Monthly Archives: May 2006

Psychedelic Pop

1. Tomorrow’s World, When It’s All Over (Era)
A California unknown. The vocal arrangements here are reminiscent of those of Curt Boettcher – the influential studio whiz behind West Coast pop productions by the Association, Sagittarius, Millennium and many others. And, indeed, songwriters Jannsen, Jannsen and Keske were involved, albeit marginally, with a contemporary Boettcher production, the Mother Love’s “Where Do We Go From Here.”

The dense harmonies otherwise lead me to think this a group of Los Angeles folkies. Laboring under producer and engineer (and occasional Boettcher collaborator) Mark Taylor and his strict policy of enforced “grooviness,” I’m guessing.

As with a lot of the West Coast variety of sunshine pop, with this dreamy, ’67-era nugget there’s echo, great syrupy masses of it.

2. Fargo, Sunny Day Blue (Capitol)
Though recorded in California, it was Salt Lake City-based songwriters and high school friends Tony Decker and Dean Wilden who formed the core of Fargo. Decker was perhaps the more experienced hand here, having recently toured and recorded in Texas and the Southwest as part of the Tuesday Club, a harder-edged rock group that would become – after wearing through several line-ups, locations and identities – Fargo.

“Sunny Day Blue” was, I believe, recorded in 1968. It was followed by an excellent full-length album on RCA a year later.

3. The Network, The Boys and the Girls (Spar)
Soaring, dreamy pop from the late ’60s, and one of the slowest 45s ever.

Without being overtly psychedelic, this gem just settles everything down on a mellow sunshine cloud, man. Written by freelance songwriter Mark Charron (best-known for his work for B.J. Thomas), “The Boys and the Girls” was produced in 1968 for, surprisingly, Spar Records, a sort of local clearinghouse label largely oriented towards budget country and western releases.

All else is speculation about the Network, sadly. Though I’d guess this is again the handiwork of Nashville session singers and players, and not an actual working group.

Posted in Psychedelic/Pop | 4 Comments

Take Five and beyond

“Take Five” – recorded by the Dave Brubeck quartet in 1959, and composed by the group’s saxophonist, Paul Desmond – was known both as the biggest-selling jazz single of all time and, later, for its use in TV commercials for luxury sedans. “Take Five” was also written in 5/4 time. Its success kicked off a brief flurry of interest in jazz releases with irregular meters. Or, at least, interest from record companies desperate for anything to reverse already-declining sales of jazz.

Without further ado, “Take Five” is the inaugural theme for Office Naps.

1.  Billy Patt Quintett, Passion (An Act of Love) (Sabra)
Hey, never mind that it’s actually a quartet heard here.

In 1964 Patt and Co. would have been cooling down heads all over town with this smooth 5/4 cocktail. You can almost hear those matching charcoal gray wool jackets.

Sabra was a small Houston label operated by Lelan Rogers (brother of Kenny). Otherwise, no word on who Billy Patt was, though I’m guessing Billy Patt was a Los Angeles-area resident.

2. Saturday’s Children, Deck Five (Dunwich)
A classy Chicago group who wore dark Beatles suits and posed with umbrellas, Saturday’s Children had a handful of high-quality British Invasion-styled singles on the great Dunwich label, which did a lot to chronicle the city’s teeming garage band scene.

This is one of Dunwich’s stranger releases. It’s seasonal fare – seasonal fare that also happens to be an highly listenable mutation of “Take 5” and “Deck the Halls” forced into the mix like some sort of unholy Christmas frappe.

3. Hank Levine, Swingin’ Village (Dolton)
From 196, this jazzy concoction on the Seattle-to-Los-Angeles Dolton Records steers between insistent “Take 5”-style chording and melodic references to “Summertime” (another jazz hipster’s anthem).

Hank Levine mostly stayed behind the scenes in Los Angeles, racking up many, many credits to his name as a freelance Los Angeles studio producer & arranger in the ’50s and ’60s. He did issue at least a few other great 45s (including “Image” and “Portrait of a Blonde”) under his own name at the time, though, too.

4. France Gall, Pense a Moi (Just Think of Me) (Philips)
France Gall – blonde, bright, blindingly French – sings her seventeen-year-old heart out on this mad, mod version of “Take Five.”

“Pense a Moi” was from 1964, and, sadly, it was one of only a few Gall records to be released domestically. It seems that Gall, while wildly popular in her own country, was, like so many of her countrymen, ultimately just too French to ever make much of a splash anywhere else.

Posted in Miscellaneous Flotsam | 4 Comments