down for reviews of reissues by The Head Shop and Spanky and Our Gang
And The Rockers
(Justice 1967/Collectables 1996)
Based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Justice Records was one of the
most prolific and interesting self-owned record labels of the 1960s. Justice
offered aspiring artists package deals consisting of recording sessions
and limited edition pressings of 12" LPs for a stock price of around
$1,000. Needless to say, this prospect attracted many young garage rock
bands, including a group of high school hopefuls who called themselves
Mod And The Rockers. The album they made, entitled …Now, is an
expectedly crude but enduring sample of teen garage rock. The album consists
almost entirely of Top-40 covers, including “Love is a Beautiful Thing”,
“Goin’ Out Of My Head”, and the Beau Brummels’ “Just a Little”.
They even do Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual”…and it’s not half bad, thanks
to the garage rock energy infused into it. Their version of “Gloria” is
an extremely raw take driven by trebly, clangy guitar chords and punky
vocals. This is much the style of the entire album. The only two original
tunes on the album, “Gonna Love You Every Day” and “Always By My Side”
indicate an impressive songwriting talent. “Gonna Love You Every Day”
is a frantic garage-punker with fine fuzz guitar, strong vocals, and great
male-aggressive lyrics. This tune is decidedly the best on the album.
In light of the quality of the group’s original songs, it’s rather a shame
that they chose to record predominantly covers instead for their album.
Still, it’s a solid garage record, full of the kind of raw charm which
appeals so to garage-rock fans. Reissued on CD by Collectables Records
alongside many other Justice label albums, …Now is a fine example
of how teen groups interpreted 60s pop with a verve and enthusiasm all
The Head Shop
(Epic 1969/Synton 1998)
Along with many other one-off major label psych albums such as Gandalf
(Capitol Records) and Savage Resurrection (Mercury Records), the sole
album by the Head Shop has become a major collector’s item in recent years.
As with Gandalf and Savage Resurrection, the attention given to the Head
Shop’s album is fully justified by the excellent psychedelic rock music
contained therein. The album’s opening cut, “Head Shop”, begins with heavily
distorted guitar and an insane scream. This is an appropriate introduction
to a heavy, heady barrage of psychedelia. The group’s style is heavy rock,
but it is driven by mind-melting fuzztone guitar rather than the more
smoothly distorted guitar sound generally featured in heavy rock of the
era (see Blue Cheer and Frijid Pink).
Thus, the Head Shop have created a demented fusion of ’69 era heavy psych
and ’66 era garage punk. This makes for some very interesting original
songs and cover tunes. The group’s version of “Sunny” is, appropriately
enough, totally dark and creepy, driven by funeral-style organ work. Likewise,
if you thought the Beatles original version of “Revolution” was heavy,
wait till you hear the over-the-top fuzztone version by the Head Shop.
The originals are perhaps even more interesting, including the aforementioned
“Head Shop”, “Heaven Here We Come”, and the killer “Infinity”. Another
of their songs, “Opera in the Year 4000” is a bizarre medly of an uncharacteristically
“straight” original tune “Where Have All the People Gone” melded with
another Beatles song, “Yesterday.” All in all, this is a most excellent
and unusual album of heavy psychedelic rock.
Now that the LP has been reissued on CD by Synton Records, this fine album
is finally much more widely available than the extremely scarce original
1969 issue. This is definitely a recommended release for psych fans.
Spanky & Our Gang
Like To Get To Know You
(Mercury 1968/Vivid 1999)
One of the most tragically underrated pop groups of the 60s, Spanky &
Our Gang recorded some of the most enduring music of the era. This, their
second album, marks the entrance of genius producer Bob Dorough, whose
influence is obvious throughout. Their eponymous debut album, while undeniably
enjoyable, lacks the polish and…impressiveness…of their second and third
albums. In addition to extremely artful production, S & O.G. possessed
a lot of talent…and it shows.
out by studio staples like Hal Blaine and Mike Deasy, the group maintained
a polished and full sound unparalleled at the time. Like To Get To
Know You features the title song as well as “Sunday Morning”, both
of which were sizeable hits for the group in 1968. In addition to these,
the album is full of memorable and arguably beautiful pop songs like “Suzanne”,
“Chick-A-Ding-Ding”, and “Everybody’s Talkin’”, which was soon to become
a hit for Harry Nilsson. This album is an absolute gem, sparkling with
all the charm that could possibly be held within thirty-three minutes
of music. In light of the recent popularity of soft rock/pop groups like
the Association, Millennium, and Free Design, it’s rather surprising that
Spanky & Our Gang remain relatively ignored by retroactive music fans.
could be perhaps because there are no domestic CD reissues of Spanky’s
original albums, so fans have to fork out around $30.00 apiece for Japanese
CDs. Still, Spanky And Our Gang’s fantastic music is well worth rather
exorbitant import CD prices. If you’re a fan of 60s pop, you need to develop
an appreciation for this fine and talented group.
reach any other page contained in this month's update on Fufkin.com, read
the home page for the appropriate link and click on it. You can also search
the site from any page using the search box located at the top of each
page. Merely type in the word, phrase, name of the band, recording, name
of the Fufkin writer that you are looking for or Whatever in the search
box, and then click on "Search". If you would like to e-mail
us, go to the About Us page for a list of e-mail addresses.
back to the home page by clicking here