Blue Snow Night
The Gurus Blue Snow Night b/w Come Girl 45 (United Artist, 1966)
When stumbled on this gem in a stack of killer 60s garage and northern soul 45, I had no idea what it was. However, something told me that this was the first of the find to drop needle on. Man o man, I am glad I did. Not paying attention to A or B side, I hit "Come Girl" and with a yell and a thunderous Bo Diddley style beat, I was in Heaven. The thrill furthered when the guitar started playing what sounded like Middle Eastern runs and then comes a solo that sounded much more like Hendrix than your average garage band. I flipped the record and was treated to another great tune, with shimmering guitar and more Middle Eastern style runs, plus a Byrds-y kinda chorus. And on top of it all a singer that loved to singer, the best 60s yowler I'd heard since feasting my ears on the Blues Men, quite a few years back. So this sent me off searching: Who are these Gurus and why did I not know about them.
The story goes that the Gurus were the creation of two New York City businessmen who thought that pairing rock & roll with Middle Eastern music would be a good idea. After all, the Beatles were getting good play with use of the sitar and belly dance music was all the rage: A Middle East rock fusion might grab ears bent toward the exotic. So the pair scoured Greenwich Village for musicians and came up with five guys and gave them a set of songs to play. They demo'd some tunes and were able to secure a contract with United Artists for the band. They handed the band some fancy togs and an Oud (one of the "guitar" sounds you hear). They also handed them a huge contract which pretty much relegated the band to hired-gun status, with little creative input and even littler money. The Gurus cut a 45 (this one here) and then another. Both got a some spins, enough to warrant recording a LP. Album in the can, it was presented to UA...who shelved it. (Nearly 40 years later the fine folks at Sundazed finally released it on CD...with the story of the band, cribbed here for your education.) Soon after, the guys in the Gurus said "Fuck it" and rambled on to the rest of their lives. A sad story told far too often, but one that makes me wonder how many great records are sitting in the vaults of record companies, never for the public's ear to hear.