Friday, December 28, 2018

Favorites Recordings from 2018

Cut Worms-Hollow Ground
Harsh Mistress-All Roads Lead To This
Outrageous Cherry-Meet You In The Shadows
Paul Collins-Out of My Head
Dear Nora-Skulls Example
The Number Ones-Another Side of The Numbers Ones (ep)
Mystic Braves-The Great Unknown
Peach Kelli Pop-Gentle Leader
La Luz-Floating Features
SOLEIL-My Name is SOLEIL (Japan)
SOLEIL-SOLEIL is Alright (Japan)
Jonathan Richman-SA

Reissues & Collections
Webster's New Word-Columbia & RCA Singles
The Striders-Columbia Singles
The Wildlife-Columbia Singles
Andre Tanker Five-Afro Blossom West (Trinidad)
Lee Hazlewood's Woodchucks-Cruisin' for Surf Bunnies
Don Cole-Something's Got A Hold On Me - The Don Cole Story

Music Books read and enjoyed

The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing-John E. Dugan
White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day-Richie Unterberger
Mexican Roots, American Soil: A Quest for the American Dream-Ernie Bringas (The Rip Chords)
Beastie Boys Book-Michael Diamond/Adam Horovitz
So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star: The Byrds Day-by-Day, 1965-1973-Christopher Hjort
A Spy in the House of Loud: NY Songs and Stories-Chris Stamey (The Seeds are not from TX though)
Siren Song: My Life in Music-Seymour Stein

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Kent 3-Spells

Never fitting in with any sub-strata (with built-in devotees) the Kent 3 have been taking the dark ol' state routes off the Western musical map for the last decade. Their should-be-legendary albums are too musically adventitious to neatly land in the usual RnR/garage/punk slots while too spry, agile and lyrically keen to fit in with their lumbered region predominated by gang grunge.  While they offer no manifestations of cheap hope, happy endings or pretensions, they do offer some vivid vignettes with coursing lyrics-informed as much by Frederick Exley as they are by that Pickwick poet Lou Reed. This is street poetry for undercover punks not on the streets. These are vigorous yet free-flowing songs for uniting those who will never be united. Spells can rouse listeners to the short-cut depths of the contradictory and skewed turn-of-the-century West-that takes place off the I-10 between open dumpsters and closed unidentified warehouses. Its surf-rock drumming, trebly, but tough guitars, and literate Beat-inspired lyrics are splattered on the blacktop and reign-in everything from a low desert midnight mass to a brackish Pacific Northwest mountain pass.  While this band only published praises might be found between the smudged ink and yellowed pages of a Fiz zine, attuned ears and a miner's light on the lyrics etched into this compelling and convincing album might finally give this band some long awaited due.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Modern Sound Quintet-Otinku

In general, recordings of steel drum bands usually end up sounding thin while failing to capture and convey the dynamic live experience. Over the years I have purchased albums like Liberace presents the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band, only to donate them right back to the thrift stores.  Still, the appealing description of this 1971 album on the Bear Family Records website recently enticed me to reconsider and re-investigate recorded steel drum sounds.  Modern Sound Quintet actually formed in Stockholm, Sweden and was led by Rudy Smith who hailed from Port of Spain, Trinidad-the epicenter of the steel drum/pan sound.  This international quintet was comprised of musicians from Barbados, Ghana, Surinam, and Sweden.  They conspired to make a churning sound that endures as their jazz orientation is not just a mere accessory, but a bedrock foundation underneath the gleaming steel pans.  The recording itself fastens the melody-carrying steel pans with the shingled percussion to avert the usual shrill ping and rapid evaporation that plagues many recordings of unaccompanied steel drums.  “Flowers in the Rain” presents percolating pans seemingly submerged in liquid to create a shimmering effect. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” previously recorded by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, and the Buckinghams, features a pronounced piano setting the scene before the steel drums deliver the signature sweeping chorus.  “Flamenco Groove” is one of the album’s original compositions and serves as a testament to Rudy Smith’s full command of the pans-working within and beyond the tension & release framework of the flamenco tradition.  While originally available only in Finland upon its initial release in 1971, multiple reissues of Otinku have proven these radiant Afro-Caribbean sounds too panoramic, durable and adventurous to stay bound to one particular place and time.

Friday, November 02, 2018

The Striders-Columbia Singles

While the Spiders, fronted by a teenage cross country runner named Vince Furnier (later Alice Cooper), crept about Phoenix during the mid-sixties, over in Albuquerque, the Striders swiftly sprung from the Duke City to the City of Angels. Being managed by promoter, producer, musician and wunderkind Lindy Blaskey certainly fast tracked the group’s rapid rise from University of New Mexico students to recording artists for Columbia Records. Their particular California Cinderella story resulted in three singles issued in the still resonating years of 1966 & 1967.  Their recorded repertoire was certainty intriguing as half of their songs were previously first done by more recognized acts.  It’s almost as if Columbia Records was trying to get additional mileage from material like “Sorrow” (McCoys, Merseys) “There’s A Storm Coming” (an enduring Dirty Water album cut by the Standells) and “When You Walk into the Room” (written by Jackie DeShannon and most associated with the Searchers).  Adjoining these covers, are a couple of songs written by the aforementioned Lindy Blaskey. "Am I on Your Mind" falls short in its emulation of the Troggs, Dave Clark Five, and Paul Reveve & the Raiders with its lack of punch, while “Say that You Love Me” is a pleasant mid-tempo number somewhere between the sweep of the Beau Brummels and the fragility of the Nightcrawlers. The Striders went out on a strong note as their last single was arguably their finest two minutes.  Despite the potentially misleading MC5-ish title of “Do it Now,” it sounds like early folk-rock Turtles with vocal harmonies galore elevating the cavalier "time to move on" lyrics. Numerous personnel changes and the seismic late '60s shift towards heaviness probably contributed to the demise of a group that has yet to be properly documented.  Overall, it's another unanticipated set of restored recorded remnants of the California pop dream from a determined group and manager from the perennially overlooked city of Albuquerque.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The "Shifting" Winds: Taking the Nation by Storm

The Winds (1961-1965) were the folk forerunners to Webster's New Word (1965-1967) who went on to work along the adventurous frontiers of early folk-rock in New York City.  Their experience ranged from playing turkey festivals in Turlock, CA to hobnobbing with giants like Frank Sinatra. They could easily hold their own on show biz big stages like the Hollywood Palace extravaganza that was nationally televised by ABC Television on April 3, 1965, while also crossing paths and sharing stages with some of the folk era's most influential underground musicians. Many of these folkniks would later form the vanguard of the electro-folk sound.

Bringing It All Back Home
The original inspiration of the Winds started on the Pacific Coast before coming to fruition in the crossroads of America. "The first time I ever saw Buddy (Hill) was in San Francisco," recalls KC Lynch.  "It was 1960, and my father saw in the paper that the Notre Dame Glee Club was coming to town to do a concert. We went, and Buddy did three or four solos (“negro spirituals” as they were then called).  I walked out of there astounded by the beauty and power of his voice, and with a strange feeling that we would somehow meet.  I went to sea that summer as a merchant officer on the China run.  When I got to South Bend that fall I met Mike Kealy.  Although we had never known each other, we both came from the Bay Area and both of us had played in typical Kingston Trio type bands at our high schools.  My girlfriend had dumped me while I was at sea, and Mike set me up on a blind date with the Saint Mary's student who years later became my wife and the mother of my two wonderful daughters.  Mike and I started a folk duo, and soon went looking for that voice I had heard in San Francisco.  We found him, and that was the beginning of the band."  

Down in Bermuda and up in the Bend
Buddy was born in Warwick, Bermuda  Previous to Notre Dame, Buddy studied at the prestigious Boston Latin School  "Buddy was more British gentleman than anything," offers future Webster's New Word bandmate Jerry Peloquin. "His voice was so powerful.  He was a tenor of course and standing next to him in full voice was like being next to the Chicago Bears offensive line on game day." The band later went on tour Bermuda in 1964 including a show at the legendary Forty Thieves Club in Hamilton.  An early iteration of the Winds featured Jim Higgins on upright bass and Rich Leuke on banjo, who was a man before (or after) his time.  Rich had a penchant for wearing an "Amish" beard, openly identified himself as a Socialist and shunned contraptions with combustion engines. (Rich was replaced by John Bill, and later by Gus Duffy.) In contrast, the dapper lead singer Mike Kealy embodied the genuine Big Man on Campus persona that held sway at the time. "You have to remember that Father Hesburgh's aspirations at that time were to make Notre Dame the Harvard of the Midwest," adds Lynch.

Left to Right, Rich Leuke, Buddy Hill, KC Lynch and Mike Kealy
Vestibule Folk
In 1961, the harmony-rich group made their first recording in the form of a self-taped a cappella version of  "Shenandoah." The group utilized the natural echo present in the vestibule of Notre Dame's south dining hall.  The sea shanty "Haul on the Bowline," featured Gus Duffy on lead vocals was recorded at the hungry i in San Francisco complete with the sounds of the Clancy Brothers drinking in the back.  At the time, the Clancy Brothers were a major influence in folk music "Liam, Paddy and Tom Clancy were friends of the family and I myself come from the Irish/Celtic musical tradition that believes a song should tell a story or evoke a feeling." The traditional spiritual "We are Crossing Jordan River" incorporated the frailing banjo style of Rich Leuke.  Rich was said to be pioneering banjo player at Notre Dame in the '60s folk era.

The Best is Yet to Come
Besides two of members hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, extensive summer touring allowed the Winds to establish a strong presence in the West.  In summer of 1963, the Winds were the house band in the Celebrity Room at the Cal-Neva Lodge owned by Frank Sinatra that actually straddled the two state lines. "Sinatra was actually kind of like a mentor to me," fondly recalls Lynch. "I met him in the kitchen where I found out that he had been watching us, loved our act, and had been responsible for tables full of noisy drunks suddenly disappearing from the audience.  Lounges pay well but they full of loud and inattentive people, and not at all the concert atmosphere we were used to. When I was seriously injured in a rockfall climbing accident, Frank visited me in the hospital in Reno and sent occasional notes to cheer me up. In 1964, when I was going through long months of recovery Frank would occasionally call me up in San Francisco and say 'Chum, you’ve got to promise me you’ll go back to school and get your degree.  I wish to hell I had gotten mine.'  He was a nice man, and a thoughtful one." 

Pacific Coast Old School & Midwestern Fields of Opportunities
The group not only demonstrated their adaptability by playing a vast array of venues, but also straddled two different eras in the music industry and competing factions in the restless folk scene. "We had had one foot in the campus folk scene and one in the urban folk scene," explains Lynch.  "We would play a super club, change our clothes and then hit the downtown folk clubs. Norton Wais and his wife Nadine were our managers in San Francisco. Nort had been the partner of Abe Saperstein in the Harlem Globetrotters franchise. They were old school but wonderful people who soon had us booked all over the country. Our second paying gig was in a night club with Count Basie and Mel Torme. We were regulars at the famous SF folk clubs, like Enrico Banducci’s hungry i and The Purple Onion." The group was also featured in one of Ralph Gleason's columns in the San Francisco Chronicle. In late 1964, Fantasy Records released “Whisper to the Mountain” which was written and sung by Mike Kealy.  Their debut single received radio airplay and did especially well in the Bay Area. "The Ox Driver Song" appeared on the flipside.  This stirring American traditional was  also recorded by Odetta, the Seekers and Pete Seeger.  The Winds' version showcased the strong lead vocal of Buddy Hill.  Fantasy launched their satirical doo-wop-ish and now highly sought  second single "Radiation Baby" in spring of 1965.

The Winds/The Four Winds/Winds of Notre Dame/Winds from Notre Dame
The old school management did everything to put the quartet in position to succeed.  "The addition of Notre Dame (i.e,, The Winds of Notre Dame)  was not something we did ourselves, states Lynch. "It was placed on us by management simply because of the name recognition and drawing power. Norton also got us on the Midwestern state fair circuit in summer 1964 complete with sponsorship from the Pioneer Seed Corn Company. Gus Duffy will tell you about the groundbreaking jingle he wrote for them and we performed on stage."  The group also established a foothold in Chicago and opened for Nina Simone at the historic Palmer House hotel.

"You Can't Seem to Find How You Got There"
The Winds felt some of the early tremors in seismic shift from folk to folk-rock in 1965.  In their experience, the new vibrations came in the form of an amalgamation of sound and electricity without a descriptor at the time from a group from New York.  "Enrico booked the Lovin’ Spoonful to follow us and the Clancy Brothers (who influenced everybody) at the hungry i. “Do You Believe in Magic?” was climbing the charts fast, and I remember watching them set up and rehearse on the tiny stage, remembers Lynch.  "It was the first time we-or the hungry i for that matter - had ever seen amplifiers or wires. (They were scrambling to find AC outlets in the old brick walls behind the curtains.)  That was our first live exposure to what would become the Village Sound, and we liked what we heard." 

The New Vanguard
Directly feeling these new currents, the Winds flowed into new directions and they proceeded to go into the previously unexplored realms of amplified folk & roll. It was in San Francisco during the summer of 1965 that we went electric and changed our name from the Winds to Webster's New Word, offers Lynch.  "Our influences shifted from the Gateway Singers, the Limeliters and the Four Freshmen to Dylan and the Byrds. We also had the close relationship with the early Jefferson Airplane at that time."   

Start Spreading the News
An unforeseen chain of events occurred that would help propel the group from the fairs, fields and stages of the heartland to the major label big time of New York City.  Their talent was spotted by the Corinthian Broadcasting Corp. who had television stations in Houston; Tulsa, Sacramento, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis (WISH Channel 8).  For their "Campus Talent '65" program Corinthian auditioned more than 1,000 performers at 102 colleges and universities, with the winning acts appearing on prime time local television specials in the aforementioned five regional markets.  Playing under their representative name, the Winds of Notre Dame, they won the Indianapolis event on WISH Channel 8, and joined leading lights like Eloise Laws who had captured the local Houston crown for a national showcase at the New York discotheque, Arthur in December 1965. More than 700 advertisers and agency representatives and even Andy Warhol were said to be in audience. The Winds got the ultimate big break as the legendary John Hammond of Columbia Records was in attendance that night with an offer in mind.  The group found themselves in the middle of a major label bidding war, but sided with their initial suitor Columbia Records in the end.  This was only the beginning of Webster's New Word's adventures in New York City and beyond.  Some of the sights, sounds and stories from that vibrant era can be found here.

The Eternal Presence
"Over the years the band went through multiple names, music styles, banjo players, drummers, bass players, lawyers, record labels. managers, home cities, girlfriends, wives, and every other thing that most other bands of that era went through," summarizes Lynch.  "Players came and went, and some tried to come back.  But not Buddy.  He was always there: the only one besides me who was there from the very beginning to the very end."
 Left to Right, John Bill (banjo), KC Lynch, Buddy Hill, Mike Kealy
Bridging the Divides
The Winds were versatile in that they could rub shoulders with the show biz jet set, while also sharing stages with self-marginalized artists and truly talented musicians who were all mixed together in the rumble tumble tail-end of the beatnik scene and the pastoral campus folk revival. In a span of four years (1961-1965), they skillfully proceeded between the commercial common ground, academic responsibilities, the mountain ranges of the West and the subterranean spaces of the urban folk scene-while unknowingly building the future foundation for Webster's New Word. Crossing the country and vast cultural spheres in 1965, they quickly incorporated the Byrds' ringing convergence of Dylan and the Beatles and fully developed their harmonious folk-pop-rock sound as Webster's New Word.  Lastly, as an integrated touring group they directly encountered threatening intolerance all while maintaining musical credibility in the stratified urban folk scene and performing as consummate professionals in the prime time.  They accomplished all of this in a transitional era where the overarching currency of the day was some elusive notion of the authenticity which shifted like wild mercury or should it be said the Winds.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Webster's New Word-Columbia & RCA Singles

It is truly an unanticipated and welcomed surprise to encounter this digital-only release that is also the latest installment in the Columbia Singles series.  Even if the main motivation behind this series is probably a perfunctory mechanical exercise in copyright extension of recordings passing the half-century mark, listeners are able to reap the benefits of hearing left-field tracks once deeply buried in the studio vaults. Simply being able to hear the complete run of Webster’s New Word singles is beyond expectations.  Sure, some of these singles have trickled out of sunshine/soft/studio pop compilations and/or posted to Youtube.  Nevertheless, these singles sound slightly wonderfully askew, ambitious and vibrant as their transitional sound was forged in those revolutionary years of 65-67. Webster’s New Word emerged out of the U. of Notre Dame’s fledgling collegiate folk scene during the JFK sixties. Three of the members (Gus Duffy, Hilton Hill and KC Lynch) were previously in the Winds (aka the Four Winds). In 1965, Fantasy Records released their
single,"Radiation Baby" under the name "Winds of Notre Dame" that is highly sought and then protected in basement fallout shelters by ardent Doo Wop/Vocal Group Harmony aficionados.

As WNW, they brought in their vast experience as a choral folk outfit and placed it within a goodtime pop framework tinged with some early psychedelia studio arrangements and enhancements.  It is an ambitious amalgamation of sounds enhanced by being recorded at the top flight New York studios. 

Leading off this collection is "Hard Loving Loser" which comes complete with lyrics from Richard Fariña.   Attempting to get unhinged, it stills ends up being snagged by some sub-Dylan lyrics which trips them up between barbwire social criticism and a novel attempt of humor.   Still, the material might work better in the hands of the Fleshtones.  The flip,  "I Don’t Want to Be the One" is a fine and gentle folk rocker pinpointed by a jangling jazz guitar passage and lush harmonies vocals somewhere between the Association and the Byzantine Empire.

They bring their choral folk strengths to the fore on both sides of their second single. On "Pity the Woman," they convey their conviction that one must examine the orientation of their own heart before criticizing the sometimes heartbreaking state of the world.  The song's prominent tick-tock piano cadence could have even been an influence on the Lovin' Spoonful's “Six O’Clock.” The arrangement is busy and unorthodox, but they shine through with a driving beat, a coruscating chorus and overall earnestness. The song was written by Mark Barkan who wrote "She's a Fool" (Leslie Gore), "Pretty Flamingo" and even "The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) that was monkeyed with by the Dickies.

"Take A Look" is a variation on the aforementioned theme that draws upon a large palette of sounds and multi-leveled harmonies which spring over the clutter in a single bound.  “Henry Thachet” is one of those sixties character sketches that is a not too subtle jab at the establishment, but typically sound dated today like “Lather” by Jefferson Airplane. Still, the underlying bongos do make things interesting on a musical level. The flipside “Sad to Say” is orchestrated flower pop along the lines of Spanky and Our Gang and has been included on a few sunshine/soft pop compilations.  Even if tacking "Babe" on the song title was two years too late, "You Still Thrill Me, Babe," could be considered as their finest moment. This is a fully formed song that reaches full flight with its tambourine, boundless bah bah bah's and a beautiful bridge. Place this one between "One Too Many Mornings" by the Beau Brummels, the early Turtles and the recordings the Association were making for Valiant.

"When you Grow Up" is mellow, moody and features a valley of cascading vocal harmonies while presciently anticipating the self-reflective singer/songwriter soft rock movement ("Traces," "Precious & Few," "Colour My World") which waltzed in around the start of '70s.  Their spirited and sweeping cover of  "Get Together" places an exclamation mark on this collection. While the song  may be old sixties warhorse, they give it a stripped down treatment that makes it even more fresh and heartfelt than the We Five’s version.   One can only wonder if an album was ever in the works. It has been estimated that over 200 singles were released each week during the mid-sixties.  It's illuminating to hear the bubbling under emerge as these sounds provide a more complete understanding and countervailing perspective on both the hits and misses of that era.  Thanks in part to copyright and the relative accessibility of digital, it is now possible for more listeners to hear Webster's New Word than ever before.

In a way, their trajectory is an encapsulation of a major part of the mid-sixties musical experience.  It was obviously an accelerated time when folk was in the transition of going electric and pop was at the cusp of psychedelic.  In addition, the group was part of the embryonic San Francisco scene (with Gus Duffy being the second drummer of Jefferson Airplane). They later went on to be at the epicenter of the New York scene which stretched from Greenwich Village to Sybil Burton's high society discotheque Arthur where icons like Warhol would make the scene.  In this fashion, 
Gus, KC and Jim's experiences and recollections provide insight into a previously unexplored layer of history, while expressing the rambling and serendipitous spirit of the times.

Interview with Gus Duffy, KC Lynch and Jim Mason 

Did you ever foresee this release?  Did you ever think this would happen?

(Gus) I am astonished by chain of events, especially considering it has been 50 years after the fact.
(Jim in jest) Now the money can start rolling in!

Who all comprised the band and what were their roles?

The lineup on these recordings is:
The late Buddy Hill (Hilton Gray Hill III)-from Warwick, Bermuda.-Former Soloist for Notre Dame Glee Club first vocal part (high voice)
KC Lynch-second or third vocal part, lead vocals (on occasion) for live performances (e.g., "High Flying Bird")
Jim Mason-lead singer, second vocal part, rhythm guitar, bass
Gus Duffy-fourth vocal part, 12 string guitar, bass, drums, percussion
Jon Talbot-Bass
Jerry Peloquin-drums (JP was the first Jefferson Airplane drummer, who Gus Duffy replaced briefly, prior to Skip Spence)
John Gilmore-shows up as lead guitar on "Henry Thachet" Bass player after Jon Talbot

If possible could you ID  the members in the photo employed for this release? 

(Gus) Sure. left to right,: KC Lynch (red-ish tie), head in hands is Jim Mason, Gus Duffy (perfect puddin' bowl mop top), then Buddy/Hilton  Hill (serene in sweater) and Jon Talbot (looking dour lower right).  No Peloquin...don’t recall why.  John Gilmore not in this picture either.

Gus, how did you meet Jim Mason, who co-wrote "I Dig Rock & Roll Music" and later went on Wings? (Not the world famous Paul McCartney Wings, but the American ones on ABC Dunhill Records).

Jim Mason on the right- with arms folded in the red striped shirt
Drummer Jerry Peloquin in hat
(Gus) We met Jim Mason in South Bend...he was a part of the Chicago folk scene and gigged in SB, we hit it off, and he replaced Mike Kealy, who had had enough of the road.

Tell us more about your bandmate KC Lynch? 

(Gus) KC Lynch is a multi-talented Notre Dame guy. who came from a prominent San Francisco family.   We spent a lot of time at his family's house when the band was based in San Francisco.  He  is a visual artist and 
writes and directs industry films for corporations

KC's diverse clients include the US Olympic Committee, The Pacific Maritime Association, Intel, Nike, Apple Computer, Sony America, Sony International, Ford Motor Company, Adidas International, Hitachi Kokusai Japan and the Government of France.

(Jim) KC had one of the most distinctive voices in the group.  When we were in SF, we auditioned for Sly Stone and Tom Donahue at Autumn Records.  I recall Sly arriving in style-donned all in purple and driving a purple Jaguar.

Speaking of artists, bass player Jonathan Talbot has gone on to some renown.

(Jim) I wish I could afford one of his collages.  When we met him in the Village, he was a one-man flamenco act going under the name of Juan Serrano.  Be sure to check out his work leading the New York Electric String Ensemble that I helped produce.  (This 1967 release on ESP-Disk includes liner notes by Gus Duffy.)

Being on Columbia, did Webster's New Word ever cross-paths with the Byrds? I know that Jim worked with Chris Hillman between the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band. 

(Jim) We did not come in direct contact with the Byrds, but we did ride in their disheveled Lear jet after it brought them to New York from shows in the Midwest.  

The famous/infamous show at Fordham University where you outshined the Mamas and Papas has been previously documented in Matthew Greenwald's Go Where You Wanna Go book and  in my previous project on Notre Dame's Shaggs, what other bands did you share the stage with?

(KC) After being signed to Columbia and our showcase at Arthur, we were the house band on both weeknights and weekends at Cafe Wha?   I don’t think we played any of the songs that were released as singles.  Our signature closer was “High Flying Bird”. The program there was very flexible, with guest musicians sitting in almost every night – Fred Neil, Ritchie Havens, Jim Kweskin Jug Band with Maria Muldaur, and others.  We usually played 2-3 sets a night at Cafe Wha? On Sunday afternoons, we were actually kind of a soul act at the famous Irish pub P. J. Clarke's. We played songs by Wilson Pickett, Smokey Robinson and Mitch Ryder there with Gus on the electric piano. We also played the college circuit with Chad & Jeremy, Paul Revere & the Raiders and ? and the Mysterians. Our first gig in New York was actually at a teeny bopper club in the Bronx called the Launching Pad. 

(Gus) The Kitchen Cinq, J.D. Souther was a part of it then. At the Café Wha we shared the stage with all sorts—Richie Havens, Jose Feliciano, Chambers Brothers, an Australian Hypnotist named Martin St James, Jimi Hendrix was across the street playing in John Hammond Jr’s band, the Fugs were next door, the Blues Project, Blues Magoos, Spoonful, were all a door or two away, Frank Zappa took up residence for awhile.  I remember knowing Neil Diamond from the neighborhood—after he sold his first song, he showed up on 3rd and MacDougal on a brand new bike--a Honda Hawk, as I remember it—black on black, with leathers---man, he made it!!!  What later would become Spanky and Our Gang were around—Chicago folkies—Malcom Hale, Spanky McFarland, Oz Bock, probably others I’m forgetting----

(Jim) We played with an outlandish Mitch Ryder in Baltimore.  Garland Jeffreys used to come to our shows all the time in the Village.

Webster's New Word at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC (1967)
L to R-KC Lynch, Buddy Hill, Jim Mason and Gus Duffy

Which New York City Studios were these recorded at?

(Gus) Studio A at Columbia..same studio as Pete Seeger, Dylan, etc.
The RCA sides recorded were recorded at their Studio A equivalent.

Howard Roberts produced half of these singles.  At first, I thought he was the famous jazz and Wrecking Crew session guitarist who played lead guitar on classic TV theme songs (e.g. The Munsters, The Brady Bunch).    

(Jim) The Howard Roberts who was our first producer actually had a business card that stated: "Not the West Coast Guitarist Howard Roberts."

(Gus) He was Harry Belafonte’s choral director prior to joining Columbia as producer.  John Hammond put us together with him.  

Production credits for the East Coast Howard A. Roberts include singles for Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett and Tuesday's Children

(Jim) Our producer at RCA was Joe Rene who produced Bobby Lewis (Tossin' and Turnin'), Nina Samone, The Jive Five ("My True Story") among many others. 

Let's go into the songs
Gus are you playing a Rickenbacker 360 12-String guitar on "I Don't Want to be the One"?

(Gus) It was actually an emerald green Burns Baldwin 12 string that I lugged around as it weighed a ton.
(Jim)  "I Don't Want to Be the One" actually gave us the opportunity to go to Cleveland and appear on the Upbeat television show.
(KC)  What I remember about Cleveland was seeing tanks out in the streets when the show was over.

KC is referring to the Hough riots that took place in July of 1966. 


Which kind of "wooden frog" is making the clicking sound incorporated on "Take a Look"?

(Gus) Cross sticking on the snare drum (a bebop lick) and a guiro in there somewhere.

Who is playing the bongo on "Henry Thachet"?

I think conga (not bongos) was Emile Latimer...he was with Richie Havens I think...we all hung out in the Village.

How large was the role of the studio musicians in the recordings? 

(Gus) They played a large part, but not everything . Some of the finest NY studio guys, especially drums and bass, Artie Schroeck  might have been on keys on some tunes.  
All done “live”, with minimal overdub.  “Auto tune” hadn’t been invented, so we had to sing in tune.  What a concept!

(Jim) Vinnie Bell came in with a sharkskin suit and offered the sounds of his electric sitar.  That offer was quickly vetoed.

What brought about the move to RCA?

(Gus) It happened at the level above the producer...our manager Bill O’Boyle probably had a hand in it.

What song stands out to you from this vantage point?

(Jim) "When You Grow Up" I was going for a John Lennon thing.  I thought I was a genius at the time for using waltz time.

(Gus) I will have to disagree, I think "When you Grow Up" is a little too busy.
However, that 7/4 time signature  in "Hard Loving Loser"...waaaay ahead of its time!

(KC) "Get Together" as it expresses our strengths with vocal harmonies.   It was our first single for Columbia and yes we first heard it done by the Airplane in a little joint on lower Fillmore San Francisco.  It was the song that we wanted to do, in the early days when we got to do what we wanted.  John Hammond, of beloved memory, produced that first session in Studio A. The engineer was Bob Johnston of “Are we rolling. Bob?” on Nashville Skyline.  Hammond was neither a hands-on producer or A&R guy. What John was was the greatest music witch of his generation, and maybe any generation.  When “Get Together” didn’t take off, it could be it had something to do with “We Can Work it Out” and “Paperback Writer” being released a couple days earlier.  Hammond seemed to blame himself, and brought in Howard Roberts, a jazz horn player who was all wrong for us. "You Still Thrill Me, Babe" comes in second as it also encapsulates our vocal strengths and has that nice bridge--"Lots of Pretty Girls Around..."

(Gus) I had picked "Get Together" out of the Airplane repertoire and played it for WNW...a truly great song, as proved out.  I don't recall the beats per minute being so high.

(Jim) Maybe someone  at Sony Music/Columbia recently sped it up! The Kingston Trio performed an early version titled "Let's Get Together." As we know it was later made famous by the Youngbloods who included it in their sets as the house band at Club Au Go Go in the Village. Felix Pappalardi was the arranger of our version.

Any other recordings out there or recordings lost to time?

(Jim) Did Gus ever tell you about the "Funston Song"?  We played it during our audition for John Hammond.  It was similar in structure to the wonderful "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" by the Byrds.  Gus, how about that Gillette's Heads Up spot?

(Gus) The “Funston Song” had the official title of “Future Departure From a Love On the Road”.  An extraordinary song, apparently a “one and done” for Mike Funston.  He was a  (South Bend) Townie, and if we were 19-20, he would have been 15-16.  There may be CBS lacquer disc of the demo session.  Webster's also did a Gillette "Heads Up" hair goo commercial,  but I couldn't participate because my hair was too long. I just did the music track! We also did a commercial for Kohler Distributing. 

(KC) Gillette's Heads Up commercial aired during the 1967 World Series.  We were rooting for the series to go seven games so we could make some serious coin.  It did!.  The ad agency dressed us up for the shoot in these ridiculous Austin Powers “groovy” outfits with white belts. As I’m standing in the street this limo pulls over, with Bob Dylan, who recognizes me and says with his usual charm, “Hey man give me you belt.” I say, “Can’t do it.” He says, “C’mon man I need the belt, I got a concert.”  “No,” I say.  I kind of wish I could have given, or sold, it to him, because I knew I would never be wearing it again.

Was there ever an album in the works or in the planning stages or other projects in the works?

(Gus) Probably...we may never know.  It was all about singles.  

(KC) One of the last things we did as a band was to appear in a truly forgettable film titled Good Morning Freedom.  The film combined an American Revolution/Bicentennial theme with Help! and A Hard Day's Night hi-jinks and was directed by Ezra Stone (who was most known at that time for his television direction work on shows like Lassie, The Munsters and later Love, American Style).  The film, was made in tribute to Ezra’s father Sol Feinstone, who founded the David Library of the American Revolution.  We filmed at places like the Lexington and Concord Battlefields and even atop the Statue of Liberty.

Caleb Deschanel was a young assistant who got to shoot one shot at the Concord bridge. The actual DP (Director of Photography) was a guy named George Pickow who was the husband of Jean Ritchie, the famous dulcimer player.  Gus, Caleb and I watched the film on TV, probably the only time it was aired, at my apartment on Moorpark Ave. in Studio City.  It was painful and funny at the same time.

Caleb Deschanel, father of Zooey Deschanel, later went on to be Director of Photography for films like More American Graffiti, Being There, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years and major productions like The Right Stuff, Black Stallion, The Passion of the Christ, and The Lion King.

Great Society 1967-WNW with Vice President Hubert Humphrey
L to R-Jerry Peloquin, Gus Duffy, KC Lynch, HH, Jim Mason, Buddy Hill  and John Gilmore
Final words?

(Jim) It could be an exercise in retaining the rights, but at the same time it is very gratifying to have these "slightly off-center" recordings be recognized, presented in their full dynamic range and available  beyond the scratchy 45s.

(Gus) My take is that somebody at Columbia/Sony understands the value of content.  50 years later, these songs still hold up!  The release has brought about a real jolt of awareness.

(KC) I think we got as far as we did for three reasons: First, Buddy Hill's voice was a key differentiator.  Second, the presence of Buddy as there were few integrated pop rock groups at the time and lastly, we genuinely enjoyed each other's company.  Thankfully, everyone involved was even-tempered and egos were not a factor.

Post-Webster's New Word
Jerry Peloquin and Jim Mason to WINGS
KC Lynch to Universal City Studios where he started his film career
Gus Duffy back to Notre Dame to study architecture & play in Captain Electric and the Flying Lapels
Buddy home to Bermuda to work in advertising and the arts
Jon Talbot to art world fame


"Den, 4 p.m. today, my house. I got this lead guitarist named Gus coming over. Get this, he used to play with the Airplane."

xcerpt from Not Turning Back by Dennis Lopez of the Soul Survivors, the Plague and Captain Electric and the Flying Lapels which included Gus Duffy (post-Webster's New Word). The band recorded an unreleased album, The Symphony, at Golden Voice Studios which was intended for ABC Dunhill in 1968 after Tom Wilson heard their demo tape.

Click to Enlarge

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Har-You Percussion Group

Formed in the aftermath of the 1964 Harlem riots, the Har-You Percussion Group, defied the forces closing in and bucked the odds to create this fully-realized album teeming with Afro-Cuban-Jazz-Latin-Soul sounds. The group, comprised of 11 African American & Puerto Rican teenagers, took root in the Arts & Culture division of the Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU) organization led for a time by Cyril DeGrasse Tyson (father of astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson).  Notable Latin jazz musician Montego Joe was hired to provide overall direction and guidance, while being tasked to deliver a finished project that demonstrated "progress" was being made with these young men. In the span of four years, Montego imparted the rudiments of Afro and Afro-Cuban percussion and off they ran with it-frequently into exciting new directions.  
Montego Joe
Their progress report was delivered in the form of this exploratory 1968 recording that captures all the unbridled enthusiasm and propulsive energy on levels similar to what teens out in the suburbs were emanating in garages, gyms and basements.  The first half of the album is a spirited warm up leading to the jolting and brilliant fireworks found on the second half. The ebullient "Welcome to the Party" is their signature song with its dashing Ramsey Lewis-ish piano lead riding a high tide of percussion surging over the seemingly extemporaneous arrangement. "Santa Cruz" follows immediately behind with its momentum generated by its percussive cylinders firing off in perfect working order and topped off with an alegre melody line rendered by a flute.  In other words,  polyrhythms galore going on under the hood with Montego Joe's production steering things straight.

Overall, this album is the sound of an ensemble rising to the occasion and surpassing all exigent expectations of its own time and place.  Little did anyone know that in the process they were making one for the ages.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Liverpool Five-Arrive

With a band name that made me confuse them with the Liverpool Echo, I never gave this outfit previous consideration until “Sister Love” recently caught my ears.  The song offered not only a delightful mélange of beat, folk and garage, but also a palpable sense of soul.  The inherent soulfulness of the song made sense when I discovered it was written by Curtis Mayfield.  Arrive (their American debut album) remarkably features “Sister Love” plus two more compositions from Curtis Mayfield.  (Interestingly, 2008’s Best of the Liverpool Five collection from Sundazed does not include any of the Mayfield material.) "That's What Love Will Do (To You)" is the second Mayfield song and presents them in a refined Searchers mode. "Hey Little Girl" is a swaying dance floor number that Mayfield first handed off to Major Lance between his big hits "The Monkey Time" and "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um."  The Liverpool Five's version features some standout backing vocals-especially when their voices converge on the forefront to proclaim, "Let's Get Together." Action-packed between the Mayfield compositions are some stompers that rave-up and nose dive somewhere between the Count Five and the Yardbirds. The LP5 drape fuzz all over the slow burning " I Just Can’t Believe It"  written by Barry DeVorzon (of  “Nadia’s Theme," “Theme From S.W.A.T.” and Valiant Records fame) and convey a "she's gone" lament with determined resolve in reaction to the crushing blow.

While the shopworn narrative is that the tough British Invasion bands reintroduced the blues back to America, what is often taken for granted (here in the U.S.) is the monumental influence of American soul music had on the development of British Beat music (along with skiffle, the Shadows. music hall and folk).  The band’s trajectory was just as adventurous as their song selection as they were mostly from London before honing their sound in Germany (like that band that was actually from Liverpool). They even performed at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and played in the Philippines before sharing the Hollywood Bowl stage with the Beach Boys & the Byrds at the Beach Boys’ Summer Spectacular in 1965.  The group somehow ended up based in Spokane, WA where they reached the mountain top of the ultra-competitive Pacific Northwest scene. Thanks in part to Curtis Mayfield, it's now hard to overlook this British Invasion band and their well-traveled sound.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Rex Kona and his Mandarins-Wild Orchids

While existing in the world since 1964, I only recently had the good fortune to encounter this domestic oddity with its tilt towards the Far East.  Overall, it’s a now sound record layered with copious vibraphone, wind chimes and marimbas. Further explorations reveal the prominent cross-currents of Latin jazz and samba swirling about at the time of recording.  The album is atmospheric in that listeners can hear the separation of the instruments and feel that something different in the air. Wild Orchids starts off with a brisk sense of urgency as the Mandarins quicken the tempo of the old standard “Kisses Sweeter than Wine.” Besides the obvious influences of Martin Denny and Lex Baxter, there are also hues of Tak Shindo as heard in the Sino-Japanese motifs which run throughout the album and are especially pronounced in “Bushi, Bushi.” “The Trolley Song” seems to even anticipate the playfulness of Rolfe Kent’s soundtrack for Sideways with its accordion-led melody. “Bird Train” meets and exceeds its song title with its dashing bongos and a whole Tiki Room of bird whistles. The only ambient sound absent seems to be the rhythm of the falling rain. Don’t expect a profound or earthshaking experience with Wild Orchids, however these sounds float through the speakers like a refreshing Pacific Ocean breeze.

Bobby Montez-Viva! Montez

Bandleader and vibraphonist Bobby Montez hailed from Sonora, Arizona, but good luck finding it on a current map or on the actual horizon because it’s one of those copper mining towns like Ray that no longer exits.  Montez was able to quickly rise from his dusty desert beginnings to space age heights by creating a vast array of musical stardust by blending Latin jazz with elements of exotica.  Viva! Montez is one of two albums he recorded with World Pacific after previous releases on Jubilee (1958’s Jungle Fantastique) and GNP Crescendo (1959’s Lerner & Loewe in Latin). Viva! Montez abounds with his sophisticated, yet sweeping arrangements which slide open at times to reveal their percussive infrastructure.  One of his most evocative numbers is “Garden of Allah” which refers to the long-gone West Hollywood hotel and favorite haunt of F. Scott Fitzgerald. While Montez’s vibraphone and piano carry the waves of melody, the congas and timbales swirl and then crest before the chanting chorus. His playful instrumentals “My” and “Brazilian” sound way ahead of their 1961 time due to their freshness, vibrancy and understated elegance.  It was written that by day he worked as a landscape architect and by night he led his quintet at fledgling nightclubs from the M Club in East Los Angeles to The Crescendo in Hollywood during the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. The last printed mentions of Montez playing live were engagements at the Golden Sails Lounge in 1967 and a residency at the Executive Suite on the Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach in 1970, according to listings in the Long Beach Independent. The paucity of biographical information across the interwebs, only heightens the mysterious allure of this versatile artist and his incredible musical journey from Sonora, AZ to this century’s belated acclaim as an integral figure overlapping the West Coast Latin jazz & exotica scenes.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

I Am Another You-A Film by Nanfu Wang

In the urban wilds of South Florida roams Dylan who both explores for the sake of exploring and works for the sake of hard labor. He is doing his “Into the Wild” thing, but in the opposite geographical direction of Alexander Supertramp aka Christopher McCandless, as Miami becomes his new sunny habitat to be deliberately homeless after a stint in San Diego. Nanfu Wang, a film maker from over-industrialized mainland China, sets us out to document street life in America where her path converges with drifting Dylan. While she initially senses freedom in that the sky is Dylan’s roof, she later sees the selflessness of Dylan’s trajectory.  He may appear free on the outside, but inside his mind is mired in a vat of drugs and ensnared by paranoia. He tellingly declares that he is "22 years old, but feels like 100." Accompanied by her camera, Nanfu decides to enter dumpster diving street life in order to better understand Dylan and the concept of “freedom” in America.  Right away, they end up getting roused by police for sleeping in a city park.  She eventually finds out he was originally from Utah and was Mormon for more than a minute.  As she digs into his past, she finds more layers and much more complexity, which eventually leads to filming Dylan on his home turf within the dynamic of his estranged family in Utah. Nanfu and Dylan’s working relationship immediately halts when things come to an impasse over a donated bag of bagels given to Dylan as goodwill by a "Philadelphia-themed" Miami bagel shop.  Watching their underlying Eastern & Western values clash over the donated bagels is particularly piercing.  Dylan argues that he does not want to schlep the extraneous weight and make unnecessary restroom stops, but Nanfu sees it as a shameful act of wasting food-especially premium-grade bagels given away as an act of kindness.  Dylan and Nanfu lead viewers to both the visible and elusive edges of homelessness and ultimately to the question, “Does one have to lose oneself in order to find oneself?"

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Shane Martin-Columbia & Epic Singles (1967-1969)

Here is another installment in the Columbia Singles series which has taken me down some previously unexplored musical pathways.  This release proves to be no exception as it covers two brief, but intriguing years of a musician who has been on a lifetime voyage of discovery.  Shane Martin (aka Neale Lundgren) was from New Orleans and naturally drawn to soul music’s “range of emotion.”  Lundgren started out in the Crescent City garage scene as a singer for bands like the Twilights and an early version of the legendary Gaunga Dyns. 
The Gaunga Dyns '66
(L to R: Beau Bremer, Brian Collins, Steve Staples, Ricky Hall, Bobby Carter, Neale Lundgren, and Mike King)
His ship came in and he was signed as a solo artist to Columbia/Epic.  He certainly had a smooth and strong delivery, but not enough distinction in his voice to take him to the first class. Songs like “Don’t Take Tomorrow Away” had him leaning more towards Gene Pitney than Steve Marriott, but there is certainly the presence of soul (and sometimes a slight sneer) in his voice.  From around a corner, the propulsive horns on "You're So Young" and "I Need You"sound like the building brass section from "MacArthur Park" which makes sense because these two Northern Soul classics and the epic "MacArthur Park" were all composed by Jimmy Webb.  He connects "Black is Black" by Los Bravos and ? and the Mysterians' "96 Tears" and it works because the stock material both share that "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" bass line. Interestingly, these singles were produced by Jason Darrow who previously wrote songs for ? and the Mysterians like "Hanging on a String." Also included is Martin's convincing "side-buckle shoes" interpretation of Jerry Butler's "He Will Break Your Heart." However, some of the singles like "I Keep it Hid" get a little too swanky and schmaltzy for their own good and enter B.J. Thomas-ville.  

He competently covers the Association’s soaring "Goodbye Columbus"-the theme of The Graduate-ish movie based on Philip Roth’s novella  The landing gear is activated and the album descends on Mark Eric territory with the wistful, sparkling and sweeping bossa-pop of "Something Beautiful is Gone." In the late ‘70s, Lundgren entered a Benedictine monastery and immersed himself in the sacred tradition of Gregorian chant, the mystical poets and Bach. These Columbia & Epic Singles provide the impetus to trace Lundgren's unexpected path both forward and back while focusing on this particular slice of time.  After all, it's part of an era that keeps offering a seemingly infinite supply of remarkable singles and stories.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Debbie Lori Kaye-Columbia Singles

Debbie Lori Kaye had the unique distinction of being of Portuguese heritage, growing up Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and being signed to Columbia Records as a teen.  It appears that she was possibly being groomed by CBS to be a consummate crossover artist.  She certainly straddled mid-sixties styles ranging from big production Nashville country through multiple branches of CanCon pop.   In other words, you could place her records somewhere between early Dolly Parton, Skeeter Davis and Lesley Gore.  This album starts with “Picking Up My Hat,” which was a #1 record in Canada for 9 weeks in 1965, and is undeniably catchy skip-a-long pop.  Her most recognized single “The Iron Cross” was arranged by Bergan White and later covered by the Untamed Youth. On this record released in July 1966, the lyrics defend her own donning of her boyfriend’s iron cross against the protests of her mother. Besides Peter Fonda in The Wild Angels some surfers, sidewalk surfers, gremmies, kooks and hodads wore these mass produced medals, most featuring a surfer on a board in the middle of the cross, as fashion accessories before the masses later clasped puka shell necklaces. The protagonist arguably claims the pendant is a symbol of her boyfriend’s love and the larger cross pattée shape no longer represents the horrific things it once did. She even slips in the fact that "some of our boys are dying over there," while many remained ineffectually fixated on a vending machine item. Then again, the younger generation was playing inconsiderately with a form of fire. What would Roland Barthes think? The B-side is the delightful “Baby What I Mean” which the Drifters would later convert into a R&B hit in late 1966 and then again covered by Spiral Starecase in 1969. However, her most compelling moment might be “The Playground” as it is laced with some monster fuzz guitar over subterranean lyrics, lavish strings and acoustic latticework.  Her one and only album from 1966, Hey Little One!, smartly included this track. This Columbia singles collection serves as a rectifying reintroduction to a singer previously resigned to one topical song, The expanded view presents a somewhat underrated musician who overlapped both national and musical borders.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Habibi- Cardamom Garden EP

This all-female quintet certainly exudes a certain thrift shop charm, while weaving an appealing tapestry. Their focal point and catalyst is lead singer Rahill Jamalifard who is of Iranian-American descent and actually grew up in the flatlands of Michigan before following her global dreams to NYC. Under her direction, the combo adeptly intertwines Middle Eastern undercurrents with the enduring influence of the Shangri-Las, Luv’d Ones and Vashti Bunyan-which differentiates their sound & image to stand apart from their contemporaries. While many kids nowadays (inaccurately) call this surf rock with its abundant echo, reverb, and rolling drums, it all conspires to have a magnetic pull on listeners. Cardamom Garden sometimes slopes into that languid realm of wooziness where the weekend slips away before it even gets started.  Despite moments of slack, they have thickened their overall sound and expanded their sphere of influences to include Persian poetry (“Nedayeh Bahar”) and a Pebbles cover (“Green Fuz”) with the verses sung in Farsi that works to everyone’s advantage.
They should also be commended for their attention to harmonies, backing vocals and arrangements. This focus allows them to transcend the one-dimensionality that plagues many an emerging band.  If you have ever been enamored by the Century 21 female-fronted sounds of La Luz, Slumber Party, Louie Louie, the Girls at Dawn, Bobcat ’65, Summer Twins, the Splinters or even Best Coast, there is certainly something similar to connect to with Habibi.  It should be interesting to hear what they will do next, which is usually the point of an EP. Here’s hoping they incorporate even more pronounced Persian influences into their future pop efforts. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Photos-S/T

When I first came across this album from 1980, I was excited to discover a power-pop band that I have never previously before encountered.  What was further intriguing was that the band was led by a woman who went by the stage name of Wendy Wu (not the Homecoming Warrior).  Groups that were female-fronted and supported by male backing musicians were surprisingly rare in the new wave-era despite the runaway commercial and critical success of Blondie and the Pretenders.  Moreover, a band featuring a female lead singer with an assumed Chinese surname of Wu was certainly striking during this angular time.  My initial impression was that the band was originally from somewhere like St. Louis before moving their impossible dreams to N.Y. or L.A.

The British Blondie?
The Photos actually hailed from Evesham-a civil parish between London and Birmingham and instantly expressed their chagrin when pegged as the British Blondie.  This is one band that accurately sounds like their graphic design while being fortunately directly inspired by Blondie despite their frequent denials. Songs like the dashing "Irene" would have sounded perfect on Rhino's Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the '80s or their DIY series from 1993. “Friends,” a standout slower number building on Spector's wall of sound, could have been the closing number on the Valley Girl Soundtrack. Their stellar rendition of Bacharach-David’s "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" fittingly concludes the proper album.  It also sounds like a highlight from an old episode of Rock Over London before being taped over and existing only in memory.

Developing their Sound
Overall, the songs are straight to the slanted point aesthetic of power-pop with some cuts wearing a splash of reggae-which humidified the UK air at the time.  The layered and large production is able to achieve the tricky balance of offering taunt and tough guitars within songs that sweep and even soar at times. Perhaps the only shortcoming holding the Photos back was Wu’s voice.  While her voice was certainly proficient with pronounced Debbie Harry inflections, it is not in the same distinctive league of her model or Chrissie Hynde. In brief moments her voice slips into that dreadful office worker-Diet Coke metallic shrillness that would later be heard coating the hoopla of Grace Slick's Starship.  Along with Sheena and the Rokkets (Fukuoka, Japan), the Shivvers (Milwaukee) and the MnM's (Los Angeles), the Photos seem somewhat overlooked in the stack between the trailblazers that came before (Blondie and the Pretenders) and those who came successfully after (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Katrina and the Waves) in the video era. By happenstance, the Photos bring another perspective on the new wave movement to light.