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.
This is the last of the five cd retro collection. The Barbarians, out of Cape Cod- one-hit wonder garage band from 1965 Their song ‘Are You A Boy or Are You A Girl’ gets its own Wiki page. The album of the same name is mainly fun covers of things like Mr. Tamborine Man. Uncomplicated rock music full of energy & hope. I remember this song & was one of those guys who was taunted on the street with that very phrase. A question I also asked myself growing up queer with no support or even guidance. I survived & remain a gay cismale.
The Critters (New Jersey). Younger Girl (1966) – Mr Dieingly Sad. Similar to the Association – sweet soft folk-rock harmonies with some original tune & covers. One-hit wonders your mother would like. Songs of innocent young love. A few covers including nice take on the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Younger Girl. Today Younger Girl sounds a little creepy/pedo to me.
The Cyrkle: Red Rubber Ball 1966 (Pennsylvania) – includes Cloudy, Turn Down Day – similar to The Critters but with more of a rock edge, harmonies not as sweet or soft. I remember them from top 40 radio at the time as their big hit was cowritten by Paul Simon. They toured with the Beatles tanks to sharing Brian Epstine as manager.
The Leaves (San Fernando Valley): All The Good That’s Happening (1966). A more bluesy version of The Crykle, edging into flower power but still safe too. They show up in the movie The Cool Ones! The Soul Survivors (Philadelphia): When The Whistle Blows I remember their Expressway To Your Heart from 1967 & those expressway sound effects. The the rest of the lp is sweet, soulful sort of funky & fun. My first taste of the Philly sound & the non-flower power world of pop.
For the rest of this compilation we leave the USA for some old country travel. These were all internet discoveries over the last decades – music I never would have heard on the east coast back in the day. Q65, out of the Netherlands, Revolution (1966). A tight bluesy band in the Paul Butterfield mold. Some traditional blues like Bring It On Home & original material too. From Switzerland comes The Shiver: Walpurgis 1969 – Hammond organ, “acid rock” – think Procol Harum not Deep Purple. Progrock originals & some great covers: i.e. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
The Twilights (Australia): Once Upon A Twilight (1968) is regarded one of the best Australian pop albums of the era. Who knew? Well recorded, tightly written & performed Aussie pop that doesn’t sound like the BeeGees 🙂 More or less a down under version of The Critters, in fact, with an international push they could have been as big as The Critters.