Ok – the Dog Days of Seattle are upon us. 80 degrees, 85, 90. Oh my.
Well, we at GMR have the perfect solution, the refreshing sounds of Tom Dyer’s New Pagan Gods, playing (superbly) the History Of Northwest Rock Vol. 1, 1959-1968. What’s that all about you ask? Well … as you know, Tom Dyer is a Pacific Northwest fellow, and a rather noisy one at that. That’s me. For my 9th release in the last six years (who’s counting?), I am embracing the NW cannon of my youth – works by mighty giants like The Sonics, The Wailers, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Ventures, The Fleetwoods, Merrilee Rush, as well as lesser known gems from the 1957-68 period, when Northwest bands could deliver radio hits on the Seattle teen beacon KJR.
To execute this difficult task, a relentless and raucous band of Green Monkey stars was assembled – Scott Sutherland and Scott Vanderpool fromKing County Queens on lead guitar and drums, Joe Ross and Jeff Kelly of the Green Pajamas on bass and the organ. Producer Steve Fisk was brought in to GMR HQ to track the unholy racket. They were all fabulous and I thank them. Job well done!
There was no attempt to duplicate the originals; we knew those could not be topped. The plan was simple. Be loud. Play these songs with élan, with love and verve, with reverence (but not too much). Be true to the mountain-fresh spirit.
I am certain you will enjoy listening to this revisionist Northwest history as much (and as loudly) as we enjoyed making it. I also know you will want to hear this live and so you can do just that.
The record release show for History of NW Rock will be Saturday, August 22, 7:30 pm at Easy Street Records at 4559 California Ave SW in beautiful West Seattle. This may well be the New Pagan Gods only show and there is no opening band, so be on time! Admission is free.Easy Street will be very happy to sell you the album at the show! And beer if you are 21.
For those of you that like such things the first 50 copies bought direct from GMR will be personally autographed with a personal note to you!
In other red hot news, next month we will be releasing Fur For Fairies, the debut album of Ms. Susanne Kelly. As you know, last year she put out an album with Jeff K. (By Reckless Moonlight) where she did lead vocal on one song – we decided to take it a step further and release a whole album with her as superstar chanteuse. The album is produced by Mr. Kelly and meets a very high standard of creative excellence. Mr. Scott Vanderpool, noted disc jockey and drummer has previewed the tracks and finds them “very sexy.”
Finally, don’t forget Jimm McIver’s release party for Sunlight Reaches held on Friday, July 17 at Slim’s Last Chance Chili Parlor (5606 1st Avenue South, Seattle). Appearing on the bill with Jimm & Mallets of Forethought (his grownup band) will be Christy McWilson, who is preparing to release her first album since 2009 and Walter Salas-Humara, formerly of The Silos. This is the only scheduled appearance for the Jimm & Mallets, so it is not to be missed by humans. The show will start at 8:00PM sharp, with Walter kicking off the festivities, followed by Christy and finally, Jimm. Don’t be late!! We at GMR always favor punctuality!
History of Northwest Rock Vol. 1 (1959-1968) (GM1031)
1. The Witch
2. Walk Don’t Run
3. I Wanna Hold Your Hand
4. You Got Your Head On Backwards
6. Angel of the Morning
7. Louie Louie
8. Dirty Robber
9. Come Softly To Me
10. Just Like Me
11. Out of Our Tree
12. Little Sally Tease
15. She’s Boss
Produced by Tom Dyer
Basic tracks recorded May and July 2014, engineered by Steve Fisk.
TD’s vocals engineered by Howie Wahlen.
Overdubs, mixing and mastering by Tom Dyer.
Front cover photo (1962), Howard O. Wahlen
Back cover (2014) and car photos, Howard A. Wahlen, Sr.
Cover design and layout by Tom Dyer.
The Witch by Gerry Roslie © Music & Media Intl OBO Valet Publishing Company
Walk Don’t Run by Johnny Smith © Peermusic Ltd.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand by Anthony Smith, Richard Gerber, Dave Erickson © Bolmin Publishing Company
You Got Your Head On Backwards by Gerry Roslie © Fairwood Music (UK) Ltd OBO Burdette Music Company
Louie Louie by Richard Berry © EMI Longitude Music Co.
Hungry by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil © Screen Gems – EMI Music Inc.
Angel of the Morning by Chip Taylor © EMI Blackwood Music Inc.
Dirty Robber by Rich Dangel, John Greek, Kent Morrill © C.F.G. Publishing Co.
Come Softly To Me by Gary Troxel, Barbara Ellis, Gretchen Christopher © EMI Unart Catalog Inc.
Just Like Me by Rick Dey, Rich Brown © Universal Music Careers OBO Daywin Music, Inc.
Out of Our Tree by Kent Morrill, Ron Gardner, John Ormsby © EMI Unart Catalog Inc.
Little Sally Tease by James Valley © Fairwood Music (UK) LTD, Bolmin Publishing Company
Werewolf by Terry Wadsworth, Gary Hodge © EMI Unart Catalog Inc.
Busybody by R.L. Johnson © Sony/ATV Songs LLC
She’s Boss by Tex Hughes, Butch Tuner © Fairwood Music (UK) LTD OBO Burdette Music Company
Recording session photos by Howard A. Wahlen, Sr.
Tom Dyer’s New Pagan Gods are:
Tom Dyer – Vocals and Guitar
Scott Sutherland – Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals
Joe Ross – Bass and Harmonica
Scott Vanderpool – Drums and Backing Vocals
Jeff Kelly – Organ and Piano
Kat Dyer – Backing Vocals on “Angel of the Morning”
About the album:
I have been thinking about making this record for a long time. Why, you may ask? Why dredge up a bunch of moldy regional figs from the far left corner of America for an album, and even worse, why do a covers album? Why not just get the originals and put them out? They are certainly better. The simple answer is I am a Northwest guy who grew up with these songs and I love these songs. Their raw goodness is permanently aligned with my caveman brain. These songs were mostly put out on little independent Northwest labels like Etiquette and Dolton, and I like that too. Finally, there is some strange commonality about these mostly guitar-driven songs by these rained-on Pacific Northwesters that not only links them, but somehow informs much of the NW music in the decades that follow.
I like that too.
My original inspiration for this project was an album called The History of Northwest Rock Volume 1, released on the Great Northwest Music Company label in 1976, one of many labels owned by NW impresario Jerry Dennon (of Jerden Records). When the album came out these songs were ancient artifacts, ten or twelve years old. I don’t have the album anymore, but I still have a cassette I made from it, to which I added tracks that I thought rightfully should have been there in the first place, like The Wailers, Merrilee Rush and the Raiders, recordings to which Jerry no doubt did not own the rights. For this album, I didn’t record every song on that old cassette tape, but I did a lot of them.
There is not one band whose work is represented here that I ever saw live in their heyday. Most of these were songs I heard on the Seattle AM radio. KJR (you can get all their playlists from 1962-64 here) or KOL. Didn’t really know if they were local hits or national hits. They were just cool. A couple songs I’d never even heard of before I started preparing to make this record, Howie (Monkey #2) and I did a little homework and came up with “Busybody” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” When I started out this project I had a much bigger list of possible bands than what we ended up with, including Dave Lewis, Bonnie Guitar, The Bards, The New Yorkers, certainly Jimi Hendrix and a lot of other fine NW artists worth exploring.
The idea of putting together a band (for my last non-Xmas album, I Ain’t Blue Any More, I played all the instruments) and figuring out some new approaches to these songs seemed like my idea of a good time. I had assembled a killer band a year and a half back to record “No Lou This Xmas” – Scott Sutherland (King County Queensand Chemistry Set plus more), Scott Vanderpool (those same KCQs & Chem Set, the Green Pajamas plus many more) and Joe Ross (the Green Pajamas, 64 Spiders and a few million more). It was so much fun, I asked them if they wanted to make a record. They said sure and this is it. We recorded the songs in my dining room last summer. I asked Jeff Kelly of the Green Pajamas to guest as “Jeff The Organ Player”; he gave assent. Our approach was to keep it simple. Basically come up with an arrangement that we could play live with two guitars, bass and drums – bang! Add a little organ later as special sauce as needed. Some of the arrangements hew closely to the originals, some move off into left field a bit. In all cases there is an aesthetic that we tried to keep at the core. I wanted to do justice to all these great bands and great songs.
The bands. Where possible I included some links for you.
The Sonics – The Witch & You Got Your Head on Backwards. Masters of garage rock from Tacoma, WA. Originally had a run from 1964 to ‘66 – putting out great singles on Etiquette Records like “The Witch” and “Psycho”, plus two great albums. Maybe two and a half. They went off to be grown-ups but a funny thing happened. A bunch of late 70’s and 80’s bands started citing them as big influence and covering their songs. They became more legendary with each passing year as the Masters of Garage Rock, a term no one had even coined way back when they were first playing. Finally in 2007, they got talked into playing a show – Cave Stomp. On Halloween 2008, they played the Paramount in Seattle. For me and 3,000 of my best friends, it was a come-to-Jesus moment. Absolutely thrilling. Now they have a great new album – This Is The Sonics – and are on a US National tour. So badass. Go see ‘em while you can.
The Ventures – Walk Don’t Run. Kings of the surf guitar from where? TACOMA! Bob Bogel and Don Wilson meet Nokie Edwards, stir in some stylin’ Mosrite guitars with whammy bars and you‘ve got one heady brew. “Walk Don’t Run” was originally released on Seattle label Dolton and went nationwide from there, selling millions and getting to #2 on the national charts. They were insanely prolific, releasing four to six albums a year during the sixties, with five albums on the top 100 at the same time in 1963. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. They’ve sold over 100 million records worldwide and are still big in Japan. They are the most popular instrumental rock group ever. Our Mr. Sutherland says this is one of the first songs he ever learned on guitar. We didn’t get tricky with this one. No need.
Tiny Tony and The Statics – I Wanna Hold Your Hand. You can’t get much more obscure than these guys. This song was the B-side of their “Hey Ms. Jones” single (SeaFair/Bolo Records), which came out a year before the Beatles in case you were wondering. I had never heard of them until two weeks before we recorded it. What a great song! The Statics, who started in 1958, were your basic NW band touring in a VW van with a couple differences. First, their singer Tiny Tony was quite the opposite of static (lacking movement or vitality), a big black dude who liked to shake some action on stage. (You can read about him and other greats in NW music historian Peter Blecha’s highly enjoyable Sonic Boom: The History of Northwest Rock: From Louie Louie to Smells Like Teen Spirit.) Secondly, their groovin’ organ player and sometimes singer was Merrilee Rush. More about her shortly.
Paul Revere & the Raiders – Hungry & Just Like Me. The Raiders were originally started by Paul Revere in Nampa, Idaho. They got their mojo going with a hit single “Like, Long Hair” for independent label Gardena Records. They next recorded “Louie Louie” for the tiny Portland label Sande, which got them a deal with Columbia Records. That led to a slot as the house band on Dick Clark’s national afternoon teen music show,Where The Action Is. From 1965 to 1971, the Raiders had a steady string of gold pop/rock hits, ultra-catchy sub-three minute blasts that captured whatever the latest thing was in pop/rock records – wah-wah, sitar, you name it. All with the superb Mark Lindsay on vocals. By ’72 or so were no longer trendy. Mark left the band and eventually they became a “state fair” kind of band but continued playing forever. Paul Revere died last fall. Mark Lindsay put out a new record, Life Out Loud, in 2013.
Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts – Angel Of The Morning. After Merrilee left The Statics, she and hubby Neil started The Turnabouts. They opened up for the Raiders on a national tour and as a result met Chip Taylor in Nashville, a producer who had written “Angel” (he also wrote the rock classic “Wild Thing” using essentially the same chords according to Taylor). A marriage in heaven was made with the result a #7 national hit in 1968 (it was #1 in Canada, Australia and New Zealand) plus a Grammy nomination. Juice Newton would also have a hit with “Angel” in the 70’s – sorry Juice, Merrilee is the one!
Louie Louie. The National Anthem of Northwest Rock. The big hit version was by Portlandians, The Kingsmen. Sold millions. They definitely were not playing the mellow 1957 Richard Berry version of this song (he wrote it). They were playing the straight-up Wailers’ 1961 version. Or The 1961 Little Bill and the Bluenotes version – depending on your sources, complete with FBI investigated “dirty” lyrics. Every band in the NW of this era played this. In 1985, “Louie” came within mere inches (ok, maybe several feet) of becoming the state song of Washington. For our take we glued together the two-chord chorus (instead of three) version by Bellevue, WA high-schoolers The Nomads and the minor 1-3-4 (instead of the normal major 1-4-5) verse progression from The Sonics. Rock author Dave Marsh wrote a whole book on just this song and there is a Louie Report online (louielouie.net) that features Louie of the week! One million versions can be heard here: https://youtu.be/z-2CKsaq5r8?list=PL5s-a6AVJjwnbE_nSkNTc2AFXIq5wL-ZK
The Wailers – Dirty Robber & Out of Our Tree. The Wailers are the true godfathers of the NW music scene, they from whose loins all things sprang. Tacoma of course. Their run was from 1958 to ‘69, starting out as a mostly instrumental dance band with NW hits like “Tall Cool One.” They kind of invented “Louie Louie” as we know it today with singer Rockin’ Robin. When all that singing business got more popular in the sixties, they did more of that, often with tongue well in cheek on songs like “Christmas Spirit???” and “Out Of Our Tree.” Three Wailers, Rockin’ Robin” Roberts, Kent Morrill and Buck Ormsby founded Etiquette Records which was the coolest NW label in the 60’s. Go find yourself a copy of the out-of-print, twenty-seven song CD The Boys From Tacoma compilation for a good time.
The Fleetwoods – Come Softly To Me. Olympia, Washington’s first hitmakers! Gretchen Christopher, and Barbara Ellis (my grade school best pal’s aunt!) were high school chums and had a fine and simple ditty. They added classmate Gary Troxel to the mix and released it on Dolphin Records (which later became Dolton Records). It went straight to # 1. They followed that with another #1, “Mr. Blue”. Not bad for a group named after a phone prefix (my grandparent’s old Oly phone number – Fleetwood2-5114!).
Don & The Goodtimes – Little Sally Tease. Don and The Goodtimes were formed by former Kingsmen keyboardist, Don Gallucci in 1964 (shortly joined by Kingsman singer Jack Ely) and had a fine four-year run. “Little Sally” was written by band member Jim Valley who also spent time with the Viceroys and later, the Raiders. The Goodtimes replaced the Raiders on the Where the Action Is show at its tail-end. They also went on to have a couple more hits – “You Were Just a Child” and “I Could Be So Good To You” before calling it quits. Don went on to produce records, including The Stooges mighty Funhouse album!
The Frantics – Werewolf. The Frantics were a straight-up Seattle instrumental quintet who put out seven singles from 1959 to ‘61 on Dolton and regularly worked the Northwest dance club/ballroom circuit. “Werewolf” (and the flip-side “No Werewolf”) was the best (charting at #83 nationally) and the coolest. The A-side had fake Vincent Price scary stuff, the B-side (“No Werewolf”) did not. Their complete works (including thirteen unreleased tracks can all be found on one CD, The Complete Frantics.
The Dynamics with Jimmy Hanna – Busy Body. The
Dynamics were another Seafair/Bolo act, running from 1959 until 1966. Initially, The Dynamics were a horn driven instrumental band – in 1961 they added the son of the label owners – Mr. Jimmy Hanna on vocals. The band also featured Larry Coryell for a time, who went on to jazz-guitar fame – and used to hang out in NYC with a fellow Seattleite guitar guy named Jimi. There is a fine two CD, forty-seven song reissue of their work available – “Busybody” is the odd duck in the bunch, but what a great duck.
The Dimensions – She’s Boss. These fellows were one-hit wonders from South Seattle – Rainier Beach boys! “She’s Boss,” released on yet another Jerry Denon label, Panorama Records, made it to #7 in 1966 on KJR and got some national airplay. By ‘68 it was all done and obscurity beckoned. I have heard some pass off The Dimensions as a lesser, wimpy pop band. I think “She’s Boss” stands tall.
I am grateful to be from a place where such great music pops up from the trees.
Tom Dyer May 2015