NB: (1) thought to also have been licensed to Warner Bros.
A cool garage band from Cleveland. Mod Socks, which was a sizeable radio hit in Cleveland, is a neat garagey update of Short Shorts (by the Royal Teens). It sounds better than you might think. The flip, Twin Beat, is an upbeat instrumental.
You can also find Pink Champaign on Pride Of Cleveland Past (LP).
Benny Orzechowski (AKA Benny Orr), later formed the Cars!
NB: (4) and (6) were also released in the U.K. and in France by Stateside. The following compilations were released: The ABC Collection (ABC AC-30003) 1976, Powers Of The Night (MCA 5331) 1982, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (MCA) 1987, Anthology 1965-1975 (Rhino) 1991 and All-Time Greatest Hits (MCA) 1996. (1) was reissued in 1995 (Varese Vintage) with 6 bonus tracks.
NB: There's also a rare French EP with PS: Where Were You When I Needed You/These Are Bad Times/Ballad Of A Thin Man/You're A Lonely Girl (RCA 8906) 1966.
The Grass Roots was originated by the writer/producer team of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri as a pseudonym under which they would release a body of Byrds/Beau Brummels-style folk-rock. Sloan and Barri were contracted songwriters for Trousdale Music, the publishing arm of Dunhill Records, which wanted to cash in on the folk-rock boom of 1965. Dunhill asked Sloan and Barri to come up with this material, and a group alias under which they would release it. The resulting Grass Roots debut song, Where Were You When I Needed You, sung by Sloan, was sent to a Los Angeles radio station, which began playing it. The problem was, there was no Grass Roots. The next step was to recruit a band that could become The Grass Roots. Sloan found a San Francisco group called The Bedouins that seemed promising on the basis of their lead singer, Bill Fulton. Fulton recorded a new vocal over the backing tracks laid down for the P.F. Sloan version of the song. The Bedouins were, at first, content to put their future in the hands of Sloan and Barri as producers. However, the rest of the group were offended when Fulton was told to record their debut single, a cover of Bob Dylan's The Ballad Of A Thin Man, backed by studio musicians. When that single, released in October of 1965, became only a modest hit, The Bedouins - except for their drummer, Joel Larson - departed for San Francisco, to re-form as The Unquenchable Thirst. Sloan and Barri continued to record and released Where Were You When I Needed You. The album never charted.
Amid the machinations behind Where Were You When I Needed You, no "real" Grass Roots band existed in 1966. A possible solution came along when a Los Angeles band called The 13th Floor submitted a demo tape to Dunhill. This group, consisting of Warren Entner, Creed Bratton, Rob Grill, and Rick Coonce, were recruited and put in the hands of Sloan and Barri. The first track cut by the new Grass Roots in the spring of 1967 was Let's Live For Today, a new version of a song that had been an Italian hit, in a lighter, more up-tempo version, for a U.K. band called The Rokes. Let's Live For Today was an achingly beautiful, dramatic, and serious single and it shot into the Top 10 upon its release in the summer of 1967. An accompanying album, Let's Live For Today, only reached number 75. The group began spreading its wings in the studio with their next album, Feelings, recorded late in 1967, which emphasised the band's material over Sloan and Barri's. This was intended as their own statement of who they were, but it lacked the commercial appeal of anything on Let's Live For Today, sold poorly, and never yielded any hit singles. Eleven months went by before the group had another chart entry, and during that period, Sloan and Barri's partnership broke up, with Sloan departing for New York and an attempt at a performing career of his own. The band even considered splitting up as all of this was happening. The Grass Roots' return to the charts (with Barri producing), however, was a triumphant one - in the late fall of 1968, Midnight Confessions reached number 5 on the charts and earned a gold record. Midnight Confessions showed the strong influence of motown and R&B.
In April 1969, Creed Bratton left the band, to be replaced by Denny Provisor (ex Hook) and Terry Furlong. Now a quintet, they went on cutting records without breaking stride, enjoying a string of Top 40 hits that ran in to the early seventies, peaking with Temptation Eyes at number 15 in the Summer of 1971. Coonce and Provisor left at the end of 1971, to be replaced by Reed Kailing, Virgil Webber, and Joel Larson - of the original Bedouins/Grass Roots outfit. They arrived just in time to take advantage of the number 16 success of Two Divided By Love, which was the last of the Grass Roots' big hits. The Grass Roots soldiered on for a few more years, reaching the Top 40 a couple of times in 1972, but their commercial success slowly slipped away during 1973. They kept working for a few more years, but called it quits in 1975.
Compilation appearances have included: Where Were You When I Needed You on Nuggets Vol. 5 (LP); Only When You're Lonely on Nuggets, Vol. 10 (LP); Let's Live For Today on Nuggets, Vol. 11 (LP); Mr. Jones (Ballad Of A Thin Man) on Nuggets, Vol. 6 (LP); Feelings on Nuggets, Vol. 9 (LP); Let's Live For Today and You're A Lonely Girl on Penny Arcade, Dunhill Folk Rock, Vol. 2 (LP); You're A Lonely Girl on Turds On A Bum Ride Vol. 4 (CD); Get It Together and I'm Living For You Girl on Undersound Uppersoul (LP); Let's Live For Today and Only When You're Lonelyon Even More Nuggets (CD); Is It Any Wonder, Out Of Touch, Things I Should Have Said, Wake Up Wake Up (1967) on Dunhill Folk Rock 1.
The Grass Roots also have a website: http://members.aol.com/Gab1239507/roots.html.
(Max Waller/Stephane Rebeschini)
NB: (1) to (6) also released in France by Vogue/Warner. Recent releases which may interest collectors include Freshly Dead, a limited edition double live LP from 1966 when they were known as The Warlocks; Garcia's Gang, a limited edition 2 LP set from 1971 and Seastones, an ultra rare and weird LP of electronics involving Phil Lesh which has recently had a limited reissue.
NB: (1) counterfeited in the early 1980s. The original pressing has thinner vinyl than the fake, and "commercial recorders, inc" appears mechanically stamped in the trail-off.
Along with Jefferson Airplane, The 'Dead were the other foremost San Francisco underground group.
Jerry Garcia's first guitar was electric and his idol was Chuck Berry. He met Robert Hunter, their non-performing songwriter, at San Mateo Junior College, forming a blue-grass group with him called The Wildwood Boys. Earlier, Garcia had met Bob Weir and Ron McKernan (nicknamed Pigpen) while playing on the coffee house circuit in the Bay Area. Pigpen and Bill Kreutzmann, who Garcia had also met when working in a music shop, were forming a rock group called The Zodiacs. The Wildwood Boys changed their name to The Hart Valley Drifters and starred at the 1963 Monterey folk festival. Garcia's next group, Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions included Pigpen, Dawson and Bob Weir, they later changed their name first to The Asphalt Jungle Boys and then to The Warlocks. Kreutzmann replaced Dawson as the group's drummer and Phil Lesh was invited to play bass. This format played in Bill Graham's benefit concert for the Mime Troupe at the Fillmore.
The Warlocks had thus come from diverse musical backgrounds. Phil Lesh had a classical background, (violin and trumpet), Pigpen's father had been an R & B player and Bill Kreutzmann had been a jazz drummer. Garcia, himself, had played mainly bluegrass. The Warlock's early music was rooted in the blues, but under the influence of acid (legal in California until 1966) their music became less conventional. They became the house band for Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters and the Acid Freaks associated with them. This period is well-documented in Tom Wolfe's book "The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test". A bootleg does exist of The Warlocks' music, which was apparently recorded in Los Angeles in May 1965. The strange times in which The Warlocks operated suggested the need for a 'trippier' name and, after browsing through a dictionary one day, the band came up with The Grateful Dead. Their association with the Merry Pranksters soon diminished following Kesey's drug bust trial, conviction and his flight to Mexico. They soon became an important force in the new exciting San Francisco music scene.
The Grateful Dead played their first gig at Magoo's Pizza Parlour in June 1965. Soon they were playing all over town - the Matrix, the Avalon, the Fillmore - at all the major dance venues. They were, of course, the key attraction at Ken Kesey's Fair Day Trips Festival held at the Longshoreman's Hall in January 1966. Despite the outrageous dress, the drugs and the light shows, the success of this festival was really due to the music. The Dead were now playing the long, trip-orientated instrumental sets for which they became renown. Such events helped their development as a community group, often playing around the city for free. Their first recording Don't Ease Me In was issued in 1966, by a subsidiary label of Fantasy Records. Apparently unexceptional, copies are now rare and change hands for large sums. In the early seventies, two albums - Vintage Dead (Sunflower 5001) 1970 and Historic Dead (Sunflower 5004) 1971, which were issued by Polydor in the U.K. - were released and contained material from this era in the group's history. They contain the band's interpretations of numbers such as Dancing In The Street, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl and In The Midnight Hour.
The publicity that events on the U.S. West Coast were attracting led to a race among the major record companies to sign up all of the major West Coast bands. The Dead signed for Warner Brothers - in many ways an odd choice and, in retrospect, probably the wrong one for the band. Their first album was disappointing, both in comparison with their live shows and with the early offerings of their counterparts like The Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish and The Steve Miller Band. Its strongest track, The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion) was coupled with Cream Puff War on an US-only single (WB 7016) in 1967. This is now rare. The album, which had been recorded in three days, sold badly and to make matters worse LSD was made illegal in California and the group was inevitably busted. The band was getting into debt too but Lenny, father of Mickey Hart, who had recently joined the group as its percussionist, now became its manager. Later in 1970 they would have to file an embezzlement charge against Lenny Hart and replace him with John Maclntyre.
Two more psychedelic albums followed - Anthem Of The Sun and Aoxomoxoa. The first typified the long instrumentally-orientated pieces they had been playing at the Acid Tests. Born Cross Eyed was taken from the album, backed with a non-LP track, Dark Star and issued as a single (WB 7186), which is also very rare. In America it was issued with a picture sleeve, although this was not a feature of U.K. copies. The picture sleeve version is now particularly sought-after by Grateful Dead collectors.
Aoxomoxoa is particularly memorable for its cover. A disjointed album overall, it does contain some interesting experiments in psychedelia, such as Rosemary and a few quite strong tracks such as St. Stephen, Mountains Of The Moon, and Dupree's Diamond Blues. Evidently, The Dead were unhappy with both albums, and Phil Lesh remixed and re-edited both in the early seventies.
Once again, commercially and in comparison with the offerings of their West Coast counterparts, both Anthem Of The Sun and Aoxomoxoa were disappointing.
Almost inevitably recording success eluded them until they issued Live Dead, a double LP, in 1970. This showed them at their best, performing long, predominantly instrumental, improvised songs and included the legendary Dark Star, as well as St. Stephen and Death Don't Have No Mercy.
Eventually in 1970 they came up with two successful studio albums. The first, Workingman's Dead contained a number of short, well-constructed acoustic country rock songs such as Uncle John's Band (also issued as a single), Black Peter and Casey Jones. The latter having a very catchy chorus:-
"Driving that train
The follow-up American Beauty also contained a number of tight songs, including a love song Sugar Magnolia and the autobiographical Truckin, which recounted the events of a year in which they had been busted again (this time in New Orleans) and had sacked their manager. They had also played their first European date at a festival near Newcastle-Under-Lyme in England. These three were the best of their early albums. Prior to American Beauty, Constanten, who was into scientology, left the band to concentrate on his studies. The following year a second 'live' double LP was issued. Warner Brothers vetoed its original name Skullfuck and it became called simply Grateful Dead. This became their first album to go gold.
As a 'live' band they were now at the pinnacle oi their achievement and in May/June of 1972 toured Europe again and issued a triple 'live' LP as a record of its finer moments. They played at the Bickershaw Festival outside a depressing mining town in the North of England. By the end of the first day the audience were wallowing in mud and thoroughly miserable. Yet, gradually The Dead's music won them over and before long the audience was on its feet ecstatic.
The early seventies also saw the departure of Mickey Hart, perhaps embarrassed by his father's misappropriation of their finances. However, Europe 72, which was not one of their stronger live albums, did feature two new members, Keith Godchaux (keyb'ds) and Donna Godchaux (vcls), on record for the first time.
Upon their return to the States, disaster struck. Pigpen, who had been living on a diet of little more than booze and berries had developed a serious liver disease and accompanied them on the '72 tour against doctor's advice. On 8th March 1973 he died of a stomach haemorrhage. Pigpen had been a key band member, but the group survived this blow and went on to record numerous albums throughout the seventies and into the nineties, until sadly, Jerry Garcia died on the 9th August, 1995.
Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Robert Hunter and Mickey Hart all made solo albums during the seventies. Keith and Donna Godchaux also made an unsuccessful album in 1975, whilst, earlier in the same year, Phil Lesh combined with Ned Lagin to make the Seastones album. Keith Godchaux was killed in a car crash in the late seventies.
The Dead have certainly proved a durable outfit. Their 'laid-back' music lacked the urgency of The Airplane, but was sufficiently unique to secure a strong cult following. The secret of their success appears to have been their ability to adapt to the changing times and, in September/October 1981 they were in England playing three nights to packed audiences at London's Rainbow Theatre. Of the numerous compilations of their material, Skeletons From The Closet originally issued by Warner Bros in 1979 and reissued on Thunderbolt (THBL 01 8) in 1987, is a good introduction to their music from the early years.
More difficult to find but also of interest to 'deadheads' will be Califomia Christmas, which features a version of Turn On Your Lovelight with Janis Joplin. California Easter has two tracks with them joining The Beach Boys(!) - Riot In Cell Block Number 9 and Searchin'; two numbers (including Hoochie Koochie Man from 1963) performed by Pigpen and Pete Albin and two numbers by Jerry and Sarah Garcia, also from around 1963. California New Year includes Uncle John's Band.
You can also find a version of Dark Star on the Zabriski Point soundtrack.
This 45 was a minor San Antonio outfit's sole stab at immortality - the 'A' side is an Augie Meyer penned dirge but the flip, Take A Bite Of Life, is good uptempo garage with a Diddleyesque beat.
Originally from Chicago Nick Gravenites moved to San Francisco and became a central figure in the Bay Area scene. Songwriter, singer, guitar player and producer, Gravenites, is sometimes credited as Nick The Greek or Nicky Gravy. He was (and still is) a multi-talented man. Primarily known for penning Born In Chicago and East-West for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on their first two albums (1965/66), he became a close friend of Mike Bloomfield and naturally became the lead singer of the Electric Flag when it was formed.
During the same period, he began working with Quicksilver Messenger Service, providing some of their songs (All Night Worker, on Live In San Jose and Joseph's Coat on Shady Grove) as well as producing their first album. After the demise of the Electric Flag, Gravenites became the lead singer of Big Brother and The Holding Company when Joplin left. He produced their underrated Be A Brother album as well as writing several songs for it. He also made a guest appearance on his own Buried Alive In The Blues on Big Brother and The Holding Company's final album How Hard It Is.
Gravenites first solo album from 1969 My Labors, was partly recorded live. It was a commercial failure, largely due to his horrid cover, but still really deserves to be heard if you like electric west-coast blues. Mike Bloomfield's solos are truly remarkable on the live tracks and John Cipollina is one of the "anonymous friends" playing on the studio cuts. The album was produced by Elliot Mazer.
In 1972, Steelyard Blues was in fact the soundtrack of a Jane Fonda/Donald Sutherland movie and contains only original bluesy tracks which were mostly written by Gravenites and Bloomfield. (Gravenites also produced the album). Two tracks from the album were also released as a 45.
Nick Gravenites production credits also include Brewer and Shipley, Chet McNicholls, Southern Comfort and several blues albums (Sam Lay, Otis Rush).
In the '70s, Gravenites kept on working with Bloomfield until he died. In the '80s, he formed the Gravenites/Cipollina Band (also known as Thunder and Lightning) and still performs, produces and records to this day. His current group features Roy Blumenfeld (ex Blues Project).
This unknown singer is rumoured to sing a kind of bluesy acid folk.
From Kelseyville/Cobb in Northern California. Pebbles, Vol. 16 (LP) features both sides of the first 45, which is ridiculousy rare. The second 45 and its full details remain even more elusive. Marble Orchard begins with a heartbeat, has a mystical quality and good acid guitar - with better production it could have been a real classic. The flip is a fine reverb-fuzz instrumental.
(Vernon Joynson/Max Waller/Alec Palao)
The Grayps started in 1965 out of Whetstone High School in Columbus Ohio, with members of The New Liberty Singers, and The Sceptors. Mike Meyer left in September 1966, with Sterling Smith joining from The Lowbrows.
Strong vocals gave the band a good "folk-rock" quality. The band wrote a number of songs, but only one was released as as a single, The Leader Of The Band / The Librarian on a Buddah Records subsidiary.
The Grayps backed up Sonny and Cher for four grandstand shows at the Ohio State Fair in 1967. They also opened for a number of concerts in central Ohio, including The Beach Boys (twice), The McCoys, The Byrds, Bobby Goldsboro, and Paul Revere and The Raiders.
The band played a number of college dates in the late '60s, and was infused with more ambitious original music with the addition of Jon Townley on guitar, and Bill Grey on vocals in 1969. Dan Lawson also played sax and sang with the band in 1969, and would later surface in the band, Osiris.
The Grayps re-formed in the early '70s and enjoyed some success in the studio, releasing She Said She Gave Me Applause which got some airplay and an appearance on Cleveland television.
The 'A' side of this late sixties release, which seems to have been their sole recording venture for Laurie, can be heard on Mindrocker, Vol. 3 (LP) or Psychedelic Unknowns, Vol. 5 (LP & CD). Seething vocals and tidy harmonies supplant a novel garage styled keyboard backing. Thought to be from New York though Florida has also been suggested.
Not a well known album, but a pleasant collection of psychy rock of which Cinderella is probably the finest moment. Worth checking out. This act should not be confused with the outfit that graces the Strangers In A Strange Land compilation, who in fact hailed from Delhi, India.... The Indian act won a place on one of two Simla Beat compilations, funded by an Indian Tobacco company. The best tracks from these were subsequently recompiled as Strangers From A Strange Land, and mistakenly sold by dealers as a U.S. comp.