” a Beatlesque feel. Just as quickly the band switches gears to the upbeat rocker “What Can You Do When You’re Down” with Balzer’s lead guitar pushing the beat as he throws the tempo into overdrive. The tune’s tempo slows, but only long enough for Balzer to fire it up, his lead guitar stabbing to and fro. The group’s mellower side shows through on “When I’m Gone Away” a ballad with handclaps and percussion taking charge. “Legs” is a real head shaker, and a nice dance tune, complete with an a capella section, yet filled with pumping Farfisa organ and fuzz guitar. “Sallazar” spotlights Balzer’s acoustic guitar and more Crosby, Stills and Nash style vocal harmonies. Despite its title “Stone Fire Garden” has a gentle acoustic intro which gives way to delicate vocal harmonies with horns added for accent. “One Way Traffic” brings Joe South to mind, as its vocals harmonies accompany pounding drums and driving guitar with a twist of organ added for good measure. The disc closes with three gentle numbers, “These Few Things” with its delicate vocals and “I Gotta Leave You” with swirling organ, gentle rolling guitar and sensitive lead vocals, set the stage for the final song, a cover of the theme from the musical “Hair” another melodic tune with horns added for accentuation. The set closes with two radio spots for a New Year’s Eve gig by The Countdown 5, indicative of the group’s versatility and a most fitting end to the complete works of a sadly overlooked and underappreciated works of this talented, versatile Galveston Beach quintet.

“Complete Recordings 1965-1969” comes in a double slimline jewel case and is accompanied by an 8 page full color booklet containing a forward by Gear Fab owner Roger Maglio, an essay by Mack Hayes, wonderful photos of the band and artwork from the band’s singles released on the Toucan, Pic, Cinema, Hansa, Cobblestone, Polar, Saint Martin and Audiodisc labels, and other band memorabilia. This collection will be of interest to garage bands, especially the Texas variety, as well of fans of mid to late 1960’s rock in general and comes most highly recommended. 

– Kevin Rathert 
(https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2018/08/the-countdown-5-complete-recordings.html)

https://www.countdown5.houstoncomputershop.com/#


The Countdown 5 – “Complete Recordings 1965-1969”

Jan & Dean - Filet Of Soul 1966

Jan & Dean - Filet Of Soul 1966


Review by Bruce Eder
Filet of Soul is a good example of a successful "fake" -- oh, it's real enough as a Jan & Dean album, and the recordings here are all the real article and enjoyable, even if most of them are hardly representative of the duo at its best. Mostly the album works because it slots into the parody element that always played a role in the duo's presentation -- though Jan & Dean were meticulous in their productions, and Jan Berry a very serious personality in terms of his work, there was always a strong component of laughter in their music, and they never took themselves (or rock & roll) too seriously. And it's entirely possible that, had events worked out differently, the Beatles' Rubber Soul album (itself a parody title) might have inspired the pair to devise an "answer" record. But Filet of Soul was actually the creation of Liberty Records, in the wake of Jan Berry's disastrous April 1966 car accident, to keep some Jan & Dean product out there and sell it while the notoriously fickle teen audience still remembered who they were. By scouring the unused portions of the concert tape that had yielded the pair's live Command Performance album, plus a few studio tracks that had already been heard on other albums, a coherent Jan & Dean album was devised, complete with three John Lennon/Paul McCartney songs. None of the latter, most especially the utterly improbable "Norwegian Wood," are exactly groundbreaking, nor is the album a landmark of any kind, but like almost every other record that Jan & Dean ever issued, it is lots of fun (though the "fun" is stretched just about to the breaking point with their rendition of "Everybody Loves a Clown," which is saved for last, for obvious reasons). With a live audience ambience behind their deliberately adenoidal harmonies on "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," you know that this is no more a serious effort to "interpret" the song than, say, the Beach Boys' version from Beach Boys' Party! (recorded the previous year with Dean Torrence on hand). Jan & Dean are obviously more straight-faced on "Let's Hang On," "Honolulu Lulu," and "1-2-3," and the 1964-vintage "Dead Man's Curve," with its elaborate production, stands apart from everything else here, showcasing the offhanded nature of most of the material on this album. 


Jan & Dean - Filet Of Soul 1966



Sandy Nelson - Golden Hits & The Best Of The Beats


Sandy Nelson was the biggest -- and one of the few -- star drummers of the late '50s and early '60s era in which instrumental rock was at its peak. He landed two Top Ten hits, "Teen Beat" (1959) and "Let There Be Drums" (1961), which surrounded his Gene Krupa-inspired solos with cool, mean guitar licks that were forerunners of the surf sound. Nelson had only one other Top 40 hit, "Drums Are My Beat" (1962). He ground out a quick series of instrumental albums in the early '60s -- eight within 18 months, as a matter of fact -- with several other top Hollywood rock and pop session musicians. Nelson was not that great a drummer, although he was good. His principal importance is that he found a place for drum rock solos in hit instrumental singles, and the more reckless elements of his style no doubt influenced other musicians, such as surf drummers and, later, Keith Moon.

Nelson started to play rock & roll as a teenager in Los Angeles in the 1950s, forming a group that included Jan Berry, Dean Torrence, and Bruce Johnston, all of whom would be important to the surf and hot rod scenes a few years down the line. By the late '50s he was playing sessions, including drums on the Teddy Bears' chart-topper "To Know Him Is to Love Him." After his "Teen Beat" became a hit for Original Sound in 1959, he signed with Imperial as a solo artist, and continued to work as a session musician. For instance, he's heard on Gene Vincent records of the time, as well as the Hollywood Argyles' big hit "Alley Oop," on which he also did some screams. Nelson's numerous solo albums, despite the assistance of top fellow sessioneers like Steve Douglas (sax), Ernie Freeman (piano), and Rene Hall (guitar), had a lot of basic and unimaginative instrumental rock, whether original material or covers of well-known hits of the day. As with Duane Eddy's recordings, however, these simple albums might have helped inspire aspiring musicians as things to play along and learn with, if nothing else.

Near the end of 1963, Nelson was involved in a serious motorcycle accident that necessitated amputation of his right foot and part of his leg. Nonetheless, he managed to resume his drumming career and continued to churn out albums, as well as some singles, of which "Casbah" (1965) is the highlight, with its wild splashing drums and frenetic Middle Eastern/surf guita

Sandy Nelson - Golden Hits & The Best Of The Beats

Sandy Nelson - Golden Hits & The Best Of The Beats

Sandy Nelson - Golden Hits & The Best Of The Beats
  
Golden Hits & The Best Of The Beats (1997)

Although their titles seem to suggest best-of compilations, both Golden Hits and Best of the Beats are simply two more entries in a long line of Sandy Nelson records cut in response to the chart blockbusters of the moment. These LPs live or die on their relative compatibility with Nelson's strengths and sensibilities, and each of these 12-song efforts is a significant cut above average thanks to the inclusion of several R&B classics that afford the drummer the chance to cut loose. (Their similarities also make them more compatible than many of the pairings on See for Miles' other Sandy Nelson two-fers.) Nelson clearly savors the verve and creativity of Golden Hits covers like Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City," Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk," and Fats Domino's "Walking to New Orleans," and his drum solos exhibit an unusual finesse, complementing the melodies instead of overpowering them. The Best of the Beats is even better. The loosey-goosey energy of the New Orleans party classics "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" and "Mother-in-Law" proves particularly well matched to the chaotic abandon of Nelson's rhythms, and he also captures the Latin-flavored verve of the Ritchie Valens hits "Let's Go" and "La Bamba." Best of all are the back-to-back Elvis Presley covers "All Shook Up" and "Don't Be Cruel," which pay implicit homage to D.J. Fontana, the King's longtime sideman and arguably the first truly great rock & roll drummer. 

Sandy Nelson - Golden Hits & The Best Of The Beats

VA - American Heartbeat - The '60s

VA - American Heartbeat - The '60s

VA - American Heartbeat - The '60s (2018)

VA - American Heartbeat - The '60s

"...If variety is the spice of life, then listening to American radio during the early part of the 1960s was certainly a spicy experience! Legend has it that the period covered by these 3CDs was a low point in pop, roughly bordered by Elvis enlisting in the Army in 1958, and the American breakthrough of The Beatles in 1964. But even the briefest look at these titles - or the quickest of listens, will disprove that legend. Here is a delicious menu of dance sensations, virtuoso instrumentals, novelty hits, heart-breaking ballads together with some of the perkiest pop you could wish for..."

Track List:

Disc 1

1. Only The Lonely ~ Roy Orbison
2. The Locomotion ~ Little Eva
3. Chain Gang ~ Sam Cooke
4. Cathy's Clown ~ The Everly Brothers
5. Runaway ~ Del Shannon
6. Return To Sender ~ Elvis Presley
7. Green Onions ~ Booker T. & The M.G.’s
8. Soldier Boy ~ The Shirelles
9. Hey! Baby ~ Bruce Channel
10. Hit The Road, Jack ~ Ray Charles
11. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) ~ The Tokens
12. All Alone Am I ~ Brenda Lee
13. Runaround Sue ~ Dion
14. Everybody's Somebody's Fool ~ Connie Francis
15. He's A Rebel ~ The Crystals
16. Big Bad John ~ Jimmy Dean
17. Mother-In-Law ~ Ernie K-Doe
18. Big Girls Don't Cry ~ The Four Seasons
19. Travelin' Man ~ Ricky Nelson
20. Good Timin' ~ Jimmy Jones
21. A Hundred Pounds Of Clay ~ Gene McDaniels
22. He'll Have To Go ~ Jim Reeves
23. Take Good Care Of My Baby ~ Bobby Vee
24. Poetry In Motion ~ Johnny Tillotson
25. Johnny Angel ~ Shelley Fabares

Disc 2

1. Good Luck Charm ~ Elvis Presley
2. Sealed With A Kiss ~ Brian Hyland
3. Running Bear ~ Johnny Preston
4. Because They're Young ~ Duane Eddy
5. El Paso ~ Marty Robbins
6. Tossin' And Turnin' ~ Bobby Lewis
7. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do ~ Neil Sedaka
8. Puppy Love ~ Paul Anka
9. Shop Around ~ The Miracles
10. Way Down Yonder In New Orleans ~ Freddie Cannon
11. Roses Are Red ~ Bobby Vinton
12. Do You Love Me ~ The Contours
13. I Like It Like That (Part 1) ~ Chris Kenner
14. Sixteen Reasons ~ Connie Stevens
15. The Mountain's High ~ Dick & Dee Dee
16. Blue Moon ~ The Marcels
17. Peppermint Twist (Part 1) ~ Joey Dee & The Starliters
18. Save The Last Dance For Me ~ The Drifters
19. Burning Bridges ~ Jack Scott
20. Moody River ~ Pat Boone
21. Stay ~ Maurice Williams
22. I Know (You Don't Love Me No More) ~ Barbara George
23. Teen Angel ~ Mark Dinning
24. Sink The Bismark ~ Johnny Horton
25. Only Love Can Break A Heart ~ Gene Pitney

Disc 3

1. The Wanderer ~ Dion
2. Sherry ~ The Four Seasons
3. Ramblin' Rose~ Nat King Cole
4. Quarter To Three ~ Gary U.S. Bonds
5. Sheila ~ Tommy Roe
6. Fool No.1 ~ Brenda Lee
7. It's Now Or Never (O Sole Mio) ~ Elvis Presley
8. The Stripper ~ David Rose
9. Duke Of Earl ~ Gene Chandler
10. Bobby's Girl ~ Marcie Blane
11. Michael (Row The Boat Ashore) ~ The Highwaymen
12. Walk Don't Run ~ The Ventures
13. Handy Man ~ Jimmy Jones
14. The Twist ~ Chubby Checker
15. Alley-Oop ~ Hollywood Argyles
16. Raindrops ~ Dee Clark
17. Last Night ~ The Mar-Keys
18. Monster Mash ~ Bobby Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers
19. Please Mr. Postman ~ The Marvelettes
20. (Theme From) A Summer Place ~ Percy Faith
21. I Can't Stop Loving You ~ Ray Charles
22. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow ~ The Shirelles
23. Crying ~ Roy Orbison
24. Mashed Potato Time ~ Dee Dee Sharp
25. Last Date ~ Floyd Cramer 


The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow 2005

Magic Hollow is a box set compilation by The Beau Brummels comprising 113 songs recorded between 1964-1968, including hit singles, demos, outtakes, rarities and previously unissued material. The set was released on June 21, 2005 by Rhino Handmade
As a four-CD, 113-track collection of 1960s Beau Brummels recordings (nothing is included from their post-'60s reunions), Magic Hollow is an excellent overview of the career of one of the finest and most underrated American bands. There's a good balance between their most familiar material (including all of their hits) and rarities, 42 of the tracks seeing release here for the first time (though some of those are alternate versions). True, some die-hard fans of the group would have welcomed a Bear Family-styled no-stones-unturned box set, as for all this set's length, there are several CD's worth of cuts that don't appear here. Some of the Triangle album is missing, most of Bradley's Barn is absent, and there are a wealth of missing unreleased-in-the-'60s tracks that have shown up on other Beau Brummels comps. But if a four-CD size limitation had to be imposed, this is about as good as could be hoped for, chronologically sequenced so as to gracefully trace their evolution from the first truly fine American British Invasion-inspired band to folk-rock and country-rock innovators. For those who've collected the Beau Brummels for a while, the most attention-grabbing items will be the rarities, which are both plentiful and usually of surprisingly high quality. "People Are Cruel," a September, 1964 recording of a previously unheard Ron Elliott original (even pre-dating their signing to Autumn Records), has their excellent haunting British Invasion-style melodies and vocal harmonies already in place; the backing track "Here I Am in Love Again," sadly missing vocals, has an intriguingly complex, beguiling tune; "Darkness" is a fine Elliott solo demo from 1965. Though their Autumn era is heavily represented by two full CDs of music, there are less previously unreleased cuts on the set from the mid-'60s than there are from their stint at Warner Brothers in 1966-68, and discs three and four really pour on the vault discoveries. Disc three alone has a bunch of previously unissued Sal Valentino compositions that further prove him to be a fine composer in his own right, even if he was overshadowed by primary Beau Brummels writer Elliott. A wealth of early 1967 outtakes (including some solo Valentino demos, highlighted by "Only Dreaming Now" and "Magic Hollow" itself) show them moving toward the more sophisticated feel of Triangle, though without as orchestrated a sound. Disc four, in addition to containing much of Triangle and some of Bradley's Barn, rounds off the picture of their journey into countrified folk-rock with another generous helping of outtakes, demos, and alternates that are in most respects up to the level of the music they officially released between late 1967 and late 1968. Also, it should be noted that Magic Hollow contains all of the band's non-LP single sides from their Warner Brothers era, some of which have been fiendishly hard to find since the '60s. It's all iced with a fine, 48-page booklet, jam-packed with photos, track information, and extensive interview quotes with bandmembers that bring much of their less-documented history to light.

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)

The Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)

Thanks Cor !

****

The Royal Teens - Let's Rock (Complete Recording)

The Royal Teens - Let's Rock (Complete Recording)




The Royal Teens were a New Jersey rock and roll band that formed in 1956, consisting of Bob Gaudio on piano, Tom Austin on drums, Billy Dalton on guitar, and Billy Crandall on saxophone. They are best known for their single "Short Shorts", which was a #3 hit in the United States in 1958. The follow-up single, 1959's "Believe Me", hit #26. They never recorded an album, and broke up in 1965. The term "Short Shorts" was a description Bob Gaudio and Tom Austin had given to the cutoff jeans teenage girls were wearing during the summer of 1957. On that musically fateful afternoon, Gaudio and Austin were driving up Washington Avenue in Bergenfield, New Jersey in Tom Austin's red and white 1957 Ford Fairlane 500, trying to figure out what to call the latest song they had written for their Rock and Roll band then known as The Royals. ...



The Royal Teens - Let's Rock (Complete Recording)

ORIGINAL ROYAL TEENS

Bob Gaudio (Piano): The youngest member of The Royal Teens, Bob Gaudio, began playing piano at age eight. Like most kids, Bob hated to practice, but soon found that the piano presented enough of an interesting challenge and he soon looked forward to his sessions with the keyboard. Throughout his time performing with the group, Bob studied piano privately under the tutelage of famed Sal Mosca. He co-wrote The Royal Teens’ Number Three hit “Short Shorts” with bandmate Tom Austin. Following his success with The Royal Teens, Bob became an original member of The Four Seasons.

Larry Qualiano (Saxophone): A gifted musician to the extreme, Larry Qualiano held an important berth with the Royal Teens with his amazing versatility: Larry played the tenor, alto and baritone saxophone(s), “legitimate” clarinet and the flute.
Bill Dalton (Guitar): Beginning formal music studies in his early teens, Bill was attracted to the guitar from watching countless cowboy movies. Discovering his grandfather’s old guitar in the cellar of his home, Bill put the dilapidated instrument into playing condition and found that he could strum away to his heart’s content. Besides the guitar, Bill also performed on the bass whenever necessary.

Tom Austin (Drums): Tom’s entry into the music world began as a boy when his uncle, a professional drummer, once left his traps and equipment at the Austin house, and the Tom began playing. He was eventually offered a job to play with a small combo at a local (New Jersey) Police Athletic League (PAL) affair. That started his professional ball rolling, and Tom continued to play with various groups throughout his high school career—while studying under Irwin “Russ” Russo. As a member of The Royal Teens, Tom co-wrote the group’s big hit “Short Shorts” with bandmate Bob Gaudio.


The Royal Teens - Let's Rock (Complete Recording)


The Royal Teens are, by one definition, a hard-luck band. They could play hard and loud, but they also sang well and knew how to harmonize. They were one of the better rock & roll bands of their period, nicely self-contained and with a great beat and hard attack on their instruments, which included sax, electric guitar, and piano. But for all of that, they're virtually a one-hit group, and that one hit, "Short Shorts," isn't too representative of their sound. And, yet, without it, it's unlikely that a version of The Royal Teens would still get gigs in the Northeast in the summer of 1999, 40 years after the group's last decent chart placement.
Bill Crandle, Bill Dalton, Tom Austin, and Bob Gaudio formed the original band, then known as the Royal Tones, in Fort Lee, NJ in 1957. Crandall left the band and was replaced on sax by Larry Qualiano, and in 1958, Joe Francovilla (aka Joey Villa) joined the lineup as singer. A name change followed to The Royal Teens, when they got a shot at recording on the tiny Power Records label. Their first two singles, "Sitting with My Baby" and "Mad Gas," didn't chart, and they were in the process of cutting a couple of new singles in 1958 when their producer, against the wishes of the band, decided to use some leftover studio time to cut an instrumental jam that they'd done on-stage, to which they'd improvised some words. So the story goes, a couple of girls hanging around the studio were brought in and told to repeat the same line at the designated spots in the song, as the band sang and played.
Out of that session, "Short Shorts" was born, which, after initial success in New York City, Power quickly sold to the ABC-Paramount label. With help from American Bandstand and lots of radio stations that jumped on the song, "Short Shorts" spread quickly over the airwaves, and the band suddenly had a number three national hit. The record, often perceived as one of the dumbest of novelty tunes, is actually better than most people remember it, and has everything a great rock & roll song needs to transcend its simplicity -- the sax part is thick with places for the soloist to have fun, there's a hot guitar break, and the beat is relentless and intoxicating, especially as punctuated by the honking sax, a song you can laugh at, dance to, and play variations on for five minutes or more. (If Lenny & the Squigtones had really wanted to generate a hit in the late '70s, they'd have cut "Short Shorts" with Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, or their soundalikes, backing Michael McKean and David Lander).
Unfortunately, The Royal Teens were never able to follow it up with anything remotely as popular. "Harvey's Got a Girl Friend" charted very low, and "My Kind of Dream" stiffed, after which the group left ABC-Paramount. A short stay on the Mighty Records label, and a similar lack of success, brought them to Capitol, where they made the Top 30 in 1959 with the romantic, doo wop style number "Believe Me." That was their last chart record, however, and also the last record on which Bob Gaudio played -- he exited The Royal Teens and soon hooked up with a singer named Frankie Valli, together forming the Four Lovers, soon to become the Four Seasons.
The Royal Teens spent the next few years bouncing between labels, including Jubilee, Blue Jay, and Swan, and still appeared on shows like American Bandstand occasionally, even as their membership slowly shifted. Al Kooper spent much of 1959 playing guitar with The Royal Teens before moving on to much bigger things. They still cut good sides, and they were even adaptable to the doo wop vocal sound; in fact, as "Believe Me" (which sounds more like Dion & The Belmonts than Dion & The Belmonts did) proves, they were better at it than a lot of bands, and they still came up with great riffs and bracing solos (check out the guitar break on "All Right Baby"). But not even follow-ups like "Little Trixie," patterned after "Short Shorts," or pure exploitation like "Short Shorts Twist," could crack the charts for them again.
The group has continued in some form into the '90s, however, partly with help from the use of "Short Shorts" in a commercial for Nair, and the original record's continued popularity on oldies radio and in compilations. Those who've heard their other records, however, also know that this band had a lot more to offer, and may still.


The Royal Teens feat. Joe Villa - Let's Rock! Complete Recording


The Royal Teens - Let's Rock (Complete Recording)




The Royal Flairs - Rare Recordings From 1965-66



 Originally from Council Bluffs, Iowa, the Royal Flairs began as the backing band for singer Dick Hodge, cutting one single at Sears Sound Studio in Omaha, Nebraska, “Dream Angel” / “Let’s Go”, in October of 1962 as Nelson Royal, Bobby Williams and the Royal Flairs*.
The Flairs became house band at the Milrose Ballroom outside of Omaha, playing primarily surf instrumentals.


Three members stayed with the band through all of their changes: Bob Everhart (Bob Williams’ actual name) on sax and vocals, Dave Krivolavek on guitar and Dave Brubeck on bass. Other early members included Jerry Fleetwood on trumpet, Daryl Hill on organ, Brian Sallozo on sax, Brad Starr and Mike Nelson on lead guitar, and Rick Brown on drums.

Everhart, Brubeck and Krivolavek relocated to Chicago in early 1965, adding Mike Donian on drums and Mel Matthews on lead guitar and organ. In 1966 they cut two 45s for the Marina label, one as the Royal Flairs, and another as the Unlimited.

The first, “Suicide” has a sharp garage sound and a great solo. In the lyrics the singer wants to join the girl who killed herself over him. It was written by Everhart and Dave Krivolavek, with Everhart playing the harmonica. The instrumental flip, “One Pine Box” (misprinted on the label as “One Pink Box”) has an earlier surf style. It’s a gruesome number featuring the sound of scraping and a hammer nailing a coffin lid shut.

The second Marina 45 as The Unlimited was another morbid number “Feelings.” The flip was one I haven’t heard yet, “Gone Away”.

Bobby Williams remained a pseudonym for Bob Everhart as that name appears as the promotional contact on their Marina 45. For the Flairs final 45, they released the folky “Hat On Tie” as by Bobby and Dave on one side, and the killer soul screamer “My Baby Cries” as by Bobby Williams on the other. These were produced by D. Marrone for the Tonorous label.


According to the notes from Back from the Grave, the band broke up after Bob Everhart was shot when he tried to protect a 350 pound go-go dancer named Miss Temptation from a crazed patron. Bob survived the wound but decided to get out of the nightclubs while he was still in one piece!

In the 1980’s an EP Surfin’ with the Royal Flairs featured five unreleased versions of surf songs recorded in 1962. Another LP, The Royal Flairs, Rare Recordings from 1965-66 contains their singles along with a side of unreleased songs that reflect their change to r&b and British Invasion sounds, recorded in Omaha.

*The Routers cut a version of “Let’s Go” in 1962. Bob Everhart filed a complaint with BMI over the copyright of “Let’s Go”, which caused SAM owner Leona Leivas to release the copyright. However, a 1973 European Warner Brothers release of “Let’s Go” shows song writing credits to Lanny Duncan and Robert Duncan.





The Golliwogs - Fight Fire - The Complete Recordings 1964-1967

The Golliwogs - Fight Fire - The Complete Recordings 1964-1967


What's in a name? More than any other band, the Golliwogs suggest a group's handle really can make a difference, since they labored in obscurity for three years before achieving massive success months after the quartet changed its name to Creedence Clearwater Revival. The Golliwogs' story began when singer and guitarist John Fogerty met drummer Doug Clifford while they were attending high school in El Cerrito, California; they discovered they shared a passion for Little Richard and Fats Domino, and decided to form a band to play New Orleans-style rock & roll. After several months, Fogerty and Clifford recruited Stu Cook, another El Cerrito student, to handle piano and bass guitar with their combo. Initially called the Blue Velvets, the group gave star billing to John's older brother when he came aboard as lead vocalist and guitarist. In 1961, Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets released a pair of singles for the Oakland, California-based label Orchestra Records, but neither was a success.

In 1963, Fantasy Records, a jazz label based out of San Francisco, enjoyed a surprise hit single with Vince Guaraldi's piano tune "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," and when a local television station aired a documentary about the record's success, the Blue Velvets approached Fantasy in hopes of landing a new record deal. Fantasy co-owner Max Weiss saw potential in the group and signed them up, but believed they needed a new name, and after toying with the Visions, Weiss and his associates declared the band would now be known as the Golliwogs. The Golliwogs released their first single on Fantasy, "Don't Tell Me No Lies" b/w "Little Girl (Does Your Momma Know)," in November 1964; the disc made no impression on the charts, and while the Golliwogs would cut six other singles for Fantasy and their affiliated Scorpio label (including an early version of CCR's "Walking on the Water"), the only chart success the band saw was with their song "Brown Eyed Girl" (an original, not the venerable Van Morrison number), which rose to number ten on Billboard's "Regional Breakout" chart for Miami, Florida.

Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 While Tommy Fogerty co-wrote and sang many of the Golliwogs' early singles, as time passed his brother John became more of a presence in the group, taking a larger role in the recording process and even producing their final sessions. The final Golliwogs single, "Porterville" b/w "Call It Pretending," appeared in late 1967, and the band was offered a new deal with Fantasy under the condition they once again change their name (no great hardship, as they were never very enthusiastic about being called the Golliwogs anyway). The group came up with Creedence Clearwater Revival, and their debut album (which included new versions of both "Porterville" and "Walking on the Water") appeared in July 1968; CCR's versions of "Suzie Q" and "I Put a Spell on You" were both solid hits, and at long last the quartet was a success. In 1974, after Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up, Fantasy released a collection of Golliwogs material under the name Pre-Creedence, and in 1998 their song "Fight Fire" got some belated respect when it appeared on the celebrated garage rock box set Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968. Golliwogs tracks were also part of the complete Creedence Clearwater Revival box set released in 2001, and Fantasy finally issued a definitive collection of the group's body of work, Fight Fire: The Complete Recordings 1964-1967, in 2017.

The Golliwogs - Fight Fire - The Complete Recordings 1964-1967

Before Creedence Clearwater Revival were the chart-topping, era-defining band they went on to be, John Fogerty, his brother Tom, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford had been struggling to make an impact for almost a decade. After playing in various bands that didn't make much of a splash, their mid-'60s incarnation as the Golliwogs found the group kicking out some seriously good garage rock, snappy Beat group knock-offs, and quite a few songs that pointed towards CCR. The band started off in 1964 with Tom and John sharing lead vocals on songs like "I Only Met You Just an Hour Ago" and "You Got Nothing on Me," amiable Beatles-inspired songs that make up for their lack of originality with a healthy dose of teenage energy and occasionally strike gold, like on the moody "Don't Tell Me No Lies." Once John took over on vocals and asserted his songwriting skills, things started to get more interesting. In 1965/1966 they started working on their own sound and in the process made some great garage rock. "Brown-Eyed Girl" is a dark, rumbling, minor-key rocker that Them would have been glad to have in their set; "Fight Fire" is a monster rocker with some fiery guitar riffing, and the garage ballad/rocker hybrid "Try Try Try" would have been a highlight of a Nuggets comp. By the time late 1966 hit, the band was starting to tap into something unique and that fall's single "Walking on the Water" is a weird, one-chord song where the transition to the dark blues of CCR really begins. It's in the power of John's vocal, the clipped guitar playing, and the brutal drive of the rhythm section. From that point on the band went from a traditional garage band to something a little fuller and more expressive. The songs they recorded in 1967 show a new level of confidence and richness, with John coming into his own as a songwriter and the band starting to capture the tightly wound toughness they became known for. Tracks like the soulful "Tell Me" or the rollicking "Porterville" (which CCR ended up re-doing later) basically sound like Creedence, and good Creedence at that. The Golliwogs work has been compiled before, on LP in the '70s and as part of a CCR box set in 2001, but this is the first time their complete works have been showcased as a whole under their own name. It may have been down to legal issues or perceived lack of interest that it hasn't happened until now, but the important thing is that it has finally happened and fans of CCR, John Fogerty, and good old-fashioned garage rock can be glad of it.

The Hardtimes - Blew Mind (1968)The Countdown 5 – “Complete Recordings 1965-1969”Jan & Dean - Filet Of Soul 1966Sandy Nelson - Golden Hits & The Best Of The BeatsVA - American Heartbeat - The '60sThe Beau Brummels - Magic Hollow (1964-1968)The Royal Teens - Let's Rock (Complete Recording)The Royal Flairs - Rare Recordings From 1965-66The Golliwogs - Fight Fire - The Complete Recordings 1964-1967

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