“Junk Maker Shoppe”: Hard-Edged Sunshine Pop

One of the lesser-known practitioners of West Coast sunshine pop is Yellow Balloon, a group formed after-the-fact as a performing and touring vehicle for songwriter/producer, Gary Zekley, who released his own version (#25) of debut single, “Yellow Balloon,” in direct competition with Jan & Dean, whose version (#111) he felt to be lacking.  Yellow Balloon released one album and 3 singles in 1967 for Canterbury, a label owned by Ken Handler – and financed by his Mattel Toys co-founder father, Elliott Handler.

Drummer Don Grady, in the middle of his 12-year run playing Robbie Douglas on TV’s My Three Sons, wrote the final track – “Junk Maker Shoppe” – on Yellow Balloon’s self-titled album, which was recorded at Western and Sound Recorders in Los Angeles and featured such top session musicians as Carol Kaye, Jerry Cole, Jim Gordon, Mike Post, Bob West, and Don Randi.  “Junk Maker Shoppe,” interestingly, is the only song on the album where the band members play all the instruments themselves:

“Junk Maker Shoppe”     Yellow Balloon     1967

Yellow Balloon - 45             45s Whose B-Side Consists of the A-Side Played Backwards:

– “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!” b/w “Aaah-Ah ,Yawa Em Ekat Ot Gnimoc Er’yeht” by Napoleon XIV  (1966)

– “Yellow Balloon” b/w “Noollab Wolley” by Yellow Balloon  (1967)

– “Honey Love” b/w “Evol Yenoh” by Burt Walters [Lee “Scratch” Perry production]  (1968)