The Surf Symphony’s Sole 7-Inch

Who are/were The Surf Symphony — and why just the one Capitol 45?

“Night of the Lions”     The Surf Symphony     1969

Wait!  As it turns out, the joke’s on us:   This is a “supercharged” instrumental version of the song “Night of the Lions” from Mark Eric‘s A Midsummer’s Day Dream. released in 1969.  Imagine your first album is coming out – on a major label – so you release your first 45 … under a completely different name!  It actually happened, but why — was it a bid to stir up controversy?

Mark Eric Malmborg

Mark Eric LP

Much more intriguing, however, is the flip side “That Bluebird of Summer,” a composition that embodies Brian Wilson’s distinctive ‘West Coast’ musical sensibility to an uncanny degree – as if it were some so well long lost track from Smile (actually, more like Friends).

True or False:  “That Bluebird of Summer” is a non-LP B-side.
Answer:  True

This Surf Symphony B-side is included on 2013’s Book a Trip 2:  More Psych Pop Sounds of Capitol Records — wish I had the liner notes to refer to.

45Cat identifies Mike Rubini & Vic Briggs as producers, with Jan Rubini & Viv Briggs tagged as arrangers.  Discogs.com, meanwhile, indicates Jan Rubini to be the conductor.

Impossible not to notice that A Midsummer’s Day Dream would be released on a different label, Revue.  As Rockasteria explains, “Eric and his collaborator/arranger, former Animals guitarist Vic Briggs, apparently wrote these twelve tracks intending to place them with other acts.  The sessions were apparently only intended to demo the material, but the results were so impressive that Revue decided to release it as a Marc Eric effort.”

Note use of “Future Shock” typeface for label name, Revue

Mark Eric LP-aMark Eric LP-b

One other 45 from that album would be released – “Where Do the Girls of the Summer Go” b/w “California Home” – however, it would be issued under the name ‘Mark Eric‘!

This one album and two 45s would be Mark Eric Malmborg’s entire recorded output.

Gaffe Alert!

Mark Eric, as it turns out, is not actually involved with the Surf Symphony — Zero to 180 missed the boat on this one, as the comment appended below attests.  Musician credits for this album reveal Mark Eric to have merely authored the album’s closing track.

Bass:  Lyle Ritz & Ray Pohlman
Cello:  Anne Goodman, Frederick Seykora, Jesse Ehrlich & Raymond Kelley
Drums:  Jim Gordon
French Horn:  Arthur Maebe, George Price, Henry Sigismonti, Richard Perissi, Vincent Da Rosa & William Hinshaw
Guitar:  Ben Benay, Mike Deasy & Vic Briggs
Harp:  Gail Laughton
Keyboards:  John Myles & Mike Rubini
Percussion:  Gary Coleman
Trombone:  Dick Hyde & Lou McCreary
Trumpet:  Olliver Mitchell & Virgil Evans
Viola:  Gareth Nuttycombe, Joseph Di Fiore, Louis Kievman & Samuel Boghossian
Violin:  Arnold Belnick, Assa Drori, Darrel Terwilliger, Herman Clebanoff, John De Voogdt, Leonard Malarsky, Lou Klass, Lou Raderman, Marshall Sosson, Michael Nutt & Nathan Ross
Woodwind:  Jim Horn & Jules Jacob

  • Concertmaster:  James Getzoff
  • Conductor:  Jan Rubini
  • Copyist:  Barbara Caton, Norman Bartold, Roy Caton & Virgil Evans
  • Engineer:  Jack E. Hunt
  • Producer:  Michel Rubini & Victor Briggs

Peter Green’s “Hidden Depth(s)”

Frankly, I’m surprised how little has been written about (original Fleetwood Mac guitarist) Peter Green‘s wondrous flight of fancy – “Hidden Depth” – a musical simulation of being strapped into a deep-sea submersible and dropped ever so slowly to the ocean’s bottom.  Marvel at the musical tranquility:

“Hidden Depth”      Peter Green     1970

Sounds a bit like the second set at a Grateful Dead concert with Jerry Garcia on lead guitar, does it not?

From an album whose title – The End of the Game – allegedly expressed Peter Green’s unambiguous intent to sever ties with the predatory and profit-driven “showbiz” machinery.  Seth at Julian Cope’s Head Heritage website, however, challenges the conventional wisdom that Green retired his guitar for 8 years or more upon completing his first solo album:

“It’s a commonplace assumption that the “The End Of The Game” signaled on several levels not only a farewell by Green to the trappings of rock’n’roll stardom but a wholesale withdrawal from performing music altogether.  But Green did continue recording directly after the completion of “The End Of The Game,” contributing session guitar in a quick succession to records by Memphis Slim, Country Joe McDonald and even Toe Fat (their second album — not the one you and I bought and then consequently spent a weekend beating the floor with both head and hands at how an album with a cover so cool and grossed out could be such a full scale disappointment.)  Not to mention two further solo singles on Reprise before 1972 came and passed — roughly the period when Green’s retirement began, continuing for nearly the rest of the decade.”

Front cover employs variant strain of the “future shock” typeface

Peter Green-aPeter Green-b

Seth also picks up on the Grateful Dead-isms, noting that “Nick Buck’s organ colourations [on “Hidden Depth”] take on the same role of melancholy as Rick Wright’s from “Mudmen” [Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds] or Tom Constanten’s emerging springtime renewal in “Quadlibet For Tender Feet” off side one of [The Grateful Dead’s] Anthem Of The Sun.

You can also obtain “Hidden Depth” by somehow getting your hands on a copy of 1971 Warner Brothers sampler LP, Non-Dairy Creamer.

Non-Dairy Creamer LP

“Hold It Baby”: Swedish Soul

Just as “Boliver Shagnasty” conveys the comic sensibility of a more modern mindset, Sweden’s Slam Creepers similarly seems like a band name of relatively recent vintage (e.g., 80s hardcore?) — and yet, their first release, fascinatingly enough, was a split single in 1965 a 7-inch flexi-disc in which shared Slam Creepers shared space with The Hollies and fellow Swedish band, Lucas!

Vinyl debut:  Slam Creepers on … flexi-disc!

Slam Creepers flexi-discFour years and a handful of singles later, Slam Creepers would find themselves in another “shared” arrangement — a 12-inch “Shelby Singleton product” wherein the band would be rubbing shoulders on the same LP with Jeannie C. Riley, The Hep Stars, and Mister “Cincinnati Kid” himself, Prince Buster!

The Hep Stars would include future ABBA founder, Benny Anderson
Title of the Hep Stars’ first album:  ‘WE AND OUR CADILLAC

Great Youth Festival LP-xWorth considering  how “radical” it was in 1969 to release a sampler album that co-mingled late 60s country (Riley), Jamaican rocksteady (Buster) & Swedish pop (Slam Creepers & The Hep Stars) – although this album was issued in the Spanish market.

From a typography standpoint, I am very intrigued that Slam Creepers utilized – as would their American musical colleagues, The Afro-Blues Quintet Plus One – the “Future Shock” typeface for the cover of their 1967 debut album:

Are there any earlier LPs with this same “Future Shock” typeface than these from 1967?

Slam Creepers LPAfro Blues LP-x

CONTEST OPEN TO ALL:
Who can find the earliest musical use of this 1960s typeface?

Future Shock-x

In 1968, Slam Creepers would issue two singles, and – in the noblest Beatles fashion – these four songs would not find release on the band’s sophomore ’68 LP Sweet Ruth.

Slam Creepers’ 1968 B-side “Hold It Baby” reveals a refreshing American soul influence:

“Hold It Baby”     Slam Creepers     1968

Wanna take a trip to Catchy Town?  Check out 1968 sure-fire hit, “We Are Happy People“.

Liberation’s Sweet Sound

The alluring flute and vibraphone are just a ploy – liberation’s crafty end game.of using music to help listeners recognize the shared humanity that binds us all:

“Liberation”     The Afro-Blues Quintet Plus One     1965

“Liberation” is the debut single/opening statement from The Afro-Blues Quintet Plus One, who released five albums between the years 1965-1969.  45Cat appears to tell us that “Liberation” b/w “Walk on By” was released twice in 1965 but with the A & B sides flipped!  Is this really true?

Twin 45s but with the two sides flipped?     Note:  Hal David bumped from the credits

Afro-Blues 45-aAfro-Blues 45-b

1967 LP (early appearance for this “Future Shock” typeface?)Afro Blues LP

Dorothy Ashby’s Jazz Harp

Just as Rufus Harley expanded the musical possibilities of the bagpipes, Dorothy Ashby likewise liberated the harp from its orchestral internment.  Dorothy Ashby, as it says on her 1957 debut album, was a “jazz harpist” – though not strictly.  1968’s “Soul Vibrations,” as you can hear, would also incorporate funk and electronic sounds into the musical mix:

“Soul Vibrations”     Dorothy Ashby     1968

Zero to 180 is particularly delighted to see the ‘Future Shocktypeface being employed on the album cover.

“Soul Vibrations” would find release as a promo 7-inch on Cadet, a jazz subsidiary of Chess (its flip side “Lonely Girl” – says the 45 – is “from Paramount film Harlow“).

Dorothy Ashby 45In a fascinatingly futuristic move, Ashby would nearly coin the term “Hip Hop” by accident with the release of her 1972 album, Hip Harp.

Dorothy Ashby LPWho’s Counting?  This is the sixteenth Zero to 180 piece thus far tagged as Jazz.

“Bumpin’ on Sunset”: Organ + Strings

Thanks to brother Bryan for tipping me to a book that, amazingly, has only been written in the last couple years:  Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip.  What took so long?  Sadly, most of us music fanatics who live on this side of the Mississippi have never had the opportunity to see these larger-than-life art pieces that announced the arrival of the “important” pop albums of the day.  Author, Robert Landau, points out these billboards (1) were all hand painted – no digital printing in those days – and (2) remained on display for only a month or so before these panels would be whitewashed and painted over.  Because, you know, it’s only popular music and nobody with any serious money would be interested in purchasing these one-off creations.

Rock & Roll BillboardsCollectors Weekly features a very entertaining and informative interview with Landau in its March 10, 2015 edition.  Due to fortuitous timing, Landau’s first billboard photograph would be of The Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road cover – shortly after which Sir Paul would be decapitated at the height of the “Paul is Dead” controversy!  Shrewdly, Capitol Records would decide to leave the bassist beheaded.  Sales, unsurprisingly, would not be harmed.  The vandal with the hacksaw and the only remaining piece of that billboard – Robert Quinn – would finally surface in 2012 to claim a signed hardback copy of Landau’s book.

Paul's HeadIncredibly, no songs appear to have been written about those beloved Sunset Strip billboards – although Brian Auger and Trinity did release a groovy little organ number that I can only guess was inspired by a cruise down Los Angeles’ most famous boulevard:

Brian Auger & Trinity     “Bumpin’ on Sunset”     1969

“Bumpin’ on Sunset” would be issued as the B-side of “What You Gonna Do?” in the UK, US & Spain — except in the Netherlands, curiously, where it served as the A-side of a 45, with Auger and the boys’ take on Lennon & McCartney’s “A Day in the Life” on the reverse.

Note the use of the “Future Shock” typeface for the cover of their 1969 long-player, Definitely What!… — released in the US on Atlantic Records subsidiary label, Atco.

 

 

“I Say Gooday Goodnite”: Hello Goodbye from NRBQ

I picked up an odds & sods collection of NRBQ tracks – Stay with We – taken from their short-lived stint on the mighty Columbia label.  One tune that I found to be particularly energizing – “I Say Gooday Goodnight” – was identified in the CD’s liner notes as “previously unreleased,” which I found to be rather unjust:  had Columbia allowed NRBQ to release a second proper album (the label’s “arranged marriage” with Carl Perkins, Boppin’ the Blues, from 1969 doesn’t count), this spirited recording of Steve Ferguson’s 87-second romp would undoubtedly have been on there:

“Future Shock” typeface in popular music

NRBQ CBS 45 picture sleeve

You Can’t Keep a Good Song Down

I am happy to report that “Gooday Goodnite” has recently been revitalized by those irrepressible Spampinato Brothers: