The Desert

In the early 20th Century, arthritis-addled citizenry sought relief for their maladies in the warm, dry air of the desert. Decades later, Carlos Castaneda-addled graduate students set forth in the name of academic discovery, getting really, really baked in the warm, dry, visibly oscillating air of the desert. It’s always been a good place to disappear, the desert, and a good place to transform yourself, too.

1. The Sound Offs, The Angry Desert (Era)
Theirs was a vision of the Desert Southwest as a place where angelic choruses called wordlessly, a place where organ and relentless wind and surf guitars convened, a place where bad maracas went to die.

In reality, the Sound Offs were probably just another group of studio musicians from Los Angeles, that epicenter of 1960s pop culture. Having availed themselves of the latest in fuzztone technology and thunderstorm sound effects, the Sound Offs put it all to expert use in 1963 for this atmospheric instrumental.

2. The Desert Rats, Sohonie (Mink)
You finished reading “On the Road” and now you’re determined to have your own road trip into the American Southwest,
your own communion with the spirit of American freedom and adventure. Wait until you run out of gas on some godforsaken stretch of Death Valley. Wait until you’re just another picked-over pile of calcified bone on the desert floor. You do whatever you want. I’ll be at home, listening to “Sohonie” instead. Two guitars and a cymbal. That’s all I need.

The Desert Rats were another mystery instrumental group. And, like the Sound Offs, I’d also guess that they recorded “Sohonie” in Los Angeles, circa 1963.

3. Tommy Strange, Purple Desert (Shamarie)
“Purple Desert.” It goes barrelling forward like some runaway train, all demon runs up and down the piano keys, and winds up, upright-piano-style, in some
Olde Western Saloon.  Well, now – that’s basically a John Ford movie.

Tommy Strange recorded “Purple Desert” in Fort Worth
, Texas, circa 1964. Aside from that, it’s a complete unknown. The flip side is a boozy mid-‘60s country tearjerker.

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8 Responses to The Desert

  1. Soulstice says:

    I seriously love your site, but what do you use to convert from vinyl to your comp? I’m just interested.

  2. rockin'andRollin' says:

    Wow, I like those songs! Surfinstroxotica for Sound and Rats, and I love too much the merengue-bizarro-instros like Tommy strange! Thanks!

    I’ve an request for you: in all the blog spreads the Xmas-mania. You’re one of the few blogs that is not plagued by this triviality. Please continuous you therefore!


  3. Thanks, Soulstice; I use the most rudimentary set-up for recording. An rca cable (with an 8th inch end) from my receiver straight into the MONO input jack of my Dell laptop. Yes all of these mp3’s are in hot, hot mono. I have Roxio’s sound/media suite, and I use its Sound Editor program to actually record the input signal. I used to have a much more complicated set-up (including a mixer) with my PC; I got rid of all that in a great purge of unnecessary technology from my life about a year ago, though.

  4. Anonymous says:

    ‘Sohonie’ is a dry treat. As always, thanks for posting and Happy Turkey Day!

    – Mr. Attention

  5. Marcus Valerius Maximus says:


    Ive been with you for a few months. Sorry I havent commented til today. Your selections are impeccable, intrepid, damn tasty stuff. I like all three of these in equal measure.

    i kinda like the baroom piano jamboree in the third song. the second song took me 3 listens to get sucked into its groove. the first is instantly accesible.

    Thanks again, look forward to the Mondays.

  6. Adam says:

    These are great. You astound me again with incredible music in genre’s I would normally pass up in my digging quests. I guess I’ll have to learn a lot more about this stuff. Thanks!

  7. The Skirj says:

    Are you sure those are Maracas on that Sound Offs song ? Sounds more like 2 boxes of kraft mac n cheese ! Fascinating finds tho…

  8. Jasper de Wilde says:

    Do you sell your records? If so, I’d like to give you $60 for the Desert Rats 45.
    I’m a huge fan of your site, so many amazing songs you taught me. Thanks so much!!!

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