Del Shannon’s ‘Lost’ 1967 Album

Billy Nicholls, staff writer for Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records, would pen three songs for Del Shannon‘s album, Home & Away, 11 tracks that were recorded in February of 1967 at London’s Olympic Studio but shelved until the release of 1978’s … And the Music Plays On, an LP released only in the UK and Australia.  Here in the US, Liberty ended up releasing from these sessions  (“the best album Marianne Faithfull never made,” according to the aforementioned Rob Chapman) a total of just three tracks across a pair of 45s (“Led Along” b/w “I Can’t Be True” plus “Runaway ’67” b/w “He Cheated“) issued in 1967.

What a loss for radio in pop’s peak year of 1967, as today’s featured song “My Love Has Gone” somehow got overlooked by Immediate and Liberty as an obvious A-side:

“My Love Has Gone”     Del Shannon     1967

Nicholls would join Shannon’s heavyweight backing band for these sessions, along with Steve Marriott, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins, Andy White, Twice as Much, and Pat ColeP.P.Arnold, (who was featured last year by Zero to 180 on the cusp of her first ever Australian tour).

Discogs includes a catalog record for a single-sided 7-track acetate on which “My Love Is Gone” serves, fittingly, as the final track:

“One-sided, 7-song Demo Acetate test pressing for Del Shannon’s unreleased 1967 album Home & Away, recorded for Immediate in the UK with a stellar backing line-up (Billy Nicholls, etc.).  This was likely Del Shannon’s personal copy because at the end of Track 3, “Cut And Come Again,” an engineer adds a joking voice-over “Hey, Del – you blew the words!,” which is missing on the later re-released versions of the album.  This appears to be the only actual pressing of the album (actually, half the album) from when it was recorded in 1967.  No label or trail-off markings, but acetate is clearly seven songs from Home & Away when listened to.”

Rumor has it this was the original LP cover

American fans finally got their chance to obtain Home & Away (whether or not they realized it), when all 11 songs ended up sandwiched in the sequencing (tracks 12-22) for 1991 compilation Del Shannon:  The Liberty Years — with all recordings mixed in stereo and “mastered from the original 4- and 8-track master session tapes.”  In 2012, Home & Away finally enjoyed a proper release on compact disc – though only in the UK – supplemented by mono singles mixes of five tracks.

Known to his mum as Charles Weedon Westover (born in Grand Rapids, Michigan), Del Shannon – as Discogs contributor RoryHoy would have you know – is “one of the most seriously underrated talents in Pop Music history.”   And furthermore —

While most 1960’s boffins know his song “Runaway”, there’s a whole 30 years worth of amazing music from this man.  With his incredible voice complete with trademark falsetto and of course his fantastic songwriting, what is there not to like with this guy.  If you like Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Beatles etc — Del is much recommended!

“My Love Has Gone” (composed, not by Nicholls but rather, by Ross Watson, the songwriter’s sole contribution to pop music, possibly) – enjoyed a new lease on life in 2014, thanks to a 7-inch winner of a release by Miriam, i.e., Miriam Linna, founder – along with Billy Miller – of Norton Records, as well as the original drummer for The Cramps.

Miriam Speaks With Zero to 180:
My Love Has Gone45

Miriam Linna was kind enough to chat with Zero to 180, who called to inquire the reason for choosing this particular song from Shannon’s Home and Away as the A-side of her debut 45 (not to mention kick-off track for 2014’s Nobody’s Baby), a recording session that began as a special offer to work with Sam Elwitt, Nutley Brass producer [who can ever forget his fun and imaginative arrangements of “Beat On the Brat” and other Ramones classics?], as well as musician.

Linna, who rates Shannon as the most “charismatic” performer in her estimation, identifies Shannon’s 1967 Home and Away sessions as one of her all-time favorite albums — a “complex” set of songs, in terms of composition, artistry, and production.  Elwitt, who was hoping to evoke the sound of Hollywood’s legendary Gold Star studio (Pet Sounds, et al) with this project, invited Linna to choose the songs.  Miriam’s husband, Billy Miller, was ill at the time she had selected “My Love Has Gone,” though Linna fully believed he would pull through.  However, when Miller unexpectedly passed in 2016, the song suddenly took on an unintended poignancy.

“My Love Has Gone”     Miriam Linna     2014

Linna, in fact, had listened to the Home and Away album two days prior to my phone call from start to finish — a moving experience.  In terms of emotional directness to the listener through “the magic of records,” Shannon possesses a gift that brings to Linna’s mind one other artist — Bobby Jameson (featured by Zero to 180 in 2014).  And the “common thread” linking these two artists, Linna points out, is the A&R visionary Andrew Loog Oldham, whose ability to “match songs with artists” was a big part of his genius.

Rhino Records co-founder and one-time Del Shannon manager, Dan Bourgoise, was immediately smitten by Linna and Elwitt’s rendition and urged her to cover “another Del Shannon song.”  Miriam and Sam would collaborate on another Norton 45 the following year, this time breathing new life in “The Hand Don’t Fit the Glove,” a great UK 45 by Terry Reid (with Peter Jay’s Jaywalkers) from 1967.  Both singles from 2014 and 2015 are still available at Norton’s website, along with lots of other cool vinyl.

Check out: “David Fricke Remembers Norton Records’ Billy Miller:  Tireless Rock and Roll Foot Soldier” – published in the November 18, 2016 edition of Rolling Stone.  Tributes, as well, from New York Times, Billboard, Pitchfork, and Bloodshot Records’ Rob Miller.

Billy Nicholls Debut Album: 
Limited Issue Yields IMPRE$$IVE Auction Prices Decades Later

One year after the Del Shannon sessions, Immediate, sadly, “left in the can” Nicholls’s grand opus, Would You Believe, an album highly prized by collectors though essentially unreleased “save for a few promo copies” (according to The MOJO Collection).  Note the four and five figures paid for a UK 1st edition mint condition — as high as £8,000 (i.e., over $11,000).

In 2017, Discogs contributor Grippo would remark on the artistic merits of Would You Believe – “the third most expensive record that’s ever been sold in the Discogs marketplace” – for a piece entitled Top 30 Most Expensive Records Sold in April Topped by Billy Nicholls (I happened to enjoy the tuba/banjo bit myself).

How tragically odd that not one but two LP-length responses to Pet Sounds from the same label would be kept under wraps for years before eventually finding acclaim.

Mickey Murray LP II: Released?

Soul singer Mickey Murray recorded only two full-length albums over the course of his career — one for SSS International, 1967’s Shout Bamalama & Super Soul Songs  (the label’s first hit for Shelby Singleton), and the other, entitled People are Together, for King subsidiary Federal Records in 1970 — an album produced by Bobby Smith, who had been commissioned earlier by Syd Nathan to build a recording and production facility in Macon, Georgia, the adopted hometown of James Brown.

Album released in US on Federal and in Brazil (year unknown) on Joda

abstract crowd backdrop —  used for front and back cover images

Going Back to Alabama” — first of three B-sides issued on Federal for Starday-King — includes some prototypical “rapping” in the James Brown tradition.  Note the playful musical references to “Sweet Soul Music” — a song previously celebrated here:

“Going Back to Alabama”    Mickey Murray     1970

Discogs acknowledges three Federal single releases over the course of three years beginning in 1970.

For those who wonder why such limited output from a one-time potential hitmaker, NPR reporter Eric Luecking’s accompanying history piece for “People are Together” — selected as ‘Song of the Day‘ for February 24, 2012 — suggests that Murray may have been more than a little disillusioned by his experience with the music industry:

Born in South Carolina in the 1930s, Mickey Murray had roots in Georgia and shined shoes to help earn a living early in life.  He proved he could sing with gravel and grit, had a million-selling single in the late 1960s, and signed with the King/Federal label.  It’s striking how similar Mickey Murray’s story is to that of James Brown, yet while Brown left an indelible mark on soul and popular music, Murray remains a mere blip in the musical cosmos.  As the liner notes to his recently reissued lost album tell it, Murray doesn’t believe that People Are Together was ever officially released after it was recorded in 1970.

It was a risky endeavor to push “People Are Together” as the album’s lead single in the South.  It was reportedly black DJs who killed the record, labeling it as too progressive and fearing that they’d lose their on-air jobs should they play it. It doesn’t sound remotely controversial today:  It’s a call to all of mankind to join together and love one another, in the spirit of “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and many other songs of its time.

Regardless, fame and a longer singing career didn’t follow for Murray, although he’d record later in life.  But the defiantly hopeful “People Are Together,” written by Bob Garrett and Calvin Arline, now stands as a virtually unheard gem; whether it was known to the public when it was recorded more than 40 years ago is irrelevant. What is relevant is the song itself, a timeless three-minute sermon which implores us all to give a little more love.

In 2011, Secret Stash Records reissued the album in limited edition (“1200 individually numbered copies”), with extended liner notes, never-before-seen photos, and access code for a free MP3 download of the entire album (“first 250 copies also include a 7″, hand-numbered with the corresponding number.”)

45Cat acknowledges two singles following Murray’s stint with Starday-King — one in 1975 and the other in 1979, which appears to be singer’s final musical statement.

Musical Postscript:  Dept. of Zaniness

Sole Release for NYC’s indie label Pepco

  later bought out by Potomac Electric Power Company

The JB’s Debut: Polydor not King

The debut album by The JB’sJames Brown‘s backing band that included a group of Cincinnati musicians who would soon join forces with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic and later form the core of Bootsy’s Rubber Band — was originally scheduled for release in July, 1971 on the King label (SLP 1126), as noted on Discogs.  Starday-King even issued a test pressing, with Ron Lenhoff overseeing the engineering and editing of this four-song LP, half of which (“The Grunt” and “These Are the J.B.’s”) was recorded at King’s Cincinnati studios on May 19, 1970, and the other half (“I’ll Ze” and “When You Feel It Grunt If You Can”) recorded at Starday Studios in Nashville on June 30, 1970.

But alas, it was not meant to be** — as one Discogs contributor wryly observes:

Mmm. I wonder how many people have one of these [test pressings] … other than James Brown himself, Hal Neely, Dave Matthews, Charles Bobbit and anybody directly involved in King Records (as in office staff), most of the members of the band probably never got a copy of this TP, as this was at the precise point when JB’s catalogue got bought out by Polydor and the JB’s (Mk.1) had already exited stage left.  Probably 25-50 made max.

The original These Are the J.B.’s LP comprised just four tracks (click on audio links):

“These Are the J.B.’s”     The J.B.’s     recorded in Cincinnati – May 19, 1970

Bass: WilliamBootsyCollins
Guitar:  PhelpsCatfishCollins
Drums:  Clyde Stubblefield (A1 & B2)
Drums:  FrankKashWaddy (A2 & B1)
Congas:  Johnny Griggs
Flute & Baritone Sax:  St-Clair Pinckney (A1)
Tenor Sax:  Robert McCullough
Trumpet:  ClaytonChickenGunnels & DarrylHasaanJamison
Organ:  James Brown (A2)
Piano: Bobby Byrd (B1)
Engineer:  Ron Lenhoff
Producer: James Brown

James Brown would describe the band in his 1986 autobiography thusly:

They were called the Pacesetters and were all from Cincinnati.  They’d hung around King for awhile and then started doing session work there.  I had used them myself on several things.  Bootsy Collins (who later went on to become a big star with the Parliament-Funkadelic Thang and his own Rubber Band) was the bass player; his older brother, Phelps ‘Catfish’ Collins played guitar; Frank ‘Kash’ Waddy played drums; Robert McCullough played sax; a fella called Clayton ‘Chicken’ Gunnels played trumpet.

“These Are the J.B.’s” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by Phelps CollinsClayton Isiah GunnelsClyde StubblefieldDarrell JamisonFrank Clifford WaddyJohn W. GriggsRobert McCollough and William Earl Collins

“The Grunt” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by – Phelps Collins, Clayton Isiah Gunnels, Clyde Stubblefield, Darrell Jamison, Frank Clifford Waddy, James Brown, John W. Griggs, Robert McCollough, and William Earl Collins

“Medley: When You Feel It Grunt If You Can” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by – Art Neville, Gene Redd*, George Porter Jr.*, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Joseph Modeliste, Kool & The Gang, and Leo Nocentelli

Note:  “When You Feel It Grunt If You Can” includes portions of “Let The Music Take Your Mind,” written by Kool & The Gang and Gene Redd Jr.; “Chicken Strut,” written by The Meters; and “Power Of Soul,” written by Jimi Hendrix.

The following year in 1972, when Polydor released what would be known as the debut album by The J.B.’s, a much different collection of songs would would end up in the marketplace, as Food For Thought comprised ten songs [“The Grunt” & “These Are the J.B.’s (Pt. 1)” being the only overlapping tracks] vs. the four song set as mixed and sequenced by Ron Lenhoff.

Funk fans worldwide rejoiced in 2014 when the original four-song mix enjoyed release on vinyl (as well as digital download) for the first time, with a 12-page booklet of liner notes by Alan Leeds stating that, in fact, only two test pressings are known to have existed (so says a Discogs contributor).  Worth pointing out that “the originally scheduled issue of this album included overdubbed crowd noise — for this issue of the album, the original, undubbed two-track stereo mix was used as source.”

Given the variant titles and track listings in various markets worldwide, Discogs advises caution:

Different original editions and reissues have different titles and artwork, including Food For Thought; Pass The Peas; and Food For Thought – Pass The Peas – I Mean Gimme Some More.

Main cover (US, Canada, Spain)

Alternate cover (UK, Germany, France, Turkey)

Cover – Japan

“The Grunt” – famously sampled for 1987’s “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy – would enjoy single release on King in August of 1970, just three months after being recorded.  Billboard would select the single in the August 8, 1970 edition for its Top 20 Soul Spotlights “predicted to reach the Top 20 of the top-selling R&B Singles chart.”

King 45 + UK 45 on Mojo + Test Pressing of “The Grunt” – a steal at $120

A second single – “These Are the J.B.’s” (Pts. 1&2)” – followed in November, 1970Billboard‘s Ed Ochs would select the 45 for his “picks and plays” for the week of October 24, 1970 in his ‘Soul Sauce’ column.  Interesting to point out that the same Billboard November 21, 1970 issue that mentions Starday-King release of “These Are the J.B.’s” also notes that “the James Brown Show played Fargo, N.D. recently – the good response was particularly encouraging because this was the first time his show had ever played that state.”

Obituary for Phelps ‘Catfish’ Collins
Billboard — August 10, 2010

R&B guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins, a veteran of James Brown’s J.B.’s, Parliament-Funkadelic and his younger brother William “Bootsy” Collins‘ Rubber Band, passed away at his home in Cincinnati on Aug. 6 at the age of 66, following a long battle with cancer.

Bootsy Collins issued a statement saying that “my world will never be the same” without his brother.  “Be happy for him, he certainly is now and always has been the happiest young fellow I ever met on this planet.”

Bootsy’s wife, Patti Collins, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Catfish “was a father figure to my husband.  He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”

Catfish, eight years Bootsy’s senior, was the one who suggested his brother put bass strings on an old guitar, and the two were part of a Cincinnati group called The Pacemakers that became the rhythm section for the city’s famed King Records label.  James Brown recruited the Collins brothers, and starting in 1968 they played on Brown classics such as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose,” “Super Bad” and “Soul Power” as the J.B.’s.

By 1971 they had left Brown’s employ, going on to form The House Guests and then joining Funkadelic in 1972 for albums such as America Eats Its Young and Cosmic Slop.  Catfish remained with the group — which also lost guitarist Garry Shider to cancer in June — until the mid-’80s.

“(Catfish) was a hell of a musician,” keyboardist Bernie Worrell, who played with the guitarist in Funkadelic, told the Enquirer.  “People seem to forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

George Clinton alumnus Dumine DePorres seconded that notion, telling Billboard.com that Catfish’s particular niche was playing “the subliminal stuff, those inferred parts that you might not be able to hear right out front but without it there’s a big hole.  It’s like the glue that holds the glue together.”

After Funkadelic, Catfish went on to play in Bootsy’s Rubber Band and also recorded with Deee-Lite, Freekbass and H-Bomb [Ferguson].  In 2007 he reunited with Bootsy, Worrell, Clyde Stubblefield and others for the soundtrack to the Judd Apatow comedy “Superbad.”  A number of Cincinnati musicians gathered to play a tribute show for Catfish during July at a club in Roselawn, Ohio [Celebrities night club in the Valley Shopping Center on Reading Road, just a mile down the road from the Carrousel Inn].

Funeral arrangements have not been announced for Catfish, who had two children.

Bootsy’s Brother Succumbs to Cancer
Cincinnati Enquirer — August 6, 2010

KENNEDY HEIGHTS – Before there was Bootsy, there was Catfish.

The older brother of Cincinnati’s legendary funk icon, Phelps “Catfish” Collins was a jovial guitar player with a huge smile, a mentor who helped shape his brother’s musical career as well as his life.

“He was a father figure to my husband,” said Patti Collins, William “Bootsy” Collins’ wife. “He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”

Phelps Collins died Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.

Mr. Collins was a lifelong musician and Cincinnati resident. He was born eight years before Bootsy, who gave him the nickname “Catfish” because he thought he looked like one.  He was fiercely protective of his family, once threatening to kill his father with a butcher knife if he saw him hurt their mother again, Bootsy told the Enquirer in an interview last year.

In 1968, Phelps and Bootsy Collins helped form local R&B band the Pacemakers, which became the rhythm section at the renowned King Records in Evanston.  They played with James Brown, backing him on such songs as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” as part of a group that became known as the J.B.’s.

James Brown & the J.B.’s – Bologna, Italy – April, 1971

In 1971, the brothers formed a flashy funk group called the House
Guests with band mates including drummer Frankie “Kash” Waddy and
former Pacemakers singer Philippé Wynne.  Wynne went on to lead a group
called the Spinners, and the rest joined the free-wheeling Parliament-
Funkadelic.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame keyboardist Bernie Worrell played with the
Collins brothers in Parliament-Funkadelic.  Worrell said he and Catfish
were the elders of the group.

“He was a loving, caring person, but at the same time, he wouldn’t
take any bullcrap when it came to business,” Worrell said.  “He was a
hell of a musician.  He taught me a lot about rhythms.  People seem to
forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s
creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

Phelps Collins later joined Bootsy’s Rubber Band and would go on to
play rhythm guitar on albums by Deee-Lite, Freekbass and H-Bomb [Ferguson].  He also performed on the soundtrack to the 2007 Judd Apatow comedy
“Superbad” with Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell and other original
members of the J.B.’s.

“He was one of probably the most underrated musicians in R&B and funk
history,” said Cincinnati bassist Chris “Freekbass” Sherman, who cites
both Collins brothers as influences.  “He’s such an amazing guitar
player.  No one did it like him.”

Patti Collins said her brother-in-law, a father of two who lived in
Kennedy Heights, made a life of music and continued to collaborate
with Bootsy as the brothers grew older.

About a month ago, local musicians gathered at Celebrities in Roselawn
to perform a tribute to Catfish, said Lincoln Ware, who hosts a daily
radio show on WDBZ-1230 AM.

Ware said Mr. Collins, always a boisterous and smiling presence,
clearly wasn’t feeling his best that night.  But he sat back anyway,
soaking in the music that had always meant so much to him.

Services are pending.

Fall, 1971 – “What So Never the Dance (pts. 1 & 2)”

The Other Lost King Album With the JBs

As it turns out, more than one planned project got shelved when James Brown made the big decision to leave Starday-King and sign on the dotted line with Polydor, to wit:

**TONIGHT – One Night Only!

Friday, September 28, 2018 from 6-8 PM | James Brown’s Lost King Album.

In August 1971, James Brown planned to release a triple vinyl album of his electrifying March 1971 concert at the Olympia in Paris, backed by the original JB’s, featuring Bootsy and Catfish Collins.  Sequenced and mixed by Brown himself for a King Records release, he considered it among his best work.  However, when Brown’s contract was sold to Polydor Records, the masters were shelved and the album was not released.  The complete concert recording would not be heard until 43 years later when Sundazed Records released it on “tri-fold” vinyl in July 2014.  Join Bootsy Collins protege, Freekbass, as he plays the album on his own Funk Radio show = streaming on Radio Artifact, and simulcast on Cincinnati’s WVXU FM (listen here).

Note:  Cincinnati music history fans will be interested to know that Kenny Poole (guitar) and arranger, David Matthews (organ) join The JB’s on one song — “Who Am I” — a tune on which James Brown plays on drums (assuming that Zero to 180 is correctly reading the musician credits).

Hank Garland: Lost Album of ’60

Fascinating that a musician of the caliber of Hank Garland (who was signed to Columbia, for cryin’ out loud) would release a companion album of sorts – Subtle Swing – to the groundbreaking (and previously discussed) Jazz Winds from a New Direction, and yet so little information to confirm its existence, aside from Sundazed’s 2004 vinyl reissue.

Poke around online and you will discover that Subtle Swing was tacked onto 2013’s CD reissue of Who Is Gary Burton? as an inducement for fans of the noted jazz vibraphonist — but at the expense of Hank Garland!

Gary Burton LPDig deeper still, and you will correctly deduce that Sony, in partnership with Sundazed, incorporated Hank’s entire Columbia output [1959’s Velvet Guitar + 1960’s Subtle Swing + 1961’s Jazz Winds + 1962’s Unforgettable Guitar] into a double compact disc, albeit in jumbled order, when issued in 2001.

Jazz Wax notes that the recording session for Subtle Swing took place six days after the Jazz Winds in a New Direction album had wrapped on August 24, 1960 (here we go again, an entire album recorded in a single day) although, it’s not quite true that the “same group” of musicians played on this follow-up album — only Garland and Burton remained from Jazz Winds.

Check out the stereo drums that kick off album closer, “Call D. Law” – a clever bit of wordplay that also pays tribute to Columbia boss and benefactor, Don Law :

“Call D. Law”     Hank Garland     1960

Hank Garland:  Guitar
Gary Burton:  Vibraphone
Bob Moore:  Bass
Doug Kirkham & MurreyBuddyHarman:  Drums
Bill Pursell:  Piano
Don Law:  Producer

The CD liner notes by the indispensible Rich Kienzle sheds light on the special reasons underlying Subtle Swing‘s obscurity.

“Six days later, Hank returned to the studio for two days to produce a jazzy album for the song licensing firm SESAC, who produced country and gospel recordings for the radio stations that took licenses with the company.  This session was geared as much to the radio market as it was to the jazz audience.  The band, however, was strictly Nashville, including Burton, Bob Moore, pianist Bill Pursell, and drummer Doug Kirkham, who’d worked with Hank in Billy Burke’s combo.

If Jazz Winds emphasized Hank in a [Tal] Farlowesque context, the ten-song SESAC effort, released to clients under the title Subtle Swing, reflected the influence of pianist George Shearing’s Quintet.  Programming requirements seemingly mandated no songs longer than four minutes.  It’s a Garland-Burton effort all the way.”

Rare original copy of 1960 SESAC album — sold for $47 in 2004

Hank Garland - original 1960 cover“Now that the Hank Garland Quintet is a ‘fait accompli’ on SESAC Recordings, the young guitarist stands in the unique position of moulding a new career on the firm foundation of his C&W successes.  With a patient hand and perceptive musicianship, he has unified the instrumental skills of five performers to produce these refreshing sounds.  The “subtle swing” which has always been a vital part of Garland’s playing transcends his newest contribution to musical entertainment.”  [liner notes from the back cover]

But tragedy would intervene in Garland’s life when a blown rear tire resulted in a serious accident that would leave him permanently impaired.  1962’s Unforgettable Guitar of Hank Garland would essentially be a repackaging of the SESAC recordings — his musical career forever halted.  In 1992, Bear Family would gather Garland’s 1940s & 50s Decca recordings, including a pair of excellent unissued tracks from 1957, “Baby Guitar” and “Hank’s Dream.”

2004 reissue — “designed for repeated listening” as the original LP promised

Hank Garland LP-a

Jan & Dean: Avant-Pop Pioneers?

I picked up a double album anthology of Jan & Dean‘s best work and found myself rather bemused by one particular track – and outright befuddled by an entire album side.

Jan & Dean

First, the song — 1964’s “The Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review and Timing Association,” one of the odder pop refrains and my entry for Most Ungainly Song Title Award:

Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review & Timing Association

[Pssst: Click on the triangle above to hear “The Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review & Timing Association” by Jan & Dean.]

I love the muscular opening, as well as the song’s sheer goofiness, while the satiric edge of the lyrics challenge conventional notions of the group as mere musical lightweights.  This one song would seem to anticipate “the cutting-edge comedy concepts” (Wikipedia) of the next two years, 1965-1966, which saw the release of Jan And Dean Meet Batman and Filet of Soul.

Which brings us to side 4 of the Jan & Dean Anthology Album.  All it takes is one listen.  This stuff is, shall we say, pretty out there.  There are some telling clues on the back cover, however, that I only now notice in retrospect.  For one thing, the first 3 sides are grouped together as a unit at the top of the back cover, while side 4 is all by its lonesome on the bottom.  But a more subtle touch – none of the tracks on side 4 list the recording dates as is done for each of the songs on the other 3 sides.

And then you look at the song titles themselves:  “Pigeon Joke”; “Brass Section Intro”; “Beatle Part of Our Portion“; “Thank You Dean,” and the like.  As it turns out, side 4 is a 20-minute selection from the never-released Filet of Soul album.  As Mark A. Moore, preeminent Jan & Dean scholar, so aptly puts it, Filet of Soul can only be described as “Jan & Dean as a nightclub act … in the Twilight Zone.”   The mixed-media splicing techniques on display on side 4, which I determined later to have been recorded in the months straddling 1965-66, seem to be somewhat unprecedented in pop music.  And very much along the lines of the innovative audio engineering – and caustic social commentary – made famous on Freak Out by Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, their debut (and one of rock’s first double LPs), but more importantly, a hugely influential album that got the lion’s share of the credit for the use of music as cutting-edge social satire (that, at times, also delights in the sophomoric), even though Filet of Soul predates the release of Freak Out by at least several months.

But given that the original Filet of Soul:  A “Live” One was rejected by Liberty (possibly as many as 3 times) and never released in its day, it is very easy to see why Zappa & the Mothers got all the glory as innovators in this particular realm of pop music.  Perhaps it is inaccurate to call this music “pop,” since its very prickliness limits its appeal to a fairly narrow segment of the popular market.

Even though the selections on side 4 seemed to skewer (in no particular order) their fans, the record industry, the South, and the Beatles, most of all Jan & Dean seem intent on violently deconstructing their own squeaky-clean popular image.   I can only assume that this aspect of the Jan & Dean story inspired the Monkees to do something somewhat similar a couple years later with the release of their icon-busting, surrealist anti-Monkee cinematic misadventure, Head.

Caution:  These two excerpts from side 4 are for the musically adventurous only – not advised for those who have little to no patience for juvenility or humor in their music.

Jan & Dean-1
Jan & Dean-2

What’s nice about both of these clips is that you get to hear Jan & Dean announce each of the musicians in the band – since the album is a “live” one – and these are all top L.A. studio musicians that have played, often uncredited, on countless pop hits.

Final note – Liberty did release something in 1966 called Filet of Soul, but alas, it is nearly devoid of any strangeness and bears little to no resemblance to the selections mysteriously included on side 4 of the anthology.  Mark A. Moore lists the running order of one bootleg acetate of the Filet of Soul album – this is the “long” version:

  • Honolulu Lulu
  • Boys Down at the Plant
  • Cathy’s Clown (short version)
  • Pigeon Joke / Rhino Joke
  • Brass Section Intro
  • Dead Man’s Curve (short version)
  • Beatle Part of Our Portion
  • Rhythm Section Intro
  • Michelle
  • Whistling Dixie
  • Thank You Dean
  • Norwegian Wood
  • 1-2-3
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Hide Your Love Away
  • And Now Back to the Show
  • Let’s Hang On Intro
  • Hang On Sloopy

Postscript:  Two years later, Shirley Ellis would attempt to unseat Jan and Dean with “Ever See A Diver Kiss His Wife While The Bubbles Bounce About Above The Water?