Various Artists – ‘Heroes & Villains – The Sound Of Los Angeles 1965-1968’
A four hour overview of the Los Angeles music scene between 1965 and 1968, ‘Heroes And Villains’ the new three disc box set on Cherry Red Records’ Grapefruit Records imprint is a wonderful mix of artists, ranging from the best known acts of the day to extremely obscure artists, some of which have never before seen their work released.
The ninety tracks include examples of a wide spectrum of music, from pop to singer/songwriter, harder edged to psychedelic rock and virtually everything in between, with hit singles, well known album tracks, demos and rare versions all well represented.
Disc one opens with the #1 hit single version of Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ by The Monkees, followed fittingly by Paul Revere And The Raiders’ take on the Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil penned ‘Kicks’ a #4 hit, written about Gerry Goffin’s unfortunate experiences with LSD and his subsequent treatment for mental health issues. ‘Acid Head’ by The Velvet Illusions is an anti-drug tune mistakenly banned as pro-drug by many radio stations. The disc includes ‘Let Her Dance’ by The Bobby Fuller Four, released just before Fuller’s mysterious and untimely death. Of special interest are a demo version of ‘The Wind Blows Your Hair’ by The Seeds and ‘Point Of No Return’ by Sean Bonniwell and The Music Machine which went unreleased at the time. The set contains three tunes released by Los Angeles rock singer/songwriter/guitarist Merrell Fankhauser, ‘Tomorrow’s Girl’ by Merrell And The ‘Xiles, ‘The Music Scene’ by Fapardokly, a commentary on the Los Angeles music scene, and the psychedelic classic ‘Drivin’ Sideways On A One Way Street’ by Merrell Fankhauser And H.M.S. Bounty. Also represented by three tracks is vocalist James Lowe with the various incarnations of what would become The Electric Prunes, beginning with two unreleased 1965 tracks ‘Help Yourself’ by The Sanctions and a cover of The Leaves’ ‘Too Many People’ by Jim And The Lords and ending with the 1967 single ‘The Great Banana Hoax’ credited to The Electric Prunes. The first disc features the hits ‘Twelve O’Clock (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon)’ by The Mama’s And Papa’s, ‘Let’s Live For Today’ by The Grass Roots and ‘Along Comes Mary’ by The Association. The first of two tracks by The Misunderstood ‘I Cried My Eyes Out’ is joined by lesser known tunes such as ‘Keep Your Mind Open’ by David Lindley and Kaleidoscope, who Jimmy Page has named as his favorite band of all time, ‘New Hard Times’ by Stone Poneys featuring a young Linda Ronstadt and the title track to ‘A Child’s Guide To Good And Evil’ by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, among many others.
Disc two opens with ‘Hungry Freaks, Daddy’ from the ‘Freak Out’ album, the first legitimate appearance by Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention on a compilation. Next up is the first of two tracks by Captain Beefheart And His Magical Band, ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’ from the 1967 ‘Safe As Milk’ LP, with ‘Yellow Brick Road’ from the same album being the first track on disc three. ‘Computer Girl’, the first track recorded by brothers Ron and Russell Mael, famous as members of Sparks, follows, released under the moniker Urban Renewal Project. The Peanut Butter Conspiracy album track ‘The Most Up To Now’ is followed by producer Gary Usher’s first appearance with ‘It Won’t Always Be The Same’ by The Millenium featuring vocals by Curt Boettcher. ‘Makin’ Deals’ an obscure 1968 garage rocker by The Satans, previously included on the ‘Pebbles’ various artist compilation, is a welcome addition with its “Can You Guess My Name” lyric beating Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ by two full years. ‘With None Shoes’ taken from the Leaves’ second, and final,album ‘All The Good That’s Happening’ finds guitarist Bobby Arlin and future-Turtles bassist Jim Pons in fine form. The second side of Odds And Sods’ sole single ‘Be Happy Baby’ follows disc one’s ‘(Cause) You Don’t Love Me’, both fine examples of mid-1960’s garage rock. Singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson is represented by ‘Mr. Richland’s Favorite Song’ from his ‘Aerial Ballet’ album which also included his take on Fred Neil’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ featured in the 1970 film ‘The Midnight Cowboy’. The box set takes its title from the chorus of The Beach Boys’ unreleased 1967 tune ‘Do You Like Worms (Roll Plymouth Rock)’ which the band wanted titled ‘Roll Plymouth Rock’. A gorgeous take on ‘Carnival Song’ from singer/songwriter Tim Buckley’s 1967 LP ‘Goodbye And Hello’ joins producer Gary Usher’s ‘I’m Not Living More’ released in 1968 under the moniker ‘Sagittarius, featuring members of The Wrecking Crew and vocals by Glen Campbell, Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher. The rocking ‘No Shame’ recorded by Hunger, under their alter ego name The Touch, leads to the well known Spirit track ‘Uncle Jack’ taken from their self-titled 1968 debut album. The Byrds influenced The Rose Garden promo 45 ‘Long Time’ leads to ‘Say It With A Smile’ recorded by drummer/vocalist John Acquerelli with his band The Heros following the breakup of Odds And Ends. The disc closes with the Beach Boys influenced ‘Move With The Dawn’ by Brian Wilson disciple Mark Eric.
Disc three opens with the previously mentioned Captain Beefheart track ‘Yellow Brick Road’ followed by Love’s single ‘She Comes In Colors’. The album version of Emitt Rhodes and The-Merry-Go-Round’s ‘Time Will Show The Wiser’ is followed by The Human Expression’s promo single version of ‘Calm Me Down’ and an alternate take of ‘Why’ by The Byrds. An interesting cover of Them’s ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ by The Heros is followed by a nice cover of The Association’s ‘Windy’ by female singer/songwriter Ruthann Friedman. Buffalo Springfield’s single ‘Do I Have To Come Right Out And Tell You’ leads to another familiar 7”, Strawberry Alarm Clock’s 1968 ‘Sit With The Guru’. The disc includes ‘So You Say You Lost Your Baby’ by Gene Clark with The Gosdin Brothers and ‘Luxury Liner’ by Gram Parsons’ International Submarine Band, giving the listener a wonderful taste of country rock Los Angeles style. Exciting additions are the single version of ‘Runnin’ On Back’ by Del Shannon and Chad and Jeremey’s LP track ‘Pipe Dream’, 1968 excursions into psychedelic rock by artists not normally identified with the genre. Hard rockers Steppenwolf and Iron Butterfly are represented by the single version of ‘A Girl I Knew’ and album track ‘Flowers And Beads’, both from 1968, the latter taken from the group’s classic ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ LP. The beautiful single version of ‘Black Rose’ by Clear Light, produced by Paul Rothchild leads to the set closer ‘Hippy Town’ by The Velvet Illusions, released under the name Georgy And The Velvet Illusions, bringing this wonderful anthology to a fitting end.
‘Heroes And Villains: The Sounds Of Los Angeles 1965-68 comes in a clamshell box, with each of its discs housed in cardboard mini-LP sleeves. The set contains a lushly illustrated 80 page full color booklet, fully annotated, with a 20,000 word essay by compiler David Wells. The music sounds incredible thanks to the mastering job of Alec Palao. This set will appeal to fans of all genres of 1960’s rock music, especially that of the American West Coast variety, and comes highly recommended.
‘Heroes and Villains: The Sound of Los Angeles 1965-68’ (Grapefruit Records)