Archive for the ‘The Seeds’ Category

The Grass Roots

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Listen: Where Were You When I Needed You / The Grass Roots
Where Were You When I Needed You / The Grass Roots

These guys had a string of sizable and worthy successes through the late 60′s and into the 70′s. Pretty poppy but very musical stuff, including a few covers of should-have-been hits, like The Marmalade’s English smash ‘Lovin’ Things’ and The Forum’s ‘The River Is Wide’. All their records past the first few incorporated soul, brass or percussion heavy songwriting in an English sounding setting.

The early stuff seems most non-existant, even though their second single, ‘Where Were You When I Needed You’, became a hit, perfectly marrying a British Invasion image with west coast folk rock jangle, and peaked at #28.

Listen: Only When You’re Lonely / The Grass Roots
Only When You're Lonely / The Grass Roots

It’s followup, ‘Only When You’re Lonely’, in a very similar style, had a brief moment at #96, and is largely forgotten. Too bad, it’s a good one.

The whole Grass Roots story is a bit manufactured. The act was basically an outlet for writers and Dunhill Records owners PF Sloan and Steve Barri to latch onto LA’s folk rock movement, which had an undeniable UK slant, much like The Sir Douglas Quintet purposely went British Beat to gain success. In actuality, The Grass Roots’ first three singles were by an entirely different band from the one that followed and proceeded to have hits.

Their original sound, of which ‘Only When You’re Lonely’ basically concluded, rivaled The Byrds, who clearly ran with both it and the image in their teeth, thereby claiming the prize of massive success.

I have a nagging instinct The ‘Only When You’re Lonely’ Grass Roots easily had the initial footings of a great band to be. Early clips, there are very few, show them possessing a natural body language, much closer to say, The Seeds, than the later successful lineup, more easily compared to clumsy high school football team players, true visual eye sores indeed, like The Turtles or The American Breed.

Were the original Grass Roots destined to be the real deal, we will never know.

The Mothers Of Invention / The GTO’s / Wild Man Fischer

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

WPLJ / The Mothers Of Invention

Listen: WPLJ / The Mothers Of Invention

In the late 60′s and early 70′s, it wasn’t only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones who started their own labels, Frank Zappa did as well. In fact when he left Verve and joined Warner/Reprise, they gave him two imprints: Straight and Bizarre.

I think The Mothers were one of the few west coast, Los Angeles to San Francisco, groups that interested me at the time. I was admittedly loyal to the British bands back then. They looked better. It may have been the beards that put me off the US acts. Admittedly, Blue Cheer and Big Brother & The Holding Company always looked great, and so too did Love and especially The Seeds, all coincidentally beard free. But despite the beards and various repulsive elements, I loved The Mothers Of Invention. They looked menacing, and dirty and just plain seedy. The cover of MOTHERMANIA is a particularly fantastic shot. Musically, give me WE’RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY, and many of the early singles and songs as well like ‘Wowie Zowie’, only being a let down in that it never got issued as a 7″.

Frank Zappa always applauded his self love of doo wop, as is exampled on this track from BURNT WEENY SANDWICH, ‘WPLJ’. The style, dreadfully out of step at the time, made for a terrific single. There must have been a radio station with those call letters somewhere….if only they’d played it, which I’d bet they didn’t.

Frank Zappa was obviously an insomniac. I mean who has more double albums? And then to constantly tour and put together two labels. Amazing. Alice Cooper debuted on Straight, Tim Buckley moved there from Elektra. Even Keith joined the roster post ’98.6′.

Circular Circulation / G.T.O.S

Listen: Circular Circulation / G.T.O.’s

Two of his earliest signings are on singles featured here: The GTO’s and Wild Man Fischer. I always got a kick out of both these tracks, hearing them initially on one of the many $2.00 Warner/Reprise samplers that were everywhere in those days. Both acts had great album sleeves too.

We may want to blame The GTO’s for giving license to a whole slew of twee female singers hiding behind indie rock as an excuse for minimal vocal ability, but ‘Circular Circulation’ is an absolute out of jail free card.

Merry Go Round / Wild Man Fischer

Listen: Merry Go Round / Wild Man Fischer

Wild Man Fischer has a story and a half going on. Google him – I don’t have enough time to write it all…….but ‘Merry Go Round’ is tops. Sounds like David Byrne picked up some vocal tricks from him.

The Seeds

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Can’t Seem To Make You Mine / The Seeds

Listen: Can’t Seem To Make You Mine / The Seeds
11 Can't Seem To Make You Mine.mp3

GNP Crescendo not only possessed a great label name, turns out they were one of the small indies with enough taste to issue several of their singles in quality color picture sleeves. Biggest sellers, The Seeds, certainly benefitted most.

Not unlike London’s maraca drenched blues knockoffs epitomized the English sound, The Seeds ruled roost as to what life sounded like in L.A., at least to a little kid growing up in small town New York State.

Never did I hear The Seeds on daytime radio when current, but certainly heard them at night. Whether by choice or reality, my recollection associates the band with summertime ’67, when The Seeds original debut single, ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ got re-released. Yes, late night, warm weather airplay, when the AM Top 40′s went all underground rock in the evenings. Those non hits by Lothar & The Hand People, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Leaves and Country Joe & The Fish rubbed shoulders with The Seeds on every nighttime playlist that summer, both locally and as far off as WBZ from Boston and WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The band’s interest was peaking, certainly in the world of radio. Depending on the market, each were playing The Seeds, whether it being ‘Mr. Farmer’, ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’, their latest, most psychedelic record yet, ‘A Thousand Shadows’ or ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’.

Just imagine this intro beaming through my transistor for the first time. I tell you in all honesty, the memory is as plain as day. It, and the song, were one listens. I desperately needed the record on the spot.

Praise be, the thrill of finding it in my weekly pile of airplay rejects from WMCR that very Friday. Yet another single which didn’t fit into their adult, easy listening format, much to my miraculous luck.

Pianist Daryl Hooper, already carving the initial model of playing bass on a separate keyboard, not only dominated the overall sound of The Seeds, he also wrote some of their most powerful hooks, all based on simplicity. In my fantasy world, that break in ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ soundtracked driving through the desert by night, heading into the creepy unknown, speeding west on Route 66, just like The Doors long keyboard middle in ‘Light My Fire’. Hearing both for the first time, late on hot summer nights, clearly left deep impressions.

Jefferson Airplane

Friday, January 21st, 2011

My Best Friend / Jefferson Airplane

Listen: My Best Friend / Jefferson Airplane
My Best Friend / Jefferson Airplane

Wintertime record. I recall it being played, late at night, on those AM stations that would switch transmission direction around 9 pm (it was some FCC rule back then), and we’d all get to hear distant programming from cities far away. I’d pick up Boston (WBZ) and Fort Wayne, Indiana (WOWO). Boston radio, in particular, was playing some adventurous west coast stuff back then like Love, The Seeds and The Leaves.

But yeah, definitely hardcore winter, which in upstate New York was most unpleasant. The freezing wind howling outside, me needing to be up for school but nonetheless listening to the transistor radio under the pillow deep into the night. (The Ramones ‘Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio’ captures it perfectly). ‘My Best Friend’ was part of that soundtrack.

I was so excited about seeing Jefferson Airplane not long after SURREALISTIC PILLOW got released. Besides ‘My Best Friend’, ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody To Love’ were sure to be show stoppers. But oh dear, their live performance was terrible. Grace Slick could not pull off these songs whatsoever. None of them could. I still wonder if they even played on this record.

Given the turnout was very small, the band seemed arrogantly comfortable with being mad at those of us who did show up.

“Where are all your friends tonight”, Grace Slick dismissively spat as she glared at a guy quite close to the stage. I would think she should have been pissed at the ones who didn’t bother to buy a ticket, instead of that poor chap.

Yes, a most disrespectful bunch. I was miserably deflated and never returned to see them again.

Still, Jefferson Airplane had a few great singles through the years, yet never quite topped this one in my book.

Tim Hardin

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Listen: You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie / Tim Hardin TimHardinGrace.mp3

There was once a great revolution in US radio programming, when all the underground music in the 60′s – like album tracks and singles by album type artists – started getting aired on FM stations.

Top 40 back then was a life saver compared to now, but was pretty quick to avoid anything considered too colorful or probably drug related. So off the Top 40 airwaves stayed Traffic, The Move, The Nice, early Jimi Hendrix Experience, early Cream, definitely early Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother & The Holding Company, etc. Still many of the major market Top 40s (I got WBZ/Boston clear as a bell) would open up in the evening and definitely after midnight. And to be fair, some acts got converted to regular play.

But it’s those late night listening memories I’m touching on here. Like Joey sang in ‘Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio’: “Do you remember lying in bed / With the covers pulled up over your head / Radio playing so no one can see”. All of us that were addicted did this nightly – especially in the summer when you could sleep in the next day. This is how I discovered The Seeds (‘Mr Farmer’ and ‘Pushin Too Hard’ are still night time records for me), Jefferson Airplane (‘My Best Friend’ is a big favorite), Blue Cheer, Tim Rose (his version of ‘Hey Joe’ was the first I heard and clearly the template for the Jimi Hendrix version) and especially Tim Hardin. Yeah, I was bitten by this haunting single ‘You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie’. I even liked that the title was too long and the untimely fade out.

Folk was hip, I always wanted a smattering beyond Bob Dylan and I guess others did too. Did anyone really dislike Joan Baez, Richie Havens or Buffy St. Marie like they pretended? Probably not. But Tim Hardin hasn’t gotten his deserved props either. Listening with one ear attached to my transitor and the other hearing the ambience of late night, small town, upstate NY: crickets, the New York Central freight trains way off in the distance, the occasional drifting of the cars on Thruway also out there. The whole thing still comes right back to me every time, and I mean every time, I play this.

Horst Jankowski

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

HorstWalkRed, Horst Jankowski, Mercury

Listen: A Walk In The Black Forest / Horst Jankowski HorstForest.mp3

A good dose of instrumental muzak never hurt anyone. Having been occasionally amazed in a supermarket or drug store by a version of some really un-obvious choice is the best part. I wish I could remember a few, but other than The Seeds ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’, I can not. Even hearing that took a good minute to identify, they can really trip you up.

Somehow, Horst Jankowski managed a US #12 Billboard single, and a UK #3 with ‘A Walk In The Black Forest’ in ’65. Great song title as well. The album from which it came reached #18 here in the States. His easy listening, and presumably inexpensive to make LP’s were released, minimum of three per year through 1970, with four in ’67 alone. It made for a nice break in a landscape of Motown and British Invasion pop radio I will admit. Today, it’s more than happening when it gets the unexpected spin my the jukebox.

HorstZabadak, Horst Jankowski, Mercury, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich

Listen: Zabadak / Horst Jankowski HorstZabadak.mp3

I’ve not seen that many other singles by the fellow, given the number of albums issued, but they may have simply evaded me. One big surprise was stumbling on his extremely easy listening version of ‘Zabadak’. I knew of several others, easily a dozen from obscure places around Europe and Japan. The most famous being those by Boney M, Dana Valery and The Sorrows. The wildest one comes as part of the German Decca LP release by The Charing Cross Boys: DANCE TO THE SONGS OF DAVE DEE, DOZY, BEAKY, MICK & TICH, which by the way I’m jonsing for.

Found this one at a record fair – you guessed it, in a 10 for $1 box. That’s 10¢ each for those of you without a calculator or a knack for math.

Freddy Cannon / Where The Action Is

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

freddycannonaction, Freddy Cannon, Where The Action Is, Dick Clark, American Bandstand

Listen: Where The Action Is / Freddy Cannon FreddyCannonAction.mp3

Let’s face it. The theme song to ABC’s syndicated daily pop show, WHERE THE ACTION IS, titled ‘Action’ by Freddy Cannon, was so good, even The Ramones could have covered it.

I lived for WHERE THE ACTION IS and saw many a great act each day after school. Our local Syracuse affiliate, WSYR-TV, was wishy-washy, and many times pre-empted it with other things. Looking over the complete, chronological list of episodes and guests, I’ve only just discovered missing Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, The Action and Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich for just that reason. Indeed, I’m a bit crushed having now discovered these atrocities. Scumbags.

But seeing an LA centric act almost daily, given they were basically down the street from the studios, must have been daily bliss. To name a few: The Guillteens, The Ikettes with and without Ike & Tina Turner, The Vejtables, The Leaves, The Seeds, Gary & The Hornets, Love, Dino Desi & Billy, The Buffalo Springfield, Jan & Dean.

Not to mention the RnB stuff: Martha & The Vandellas, Doris Troy, The Royalettes, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, The Toys, Maxine Brown, Kim Weston, Carla Thomas, Billy Stewart, Bobby Hebb, Alvin Cash & The Crawlers or Felice Taylor. I still replay The Vibrations doing ‘My Girl Sloopy’ vividly in my memory.

Then there were the black and white segments from England, a real high for we Anglophiles: The Small Faces, Gary Farr & The T-Bones, Them, The Mindbenders, The Zombies, The Moody Blues, The Kinks, Unit 4 + 2, The Who, Wayne Fontana, Marianne Faithfull, The Yardbirds and The Cryin’ Shames.

Inez & Charlie Foxx

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Listen: Come By Here / Inez & Charlie Foxx InezComeByHere.mp3

Starting the New Year off with a classic has to be good luck. There are about six desert island essentials by Inez & Charlie Foxx on my list – and ‘Come By Here’ is one. Now live, they were hard to beat. Crawling the sweaty chitlin circuit, crowds would urge Inez to even greater vocal heights while Charlie and the band drove a relentless groove. Their well oiled touring machine made for consistent studio performances. With it’s rich blend of blues and gospel, ‘Come By Here’ is one of the two songs they performed on Cleveland’s UPBEAT show in May ’67 (the other was ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’ – see my post from 6/6/08 to listen). UPBEAT is a TV cult classic, and it would be huge if someone could free up all those episodes. Word is they still exist. There was a pretty weak website for the program at one time, but it focused on the bigger names (like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones) when in fact, many obscure acts were on as well (Love / The Seeds / The Hullaballoos / Terry Knight & The Pack / The Velvet Underground). A weekly hour long show, syndicated in many markets, it predated Shindig but then survived concurrently – and in short, any act passing through the Cleveland area got herded in to mime a couple of numbers. On this particular episode, Charlie, wearing a black shirt with matching carnation pink chino suit and tie, sang and danced on a small circular podium behind Inez. In her pink dress and heels, she sang a live vocal over the prerecorded bed, picking on a pink stratocaster and strutting not unlike The Duchess. Have mercy indeed.

Please God let this footage resurface.

The Seeds

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

A Thousand Shadows / The Seeds

Listen: A Thousand Shadows/ The Seeds

I often find myself referring to records as night time or winter. Chris Blackwell once said of Marianne Faithfull, “She’s very much a wintertime artist”, making me quite happy to hear I wasn’t the only one who thought that way. Probably stems from, particularly in the case of night time, when I’d hear the actual music the most, or at least initially.

With The Seeds, I have confidence I never heard them during the day, not once, when they were current. In the northeast, they only were played at night, when the playlists loosened up a bit. Funny, given that on the west coast, like Love and X, they were pretty much mainstream which came with being local. Those singles by The Seeds are just imprinted as night time records for me, and I like that. They have a darkness and mystery to them, every last one. All a bit menacing, due to the eerie keyboards mostly. Sky Saxon is one of a kind too, you just never mistake his voice. When ‘A Thousand Shadows’ was released in summer ’67, it coincided with my first ever radio show, Friday nights from 6 – 8 pm on the very small, very local AM station WMCR. I had successfully been blagging records off them for about two years at that point.

I lied. Told them I was from the local Children’s Hospital and seeking donations of their unplayed teen records, as their format was adult contemporary at the time. And I mean very adult, your parent’s music if you will: Mel Torme, Steve Lawrence, Eddie Fisher. We turned our nose at this stuff, but would go home and freak out to Scott Walker. In hindsight, it was pretty much the same sound but with a much better haircut admittedly. Mark Warner, then evening DJ while home from college for the summer, got me the job, I think, once he went back to school in the fall. His parents owned the station. They knew all along the donation drill was a scam, but figured they weren’t using the records anyways, and Mark’s Mom coined me that clever little boy that loves his music. That was the last time I ever heard that one, but bless her. I got a radio show out of it instead of being ratted on. Mind you, it only lasted a few weeks into the school year.

About seven years ago, December ’01 to be exact, when I went home to visit my Mom and Dad, I just drove by for the heck of it and decided to ring the bell. It was Christmas Eve, lo and behold, Mrs. Warner was there and still in charge! She was so sweet, welcomed me right inside. The place was pretty much the same, still had the two Gates turntables in the control room. She even took me downstairs to see what was left of the record library. “If you see something you really want now, I’m sure it won’t be missed”. All these years later, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

The Seeds were the first band I played, ever, on the radio. The theme of the show was to pretty much stick with the latest sounds from England, so how The Seeds got the first spin…but they did.