Archive for the ‘The Third Rail’ Category

The Forum

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

The River Is Wide / The Forum

Listen: The River Is Wide / The Forum

There was many a single during the year 1967 like this one. Although most acts survived to release three or four, it was usually only one that made a splash, picking up late night pre FM progressive play on the many AM Top 40′s that would go a bit free form in the early hours, especially prevalent during that summer. These singles would many times graduate to daytime play and eventually maintain themselves a several month spread across the US pop stations, and be regarded as signature to the year of flower power, even through to the present.

As with Sagittarius ‘My World Fell Down’, The Avant-Garde ‘Naturally Stoned’, The Third Rail ‘Run Run Run’ or The Strawberry Children ‘Love Years Coming’, The Forum’s ‘The River Is Wide’ has earned this honor. WNDR, the tighter of of the two Syracuse Top 40′s charted it.

Partially MOR, partially Rotary Connection underground soul, a hint of Bill Medley’s Righteous Brothers baritone vocal and some Four Seasons meets Fifth Dimension backgrounds, all produced under the guidance of Les Baxter and Norm Ratner. An unlikely recipe that collided perfectly together and was easily labeled as psychedelic when no other explanation would suffice.

From one of the many stacks WMCR donated my way, it’s fun reading what the label’s promotion guy wrote to the station’s MD on the single’s original company sleeve above.

The Third Rail

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Listen: Run, Run, Run / The Third Rail

Never mind what the label copy indicates. This one’s less than two minutes long. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when converting the vinyl to a file for the post. Memory never recalled ‘Run, Run, Run’ as being that short. Must be the tempo change / middle bridge breakdown, a flower power 101 production trick during ’67. Every respectful, as well, confused producer used that ace card to authenticate their psychedelic masterpieces. The passage certainly gave subliminal symphony dynamics to “Run, Run, Run’, even implying a longer playing time. Plus it comes only :45 in. Nowadays, the first chorus hook sometimes doesn’t even hint at existing before the :60 mark.

As a kid, the lyrical stock exchange mock up went completely over my head, and I bet it was not mine alone. That era required a song’s message be current and political. Not many years later, those of-the-moment lyrics bit everyone on the back, turning their punch lines into quick sell by dates, and now makes for historical place marking.

To be fair, ‘Run, Run, Run’ didn’t need lengthening. It’s the perfect gem exactly as it stands. You can really hear the profound influence guys like Gary Usher and especially Brian Wilson, even more precisely ‘Good Vibrations’, had on west coast bands, songs, arrangements and productions. The clean and colorful clarity of lysergic acid was ever present.

‘Run, Run, Run’ was yet another audio sugar lump journeying confidently down the summer of love conveyor belt. As mentioned in other posts, these records were everywhere that year. And every single one a keeper.

The Merry-Go-Round

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Listen: Live / The Merry-Go-Round

I think summer ’67 was the sunniest ever. I remember it like yesterday, and can still feel the angst of wanting every last record that was being released. I was insatiable, riding my bike daily, many times twenty miles each way on the back country roads either between Canastota and Oneida, or into Syracuse. Every night as I lay in bed with the transistor under my pillow, listening to AM broadcasts from far away places in the Midwest or way up into the Northeast via Boston or Maine, I’d be scheming out tomorrow’s plan of where to go, looking for, asking for records.

Back then, at dusk, AM stations were required to switch from broad, local signals, to limited radius and directional. This meant those directional beams would make local broadcasts from hundreds and hundreds of miles away sound down the street. And with many of the looser US Top 40′s playing the latest underground and psychedelic releases overnight, new discoveries became a daily occurrence. Whether it be Country Joe & The Fish, The Pink Floyd, Moby Grape, The Move, The Magic Mushrooms, Tim Hardin, The Lewis & Clark Expedition, The Flowerpot Men or The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, I was hearing it all and my want list was endless.

So off I’d go, to the various shops, blagging promo records, last week’s copies of BILLBOARD, CASHBOX and RECORD WORLD, music surveys from the local Top 40′s, inventory check lists the distributors would leave with the store buyers, I hoarded them all.

Wednesdays were when the national record label reps would hit the Syracuse stations promoting their wares. None of my friends dared join me, so I’d wait alone on my bike in the parking lots for them to pull up, and got good at talking singles out of these guys, handing my high school newspaper record reviews to them in exchange for a dig through their latest releases. I’ll tell you truthfully, I’ve tried just about every drug out there, but never have I found a high near the one a free for all through a promotion man’s trunk full of 1967 promo 45′s could provide.

What became known as sunshine pop surfaced amongst the sub genres and regional music scenes during that summer. God, I hated the term and generally cringe when having to admit liking music tagged as such. Along with The Third Rail, Sagittarius, Eternity’s Children, Colours and The Sunshine Company, I guess The Merry-Go-Round’s ‘Live’ inhabited a slot. Their obvious British looking haircuts caught my eye, and when ‘Live’ started to pick up a lot of daytime play quickly, I was hooked. Critics claim a similarity to The Beatles, I don’t hear it. I preferred to associate them closer to The Hollies or The Tremeloes, they certainly looked the part.

‘Live’ almost made it nationally, but stalled just short of Top 50, which was ultimately a real shame.

You know those songs that take you right back? This is one for me.


Thursday, July 16th, 2009

coloursloveheals, Colours, Sunshine Pop, Dot

Listen: Love Heals / Colours ColoursLoveHeals.mp3

A lot of great records were released in ’67, especially during that year’s summer. Decades later, and yet another genre from the day has found it’s own identity: Sunshine Pop. Not someone who happily admits to being a fan, without question there were some fine, no denying it singles to transport you right back to the moment if in fact you lived it. You couldn’t turn on the radio for more than half an hour and avoid a classic waiting to be. The Forum, Sagittarius, The Avant-Garde, The Cyrkle and The Third Rail all had their airplay moments with mid chart, near hits. Seldom lamented, Colours’ ‘Love Heals’ sits perfectly amongst the crop. Undeniably tinged with British influence, very Beatles to be specific, these one (near) hit wonders even spelled their name the UK way. Not sure about the album, but definitely find the 7″.

The Strawberry Children

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Strawberry Children Picture Sleeve

Listen: Love Years Coming / The Strawberry Children

Turns out Johnny Rivers was a pretty hip cat, as I believe he’d be referred to at the time. Like his career, Johnny Rivers’ record label Soul City, was very Los Angeles centric. Having earned parent company Liberty a ton of cash, he was afforded an imprint and indeed quite the businessman, which occasionally populated the landscape during the 60′s. In short, he licensed his masters instead of allowing the label to own them. Not only as performer, but as producer and A&R alike, Johnny Rivers had talent, signing The Fifth Dimension to Soul City as well producing many of their hits. Reputedly giving Jimmy Webb his initial songwriting placements, Rivers teamed he and The Strawberry Children together. Never shy on picture sleeves, Soul City issued ‘Love Years Coming’ during the summer of ’67. It was almost a hit.

Looking back on one of my local radio station’s chart below, ‘Love Years Coming’ was that week’s pick hit. Look further though. Usually a very tight follower of the national Top 40, seems WNDR was burning it’s bra that summer as well. The sunshine was clearly powerful as acid pop singles aplenty were being played: Sagittarius at #15 (which they misspelled), The Third Rail, The Forum, The Merry-Go-Round, The Will-O-Bees, The Cyrkle, The Left Banke and pyschedelic folk hippie Marcia Strassman. Not to mention some decent soul/Northern soul: Linda Jones, The Sweet Inspirations, Betty Swanne and a portion, though not big enough, of UK stuff: The Kinks, The Spencer Davis Group

It was a great summer.