Tag Archives: underground music

the olivers

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

RELEASES BY THE OLIVERS

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEARNOTES
I Saw What You Did / Beeker Street ‎7″ singlePhalanx Records / RCA Victor1966‘Beeker Street’ was mis–spelt as ‘Beaker Street on the Phalanx release.
Lost Dove SessionsLPBreak-A-Way Records2012


*** Much of the information contained within this post has been gleaned from the sleeve notes of the Break-A-Way Records release of ‘Lost Dove sessions. ***

the quik

Unfortunately, there is not much information to be had about this five-piece from Southampton.

They recorded three singles for the Decca subsidiary label, Deram, all in 1967.Their sound fell very much into the Mod / Freakbeat / Soul mould, and label hopes were high that they’d prove competition for the established R&B acts of the mid-Sixties.

But taking on the likes of The Rolling Stones was always going to be an ambitious target.

None of the three singles achieved chart success, although ‘Bert’s Apple Crumble,’ the B-side to their initial release, ‘Love Is A Beautiful Thing’ ( a cover of the Young Rascals song) proved very popular in the Mod club scene.

Each single is now well sought after by collectors, with copies of the aforementioned exchanging hands on Discogs for £230, £150 & £125 in May 2021.

(My favourite!)

All three singles an now be found on various CD compliations … and of course, your favourite streaming platform, if you’re that way inclined.

THE QUIK
(Names of members remain shrouded in mystery!)

RELEASES BY THE QUIK.

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEAR
Love Is A Beautiful Thing / Bert’s Apple Crumble7″ singleDeram1967
King Of The World / My Girl 7″ singleDeram1967
I Can’t Sleep / Soul Full Of Sorrow7″ singleDeram1967

wynder k. frog

Mick Weaver

It’s funny what a young mind retains.

As a seventeen year old, I’d avidly read the sleeve notes of all my LPs. I still do. The difference is, some forty-six years later, that I now quickly forget even reading the album cover, never mind the detail it imparted.

However, when I read that Wynder K. Frog was actually the name adopted by and accredited to the band of keyboard player Mick Weaver, I immediately associated him as an integral part of The Frankie Miller Band that produced the brilliant 1975 album, ‘The Rock.

Mick formed the jazz / blues influenced band in 1967 and initially played mainly on the London circuit. An early gig saw the band, support the newly formed Traffic. Their paths would cross again a couple of years later, when Steve Winwood left Traffic to form the short-lived Blind Faith and Mick Weaver joined the remaining members to form the laboriously named Mason – Capaldi – Wood – Frog (aka Wooden Frog).

This association lasted all of three months, with no recorded output and only a handful of live shows to show fro their efforts. Mick then reverted to session work with some high profile artists, such as Buddy Guy; Steve Marriott; Roger Chapman; Joe Cocker …. and Frankie Miller, amongst others.

Which is where we came in.

Wynder K. Frog released two albums in the UK, both of which are mainly instrumental covers of established hits. The debut album, ‘Sunshine Superfrog,’ released in 1967, was recorded with Mick surrounding himself with (uncredited) New York session musicians, beefing up his distinctive Hammond organ sound with soulful horns.

The one ‘original’ on the album, is the swirling and ever so funky, ‘I Feel So Bad,’ featured at the top of this post.

The sound was well received in mod / soul / Northern Soul / jazz circles, especially around the London area, where the latter genre was having something of a renaissance.

The follow up album, ‘Out of the Frying Pan‘ was released a year later. Again, it features an eclectic mix of covers, ranging from a stonking version of ‘Green Door,’ which garnered decent airplay at the time of its release, to ‘Willie & The Hand Jive‘ and ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’

Mick wrote two of the tracks on this one, ‘Gasoline Alley,’ and this, the wonderfully quintessentially Sixties, ‘Harpsichord Shuffle.’

Shortly after the band broke up, their U.S. label, United Artists, released the ‘Into The Fire’ album featuring six original tracks.

Five 7″ singles were also released in the UK, including this cover of The Spencer Davis Group’sI’m a Man.’

WYNDER K. FROG
Mick Weaver – Keyboards
Neil Hubbard / Mike Liber – Guitar
Chris Mercer – Sax
Bruce Rowland – Drums
Alan Spenner – Bass
Rebop Anthony Kwabaku – Congas

RELEASES BY WYNDER K. FROG

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEARNOTES
Turn On Your Lovelight / Zooming7″ singleIsland1966/ 1967
Sunshine Superman / Blues From A Frog7″ singleIsland1967
Green Door / Dancing Frog7″ singleIsland1967
I Am a Man / Shook Shimmy And Shake7″ singleIsland1967
Jumpin’ Jack Flash / Baldy7″ singleIsland1968
Sunshine SuperfrogLPIsland1967
Out Of The Frying PanLPIsland1968
Into The FireLPUnited Artists1970Released only in USA

the raunch

THE RAUNCH: ‘Total Raunch’ album cover.

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

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEAR
A Little While Back / I Say You’re Wrong7″ singleBazaar1966
Total Raunch12″ – single sided EPBreak-a-Way Records2015