The Arbours and other Obscurities

The Arbours and other Obscurities

On the anniversary box set of the film Valley Of The Dolls is a bonus documentary about Jacqueline Suzanne & her personal promotion for the book & film. One of things she did was commission a title song for the film, which never got used, much to her disappointment. It was performed by The Arbors. I tracked it down on The Very Best of The Arbors. Think The Association lite. Easy listening harmonies is their sound. Pleasant & not as melodic as the Previn song used for the film – which to me also missed the mark for such a soapy, seedy, druggy movie. Valley wasn’t safe but the music was.

Often when I check YouTube for a video to post of a piece of music I have, I’ll come across groups I have never heard of before. One of these was After All (1969) The album is organ-dominated progressive rock with a psychedelic taint and a clear classical influence. Think Procol Harum. Enjoyable. 

This is also how I found The Bards (1967) – Beatles/ Byrds folk rock fun. Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers (1968) A Canadian soul band on Motown! solid r’n’b out of Vancouver.  Captain Marryat (1974) a Scottish bar band who recorded a studio set of songs to sell at their gigs. Solid fun. Praying Mantis: Time Tells No Lies (1981) Deep Purple/Uriah Heap-ish heavy metal with progrock overtones.

Julian’s Treatment: A Time Before This short-lived progressive rock band was fronted by sci-fi author & keyboards player Julian Jay Savarin. A strange concept album about astral visitors. A dense progrock sound with operatic influences. One needs the liner notes to virtually figure out the story line but it fits in well wth countless other concept albums of the time. Give a listen on YouTube. Sam Samudio is Sam the Sham. Hard & Heavy (1971) is a solo lps he released after the Pharos rode off on their camels. This is solid bluesy rock, the voice is unmistakable but he never really developed a major career.

Procol Harum may not be obscure but Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra! (1971) Let’s face it Edmonton itself is obscure lol. I remember I bought this when it was first released & I found the sound quality crappy. I hoped the cd reissue would be better but it isn’t. This lp probably started the whole Symphonic Rock trend though. The symphony merely adds strings to their songs rather than elevates them. 

Finally, also not totally obscure, is ABC: Lexicon of Love Live at Hammersmith Odeon, November 1982. The studio album is one of my all time favourites – stunning use of strings & amazing production. This live concert is excellent. By 1982 remote recording techniques had advanced considerably from 1971. The strings are integral to the sound not a novelty add on. Well worth having. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to find new obscurities & defray blog fees. Thanks 

Aladdin Sane

I have a relatively extensive collection of David Bowie -stand alone’s & some on mp3 compilations. Like a many I didn’t become a fan until Ziggy. His androgyny & vague bisexuality caught by attention – but I realized it was more a pose than a reality. Jobriath was the real deal – too real for the glam market at the time.


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I didn’t know Bowie was much of pop star before Ziggy so I have added a few earlier recording the came before Ziggy broke him into the US market. ‘David’ is full off pleasant, unremarkable material. The Man Who Sold The World steps up his game to a more rock persona. Ziggy Stardust blazed a new path. It is a solid piece of work – Suffragette City rouses, Lady Stardust teases. At first I was disappointed – I had expected the music to more scifi space electronica as opposed to guitar riff rock. It grew on me. I have the 30th anniversary edition.



Ziggy shares a cd with ABC: Remix collection – a group clearly influenced by later period Bowie; The Charlatans: an excellent UK group that never broke into the US market. Fine Young Cannibals: a group that made such a big splash it fell apart quickly.

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I also have the stand alone Aladdin Sane – which might be my favourite Bowie – looser, less commercial than Ziggy & with richer song writing & wilder musicality too. Time – ‘he flexes like a whore.’ More Bowie next week.


‘Louie Louie!’

‘Play ‘Louie Louie!’ the drunk roared at the stage for the fifth time since they started their set.

‘Shut the fuck up!’ Carl shouted back over his drums. He couldn’t take much more this wedding crap. Bride and groom, bride and groom, was becoming a total drag.

‘I said, Louie Louie. Please, kind sir.’ The drunk had reeled across the floor and was inches from Carl’s face. His breath stank.

‘Not in this life life time, buddy.’ Carl clipped him with one of his drum sticks. The drunk’s head gave that ting sound one expects from a full forty ouncer. Carl hit him again and again, tapping all along the drunk’s forehead.

His arms were getting tried and the drumming was making him sweat. He hated that even more than playing Louie Louie all night for some asshole. God, the sweat. It was so hot in this hall. Couldn’t someone turn down the heat or at least turn up the air conditioning.

All sound stopped.

The hall went black. Oh shit the dream. It’s just the same damn dream. How do I get out of it this time? Carl sensed the bed underneath him but the mattress was on the stage in the hall.

He could see him drum kit and once he’d had a little rest he’d be ready to play the rest of the set. Understanding faces looked down at him.

‘Hey that’s okay,’ one of them said.

The bride was lifting her veil but her face wasn’t clear. There was bright light reflecting form one if his cymbals. It shone in his eyes, it reflected off her eyes and blinded him.

‘Don’t go yet. I don’t want to go now. I don’t. I want to finish this set. I’m sorry I hit that guy. Really even if he was a jerk.’

The mattress was moving through the hall. Carl could see figures wheel him along. The reception hall had narrowed very narrow like a tube, a dusty dark tube with glowing sides. The drunk’s bad breath was suffocating him. He could hardly breath but when he raised his hands to push the drunk away his arms wouldn’t move.

‘How can I play this set if I can’t move my arms. What the fuck is going on?’ He was shouting again.

The lights flickered on and off and on again only not a bright. The bride stood by him.

‘Haven’t met you before, have I?’

‘Janet Green. No you haven’t I just got back from leave of absence. But I have heard all about you.’

‘I’m sure you have.’ Carl laughed. ‘Gotta keep you guys on your toes.’ Gotta play to keep you happy till you find your wedding bed.

Janet tucked him in. She was laughing with him about something. He couldn’t quite make it out. The light from the mirror ball was scintillating little sparks around the room. He was dizzy but the lights kept tugging at him, tugging at him till he was back behind his drum kit ready to play one more set.

He counted down 1 and 2 and 3 and 4

‘Louie, lou-eye, baby

We gotta go now.’

As he sang Carl didn’t notice he was no longer breathing.


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


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