One Hit Wonders #12: “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by The Blues Magoos (Mercury Records 1966)

The very first concert I saw was… er, a very long time ago! Teenybop pop rockers Herman’s Hermits headlined the show, and the opening act was The Blues Magoos, performing their #5 Billboard hit, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet”:

The Blues Magoos, from The Bronx, were early practitioners of psychedelic rock’n’roll, going so far as to name their debut album “Psychedelic Lollipop”. They were loud, heavy, and wore these electric suits that blinked on and off during their rendition of the classic “Tobacco Road”:

Even without the suits, they were pretty far out, man! The lineup consisted of Emil “Peppy Castro” Theilheim (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike Esposito (lead guitar), Ralph Scala (organ), Ron Gilbert (bass), and Geoff Daking (drums). They made the rounds of all the TV shows, like AMERICAN BANDSTAND, THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR , and the above clip from a Jack Benny-hosted episode of THE KRAFT MUSIC HALL (Jack doesn’t seem to dig ’em… Well!). After four more groovy LP’s and a handful of singles, The Blues Magoos disbanded, only to reunite ten years ago. They continue to spread the Gospel of Psychedelia around to small clubs across the country.

Oh, there was a second group playing that night between The Magoos and Herman, an obscure British band noted at the time more for destroying their instruments onstage than their music:

Hmmm, wonder what ever happened to those lads?

One Hit Wonders #11: “LITTLE GIRL” by The Syndicate of Sound (Bell Records 1966)

San Jose’s The Syndicate of Sound reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966 with their proto-punk hit, “Little Girl”:

The band was formed in 1964 by members of Lenny Lee and the Nightmen and The Pharaohs as a San Jose supergroup: Don Baskin (lead singer/guitars), Larry Ray (lead guitar), Bob Gonzalez (bass), John Sharkey (keys), and John Duckworth (drums). Two years later, “Little Girl” became a local radio smash,  and Bell Records picked it up for national distribution. Baskin’s snarling vocals and the speed-freak jangling guitar sounds got teens movin’ and groovin’, and the song today is considered one of the progenitors of the punk movement of the 1970’s.

Bell demanded an album from the boys, and after Ray was replaced by Jim Sawyers, the Syndicate cranked one out in three weeks that’s a garage rock classic. Besides their hit and five other originals, the group performed covers of Chuck Berry’s “Almost Grown”, Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man”, Roy Orbison’s “Dream Baby”, The Hollies’ “I’m Alive”, Louis Jordan’s “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, and The Sonics’ “The Witch”:

The Syndicate of Sound broke up in 1970 after several unsuccessful attempts to return to the top of the pop charts. Twenty years later, Baskin, Gonzalez, and Sawyer reformed the band, and they still play West Coast dates to this day. Rock on, gentlemen, rock on!

Old dudes still rock: The Syndicate of Sound!

 

One Hit Wonders #10: “Summertime Blues” by Blue Cheer (Philips Records 1968)

Direct from Haight-Ashbury, psychedelic hard rockers Blue Cheer ushered in the Age of Heavy Metal with “Summertime Blues”, reaching #14 on the Billboard charts in 1968 (Crank It Up LOUD!):

Singer/bassist Dickie Peterson, who lived on San Francisco’s Haight Street during the “Summer of Love” days, originally formed the band as a five-piece group, but stripped down to the power trio model popularized by Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Leigh Stephens on guitar and Paul Whaley on drums. Blue Cheer’s hair was longer, and their sound more ear-splitting, than anyone around, and the band’s thundering heavy metal noise made both the single and their debut album “Vincebus Eruptum” into classics of early metal then and collector’s items today.

Blue Cheer’s classic lineup: Dickie Peterson, Leigh Stephens, and Paul Whaley

The band went through numerous personnel changes before breaking up in 1970. Peterson reformed the group in the 80’s and toured Europe, bringing their “cranked up to 11” barrage of sound to a new generation of metal maniacs, who worshipped these hard rock pioneers. Peterson died in 2009 from prostate cancer, bringing an end to what many call the Founding Fathers of Heavy Metal. Any act calling themselves Blue Cheer today simply ISN’T – BC without Peterson is like The Stones without Mick Jagger!

50’s rocker Eddie Cochran

As for “Summertime Blues” itself, the song was first written and recorded by 50’s rocker Eddie Cochran, whose original version hit #8 on the charts. The tune became a staple for every bar band in the land, and has been covered by artists as diverse as The Beach Boys, Dick Dale, Alan Jackson (who hit #1 on the Country charts with it in 1994), Joan Jett, The MC5, Olivia Newton-John, Buck Owens, Rush, James Taylor, T. Rex, The Who (on their seminal “Live at Leeds” LP), and The Ventures. But nobody, not even Cochran himself, rocked “Summertime Blues” as hard as Blue Cheer did fifty years ago!

More “One Hit Wonders” to see and hear:

“The Night Chicago Died” by Paper Lace

“One Tin Soldier (Theme from BILLY JACK)” by Coven

“Long Lonesome Highway” by Michael Parks

“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam

“DOA” by Bloodrock

“Are You a Boy Or Are You a Girl” by The Barbarians

“Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas

“They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Ha” by Napoleon XIV

“In the Year 2525” by Zager & Evans

One Hit Wonders #2: “One Tin Solder (Theme from BILLY JACK)” by Coven (1973)

The theme song from Tom Laughlin’s BILLY JACK has quite a history behind it. First recorded by Canadian band The Original Caste in 1969, it became a #1 hit… in Canada! When Laughlin was making his picture, the song was re-recorded in 1971 by singer Jinx Dawson of the psychedelic occult-themed proto-metal group Coven. The Dennis Lambert/Brian Potter penned tune made it to #26 on the U.S. charts, but the film itself was poorly  distributed. Warner Bothers picked it up two years later, then Jinx and the band re-re-recorded the song, reaching #79 in 1973:

Coven made their debut with the 1969 LP “Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls”, featuring songs like “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”, “Dignitaries of Hell”, and the 13-minute opus “Satanic Mass”, which consists of ominous chanting and prayers to Satan in Latin! Coven is credited with introducing the “devil’s horns” sign to rock, later appropriated by virtually every heavy metal musician ever. Jinx and Coven are still around, having developed a cult following among metal maniacs via the Internet:

Rock on, Jinx!

(BTW, tune in tomorrow for a look at the movie BILLY JACK!)