Liz Damon and the Orient Express Band were once the house band at the Hilton Hawaiian Village whose debut album, At the Garden Bar, Hilton Hawaiian Village, was originally issued on local label, Makaha, in 1970. Enter White Whale, the indie label that likely released surf music’s final first-wave recording (i.e., “Surfer Dan” by The Turtles). As Billboard would write in its piece – “White Whale Gets Express Product” – for the December 12, 1970 edition:
“White Whale Records has acquired the worldwide rights to the product of Liz Damon’s Orient Express on the Makaha label. Makaha Records is a Hawaii-based firm. White Whale is rushing into release a single titled ‘1900 Yesterday’ and an album titled Liz Damon’s Orient Express.”
“1900 Yesterday” Liz Damon’s Orient Express 1970
“1900 Yesterday” – which hit #33 on the US pop chart in 1971 – would also enjoy release in Spain, Australia & New Zealand. Liz Damon, tragically, would sign with White Whale at the end of its commercial run and thus serve history for being the label’s last 45 & LP.
Interestingly enough, Betty Everett had already released “1900 Yesterday” the year before as the B-side to a single (“Maybe”) that bubbled under at #116 in September, 1969.
Aside from anchor act, The Turtles, White Whale’s early releases would include influential UK band, John’s Children (“Smashed, Blocked“), New Orleans Public Library (“Trippin’ Down the Street”), Nino Tempo & April Stevens (“All Strung Out“), and guitarist, Jan Davis (“Lost in Space“).