Peppermint Trolley: Clavinet ’67

It’s always a thrill when somebody who actually served on the front lines of music history reaches out to help fill in some of the historical gaps.  Just last month, Danny Faragher of the Peppermint Trolley Company chimed in on an earlier NRBQ piece that attempts to identify the earliest popular recording of a clavinet:

“I played a clavinet while recording with our group, the Peppermint Trolley Company (1967-68).  We cut our hit single, Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mindin November of 1967 for Acta.  The record broke in May and June of 1968.  I played the instrument through a Fender amp with the tremolo prominent.  I used it throughout our eponymously titled LP.   In the Seventies, recording with the bands, Bones, and the Faragher Brothers, I would return to the ax occasionally, playing more in the R&B style pioneered by Stevie Wonder and Billy Preston.”

“Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind”     Peppermint Trolley Company     1967

“Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind” would stay in the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for ten weeks and peak in July, 1968 just inside the Top 60.  Billboard would identify this single as worthy of its “Special Merit Spotlight” (new singles “deserving special attention of programmers and dealers”) in the February 3, 1968 edition:  “Smooth blend of voice, good material in an easy beat folk rock vein with much commercial appeal.”

Picture sleeve for UK 45 on EMI’s Stateside imprint

Peppermint Trolley 45-bBut wait a minute, why does the song title sound familiar?   And Jesse Lee Kincaid, the person who penned the tune — why does that name ring a bell?  That’s because Zero to 180 already featured “Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind” back in December, 2014!

Faragher’s clavinet (which predates NRBQ’s “Stomp” by just over a year) can be heard more prominently on the single’s B-side — a baroque slice of psychedelic pop, “9 O’Clock Business Man,” somewhat in contrast to the ‘West Coast harmony style’ (later dubbed “sunshine pop“) for which the group is more known.  By the way, if you enjoyed the dance to “9 O’Clock Business Man” in the video link above, check out this other performance of the same song at Hamilton, Ontario’s Gage Park. by Mike Long, an unstoppable dance force.

Peppermint Trolley 45-aaHow curious to learn that the Peppermint Trolley Company would be part of a lineup for a big music event attended by 120,000 people at an amusement park in Aurora, Ohio in 1968,  just one year before my dad would relocate to that rural Cleveland suburb from Cincinnati — as chronicled on Danny Faragher’s website:

“‘Our live dates were rare’ – (says Faragher) – ‘We probably played about ten gigs during the entire life span of the band… Bakersfield, Phoenix, and then there was the Biggie in Cleveland.’  This ‘Biggie’ was a package concert …WIXY’s second annual ‘Appreciation Day,’ held on August 2, 1968 in Geauga Lake Park, just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.  The Peppermint Trolley Company. shared the stage with Gene Pitney, The Box Tops, Jay and the Techniques, The 1910 Fruitgum Co., and [Ted Nugent’s]  Amboy Dukes.  The event drew a crowd of 120,000 attendees.  At that time, it was the largest audience ever assembled in the Cleveland area.”
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In addition to arranging and singing the original Brady Bunch theme, the Peppermint Trolley Company would also make a guest appearance on The Beverly Hillbillies, as well as this episode of detective series, Mannix (where the owner of the recording studio is played by Harry Dean Stanton, who would later introduce The Replacements on their sole Saturday Night Live appearance):

The Beatles – EMI artists – listed on the rear of Peppermint Trolley’s UK picture sleeve:

Peppermint Trolley 45-bbA near-mint copy of the Peppermint Trolley debut album might set you back as much as $75.  Peppermint Trolley fans might also be intrigued to know there exists an “extremely rare promotional 45 sent to radio stations in 1967 for Sunn Guitar amplifiers” with three radio spots for The Who on the A-side, with the Peppermint Trolley singing a radio spot to “She’s the Kind of Girl” and another featuring bassist Greg Tornquist saying “it sounds groovy and clean.”

Jesse Lee Kincaid – The Sound of ’67

Steve Stanley’s article in Shindig! #38 about Jesse Lee Kincaid – original member of The Rising Sons with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder – made me curious to hear the two singles he recorded for Capitol.  His first – “She Sang Hymns Out of Tune” – from December, 1966 appears to have been a promo 45 only and cannot be previewed on YouTube (although you can hear versions by Nilsson, Hearts & Flowers, and The Dillards).

Kincaid’s second (and final) Capitol 45, predicted to reach the Hot 100 in the May 13, 1967 edition of Billboard, is an instant grabber and one that has a bit of that “1967 magic” — and yet the song appears never to have charted.  What gives?

The Peppermint Trolley Company – famous for singing the original Brady Bunch theme – would have a #59 hit with “Baby You Come Rollin’ Cross My Mind” in January of 1968.  The Trolley Company’s Danny Faragher provides the behind-the-scenes intrigue on his website:

“Dan Dalton was producing Ex-Rising Son guitarist Jesse Lee Kincaid for Capitol. Jesse’s song “Baby You Come Rollin’ ‘Cross My Mind” was starting to break out, but due to contractual complications, the label pulled the plug.  Dalton believed in the tune and thought it was perfect for the band. (Dan Dalton) – “When Capitol took Jesse’s record off the market, I said to the Trolley, ‘This is a hit song. Let’s do it.’  And the guys just didn’t want to do it at first.  So I said, ‘I’ll give you each 50 bucks.  I just want to use you guys as musicians.’  They agreed, and we cut the track, and [while we were recording it] we all realized it was just sounding wonderful.’  The band then recorded the vocals, coming up with the harmony parts on the spot. (Dalton) – ‘It was pure magic.’”

James Burton would subsequently play guitar on his next (Leon Russell-produced) single for Fontana before Kincaid would decide to take an extended leave of absence from the music business.

But wait, as Steve Stanley reports, Kincaid has, indeed, completed a new album – entitled Brief Moments Full Pleasure – that was released this past September.  Those of you who live in the Bay Area have the opportunity, in fact, to hear Kincaid perform on December 10th at the No Name Bar in Sausalito.

 L.A.’s Rising Sons with Taj & Ry & Jesse Lee –vs– Burlington, Ontario’s 5 rising sons

Rising Sons IaRising Sons IIa