Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Moon - Without Earth & The Moon (1968 - 1969)

Listen to 'Never Mind':

The Moon was a short-lived late-'60s psych-pop "supergroup," notable for featuring ex-Beach Boy David Marks on lead guitar. 20-year old Marks had, by then, enjoyed quite a career. At 14, circa 1962, he joined the Beach Boys as a rhythm guitarist (the Wilsons were his neighbors in Hawthorne, CA) when Al Jardine left their lineup to attend dentist school. Marks appeared on the first four Beach Boys albums and several hit singles, including "Surfin' U.S.A." and "Surfer Girl." When Jardine returned, Marks, just 16, became the leader of Dave & the Marksmen, who had localized hits with "Cruisin'," "I Wanna Cry," and "I Could Make You Mine." Marks then formed the Band Without a Name, who recorded two singles for Tower and Sidewalk and were the house band at two Sunset Strip clubs, circa 1965-1966. After leaving this group, Marks formed the Moon with organ/pianist/vocalist Matthew Moore, who penned most of the band's songs. Moore's previous group, Matthew Moore Plus Four, had recorded for GNP Crescendo, and also solo material for White Whale and Capitol. The other Moon members were bassist David Jackson (ex-Hearts & Flowers, who had two LPs on Capitol in the late '60s) and drummer Larry Brown (ex-Davie Allen & the Arrows and a veteran of countless film soundtracks and those Sidewalk/Tower releases that were produced by Mike Curb). The members of the Moon literally moved into Continental Recorders in Hollywood, where they recorded two albums — 1968's Without Earth and 1969's The Moon — for Imperial. Today, Marks admits these were produced under the influence of LSD, and sound "like a cross between the Bee Gees, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix." The group's membership also included bassist Andy Bennett and session drummer Jim Keltner occasionally filling in.
After the Moon dissolved, Marks began working as a studio musician with Denny Brooks, Delaney & Bonnie, and others. Marks, Moore, and Jackson later worked together — alongside members of Colours and the East Side Kids — on Buzz Clifford's See Your Way Clear album. Marks also joined Mike Love's Beach Boys, but was forced to leave due to his own battle with Hepatitis C. He founded the non-profit Artists Against Hepatitis foundation and became the national spokesman for the Hep C Hope Foundation. More recently, he still finds time to tour with Beach Party!, made up of former members of the Boys' touring band. Moore, meanwhile, joined Joe Cocker's 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour, which was captured on vinyl and film for posterity's sake (Cocker performed Moore's "Space Captain"). Moore then went on to have a successful career as a session vocalist and keyboardist, recorded solo albums, and even had his own label, New Decade. David Jackson went on to become the bassist with Dillard & Clark. Larry Brown played with Gunhill Road, Tony Allwine, and was the official voice for Mickey Mouse.

1. Mothers And Fathers
2. Pleasure
3. I Should Be Dreaming
4. Brother Lous Love Colony
5. Got To Be On My Way
6. Someday Girl
7. Papers
8. Faces
9. Never Mind
10. Give Me More
11. Shes On My Mind
12. Walking Around
13. Pirate
14. Lebanon
15. Transporting Machine
16. Mary Jane
17. Softly
18. Not To Know
19. The Good Side
20. Life Is A Season
21. John Automaton
22. Come Out Tonight
23. Mr Duffy
24. Pirate Song (Mono 45 Mix) (Bonus Track)
25. Not To Know (Mono 45 Mix) (Bonus Track)
26. Face In The Crowd (Matthew Moore Plus 4) (Bonus Track)
27. White Silk Glove (Matthew Moore Plus 4) (Bonus Track)
28. Come On Home (Matthew Moore Plus 4) (Bonus Track)

Without Earth and the Moon

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ashes - Featuring Pat Taylor (1970)

The only album ever from The Ashes -- a group who both pre-dated and post-dated Peanut Butter Conspiracy -- morphing into that famous act after an initial 60s run, then changing back to Ashes form with this group featuring female singer Pat Taylor! Taylor's got a style that's folksy, but a bit fierce too -- a quality that almost gives the group a Jefferson Airplane sound on vocals, but a bit lighter overall and not nearly as trippy. Tunes are relatively straightforward, occasionally a bit rootsy -- late 60s California underground work at its best, although more Northern Cali than southern. Titles include "My Life Has Changed", "Sands Of Love", "Sleeping Serenade", "Gone To Sorrow", "Simple Complexities", "Look Around Rock", and "Her Invention". (dustygroove)


1(A) THE ASHES (Vault 125) 1966 R1

1 Is There Anything I Can Do?/Every Little Prayer (Vault 924) 1966
2 Dark On You Now/Roses Gone (Vault 936) 1967
3 Homeward Bound/Sleeping Serenade (Vault 973) 1971

The above line-up is that featured on the album. This Los Angeles band's original drummer was, of course, Spencer Dryden, before he joined Jefferson Airplane. The remaining members, aside from Taylor, later teamed up with Bill Wolff, Lance Feat and Sandi Robinson to become The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

The Ashes also have four tracks (both sides of their first two singles) on the 1967 Vault compilation, West Coast Love-In (LP). Every Little Prayer, Is There Anything I Can Do?, Dark On You Now and Roses Gone are all characterised by the distinctive melodies that typified so many mid-sixties English bands like The Fortunes. They feature Sandi Robinson rather than Pat Taylor on vocals. Their album is well worth a spin. A very hippyish sixties album with nice lead vocals. (Fuzz, Acid & Flowers)

The Ashes were a folk-rock group formed in 1965 that included John Merrill (guitar/ vocals), Alan Brackett (bass/ vocals), Barbara Robison (vocals), Spencer Dryden (drums) and Jim Cherniss (guitar/ vocals). Before they were known as the Ashes, the group called themselves the Young Swingers and released two long lost 45s under that name: "Love Her Every Day" b/w "Or Else You'll Cry" (Courtney 746) and "Let's Take Our Love" b/w "The Winds Up High" (Portafino 901) . From the summer of 1965 up until May of 1966, the Ashes served as the house band at a club in Santa Monica called the Waleback. They released their first single under their new moniker in 1966: "Is There Anything I Can Do?" b/w "Every Little Prayer" (Vault 924). The a-side was written by Jackie DeShannon and featured a fine lead vocal from Barbara Robison. This 45, along with its follow-up "Dark on You Now" b/w "Roses Gone" (Vault 936), also appeared on the 1967 compilation WEST COAST LOVE-IN (Vault 7980). Around the time of the first Ashes single, Spencer Dryden left to replace Skip Spence in Jefferson Airplane. Jim Cherniss also exited the group at this time.

With the addition of two new members, the band was transformed into the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, who of course recorded two albums for Columbia in 1967. John Merrill resurrected Ashes in late 1968, around the same time that Alan Brackett was working on the tracks that would ultimately constitute the PBC's FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES album. The new Ashes recorded their debut LP for Vault Records that year; it stands today as a staple of the collector's market, routinely fetching $50 or more on eBay. The album also featured singer Pat Taylor standing in for Barbara Robison (who could not appear on the record due to contractual obligations). The LP's release was delayed until 1970, while two songs from the record-- "Homeward Bound" b/w "Sleeping Serenade" (Vault 975)-- were issued as a 45 in 1971.

--Jason Penick


Peter Stark - Mushroom Country (1976)

Another private pressing from a band that recorded a single record only to disappear without trace immediately after. Peter Stark's Mushroom Country, with its unusual phallic mushroom artwork and 'cosmic folk' groove, has become an extremely collectable album of late. Recorded at The Mike studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the album appeared on the Montage label in 1976, although for some reason no catalogue number was assigned. The album features 8 original works by Stark and his brother Ben, and a particularly fine cover of Donovan's 'Hey Gyp'. Musically, the album takes us on a tour of genres, from the instrumental 'Raga For Bayleaf', the folky 'You Make Me Feel' and the blues of 'Searching'. There is a real charm about Mushroom Country, with its varied instrumental accompaniment to Stark's vocals and fluid guitar and a 'we're having a great time doing this' vibe that pervades throughout. Hippie folk? Well, possibly, but none the worse for that. (

BEN STARK gtr, vcls A
PETER STARK gtr, vcls A

1(A) MUSHROOM COUNTRY (Montage ) 1976

From Ann Arbor, Michigan, this album contains acid folk music, with a cover of Donovan's Hey Gyp, some ragas (Ragas For Bayleaf) and fluid guitars. Housed in a nice sleeve, the album is now extremely rare and sought after.

(Stephane Rebeschini/Clark Faville)

Mushroom Country