Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Things To Come

Fronted by a 17-year-old Steve Runolfsson (vocals/organ/piano/harmonica), this L.A. 5-piece existed from 1965-1967. All of them shared writing duties, but few fans disagree with the idea that Runolfsson was the most talented of the group in that respect (he penned all of the below). The combination of Steve's mature and downright menacing vocal style and Lynn Rominger's rumbling lead guitar breaks laid the foundation for success in a town that would soon embrace the likes of the Doors. But it was not to be. Minimal AM airplay of their debut single ('Sweetgina' b/w 'Speak of the Devil'), even more minimal record sales and zero interest from West Coast labels gave them some early kicks in the ribs. A few instances of bad luck -- and, it could be speculated, one incredibly bad decision -- spelled their demise. In the spring of 1967, Lynn Rominger was drafted and sent off to boot camp (which is presumably when the above group photo was taken). That summer a fairly well-known Hollywood manager caught a performance of theirs and liked what he saw. An audition was scheduled for the next week. Following this subsequent performance, the manager offered to take them on . . . as soon as they fired their singer, whom he felt wasn't 'right for the group.' The remaining three met without Runolfsson and, not wanting to miss out on their chance at success, voted to get rid of him. Naturally, he was devastated.

After deciding that bassist Bryan Garofalo would take over on vocals, the four-piece forged on. True to his word, their new manager negotiated a contract for them with Warner Bros. They released two singles on said label in 1968, neither of which charted. When WB heard (and was unimpressed by) demos for a possible LP, the band was quickly dropped.

Steve Runolfsson went on to form a campy, satirical group with his sister in the early 1970's called Da Yuckettes -- oddly, this band opened for Capt. Beefheart and Little Richard. On January 10, 1977 at the age of 27, Steve overdosed on a mixture of liquor & pills -- it is thought to have been a suicide.

Some sinister songs:

Django Reinhardt

His operative fingers were the index and middle; as the result of a 1928 fire (aged 18), his ring and pinky fingers were useful ever-after only for bar chords. Those flashy, arpeggiated runs you hear are the work of just two fingers.

He was a gypsy. He was a gypsy in Western Europe when Hitler came to power.

per Wikipedia: 'Reinhardt survived the war unscathed, unlike the many Romanis who perished in the Porajmos, the Nazi regime's systematic murder of several hundred thousand European Romanis. He was especially fortunate because the Nazi regime did not allow jazz to be performed and recorded. He apparently enjoyed the protection of Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Kohn, nicknamed "Doktor Jazz", who deeply admired his music.'

It was a brain hemorrhage that killed him in 1953.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Pop Group

photos courtesy of Leigh Williams

Youtube these guys, watch & listen, then high-five yourself. Then buy their albums. As if you don't already own them.

trk. 1, 2, 4 are 1978 demos.
trk. 3 is from July 3, 1978 Peel session

The Outsiders (Holland)

I still don't hear enough about these guys in any circles. Holland, 1965-1968. I highly urge you to find their first album (cover at right), singles collection(s), and their final album 'C.Q.' Their catalogue is incredible -- I chose to include the following tracks only because (a) they were a bit on the hard-to-find side, and (b) they were transferred directly from the original vinyl (17 years ago by an acquaintance-of-a-friend-of-mine, albeit). Sound quality not necessarily better, just different in a great way. I did not include the song 'Misfit.' I implore you to seek it out.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Screamers

Tracks 1-4 are c. 1977-1978, but cannot be found on the ubiquitous 'Demos 1977-78' (I'm not sure where they can be found, honestly). Eva Braun, despite its length, is among their masterpieces (strictly my opinion, but think Can's 'Oh Yeah' . . . at least in terms of having several movements -- all of them intense, but the band is in no hurry). The last track is readily available, but I included it here because Tomata du Plenty's personna is so lovably spastic. For an amazing video document, check it out.