Monday, 18 July 2011

Oscar & The Majestic's - No Chance Baby b/w My Girl Is Waiting For Me (U.S.A Records - 1966/67??)

Oscar and The Majestic's were a pretty hip band from Indiana during the mid-60s, they for me created one of the most delightful fuzztone monster 45s in the 60s garage genre. In fact all of Oscar and The Majestic's tracks had lead guitarists Oscar Hamod's infamous and unique fuzz-tone trademark all over it.

I am however only going to be brief in my post today, I wanted to highly one of Oscar and The Majestic's 45s which is my favourite - No Chance Baby b/w My Girl is Waiting For Me.

Oscar and The Majestic's consisted of - 

Oscar Hamod - Lead vocals and fuzztone guitar
Sam Hamod - Bass guitar and vocals
Bob Wheeler - Rhythm Guitar
Vince Jakim - Drums
Bud Hamod - Drums (on 45 written about in this post)

I've been playing 'No Chance Baby' a great deal over the last few days, purely cos I guess that it relates to my own circumstances in life at the moment. I admit currently I am getting worn down heavily by a few of the girl's around me in my life at the minute, they are driving me totally insane, doing my head in completely. 

I guess the frustration and pure anguish of how a female can mess around with a guy's mind is fully expressed in this 45 particularly the track,  'No Chance Baby'

The fuzz guitar snakes throughout the song like a salamander and the lyrics full of heart break, frustration and angst with lyrics full of 'I'm fucked off attitude' I really love the lyric, "Inside I feel like crying, I've almost given up trying!!!".... I guess this is how I am currently feeling too, what the hell is the point in existence when you have poisonous women constantly coming and going in your life??

But they sure as hell make it interesting?? I love girls, but geez do they know how to get my blood boiling!!!

Enjoy the track!!!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Rising Storm - Calm Before (1967)

Currently one of my favourite albums which is constantly spinning on my record deck and also on cd in my car is the album pictured above; The Rising Storm's delightful and landmark release in 1967 'Calm Before...'

The album is possibly one of the highlight LP's in the garage genre in my opinion and is to me ranked equally alongside other great lost albums within the genre such as Illinois' The Bachs' - Out of The Bachs or Florida's The Nightcrawlers with their cult classic album 'Little Black Egg' LP.... The Rising Storms' album is a classic and a totally unique gem full of genius song writing craft and original material (which was pretty uncommon for a band like this in 1967) and a couple of really cool cover versions

'Calm Before' played a huge influence on my own album and was sort of was the mold of which inspired the concept of my own album, the album has twelve songs (so does mine), the album has a couple of cover versions of the groups favourite tunes of the day (so does mine - however I only have two), the album is pretty melancholic and moody yet has a strong sense of song-writing style and flare (so does mine) and I guess it was one of the most unique albums of it's kind at it's time (just like mine hehehe)

The Rising Storm formed at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and were active between the years 1965 -1967, the band would essentially have been the Universities house group and would probably have played local frat parties playing the usual standards of the day to rowdy teenage boys and girls, however as is the case with the bands sole release 'Calm Before...' you know that there was much more depth to this band and the album is a first hand experience of this.

The Rising Storm were (in order of the pic above) Todd Cohen, Tom Scheft, Bob Cohan, Tony Thompson, Richard Weinberg & Charlie Rockwell.

The album is a great insight into a 60s group, in particular one who were a 'university/school group', the album is like a time capsule to a time-gone-by and I am sure the LP acts as a great momento to the memories of each band member.

Likewise with my own LP, I have it as a document to my own life now and hold the memories dear to me, mainly as a reminder of the people in my life who shared the period of creating the album within and I am sure The Rising Storm have a similar thing going on with their release.

When I first purchased The Rising Storm's album I didn't get it if truth be told, but after repeated listens the genius of the album consumes the listener and you slowly enter the innocent and dreamy psychedelic world of a band who were young and clearly had great minds on their shoulders.

There is a moodiness and melancholy all over 'Calm Before..' and this is what I really dig and relate too, especially as I have been absorbing this album almost every day for two weeks now, it  seems to fit my mood perfectly, the album is folk-tinged and beautifully psychedelic in it's presentations.

'Calm Before...' has a bunch of really cool cover versions of tracks by other New England Garage bands such as The Remains, The Rockin'Ramrods amongst a host of other hits of the day, However it is the bands moody and sombre originals that make this album a masterpiece, the cover versions of other band's songs are genius and The Rising Storm totally make them their own but there is something truly mystical about the band's original tracks.

See below a few links of the tracks off the album, please take a listen

The Cover of the Remains' - Don't Look Back, The Rockin' Ramrods' - Mr Wind and a few of the band's own magical original tracks.

The song above; 'Frozen Laughter' influenced the track called 'Why?' on my own LP, as a homage to 'The Rising Storm' I too placed my song as track 6 to end side 1 of the vinyl.


Mr Wind, don't laugh as I begin to cry.... GENIUS!!!


Paul Messis

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream Of Trains (1984)

Yesterday I went to London with a friend and we were wandering around Soho, I went to a record shop and was looking at the records through the window when all of a sudden Robyn Hitchcock comes up beside me to also have a look at the records in the shop window, I was a little surprised and caught off guard, but I did stop and say "hi" and tell him I was a fan of his music. 

The reason I was a little shocked was, during this week, I've been listening constantly to Robyn Hitchcock's seminal solo album 'I Often Dream Of Trains' from 1984.

'I Often Dream of Train's' is a pretty important album to me, it was one of the LP's which I listened to a great deal during my formative years. I particularly listened to this album when I was briefly doing a college course in Guildford way back in 2003. I spent a number of moments wandering around the Guildford area (still do to this day) trying to go into the past via my imagination. It is great and was a fab time doing all of that in my mid-teens however all I can remember of that time in 2003 was how it was bitterly cold all the time and how it was constantly raining and grey.
I also remember I used to listen to a bunch of albums over and over back then, such albums include Love's  'Forever Changes', The Kaleidoscope's 'Tangerine Dream' and this album, 'I Often Dream Of Trains' by Robyn Hitchcock.

As someone who has been a huge fan of Syd Barrett, British History and the British Sense of Humour, not too mention being a slightly Melancholic, Eccentric and Strange kinda guy myself, 'I Often Dream Of Trains' was sure to make some sense to me as a slightly psychedelic 16 year old suburbanite.

As mentioned during the time I was heavily influenced by this LP, I was based in Guildford and spending a great deal of time there, alone and socially, this album seems to make even more sense as there is reference to nearby things including a 'Cathedral', which in Guildford overshadows the town and is constantly there as a kind of weird pain-in-the-arse, it's both beautiful and ugly. Also on the title track of the album there is reference to catching a train to Basingstoke or Reading, Guildford being in between these two towns.... It kinda all seemed very apt to me and my life at that moment in time.

The Album is a great continuous piece and is honest and brilliant, the album has a strange trippy melancholic feel throughout and this is extenuated by Hitchcock's tender vocal and a lovely array of acoustic guitars, electric guitar and piano, it's a minimal album but is genius because of the song writing.

Please dig my 3 favourite tracks from the album below...

Cathedral - As mentioned above, whilst I was in Guildford, the prominance of the town's Cathedral leaves you with a static feeling that it's always there and consuming your energy, I actually feel it's a bit of an albatross around the town's neck. For people who live in Guildford, it's part of the furniture so to speak, but for me it's a great energetic and mental annoyance. So I used to always listen to this song whilst walking up the Town's Cobbled Street and think to myself "I can barely understand myself, what the hell is the meaning of this world and why is it such a messy place??? and when I got to the top of 'The Cobbled Street', I would look out over the valley and there it was, the bloody Cathedral making a mockery of me and my head space... "Cathedral Of The Mind'... I think Robyn Hitchcock kinda got what I was feeling.

Trams Of Old London - I just love this song because it is a wonderful song and I love the song writing.  I am also a history nerd and am interested in historical things especially things in London and the Tram system of Victorian -1920s London does interest me. Such a song is a good example of the true essence of 'Folk-Music' and I dig that about Robyn Hitchcock's song writing.

I Often Dream Of Trains - This track is simply sublime, it's a great piece of lyrical and song writing genius, I have always loved this song, it resonates highly with me and my mindset. It's totally psychedelic and I guess I have a trippy head space, I love the ironic sense of humour in this song and the weirdly melancholic feel of the song. Once again this song reminds me a great deal of Guildford and my time spent there.

Go and buy some Robyn Hitchcock albums or even go and check out his band prior to becoming a solo recording artist, 'The Soft Boys' (who pretty much invented the neo-Psychedelic Paisley Underground scene here in the UK)

Enjoy folks.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Wisdom of Linus Van Pelt

As a child I used to love watching the cartoon 'The Snoopy and Charlie Brown Show', my favourite character by far was the constantly existential, Linus Van Pelt. Linus is just a really cute and loveable character and I really adore some of the things he comes out with which both help and frustrate his friends equally.

Linus is a wonderful boy who helps his friends with benevolent advice which no-one can ever fault, he is the voice of reason for his pals and always has a kind word to say to everyone, even Snoopy who constantly tries to steal his beloved blanket and his older sister Lucy Van Pelt who bullies him.

Linus Van Pelt first appeared in the Peanut's comic strip on 19th of September 1952, in 1954 he spoke his first words and also during this time he was also found with his infamous safety blanket, the blanket never fails to leave his side.

Although he is portrayed as a young child, he is highly intelligent and is often found philosophising about all of life's concerns... his only real worry, 'The Great Pumpkin'

Below are some of my favourite wisdom's from Linus, from a tiny little book if 'Linus-isms' which I found in a charity shop.

Beneath is probably Linus' most well known piece of wisdom.


Pumpkin Paul

The Jacks - Vacant World (1968)

Sometimes in the world of music there are bands that just exude cool without even trying, they simply are just beyond what might be deemed cool and be pioneers of what they do... Japan's The Jacks are one such group.

Recently I have been totally obsessed with Japanese music and culture, I have been getting heavily into the 'Group Sounds' scene which came out of Japan during the mid to late 60s.

There was a number of groups who were really fantastic which came forth from the typically Anglo influence of popular culture, however for me The Jacks were the most interesting band from this scene who remained totally Japanese in their songs and personality as a band.

Their debut long-player 'Vacant World' arrived on my doorstep on the weekend and has been continuously getting spun on my record player, it's just a far out album which is totally blowing my mind even though I can't understand a word which is sung, the album powerfully gives off the vibe that the cats who recorded the album were fed-up, frustrated and moody guys.

The band were -

Yoshio Hayakawa - Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Haruo Mizuhashi - Lead Guitar/Vocals
Hiroshi Tanino - Electric and Upright Bass
Takasuke Kida - Drums, Flute and Percussion.

'Vacant World' is a cult classic album, although ignored totally by the rest of the world, it is considered one of the great albums of the 6os in Japan, the album was highly political and the band themselves were true outcasts of their society and were nothing like their contemporaries in the "Group Sounds' scene.

The band were totally non conformist, they were totally true to their music and themselves, they hardly engaged in the social spectre of the times by doing interviews and not playing shows which they ultimately had a great deal of control over. They played their own original songs and didn't play any covers which all the other Group Sounds band's did and the band also wrote highly political songs, the title track off 'Vacant World' was banned in Japan for overly critical lyrics towards the Japanese culture, the main insult being the song was so goddamn nihilistic that it offended the system.

The album as a whole has a real nihilistic vibe to it, it is scary doom-laden folk rock throughout.

In the various times the ultra hip ray-banned figure of Jack's leader Yoshio Hayakawa gave interviews, what he'd have to say was often controversial and snotty -

"We are not Underground, that's just an idea created by the media. We became outsiders from the folk jamboree as we don't have the goal to be famous, so it's difficult for people to understand and define us.. it's a dirty world, you gotta go in there yourself and find out" ..... Taken from Julian Cope's book Japrocksampler.

Saying such a thing back in 1968 was a really big thing to do.... to openly turn your back on such a thing was criminal.... you'd never have seen people like The Troggs or even The Beatles say such things in public, yet a real hip Japanese guy in the coolest group in the world was screaming it, yet his group was not known as much as they should have been.... Imagine if they did sing in English, what a war they would have created, I actually feel had they sung this album in English it would be more known to the whole world, it pisses on a great deal of other psychedelic albums of the time.... Lyrically too it is considered to be way out there and pointing out the darkness in the world, once again not many bands were doing this in 1968.... The Jacks however were telling it straight!!!

Even in it's native Japanese this album is killer and for me it makes it that bit more potent and real, I suggest anyone who consider's themselves a fan of 60s psychedelic music to go and buy this album immediately.... it's a real moody killer LP.

Youtube doesn't have much Jacks on it, but here are a couple of tracks to become acquainted...

Their free-jazz styled folk rock freak out Marianne, is a piece of crazy psychedelic madness about a strange female creature who comes from the storm ridden seas to consume the protagonist.

It's a mad fuzzy punk track.

I also love the moodiness in this following song 'In The Broken Mirror'....I love the mad moody vibe, I'm not gonna lie I really dig the savagery in this song, in fact the whole album is erratic and downtrodden, it's such a great album. The vocals are desperate and you can hear that Yoshio Hayakawa means every word he is singing.