We have been covering the many garage bands of the 1960s in this series over the last several months. This part will entirely consist of relatively unknown bands that were brought back from obscurity by a compilation album of garage rock singles released during the decade. This double album entitled “Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era” was originally released in 1972; but has since continued with a reissue in 1976, a series of fifteen installments in the 1980s and finally in 1998 as a 4 CD box set. The first installment contained liner notes denoting one of the first times the “punk rock” was used. I have already covered many of the bands contained on this groundbreaking album; however, some of the more obscure bands included still need coverage. Without these incredible albums, many of these bands would have drifted into obscurity forever since several only had limited and regional exposure.
The Del-Vetts formed in Chicago during 1963 and consisted of Jim Lauer, Bob Good, Lester Goldboss and Paul Wade. The band began playing at local clubs and developed a following in the suburbs of the city mainly performing cover songs. They signed with Seeburg Records after meeting up with record producer Bill Traut and recorded a cover of “Little Latin Lupe Lu” in 1966. The single did not have a lot of success, but Traut had hope for the band and signed them to Dunwich Records. The second single “Last Time Around” in 1967 was successful in the Chicago area topping the local charts and is their best-known song. However, the third single “I Call My Baby STP” the same year did not have much success. The group and Traut thought changing the bands name may help them reach greater success regionally and nationally. This resulted in them changing the bands name to The Pride and Joy. Under this name, they recorded two singles “Girl” which was successful regionally. After recording “We Got a Long Way to Go” backed with “That’s the Way It Is” was not successful the group broke up in 1968. The release of “Nuggets” brought the group back form obscurity with the inclusion of “Last Time Around”.
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The Litter began in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1966. The lineup consisted of Jim Kane, Bill Strandlof, Denny Waite, Dan Rinaldi and Tom Murray. They were from the influenced by the British Invasion; however, would later become associated with psychedelic rock. The band released the single “Action Woman” in 1967 which remains a garage rock classic. Standlof who was the lead guitarist left the band before the first album “Distortions” was released. He was replaced by Tom Caplan. “Distortions” has since become a classic album in the genre of Garage Rock. The album also included “Soul Searchin’” which is considered to be another iconic song. The band took a turn to psychedelic rock in 1968 with the release of their second album “$100 Fine”. The album included elements that would become common with other psychedelic bands especially pronounced in the song “Kaleidoscope”. However, the album failed to chart nationally even though it was a success in the Minneapolis area. One mistake the band made that kept them from progressing on the national scene was turning down offers from both Columbia and Elektra Records. In 1969, they signed to ABC Records and released their third album “Emerge” which was their most successful and did reach the Billboard 200. However, Chaplin and Waite both left the band and they disbanded in 1970. Other single releases by the band include “Somebody Help Me”, “I’m A Man”, “Hey Joe”, “Watcha Gonna Do About It”, “Blue Ice” and “Silly People”.
Kenny and the Kasuals
Kenny and the Kasuals hailed from Dallas, Texas and originally began in 1964 as the Illusions Combo. They are considered. The first lineup consisted of Kenny Daniel, Tommy Nichols, Blaine Young and Charles Beverly who performed at local events. Young passed away from meningitis at 18 years old resulting in Beverly leaving the band. With the addition of Jerry Smith, Lee Lightfoot, David Blachley and Paul Roach, the group became known as the Kenny Daniel’s Band. They played several times at a hotel club owned by businessman Rick Norwood before meeting up with Mark Lee who became the bands manager. Lee was looking for a way to cash in on the fame of The Beatles and saw this possibility in the band renaming them Kenny and the Kasuals. Nichols was dropped from the lineup. Lee did everything possible to make the band as much like The Beatles as possible. They played at several clubs in the Dallas region and went on tour with some big-name artists of the time including The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys. In 1965, they released their first single “Nothin’ Better to Do” followed by “Don’t Let Your Baby Go” and “It’s All Right”. The band released a 500-copy pressing live album titled “The Impact Sounds of Kenny and the Kasuals Recorded Live at the Studio Club. Rolling Stone magazine has called this album “one of the most collectible American albums” ever distributed and is known simply as “Impact” to collectors. It is very rare and worth quite a bit of money to anyone lucky enough to find it. Kenny and the Kasuals began to experiment with different sound effects and are considered by many to be the pioneers of the psychedelic era. This was particularly apparent on the single “Journey to Tyme” which was distributed nationally by United Artists. The song reached the Top 10 in Dallas and in the Northeast. This success prompted the band to move to New York City in 1967 where they were scheduled to perform on the same bill as The Beatles. However, their manager Mark Lee refused to give the United Artists label exclusive publishing rights and the group was banned from performing. This was a huge blow to the band; however, they released two more singles “Raindrops to Teardrops“ in 1966 “See-Saw Ride” in 1967. Daniel was then drafted forcing the group to disband shortly thereafter. They did make attempts to reform in the late 1970s and opened with later bands including Iggy Pop and Patti Smith.
Mouse and the Traps
Mouse and the Traps began in Tyler, Texas in 1965. The band released several singles between 1965 and 1969, although the singles were not always notated as being by Mouse and the Traps. Other recording names included Mouse, Positively 13 O’Clock and Chris St. John. The leader of the group Ronnie Weiss was known as “Mouse”. The lineup was Ronnie Weiss, Dave Stanley, Bugs Henderson, Jerry Howell and Ken Murray. Their debut single “A Public Execution” was released in 1966 and reached number 121 on The Billboard Under the Hot 100 Chart. However, it was a hit in Ottawa, Canada. The second and more “punk” sounding single was “Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice”. Although, it did not do well on the charts it is considered by many to be their best song. The group often drifted in various directions as was shown in their third single “Would You Believe” which was a novelty song. Other singles included “Do the Best You Can”, “Sometimes You Just Can’t Win” both recorded as Mouse and the Traps; “Psychotic Reaction” by Positively 13 O’Clock and “I’ve Got Her Love” as Chris St. John. Although the band had much potential they were never able to truly find their niche to gaining greater fame. They disbanded in 1969, but did reform in both 1972 and 1986.
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The Magic Mushrooms
The Magic Mushrooms formed in 1965 in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania during their freshman year where they performed several gigs. The lineup consisted of Joe LaCavera, Stu Freeman, Ted Cahill, Dick Richardson and Charles Ingersol. Josh Rice joined in 1966; however, Richardson and Ingersol then left the band. They were replaced by Bob Grady and Chris Barbieri. The band was discovered by Sonny Casella who became their manager. This led to bookings in the Philadelphia regon and their first single in 1966 “It’s A-Happening”. The song reached the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number 93 and is known as one of the best early songs of psychedelic garage era. However, Herb Albert of the A&M Record label found out what their name stood for and demanded they change it. They refused and the record was pulled from the market. This resulted in the band having a short life span although they did release two more singles. “Look in My Face” backed with “Never Let Go” was released in 1967 and “Municipal Water Maintenance Man” backed with “Let the Rain Be Me” in 1968. Regardless of their limited success due in part to the drug reference in their name and their refusal to change it, the band is a garage rock classic. They were included in the 1972 “Nuggets” compilation.
I hope you have enjoyed this segment of my exploration of garage bands of the 1960’s. I know I have had several comments form readers wanting to know more about groups who were slanted towards pure Garage Rock and its influence on the genres of Psychedelia and Punk Rock. It’s important to realize even though a band may have been somewhat obscure at the time they existed their influence was important enough to be included on this iconic series of albums known as “Nuggets”. If this album series is not part of your music collection, I highly recommend that you seek it out due to the many gems included both in the 1972 original as well as the reissues and additional volumes which contain more bands and singles. This series will be on hiatus for a little while because we have a very important anniversary in music history to celebrate followed by another important topic for all the music collectors out there. Upon completion of these two new series, we will once again explore many more bands through the decades.
Sources and Further Information:
Find Kenny & the Kasuals bio, music, credits, awards, & streaming links on AllMusic – This Dallas group — too accomplished to be…
Find Magic Mushrooms biography and history on AllMusic – The Magic Mushrooms released one of the finest…
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