In the early to mid-Sixties, as Rock’n’Roll gripped the western world, it wasn’t just the boys who were kicking up a wild noise in the schools and clubs of their neighbourhood. The ‘Girls’ were at it too!
All female vocal harmony groups had of course been integral parts of the scene for a while, but all female garage bands? Girls with guitars? Drums?
While it’s now widely known that record producers on both sides of the Atlantic would frequently employ the services of session musicians for the recordings, leaving the girls to present the ‘image,’ there were some bands that refused to comply.
The excellent ‘Girls in the Garage’ series of compilations highlights many of these groups, giving them, somewhat belatedly, a wider audience appreciation.
This first post celebrating ‘girls with guitars’ showcases a couple of my personal favourites.
THE CONTINENTAL CO-ETS
Formed in 1963 in Fulda, Minnesota, The Continental Co-ets helped pave the way for many female bands in their city to follow. All teenagers at the time, they were headed by Carolyn Behr on guitar, together with Nancy Hoffman (bass) Carol Goins (guitar) and Vicki Steinman (drums.) Nancy’s sister Mary Jo would later join on keyboards.
Their ‘big break’ came when in 1964, they were challenged by local counterparts, The Vultures, to a ‘battle of the sexes.’ The girls won out and gained invaluable exposure. More importantly, they won financial backing from David Edwards, whose investment paid off when tours around the mid-West and Canada secured them a record deal with the IGL (Iowa Great Lakes ) label.
They managed to release just the one 7″ single, ‘I Don’t Love You No More’ / ‘Medley of Junk’ with a run of 1,000 copies being released. Two subsequent recordings ‘Let’s Live For The Present‘ and ‘Ebb Tide‘ were not backed by their label and in 1967 the band decided to call it a day.
THE GLASS OPENING
The Glass Opening were another female band coming out of Minneapolis. I don’t actually have much information on them, other than they released two singles in 1969.
Their debut, ‘All Those Lies‘ was on the Dondee label, a split 7″ with the band Major Six, which didn’t sell well at all. The follow-up though, this time on the Neworld label, ‘I’m On Your Prey‘ was miles better!
However, it too failed to sell and the band split.
I have to say, I feel this one deserved so much more. It even has a contemporary feel some fifty plus years later.
Again, there’s not by way of background information to this band, but I love this single they recorded for the Gemini label in 1965. Band members Sylvia and Beate were originally from Frankfurt in Germany and had a couple of U.S. labels fighting over their signature. Gemini won, obviously, and scored a minor hit with this, the other side being ‘Stop That Man,’ an equally catchy little tune!
Formed in 1964 while still at school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, The Serfmen would quickly change direction from their surf- sound roots and build a strong local following, with gigs booked every weekend. They would be asked to open for more established local bands and some nationally famous groups.
On the strength of this interest, Al Russel, a local DeeJay of the time invited the band into his studio to record a couple of tracks. The result was this, ‘A Man Can’t Live Without Love.’ (A copy of this was sold through Discogs in June 2020 for £72)
Another single followed a few months later, ‘Chills & Fever.‘ The band were by now playing all the top venues in northern Indiana and northwest Ohio, and with both singles having received extensive airplay, they attracted the attention of Indiana based agency, Dino Enterprises.
With the ‘British Invasion’ of America now in full swing, the agency suggested the lads followed in that direction. Vocalist and lead guitarist explained the transformation from The Serfmen to The Olivers:
“On the south side of Ft. Wayne was Oliver Street. Oliver. Oliver Twist. It sounded old and British. Bang. That was it. The kids seemed to like it better also. We grew our hair, had old fashioned outfits made and wrote songs we thought sounded British.”
With their increased popularity, and working with an agency, touring further afield and a whole-hearted dedication to the band became essential. Bass player Greg Church couldn’t make that commitment so left, leaving a space to be filled by a fan of The Serfmen, Billy Franze. And so late in 1965, the first line-up of The Olivers was complete – see below.
Early in 1966, DJ Al Russell arranged a recording session in Portage, Michigan. Two songs were recorded, neither taking more than fifteen minutes!
The result was the following, frantic an exciting ‘Beeker Street’ / ‘I Saw What You Did‘ which was released initially through Phalanx Records, and shortly after picked up by RCA Victor who took on the distribution.
This new, settled line-up however wouldn’t last long, for in September 1966, less than a year after their formal inception, vocalist / lead guitarist, Jay Penndorf, was drafted into the U.S. military, and replaced with Mike Mankey.
When Mike and Billy joined, they were only eighteen years old. The other members, Carl Aldrich (vocals / organ) and Chuck Hamrick (drums) were both just twenty.
For such a young band, they landed some some pretty big bookings in 1967, touring extensively and opening shows for likes of The Rolling Stones; The Hollies; The Yarbirds; The Byrds; The Standells; Bob Seger, and The Who.
Moving with the times, The Olivers found themselves changing musical direction again, as the British Invasion influences had run their course. Now, they looked to Hendrix, Cream and other heavier acts as well as James Brown and lots of R&B.
Organ player Carl Aldrich was not so keen on the heavier scene. In late ’67 he moved on, Rick Durrett the keyboard player from local Indianapolis band The Cardboard Bachs, taking his place.
Their sound developed a more psychedelic edge and fans would now be standing and watching rather than dancing. They became an established name and top draw in Indiana and surrounding states, so much so the constant gigging left no time for hitting the studio to record.
Something had to be done, and through bass player Billy’s contact with Pete Steinberg of Candy Floss Productions, an invite was secured to record at the Dove Studios in Minneapolis.
By now, early 1969, Jay Penndorf had completed his draft obligations, and joined the band for the sessions. Seven songs were recorded, all written by the band members, principally Mike Mankey and Billy Franze.
Dove Records contacted major label Sire with a view to a wider release, and it seems they were indeed interested. But for whatever reason the deal was never secured and in 1970, Dove Studios closed their doors and sold all the equipment.
The resultant disappointment felt by the band turned to disillusionment. Jay, who’d by now formally rejoined, was not really into the new music the band were performing, and when his equipment was stolen, he opted to forsake the music business for a career in the army.
The Olivers were no more.
Mike and Billy subsequently teamed up with Kent Cretors on drums and recorded one 7″ single as Triad. But again, distribution was poor and sales subsequently disappointing. They stuck around til 1971, but then called it quits.
And that, it seemed was that. One of Indiana’s finest had been let down, for what reason, nobody really knows, and they were to disappear without much more than local acknowledgement.
Until, that is, 2011, when a reference acetate of the album recording session was offered in an internet auction in California. Mike Dugo and Tim Cox, both of whom are avid collectors and run much respected ’60s based music sites, had their interest piqued, tracked down band member Mike Mankey and conducted their ‘due diligence’ to authenticate the find.
The result is that now the album has been given a full release by garage and psych label Break – A – Way Records.
Check out the immense, trippy guitar work on the two tracks posted here. I’d go so far as to say this album defines the ‘true unknown classic’ description and is well worth checking out in full.
THE OLIVERS Mike Mankey – Guitar / Vocals Chuck Hamrick – Drums Rick Durrett – Keyboards Billy Franze – Bass / Lead Vocals Jay Pendoorf – Guitar / Vocals
*** Much of the information contained within this post has been gleanedfrom the sleeve notes of the Break-A-Way Records release of ‘Lost Dove sessions. ***
ADDENDUM – JANUARY 2022
It’s lovely to know people actually read this blog – even more so when they take time out to write in response to the post. I was pleasantly surprised in early January 2022 to receive the following e-mail fromKent Cretors who drummed for The Olivers (subsequently re-named ‘Triad’) 1969 through 1971. Though he did have some sad news to impart:
Hello CeeJay, Thank you for the great article that you published regarding The Olivers and Triad. They were fantastic bands live. I joined them when I was 19 years old. Lol way back in the day. They rocked big time. They had connections and signed with major labels but there was no astute and proficient management. I remember going to Winnipeg Canada and recording with Randy Bachmann’s producer back in the day, but I didn’t know him or any of the business then ( Franklin Records). The manager was worthless as a manager as I recall. Anyway, I wanted to mention that my good friend and band mate Billy Franze passed away. I have so many memories with those guys. The band could have been a big-time national act because the sound was there as well as the writing. If you care to know more I would be happy to inform you. Again, thank you for your attention to a great band that should have been a national success! Sincerely,
The Raunch were a garage band from Ossining, N.Y., one of countless mid-Sixties groups benefiting from a healthy local scene at that time.
While still at High School, lead guitarist Jay Manning formed The Synners with a couple of pals. They played a few local / school shows before they graduated in 1965.
The Synners morphed into The Invaders and auditioned for a vocalist. Enter Sandy Katz. A writing partnership between Jay and Sandy soon developed as the band built upon their repertoire of Ventures and other instrumental covers.
As the remaining original band members moved away, bass player Frank Taxiera was enlisted. In fact, ‘… he couldn’t play and didn’t have equipment, he was jst coo and he fit,‘ Jay was quoted as saying.
Tom Walker completed the final line-up on drums.
It was while rehearsing as The Invaders a girlfriend of Jay mentioned the band sounded ‘raunchy’ and so the name was changed to The Raunch.
Throughout 1966 the band played many gigs throughout New York state and won several Battle of the Bands competitions. Their musical style evolved, as did their equipment and wardrobe.
Sandy’s dad, Marty, a successful businessman, backed the band, paying for everything and even creating a record label, Bazaar Records, for the purpose of releasing their music.
All the band’s recordings were made at Ren-Vell studios, and in most cases were done in one single take which gives the sound a real authenticity.
Both sides of their sole single on Bazaar Records are classic examples of ’60s garagepunk: ‘A Little While Back‘ is a crude heavy fuzz punker with a blistering guitar solo.
It’s backed with, ‘I Say You’re Wrong,’ a tough and moody song with classic garage girl-treats-boy-bad lyrics.
While both songs of this, their only release, were self-penned, the band were also invited to contribute a track to the highly collectable * ‘Battle of the Bands‘ compilation on the regionally active Ren-Vell label. For this, they recorded a cover of of the Paul Revere & The Raiders song, ‘Hungry.’
(* This compilation recently – April 2021 – sold on Discogs for £162.)
The band recorded two other tracks at the Ren-Vell studio that remained unreleased until 2015, when the rather unique covers of ‘Hey Joe‘ and ‘Tobacco Road‘ supplemented those previously mentioned on the excellent, five track, ‘Total Raunch‘ EP, on Break-a-Way Records.
The Raunch played throughout 1966 into 1967 and in the end, Jay and Frank joined the military. while Sandy an Tom finished High School.
And then they were gone …
THE RAUNCH: Sandy Katz – Rhythm Guitar / Vocals Jay Manning – Lead Guitar Frank Taxiera – Bass Tommy Walker – Drums
RELEASES BY THE RAUNCH
A Little While Back / I Say You’re Wrong
12″ – single sided EP
Reviews & Comment: Punk,, Psychedelic, Psych, Rock, Reggae, 60s Garage, Mod, Blues & Freakbeat.