Rhinoceros Knickerbockers

I remember the hype for Rhinoceros (1967). Full page ads in Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy by their second label Elektra. Elektra was a major player in the west coast scene with  bands like Paul Butterfield, The Doors, The Stooges – so expectations were high. Turns out the band created through auditions – just the Monkees. when their first self-named was released1968 it sold like hotcakes & then – well, the band sort of fizzled. The music was solid enough but didn’t live up to the hype.

I did buy the lp & was unimpressed & didn’t bother with the others until I decided some 40 years later to see whatever became of them. They did realize a couple of more Satin Chickens 1969; Better Times 1970 – which are solid but uninspired & not that focused. Footnotes not chapters to the west coast music scene.

The Castaways had one big hit in 1965 Liar Liar – which I loved. Garage rock built on driving Farfisa & guitar riffs. I have a ‘hits’ compilation that repeats that formula on standards like Hit The Road Jack & originals like Bad Hair Day. Disposable groovy unpretentious radio fodder that I dig. 

Another of those mid-60’s disposable groovy unpretentious radio fodder that I dug was The Knickerbockers whose one big hit was Lies. Garage rock built on driving guitar riffs. I have a ‘hits’ compilation that repeats that formula on a fun set of mostly original work. 

Speaking of garage rock built on driving guitar riffs. I have on this compilation The Kingsmen In Person (1963) that features the gold-standard of garage Louie, Louie. Some sources say this is actually a studio recording with the crowd dubbed onto it; others claim it is a live show. Who cares, it’s great fun.

Next is some great r’n’b soul by James and Bobby Purify (1966) who are cousins, not brothers. Their one major hit was I’m You Puppet. I have a hits compilation Shake a Tail Feather! which is bouncy, danceable fun. A bit more soulful is Britain’s Soul Sisters: I Can’t Stand It (1964). Not much info online about them so I don’t even know if they were actually sisters. There were enough US girl groups, i.e. The Supremes, The Crystals,  that the Soul Sisters never made an impact here. Worth searching out. 

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Five Sweet Mysterians Street

Here’s the next post about a set of mp3 compilations that I put together of old music that was, for the most part, new to me. Many are garage band one-hit wonders, others are psychedelic bands whose lps that never made it to the east coast. Some are ‘oddities’ I came across. Obscure for the most part but all fun fun fun. You can find wiki info of most of them.

Street: Street (1968) – includes: What a Strange Town. This is very Jefferson Airplane. Soaring female lead singer, Anya Cohen, a touch of blues, distorted guitars, harmonies & trippy lyrics. When Airplane many labels wanted their own – this band comes close but there is only one Airplane.

Count Five: (San Jose) Psychotic Reaction – includes -My Generation. The song “Psychotic Reaction” is an acknowledged cornerstone of garage rock. I remember loving that single so much at the time with its mind boggling instrumental break. Then nothing – none of their follow ups made the charts & the lp didn’t make to my local record store. Fun energetic music that I love. 

Popol Vuh: Affenstude, released in 1970. This German band is regarded as one of the earliest space music works, featuring the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer together with ethnic percussion. Music ahead of its time for sure. Less robotic than Kraftwerk the band produced several great lps. Space music that on later lps becomes almost spiritual. If you like synthesizer check them out.

Sweetwater: Sweetwater 1968 Los Angeles – includes My Crystal Spider. A jazz-fusion band that was supposed to open Woodstock but they got caught in traffic. With lead signer Nanci Nevins, this was another band that was a Jefferson Airplane rival. The expected trippy lyrics about peace, love & social unrest. A fine lp that won’t disappoint if you track it down.

? & The Mysterians: out of Bay City, 96 Tears (1966) (In The Midnight Hour), Action (1967) – the Latino band’s music consisted of electric organ-driven garage rock and an enigmatic image inspired by the 1957 Japanese science fiction film The Mysterians. The lps are energetic & fun & I love them

Clear Blue Sky: Out Of The Blue (1970) British blues prog-rock in the Deep Purple/Uriah Heep mode with a great Roger Dean cover art. If you like obscurity this fills the bill.

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Morphine Machine

The Music Machine: Turn On! Yes, let’s turn on to 1966 with this amazing garage band. This was one of the first lps I remember buying. Still in high school & ‘innocent.’ I loved the hair, the black leather gloves they wore on stage, the turtlenecks. The front cover is reminiscent of the Beatles but the music is not, even though they do a cover of Taxman. I dug them 🙂 Listening to it now it is well produced with good studio use of echo, even a touch of flute. Reminiscent of early Steppenwolf or Grassroots. 

The lp was worn grey. The band was lost in the wake of the British Invasion & my interest was washed away by Hendrix, the Stones – you know, music that wasn’t built around Farfisa organ & bass. Definitely teen boy music. I bought the cd in September 1994 when I was deeply involved with Bushwack Theatre. I remember walking from the Lab on Britain St. to Sam’s on Yonge St & looking for this in particular. It was there but as a high-priced import, with no bonus tracks. I think I went back to Sam’s twice before I gave in & bought it. That year I played it over a dozen times for the powerful nostalgia it brought. I do not have any specific memories to go with it though 😦 except of me loving it in 1966.

The first track I heard by Morphine was either Honey White or French Fries With Pepper. I don’t remember where I heard it but I loved the sax driven sound. I was also taken by the lyrics & the voice of their lead singer; he reminded me of Tom Waites in delivery & the jazzy sound was perfect for me. I have Cure for Pain; Yes; Like Swimming; B-Sides & Otherwise. All are my favourites 🙂

Because of its instrumentation Morphine is considered ‘alternative.’ It’s definitely not U2 but the music is not that challenging or abstract. Solid, propulsive, hummable & relatable; adult music not teen-boy pop. They were on the verge of going mainstream when their lead vocalist died of a heart attack onstage in Palestrina, Italy, on July 3, 1999. What a way to go. If you are unfamiliar, start with any of their lps.

This piece goes back to late 80’s.

Anticipation 1

The electronic alarm bubbled. He took several deep breaths. Inhaling he thought “Thank you” held it, breathed out “God.” Then reversed the sequence. He didn’t want to feel he was breathing God out but inhaling the strength that his feeling of God gave him.

The telephone burbled. He thanked God for electronics. No more thought jangling ringing. The telephone continued to burble. Now, was that one burble or two? He wondered, as he picked up the receiver.

“Good morning, Martin.”

“Mother?” What did she want?

“That’s right dear. You remember what day this is?”

Martin glanced as the read-out glowing on his clock. “February 14, 19 …”

“Now Martin don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten …”

“To send you a card? Of course I did but …” Then he remembered. “Not that February 14?” Shit! Shit! Shit! This was not going to be such an ordinary day.

“That’s right Martin dear. The prophesy will be fulfilled today.”

God Thank You God Thank You God, he breathed in & out deeply. “Thank you, Mother.”

“One o’clock.”

“I know! I know! I’ve lived with the damn thing for … ”

“But you forgot.”

“As was foretold. ‘His mother would remind him.’ Isn’ that what it said in The Book. Thank you Mother. Now can I take a shower before …”

“It doesn’t matter what you do, dear. The prophecy will be fulfilled today.”

“Please, mother, give it a rest. Good-bye.”

As he hung up he heard her say, “Christ be with you.” 

Thank God, he breathed in, I’m not, he held his breath, a Christian, he breathed out. He repeated that nine times on his way to the shower. With the water almost too hot to tolerate he remembered the first time he had read The Book. 

It was a week before his tenth birthday. The Book was kept in a chest under his bed since he’d been born. He knew it was in there from having seen his parents look at it late at night when they thought he was asleep.

For the few months before his birthday he’d felt an urge to see it. As soon as he thought they were asleep he pulled the chest out & lifted up The Book. It seemed to resist him the way like poles of a magnet repel each other. It wasn’t very thick but took all his strength to lift it. The cover, as thin as it was, resisted his effort to open it. Once he had it open the heaviness was gone.

In the half-light of the moon he couldn’t make out what was printed on it. The typewritten pages, ragged along the edges, were covered with finger smudges & circle stains where cups had been set on them. As he turned the pages they became clearer & easier to see & to understand.

His heart beat faster & he uttered a little cry when. at the top of one page he saw, in capital letters, MARTIN. His eyes skimmed the page & fell on ‘At ten years of age he shall be told, but he will already know. He will want to escape, but he will never stop knowing.’

Suddenly fearful, he shut The Book & shoved it back inside the chest, pushed the chest back under his bed, ran to the bathroom & vomited.

(what else is in The Book – tune in next week for another trilling episode)

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Herman’s Hidden Cameras

As much as I enjoyed Herman’s Hermits as a teen I wasn’t encouraged to admit it. They were radio-fodder bubble-gum as opposed to real musicians like the Rolling Stone or even the Beatles. They were regarded as sweet, squeaky-clean and a band only girls could enjoy. Music hall songs like ‘Henry the VIII’ didn’t help their image either. I picked up stand-alone cd The Very Best of back in Dec 2006 to reclaim that part of my past.

Sure some of the songs suffer from ‘clean’ but many of them are solid, if not brilliant, pieces of pop music. The band wasn’t terribly original, creative or even were outstanding musicians. But their studio work is impeccable. It helps that Peter Noone’s voice is sweet & appealing. ‘No Milk Today’ is a breathtaking track – the production work is sublime & still amazes. The fact that it was written by Graham Gouldman (10CC) certainly helps. 

I picked up stand-alone Highs of the Sixties back in 1994. This is the complete opposite of the Hermits. A compilation of the sort psychedelic, garbage-band music that I could easily admit to enjoying. It includes tracks by Love, Count Five (one of the first latino bands to make it big), The Standells – many one-hit wonders but all fun. I’ve since tracked down collections by some these one-hitters like Blue Cheer, The Seeds, Count Five. I already had an extensive Love collection before I picked this cd up.

But what about the present you might ask? Next on the shelf are these stand-alones by The Hidden Cameras: The Smell of Our Own; Mississauga Goddam; AWoo. This a fun, queer, musically-diverse band that I really enjoy. With songs about water sports ‘Golden Steams,’ politics ‘Ban Marriage,’ love ‘Music is my Boyfriend’ & life ‘Learning the Lie’ performed with energy that invites all listeners into their world. Led by Joel Gibb  the band uses standard rock augmented by strings, wind instruments to create an often rollicking, sometimes folky, sweet romantic tapestry of music that often makes an ‘ironic’ counterpoint to the lyrics. Hidden Cameras take sound pictures of the world in a way I like to see it. 

Lucky Day

It felt good to sleep in. Something I didn’t allow myself to do that often. A warm, snug bed from which I could hear the cold wind outside. As I rolled over to try for another few winks the door to my room opened enough for a head to pop through. 

‘Good morning, sleepy head.’ Jim smiled at me.

‘What are you doing here?’ I sat up.

‘What do you think?’ he came into the room.

‘And why aren’t you dressed?’

‘Another dumb question.’ He slipped into the bed beside me. ‘Neither are you.’

Our bodies nestled together comfortably. 

‘I got the day off so I figured, why not drop over here and spend some of it with you.’  Jim gently bit my shoulder.

‘Great idea. That spare key was for emergencies.’

‘Yes, well this is an emergency.’

‘So I can feel.’

I rolled over on top of him. Just then my cell buzzed.

‘Don’t get it, or you won’t get it.’ He warned, twisting the ring in my left nipple.

The cell buzzed, and as programmed, the buzz got louder the longer it rang.

‘I have too.’

I reached over and picked it up. ‘Hello.’

‘Hi Dave.’

‘Steven is that you?”

‘Yep. Just arrived in town.’

‘You should have warned me.’ I covered the receiver, ‘It’s Steven, my agent from New York.’

‘Well, I was hoping to surprise you. I have the new contract. Bidding stopped at 2.5 mil.’

‘2.5 mil!! I’m amazed.’

Jim was biting my stomach under the covers. ‘Stop that for a minute will you.’

‘Sounds like I caught you at a bad time.’

‘Not at all. No wrong time for 2.5 mil.’

‘Free for lunch?’

‘Lunch? Sure. You staying at the same hotel.’

‘Same room is fact.’

‘Okay see you around noon.’

‘Frank wants you for lunch and I want you for breakfast.’ Jim came from under the covers to kiss me.

Just then the door bell rang. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my bathrobe and dashed down the stairs to the front door. A flower delivery man waited.

‘David Bradley?’

‘That’s me.’

‘Sign here.’

I signed for a box that opened to reveal two dozen red and white roses.

‘Looks like this is your day?’ Jim looked over my shoulder. ‘Who are they from?’

‘I haven’t checked yet. But find today’s paper. I should check my lottery numbers.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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