The Return of Merseybeat

    Perhaps it was the most untimely demise of original dreamer Freddie Garrity.  But did I really neglect to mention when last we took the virtual Ferry cross the Mersey that none other than Frank Lee Sprague – yes, he the still-taller half of those supremely rooty-rockin’ Sprague Brothers (not to mention an authentic cousin of The Man Who Invented Sixties Music Himself, I kid you not!!) — has been very busy indeed “on the side,” helping keep the meaty, big and bouncy spirit of the M-Beat alive and very thriving here in Century 21?

I hardly would’ve believed it possible myself …UNTIL, that is, I heard for my own a deceptively, disarmingly charmful little disc called Cavern, and on it some of the best, most magnificently melodic p-o-p this side of your fave rave Searchers EP of yore.

And also, here I felt I was the only lad left on the block who thought a certain P. McCartney wrote many of his best songs EVER for….. Peter and Gordon.  But Frank Lee too has obviously been listening lots to “I Don’t Want To See You Again,” as well as to some of the more rough ‘n’ tumblest circa-’62 cellar sounds this side of The Big Three.  When not channeling a certain Jane Asher as muse, that is.   

Alas, the dank, sweaty, musty, subterraneanly homesick aura of those magic long-gone days and particularly nights beat again right there deep down in Frank Lee Sprague’s very own Cavern.   

Meet you there soon?    

Merseybeat Unearthed!

  For those of us born right around the time Elvis kinda invented rock ‘n’ roll, but especially for any VH1-educated readers out there who actually believe The Beatles truly were, are, and 4-everafter shall be the B-all and end-all of it all, socio-musically Sixties-speaking that is:

The current Fufkin dot com contains a big piece-o-Piggery regarding three (yes, count ‘em !!) grand new discs from The Viper Label which more than answer the following musical questions …and THEN some:

* What did Gerry and the Pacemakers sound like long before they ever hooked up with Big George Martin or even Joe Meek?

* Which semi-skiffle combo out of the very northern U.K. recorded Johnny Cash songs – possibly inventing cow-punk and/or alt. C&W in the process —  decades before Rank and File actually did either??

* Did those B-52’s, masquerading beneath the nom-de-group The Four Just Men, really first record “Rock Lobster” circa 1964???

* and, lastly but far from leastly, did the one and only Kirkbys really usher in that Merseybeat-snuffing Summer of ‘67 as The 23rd Turnoff — singing the until-now seldom-heard-indeed “Flowers Are Flowering” — only to surface yet again as (…wait for it…) proto-proggers Wimple Winch ??!!!   

The answers, my friend, are flowing cross the Mersey,

but you gotta click right here to get gear, luv…..

The Orgone Box & more

The Orgone Box’ self-titled debut is a Lost in the Grooves exclusive. We are also pleased to feature the follow up, “Things That Happened Then.” Click to sample the music or purchase.

The Orgone Box
The Orgone Box
(Minus Zero UK, 2001)

Too many bedroom bands drink at the trough of Evolution and Revolver, fire up the old four-track and seek to replicate same, with results typically stiff, unconvincing and a trifle embarrassing. But not this time. Rick Corcoran is the real thing: a massively skilled sixties-influenced songwriter who doesn

Strum & Drum!

Sex Clark 5's Strum & Drum! is a Lost in the Grooves exclusive, with bonus tracks. Click below to sample music or purchase. 

Available CDs: Strum & Drum!, SC5 Rarities, Strum & Drum! + Rarities compilation

Be Sex Clark 5's friend on MySpace – click here! 

Sex Clark 5 Strum & Drum! (Records to Russia, 1987/ Beehive Rebellion, 1996)

Hailing from Huntsville, Alabama—the place where Wernher von Braun traded rocketry know-how for immunity, but perhaps more significantly birthplace of “Eight Miles High”—these lo-fi pop wunderkinder had one of the eighties’ great lost discs in Strum & Drum! Their name is one of the broad strokes forming a sly humored sensibility, this from a group also given to titling a noisy piss-take “Get Back Yoko,” and producing an electronic loop of the phrase “Girls of Somalia,” apparently a 5th dimensional play on the Beach Boys’ celebrations of regional pulchritude. But these are the oddities on a disc that’s 95% ebullient, near-perfect Beatlesque pop, delivered with careless glee all but unheard of in the power pop ghetto. None of singer/guitarist James Butler’s twenty songs clocks in above 2:43, giving them the opportunity to charm without boring. SC5 leaves you wanting more, but with the next unforgettable melody never far away. Take “Detention Girls,” a reductive micro opera with a cheerleader’s chant giving the if-you-blinked-you-missed-it bridge that extra jolt sending the whole marvelous package into sugary hyperdrive. “Modern Fix” is at once daffy and poignant. The powerfully delivered line “Why don’t we take all our gimmicks, put ‘em all in one box/ And trade ‘em for a bag of tube socks?” seems (and is) absurd on its face, but in context it’s the possibly final plea of a lover trying to make a rough love work. “Valerie”’s singsong melody seems somehow backwards, an exquisite medieval meander fused with a sweetness straight out of the McCartney songbook. Lightning-paced “Alai” is blessed with one of those hooks that won’t quit, though what the “alai-lai-lai-lai” the band is on about may never be revealed. Sometimes bassist Joy Johnson sings in the sweet, slightly flat voice of a serious little kid, but mostly Butler leads the show, mouth racing to keep up with the shambling, ecstatic rush of his band. These dizzy, precise little tunes are like musical meringues, each one a brilliant gem of an idea whipped to soft, gooey peaks. Look for the out-of-print 1996 CD reissue that includes the magical early “Neita Grew Up Last Night” EP. (Kim Cooper, from the book Lost in the Grooves)