Category: Music – 1968

Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus

Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz were arguably the biggest producers of bubblegum music. Their company was Super K Productions and among the artists they “produced” were The 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Ohio Express, and The Music Explosion.  They put together several of their “groups” to form The Kastenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus. The album listed 8 groups (the above mentioned 3 plus Lt. Garcia’s Magic Music Box, Teri Nelson Group, 1989 Musical Marching Zoo, J.C.W. Rat Finks, and the St. Louis Invisible Marching Band. This fictitious super group would be responsible for 3 albums.  In reality, Joey Levine and a bunch of studio musicians were successful with their second single “Quick Joey Small” reaching #25 in October 1968. Their follow-up was “I’m In Love With You”. The song spent the first 3 weeks of 1969 “bubbling under” , getting as high as #105. 

If you happen to be wondering what their first single was, it was “Down In Tennessee” which had also “bubbled Under” in July 1968, peaking at #124.

Joey Levine and Artie Resnick wrote all three of these songs. Levine & Resnick wrote a ton of bubblegum music together, they were also members of The Third Rail and Joey’s voice may be one of the most recognizable voices in the business. All the big Ohio Express songs are his vocals, along with the Reunion hit “Life is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)”


Rhinoceros



Elecktra Records decided to hold auditions for a “supergroup” in 1967. Here’s the details from the Wikipedia article on Rhinoceros:

“Paul A. Rothchild, then Elektra Records’ talent scout and house producer, and fellow producer Frazier Mohawk (formerly Barry Friedman), decided to individually sign talented young musicians and form them together into a group in this fashion. While Mohawk had been instrumental in coordinating band membership for what became Buffalo Springfield (encouraging Stills to form Buffalo Springfield following his Monkees audition), the establishment of what became Rhinoceros involved a more formal third party role.

Rothchild and Mohawk initially invited twelve musicians to audition in September 1967, at Mohawk’s house in Laurel Canyon. Included in this initial group were Doug Hastings (guitar) and Alan Gerber (keyboards and vocals). A second audition was held at a Los Angeles motel in November 1967, where approximately twenty musicians were reviewed. After this meeting, John Finley (vocals) and Danny Weis (guitar) were chosen to work with Hastings and Gerber. Finley and Hodgson were both former members of Jon and Lee & the Checkmates, a band which Rothchild had expressed an interest in signing as early as 1965 that had broken up in September 1967.

Weis had been an original member of Iron Butterfly and played on their debut album. Hastings had been a member of Seattle’s Daily Flash, and briefly served as Neil Young’s replacement in Buffalo Springfield, during one of Young’s departures from the group. Other members of the Daily Flash were invited to audition for Rhinoceros, though only Hastings was chosen.

Weis then suggested former Iron Butterfly bandmate Jerry Penrod as the bass player for Rhinoceros; his suggestion was accepted. Former Checkmate keyboard player Michael Fonfara was then invited to join the lineup. Fonfara had joined The Electric Flag in mid-November 1967, for sessions and a brief tour of the northeast U.S. and California. During mid-December, he ran into Finley and Hodgson at the Tropicana Motel in Los Angeles, and was encouraged by Finley to sign on to the Rhinoceros project. Based on Finley’s recommendation, Fonfara was brought into Rhinoceros, following the completion of his obligations to the Electric Flag. John Keleihor, former drummer for The Daily Flash, contributed to some of the group’s early recordings, but departed early on. The final member chosen, in early 1968, was Billy Mundi, former drummer for the Mothers of Invention.”

Their first album was not the hoped for smash but contained some great music:



“Apricot Brandy” was the charting single from the group, it would peak at #46 and spend 10 weeks on the Hot 100. Another single from that from LP that failed to chart was “You’re My Girl (I Don’t Want To Discuss It)”, the B side, which made the chart on WPTR in Albany, New York, was “I Will Serenade You”, written by band member John Finley. Five years later Three Dog Night” would reinvent the song and reach #17 on the Hot 100



I 1969 they released the “Satin Chickens” LP and “Back Door” was the single that failed to chart. Their final album was “Better Times Are Coming”, they released two final singles, again failing to chart. Listening to their music 50 years later, it was much better than the public recognized and it’s stood the test of time. I’ll close this post with the first single off the last LP “Better Times”




For more on the continuing history of Rhinoceros, here’s the link to the band’s website: Rhinoceros: The Band


Give A Damn – Spanky & Our Gang



“Give a Damn” was released as a single in the summer of 1968. In spite of being banned in several states because of the profanity in its title – and in some cases due to the fact that it was a comment on racial equality that became the theme song for the New York Urban Coalition – the song became a regional hit where released and overall made #43. I still like the expression of equality it preaches, no matter what group you attribute it to.


Spanky and Our Gang would be among my favorite groups of the late 60s, Built around Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane, this group bridges the gap between The Mamas And The Papas and The Manhattan Transfer. Great harmonies, folk-rock, jazz, and not taking themselves too seriously made this group so enjoyable listen to. The death of Malcolm Hale in late 1968 was pretty much the end of their 2 year run. They lost Lefty Baker 3 years later as well. I happen to own the LP that is pictured in this video. Their biggest hits were “Sunday Will Never Be The Same”, and “Like To Get To Know You”.


Spanky became the lead singer of the New Mamas & Papas in 1982


Midnight Confessions – The Grass Roots



The Grass Roots were originally a concept band that grew into a great group. Between 1967 and 1972, The Grass Roots set a record for being on the Billboard charts for 307 straight weeks. This one is their highest charting song and a classic from 1968. I was 15 when this was a hit and it’s one of those soul-searching songs that captured my fancy back then. Another of the American bands (San Francisco) that stood against the British Invasion.

In 1965 P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri went looking for a band that would fit their needs to cash in on the rock folk movement. The first song was “Where Were You When I Needed You” and the first group was hired, The Beaudins out of San Francisco, they were followed by The Robbs out of Wisconsin before the nucleus of the Grass Roots centered on The 13th Floor, a band from Los Angeles. More The Wrecking Crew than the band members themselves, the group had their first hit in “Let’s Live For Today”, After “Things I Should Have Said”, they released ‘Midnight Confessions”, a song written by Lou T. Josie for the band he managed, The Ever-Green Blues. The Grass Roots version would peak at #5 and spend 5 weeks in the Top 10 in October and November 1968. Their next three songs were covers that most people don’t realize that they weren’t original to the group including “Lovin’ Things”, a song that had been a UK hit for The Marmalade prior to the Grass Roots success with it.

I’ll close this post with the original single from The Ever-Green Blues, not a lot different except for the lack of horns.

;-


Here’s To You – Hamilton Camp



“Here’s To You” was released in May of 1968 and spent 5 weeks on the charts only rising to #76. I have always loved this song. The man who wrote and sang it has been a face most of you over the age of 15 have seen on TV, the first time I saw him, he was blown to bits on a Rat Patrol episode, Trekkie’s know him as “Leck”, Lois & Clark fans know him as H.G. Wells. A List of his TV appearances can be found at Hamilton Camp.com

Camp started his entertainment career as a folk singer with Bob Gibson (no, not the great St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher). His songwriting credits include “Pride of Man”best known by Quicksilver Messenger Service,





and

“You Can Tell The World”, sung by Simon and Garfunkel on their first album “Wednesday Morning- 3 A.M.” This gospel song I have known since I was very young but didn’t know it was a Camp and Gibson composition.



Beside’s his live acting career, he was the voice of many animated characters including Gizmo Duck on Duck Tales and Greedy and Harmony Smurf on The Smurfs and Count Dracula in Scoby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf”

Hamilton passed away in 2005 at age 70.


The Legend Of Xanadu – Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

 

 

Time to crack the whip this morning! “The Legend Of Xanadu” from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich is one of those songs that we here in the States never appreciated but the UK surely did. The group’s biggest hit, it reached #1 in the UK. I’m not sure how I found this music or when, because it doesn’t show up on any of my personal lists for 1968 but it was released here in the States in March of that year. I have become a huge DDDBM&T fan over the years and this is my favorite of the bunch.

 

For more on this group, check out my podcast here:DDDBM&T


Jennifer Juniper/Atlantis – Donovan


Wear Your Love Like Heaven, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Atlantis, Sunshine Superman, There Is A Mountain, Mellow Yellow, Catch The Wind, Lalena, To Susan On The West Coast Waiting, Season of the Witch,and this one from the spring of 1968. Different music than anyone else was doing, unique songwriting skills and like many of his contemporaries, a voice that could not be described as “pure” but one that was somehow pleasing to the ear anyway. I have a different favorite Donovan song every time I listen to his work. The introduction to “Atlantis”is an amazingly detailed picture of the antediluvian concept of the lost continent and it’s legacy. Wikipedia says this about the Scottish songwriter, “Emerging from the British folk scene, he (Donovan) developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelia, and world music” As good an example of the hippie and drug culture of that era as I can think of.

 

 
 


Summer Rain – Johnny Rivers

 

 

Another of my favorite artists from the 60’s and 70’s. I wish I’d been in Calais when he came for a concert in circa 2000! 29 charted songs, only “Poor Side of Town” reached #1. Johnny re-invented his sound several times over his career. This was released in November 1967 and spent 10 weeks on the Billboard Top 100, peaking at #14. His follow-up song to this in April of 1968 was “Look To Your Soul”. I always wanted to be a writer and when I wrote down songs that I would like to include in a story about the late sixties, this was one I included that definitely takes me back to that era.

“She stepped out of a rainbow,
Golden hair shining like moonglow.
Warm lips, soft as her soul,
Sitting here by me, now.
She’s here by me.
All summer long we were dancing in the sand,
Everybody just kept on playing,
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
We sailed into the sunset,
Drifting home, caught by a gulf stream.
Never gave a thought for tomorrow,
Let tomorrow be”.

This one of those records that I liked at first but the older I get, the more I love it. The guitar intro gives me goosebumps, just like Bruce Hornsby’s piano intro to “Every Little Kiss”.


I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite – Boyce & Hart

 

Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart were well-known for their writing ability – “Come A Little Bit Closer”, “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”, many of the Monkees big hits – “I Wanna Be Free”, “Words”, “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone” and “Last Train To Clarksville”. They had a few hits of their own and this was the most successful one, peaking at #8 in the winter of 1968. I still have this 45, but I wore it out a long time ago. You gotta love the outfits in this video 😉

Being a music geek (okay, nerd, period), I actually kept a top 15 of my own for a number of years (good thing I did, there is so much music I would have forgotten about otherwise), and an annual Top 101 from 1968 to 1972. I compiled a Top 111 list from all 5 years in 1973 and this song was #11!

For more on Boyce & Hart, check out my podcast featuring much of their music: Boyce & Hart podcast


The Yard Goes On Forever – Richard Harris