wed 17/07/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: Blow My Mind! The Doré-Era-Mira Punk & Psych Legacy | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: Blow My Mind! The Doré-Era-Mira Punk & Psych Legacy

Music Reissues Weekly: Blow My Mind! The Doré-Era-Mira Punk & Psych Legacy

Hot collection of Los Angeles independent-label Sixties obscurities

The Syndicate, who kick off 'Blow My Mind!' with the Rolling Stones-influenced 'My Baby's Barefoot' Ace Records

Any compilation with a track credited to “Unknown Artist” is always going to entice, especially when it’s one which goes the full way by digging into original master tapes to find the best audio sources and previously unearthed nuggets.

In this case, it’s not known who recorded “To Make a Lie”, a dark, menacing cut where a disembodied voice intones about the threat of a giant willow tree (“it’s coming!”), evil, pain and walking into eternity over a doomy organ, spiralling guitar and draggy drums. As it ends – a female scream. Bad trip vibes.

“To Make a Lie” was found in the archives associated with the Mira label, one of the three labels referred to in the title of Blow My Mind! The Doré-Era-Mira Punk & Psych Legacy, a 25-track comp roaming through each Los Angeles imprint’s efforts at countering the British beat-boom invasion over the years 1964 to 1969.

Blow My Mind! The Doré-Era-Mira Punk & Psych LegacyThe best-known name on Blow My Mind! is “Hey Joe” hitmakers The Leaves who are represented by the first-ever release of “Do me a Favor”, which was recorded for their Mira album. It’s driving, got fuzz guitar, a folk-rock feel, Rolling Stones harmonica and a great tune yet was inexplicably left off the album in favour of worse tracks. Next down on the familiarity ladder are cover stars The Lyrics. Both sides of their classic, lacerating, snot-nosed 1965 single “So What!!” / “They Can't Hurt me” are included (it’s also reissued as a smart, stand-alone seven-inch). The Bees, The No-Na-Mees, Simon Stokes (his 1969 Elektra single “Voodoo Woman” almost hit the US charts) and Ty Wagner are known to genre collectors. Basil & The Baroques, South Hampton Story and Yesterday's Tomorrow are less celebrated.

Despite the lack of hits, the standard is uniformly high. All three independent labels had their time in the sun so knew what was good and might click with buyers. Doré went big early with Jan & Dean and The Teddy Bears, and had a stylistically broad roster. Era charted with Jewel Akens and Ketty Lester and, overall, aimed at the mainstream pop market. Mira was run by Vee-Jay veteran Randy Wood and mainly concerned with its imprint Mirwood's R&B and soul releases. All three labels did not ignore the local wannabes knocking on their doors. Who knows, one of the may have become the next Standells.

Blow My Mind! opens with The Syndicate’s “My Baby's Barefoot”, recorded for Doré in June 1965 and issued on single the following October. The band was from the LA district of Whittier and had obviously digested a heap of Rolling Stones records. What they recorded was so hot, so rough it’s as good as Texas punk from the period. An original single fetches around £200.

Blow My Mind! The Doré-Era-Mira Punk & Psych Legacy_The Lyrics So What!There’s a lot of similarly paint-peeling punk elsewhere on Blow My Mind! The Puddin' Heads’s “Now You Say We're Through” came out on an Era subsidiary and tackles the Bo Diddley side of the Stones by filtering it through a reductive take on beat-group dynamics. Spencer's Van Dykes’s “I'll Blow my Mind” (Doré, December 1966) is also on the Bo Diddley tip, but even more relentless. “I'm Gonna Dance” by The Decades (on an Era sub-label, March 1967) is as punky, but adds flute into the mix.

On the psychedelic side, “The Day is Hard" by The Wrench (Doré, June 1969) is an atmospheric wonder, similar in feel to the Acta label’s Neighb'rhood Childr'n. There’s attacking folk-punk too: The No-Na-Mees's “Just Wanna be Myself” (Era, August 166) is brilliant. Basil & The Baroques’s version of The Byrds’s “It's no Use” (Doré, recorded August 1965 – here in a previously unheard longer version than what was issued on single) is as good as what the early Turtles were perfecting. No cigar for Basil & Co though.

Blow My Mind! The Doré-Era-Mira Punk & Psych Legacy includes a booklet with gratifyingly well-researched, literate text saying all that needs to be said. The relative obscurity of the material collected is no guide to quality. Anything could have broken through into the local, regional or national US charts. The Leaves did so. Analogously, so did The Music Machine and The Seeds. Sometimes, a break doesn’t come. Around 55 years on, these 25 tracks are given the opportunity they missed when they were recorded. About time.


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