Tag Archives: 60s music

Haymarket Square

Haymarket Square

Haymarket Square are yet another example of the brilliant, psychedelic sounds coming from the USA musical underground of the late ’60s through the early 1970s..

Like many other bands featured here on Loud Horizon, they would record only one LP in their time together. But boy – what a doozy! Copies of the original pressing have been sold via Discogs from between £1500 and £2700!

The band came about with the demise of Chicago garage band, The Real Things. As the young band parted for college and other personal reasons, drummer John Kowalski and rhythm guitarist Bob Roma decided to form a new outfit.

Auditions were advertised in their University of Illinois newspaper and other local rags. Guitarist Marc Swenson immediately impressed with his ability to play in the style of The Kinks‘ Dave Davies. No question – he was hired right away!

With an impressive guitarist in place, Bob moved over onto bass. There was now just one integral position to be filled – that of vocalist.

Desperation was setting in on the three young players (John & Bob were 18, Marc, just 17) when out of the blue, Bob received a phone call from the twenty year old, tall, blond Gloria Lambert. She was at that time singing in a Folk band but was looking for something a bit more ‘electric;’ something more raucous and exciting. Gloria, as you can hear on the tracks here, was so strong in her delivery and had that sort of Grace Slick, psychedelic feel to her tone.

It was the perfect match.

This was 1967, and female singers taking on lead vocals in rock bands was at this point, still relatively unusual. The band were already almost one step ahead of other Chicago bands.

Now for a name. Civil disobedience was rife amongst the US student population at this point, and when John Kowalski saw a statue marking a labour riot back in the early 1900s he adopted the name of the location – Haymarket Square.

It wasn’t long before the band’s name and reputation grew to such level that they were opening in the city’s larger venues for established acts like, The Yarbirds, Cream and H.P. Lovecraft.

Shortly thereafter, they were writing their own material with subject matter ranging from various psychedelic topics to the occult. Their sound has a very distinctive feel with the guitar, bass and drums all sharing the heavy load. What struck me though was the drumming – at times very ‘surf’ inspired, and others, more of a pounding, hard rock style. The guitar wails with a fuzzy tone throughout and the bass is played with a real, distinctive bounce. And of course, there’s no getting away from Gloria’s vocals giving an air of Jefferson Airplane.

Only one of the tracks on the album is a ‘cover’ – an outstanding version of Tiny Bradshaw’s ‘Train Kept-A-Rollin’.’ This version tops those of Johnny Burnette and Aerosmith in my opinion.

There are only six tracks on the album too – but with only one coming in at less than seven minutes, there is that wonderful sense of tripped out jamming on the others.

The album is a direct result of the band liaising with two professors from The University of Illinois who put together the ‘Baron & Bailey Light Circus’ which was a dynamic combination of music with changing light patterns. In the summer of ’68, they teamed up with Haymarket Square and the album was exhibited as a living work of art at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Poster for the Baron & Bailey Light Circus, featuring Haymarket Square – 29th & 30th June 1968

However, shortly after the album was recorded, original member Bob left the band and was replaced on bass by Ken Pitlik. At the same time, they decided to augment their sound with the addition of a rhythm guitarist, Robert Miller.

Haymarket Square continued as a five-piece for another six years before they finally broke up in 1974, the members all going heir own ways.

Sadly, and I’m afraid I don’t know why, there were no more recordings. But if you’re going to leave just a one-album-legacy, then I guess ‘Magic Lantern‘ is about as good as it gets.

(*Band details and history have been gleaned from the additional sleeve-notes to the ‘Magic Lantern’ album, written by drummer and founder member, John Kowalski.)

HAYMARKET SQUARE

Gloria Lambert – Vocals
John Kowalski -Drums
Bob Roma – Bass (’til late ’68)
Marc Swenson – Guitar

+ from late ’68


Ken Pitlik – Bass
Robert Miller – Rhythm Guitar

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES
Magic LanternLP1968ChaparralOriginal pressing has sold for over £2600 on Discogs.




Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera.
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – debut (and only) LP
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera debut single: ‘Flames.’

Five Proud Walkers were initially an R&B band from North London. Formed in 1963, they gigged around the city, establishing a good, strong, reputation and developing their sound to include some of the Jazz and Beat influences that were emerging around the capital.

When vocalist Terry Elliott left in early 1966, he was replaced by Dave Terry from The Impacts. Dave was more of a showman and the band’s stage show became much more theatrical and image conscious.

By the end of that year, the band were in demand not just within the London scene, but across the country. The decision was taken to pack in the day jobs and go full time professional band. Bass player John Treais couldn’t commit, and so left at this point, being replaced by John Ford.

It was now 1967. With their more extravagant stage show and appearance, and the music scene in general taking a more psychedelic turn, it was agreed a new era for the band merited a new name.

Guitarist Colin Forster explains:
“It came out of the dress sense, really, with the clothing an the hair. John Ford worked in a shop in Carnaby Street, so he started getting some interesting clothing, so various things developed from that, like Regency styles of clothing. Elmer (Dave Terry) got this hat and cape and somebody said that he looked like Burt Lancaster in that movie ‘Elmer Gantry,’ and we just added ‘Velvet Opera.’ We never knew about the Velvet Underground, but velvet was ‘in’ an ‘Opera’ was the fact that we were doing an act on stage.”

(Dave Terry hadn’t actually planned on becoming ‘Elmer Gantry’ but as the frontman, people would just make the assumption. The band found it funny and would take the mickey, and so the name stuck.)

The band’s first single, ‘Flames,’ gained a lot of radio play and was a favourite of the young John Peel on his ‘Top Gear’ shows. Although it didn’t quite chart, the track was included on the CBS ‘sampler’ album, ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On,’ which also featured Bob Dylan, Moby Grape, Spirit, The Byrds and The Zombies.

Selling at half the price of a standard LP, the compilation reached the Album Chart Top 20, ensuring the band’s music was now being heard by a massive new audience.

Impetus created and momentum building, the band headed into the studio to produce an album of their own. The eponymous named debut is a fantastic mix of psych-pop, raga, soul, harder rock and Vaudeville, I don’t think I’d be far off saying Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera were like a proto Sensational Alex Harvey Band. They were also ‘punk’ before Punk formally announced itself nine years later.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – ‘Air’.

Sadly, this would be the band’s only album release with this line-up, with guitarist Colin Forster leaving in April 1968, his place being taken by Paul Brett. They continued gigging but the chemistry had been upset and having been coerced by their label into recording a single ‘Volcano’ that did’t really meet the band’s profile, Elmer himself left.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera were no more, though Hudson, Ford and Brett added Johnny Joyce as singer / guitarist and recorded one album, ‘Ride a Hustler’s Dream‘ in 1969 as Velvet Opera.

Elmer himself formed the Elmer Gantry Band before joining the cast of ‘Hair,’ then in the Seventies joining the band Stretch and recording with the likes of Jon Lord, Cozy Powell and the Alan Parsons Project.

Hudson and Ford would go on to success with The Strawbs, before their #8 hit single, ‘Pick Up The Pieces‘ as Hudson-Ford. They also had another two top 40 singles and released several albums as a duo.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera -‘I Was Cool.

ELMER GANTRY’S VELVET OPERA

Elmer Gantry – Vocals
Colin Forster – Guitar
John Ford – Bass
Richard ‘Hud’ Hudson – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES
Flames / Salisbury Plain7″ single1967Direction
Flames / What’s The Point Of Leaving7″ single1968Epic
Mary Jane 7″ single 1968CBS
Volcano7″ single1969Direction
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet OperaLP1968Direction

(** Information for this post was gleaned from the album’s insert notes by Mike Stax of Ugly Things Magazine.**)

locomotive

LOCOMOTIVE: first incarnation, 1965 photo credit, JIM SIMPSON

Reading the ‘tags’ above, you’d be forgiven for thinking there had been some kind of editorial cock-up. Ska & Blue Beat? Yes, obviously, if you played the track above. Prog / progressive rock? Eh?

Read on – I shall explain.

Locomotive (initially billed as The Locomotive)were formed in Birmingham, England, during 1965, by trumpet playing jazz musician, Jim Simpson. (Jim is on the far right of the opening image, above.) The original line-up, which wasn’t to last too long, also boasted Chris Wood (bottom left of photo) who would leave towards the end of 1966 to join forces with Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, to form Traffic.

There had been several personnel changes throughout 1966 and Chris’s departure left only Jim Simpson of the original line-up.

Amongst those enlisted to the new line-up was keyboard player Norman Haines who had previously played with The Brum Beats. Norman worked in a record shop in the Smethwick area of Birmingham which had a large West Indian population. The shop would meet the local demand for ska and blue-beat records, and Norman himself became a big fan of the genre.

His influence was brought to bear with the release of the ‘new’ band’s first single ‘Broken Heart.’Written by Haines, it had a blue-beat feel, but was drenched in soulful vocals and horns.

Other than the track itself, there are two interesting facts about this release:
1) it was the last records to be played on the original ‘Jukebox Jury’ television programme … and voted a ‘Miss.’ And it was.
2) the B-side was a cover of Dandy Livingstone‘s ‘Rudy, A Message To You,‘ which would become a hit for The Specials some twelve years later.

The following year, saw the band spend eight weeks in the UK charts, peaking at number twenty-five, with ‘Rudi’s In Love.‘ (This single would be reissued in both 1971 and 1980 during the respective periods of skinhead and two tone popularity, the latter being when I myself bought a copy.)

The remaining original band member, Jim Simpson left in 1968 to concentrate on music management … and did reasonably well, I’d say, going on to eventually look after Black Sabbath.

With a ‘hit’ single and lots of airplay behind them, an album deal beckoned and in early 1969, the lead single from the soon to be released, ‘We Are Everything You See’ long player hit the shops.

You will of course have detected a change in Locomotive’s musical direction!

Opening with a short classical piece, ‘Overture,‘ the album then progresses into blend of psychedelic, jazz and soul. Listening to ‘Mr Armageddan’ puts me in mind of some Paul Weller / Style Council type songs that would follow, the best part of forty years later.

‘Lay Me Down Gently‘ in parts echos The Small Faces, while the Nigel Phillips (three part) composition ‘The Loves of Augustus Abbey‘ has that prog-rock reflection of medieval England.

It’s most certainly an adventurous release. However, as great as it sounds, and no matter the positive music press reviews , the album pretty much bombed as it was released to a somewhat confused fanbase.

Perhaps understandably, established fans of the ska-infused Locomotive did not take to the new prog- rock imbued version of the band. Likewise, the new target audiences regarded them as a bit ‘poppy,’ and were reluctant to buy in.

The follow-up single, ‘I’m Never Gonna Let You Go,’ a cover of the ? and The Mysterions song, also missed the charts.

As a result, Parlophone delayed the album’s release. It did eventually see the light of day in February 1970, but by this time, Norman had left the band and in effect, Locomotive no longer existed.

With no promotion or marketing, sales were unsurprisingly poor, and the album was quickly withdrawn, marking it a rare collector’s item, with copies at time of writing for sale via Discogs at upwards of £500!

Norman would go on to form Sacrfice, later to be known simply as The Norman Haines Band. Remaining band members Bob Lamb (who would later join The Steve Gibbons Band) Mick Hincks, John Caswell and Keith Millar would record one more single before changing the band name to The Dog That Bit People.

Yeah – while the ability to diversify is a great attribute, I wonder how things would have turned out had the band simply avoided any confusion and conflict of fanbase by changing their name prior to releasing the album.

(I love this track! The B-side to Mr Amagedddon)

LOCOMOTIVE
(Throughout their time, I count twenty musicians who played with the band. The following are those I believe were involve with the album’s recording.)

Norman Haines – Keyboards / Vocals
Bill Madge – Saxophone
Mick Hincks – Bass / Vocals
Bob Lamb – Drums
Mick Taylor – Trumpet
+
Dick Heckstall-Smith – Saxophone (session musician)
Henry Lowther – Trumpet (session musician)
Chris Mercer – Saxophone (session musician)

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Broken Heart7″ single1967Direction
Rudi’s In Love7″ single1968Parlophone
I’m Never Gonna Let You Go7″ single1969Parlophone
Mr. Armageddan7″ single1969Parlophone
Roll Over Mary 7″ single1970Parlophone
We Are Everything You SeeLP1970Parlophone


(** Reference was made to the brumbeat.net website in preparation of this piece. **)