The Racket Squad The Loser 45 (Jubilee, 1968)
One of Pittsburgh's finest band of the Sixties, The Racket Squad started out as The Fenways. They did a couple albums for Jubilee and a handful of singles. But what they are most known for is being the backing band for a few hits by the Vogues. The music of The Vogues and the Racket Squad is standard 60s garage pop, for the most part. The Vogues tunes are more pop than garage, the Racket Squad more garage than pop. However, the Squad also did some slower, moodier, more produced music, stuff that would be labeled Sunshine Pop today. The heaviest of their Sunshine Pop songs (and one of the heaviest of the genre) is this classic bit of self-loathing, "The Loser". To me, the magic in this song is that it never breaks from the orchestrated pop mode, even while it lumbers on and despite the faux-psych moves. Pretty damn cool stuff.
Detroit City Cats
Costa & Chyps Detroit City Cats 45 (Stature, 1982)
Ummm...Can some Michiganer fill me in on what a "Detroit City Cat" is? I mean, other than a song based on what seems to be an odd phrase turned into a vocal hook, backed by some faux funk. I kind of doubt that Detroit City Cat is the name of a street gang and that they commissioned this song for themselves. However this could be the theme song for an indie movie of the same name, though I find no mention of such a creation on IMDB or through searches. Was there a minor league baseball or hockey team by that name? Was the WFL in existance then and the City Cats was the Detroit franchise name. Or are Costa & Chyps simply referring to the nastier characters on the streets as "city cats"? Please, someone from Detroit fill me in! This is keeping me up at nights. I really don't need to know anything else about this single. I have a good enough picture of the band, the producer, and the label head in my mind thanks to the music. The image is gold plated and hairy and I'd like to keep it that way.
You Haven't Seen My Love
The Ones You Haven't Seen My Love b/w Happy Day 45 (Spirit, 1967)
Oh oh oh here is a fucking great soul single. From the brooding organ and plaintive vocals on the A-side to the elastic vocal inflections and spazzed out lead guitar on the flip, wow! The Ones were four Chicano/Euro-American Detroit teens, who played high school dances, doing mostly Motown, R&B and garage covers, as well as a few originals. Two of the originals they put to tape and then pressed as a single on their own label, Spirit. The song immediately got airplay on Detroit radio and became a local hit. Wanting to cash in on a bit of The Ones' good fortune, Motown picked up the single, making band the first non-Black R&B group on the Motown roster. Despite touring with the Miracles and other Motown acts, The Ones' single didn't hit nationally and the label lost interest in the band. Perhaps the band was just a bit to quirky to fit into the rigid Motown mold or maybe they put everything they had into this single. Whatever the case, this is a great one.
The Dorsals with the Gatormen Namu b/w Killer Whale 45 (Camelot, 1966)
Listen, I don't care how trashed this record is nothing, I mean nothing, is gonna stop me from posting songs about Namu the Killer Whale, especially if one of them has whale sound effects dropped into the song! And not only are these ultra cool garage tunes but the band features one Rayner Rey, a name associated with the Seattle garage scene and responsible for a couple killer pop singles on Jerden (which I've mentioned but haven't posted on here yet - someday). Because I have no great record hunting story associated with this single, nor can think of a tale regarding whales, killer or otherwise, I will just leave you these sounds.
Music is Love
Alright Family Band Music is Love LP (AFB, 1980)
Tracking the career of psych legend Sky Saxon is too mammoth of a task for this modest man. Luckily others have done it for me. And from the folks at Lysergia I know that the Saxon nugget I'm laying on you tonight was recorded no less than four times. I'd heard one version of "Starry Ride" prior to this one. It was the first version of it, recorded by the Stars New Seeds. That one is a terrific psych punker, but I don't have it here on vinyl otherwise I'd post it, too. The version by the Alright Family Band has a cool laid back + new wave feel to it. Given the time and place it was made and that Sky was involved, it is easy to imagine why.
The Alright Family Band were from Maui, a Maui that was just becoming a tourist mecca and still had a stoney vibe (which is still there, though muted by the commercialism and development). One source says that the band was made up of ex-culties, former members of the Source Family, the cult that formed around Father Yod and made some astounding records til their leader took a the long walk (actually the long glide. He was killed in a handgliding accident. So much for the god-like power of flight). The Alright Family Band made one album and it is pretty much hippie rock, so-so at best. Sky is listed as a band member but his contribution is limited to "Starry Ride", the one good song on the record. Warning: It isn't the Seeds. Though you can certainly hear the Sky Saxon in it and that hypnotic repetition of a basic riff that marks classic Seeds songs, this years and brain cells removed from "Pushin Too Hard". To me, this version of "Starry Ride" is to the Seeds, what "Wild Honey" is to "classic" Beach Boys. So here ya go, the Alright Family Band version of "Starry Ride". Enjoy.
Zaccarias e sua Orquestra Frevos 10" (RCA, 195?)
Frevos mean fever and it's been the street music of Brazil's Carnival since 1907. I am not going to bullshit my way into you thinking all I learned about frevo came in searching info about this record with a very very very cool cover. The music is great. Sounds to me like a combo of Perez Prado and Raymond Scott, but the style preceeded them. Zaccarias is considered one of the masters and this is one of his records, one which seems to be pretty damn scarce. No need to ramble on. If you want to read a history of frevo, check this out. More sounds of Zaccarias, go here.