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The 60’s Will Never Die

1 May

It isn’t often that I go out for self-consciously retro, 60’s pop revival sounds. Being born in 1970 meant that anything authentically 60’s that was still around during my childhood had to be understood through the depressively distorting, earth-toned lens that was the 70’s. And by the 80’s? Well boomer revisionist historians (author Marilyn Ferguson, director Oliver Stone, ex-DOOR Ray fucking Manzarek) made sure we made sense of the Summer of Love through their self-congratulatory, narcissistic eyes. All this conspired to get me to ignore most of what sprung from the retro Paisley Underground & Cavern Club scenes in SoCal during my younger years. Me, I needed music much louder harder faster just to keep some kinda sanity amidst the sucker punch of harsh 80’s teendoom.

That’s why I’m still surprised when some willfully throwback, Beatle-y tune strikes me as great shakes. It ain’t the norm, ya know? And it doesn’t happen too often. But when it does, I dance and sing along as loud as I can, every time. Here’s one from each of the past 4 decades that still hasn’t left me alone:

kansascitymh81. THE LEOPARDS – “I Wonder If I’ll Ever See You Again” (from Kansas City Slickers, Moon Records, 1977) If you are a Ray Davies fanatic, chances are this band needs no introduction. THE LEOPARDS were the best lo-fi reproduction of Pye Records-era KINKS ever committed to tape. That they waxed it on a private label outta Kansas City in the just-pre punk years was the icing on the cake, and meant they’re now remembered as part of the foundation of what eventually became known as Power Pop. As great as this is, I reckon their 80’s LA phase (typified by their cult hit, “Psychedelic Boy“) to be even better. But this kinda jaunty, Anglophile pop was nearly unprecedented back in the Midwest during PETER FRAMPTON’s heyday. Lost In The Grooves put out a needle-drop of this on CD that was available for all of 2 seconds a few years back, but otherwise this gem has languished rarely-heard for far too long, tucked away on dusty collector scum record shelves. Reissue it, and fast.

mmpfront2. MAD MONSTER PARTY – “Can’t Stop Loving You” ( Pink-A-Boo Records, 1988) – When Paula Pandora went unabashedly cockrock, ex-bandmate Gwynne kept true to her 60’s dayglo roots first with her own version of THE PANDORAS (aka THE GWYNNDORAS), and then with further hot allgirl action in MAD MONSTER PARTY. They may have been a bit faltering and very much of a specific time/place, but the songs – penned by John Kling, later of Michael Quercio’s JUPITER AFFECT – were catchy, proud, and heartsleeve ernest. Plus they managed to avoid that cutesy, little-girl-lost thing that Susanna Hoffs beat to death with THE BANGLES. Shit this must’ve had Rodney B melting in his KROQ mic booth. MAD MONSTER PARTY even recorded an endearing cover of an obscure but totally brilliant LAST song, “Someday I’ll Have You“, sealing the deal for me. Everything you ever wanted to hear/see about these chicks and all their galpals is already documented over here.

2591523. LOVE – “Girl On Fire” (Distortions Records, 1994) If you never heard this, you missed out on the single very best 90’s recorded comeback by a bonafide 60’s acid casualty. Hell, this ain’t really retro at all; it’s the sound of someone ON FIRE again like he hadn’t been for a couple decades. Dig that “7 & 7 Is” riff quote in the bridge – Arthur’s retooled his classic sound for an entirely new generation. The BABY LEMONADE backing guys are ripping it up, and Arthur’s in total command here. Falling James called him “The Anti-Brian Wilson.” Surely, the LOVE man lives up to that rep here. Would that he’d put out an entire album of new material like this before he passed; it woulda been hot I tell ya.

frusa54. THE MAYDAYS – “You Don’t Have To Wait” (Flare Records, 2002) – Why is it that folks don’t revive mid 60’s true blue-eyed soul as often as our forefathers wallowed in it? I’m guessing that the white-guy imitates black-guy thing just doesn’t have the same potency it once did . . . or maybe it’s because most retro acts don’t have a frontman as talented as MAYDAY Pat Johnson. This band was a short lived Bay-area supergroup of sorts, featuring fellas who’d done time with everyone from THE CRAWDADDYS to Penelope Houston. This was their lone recorded moment. But the flip (“The Very Last Time”) is killer too, and can be heard on Pat’s MySpace – again, I mourn the full-length that never got recorded. Pat really knew how to write and sing a great song, and his band most definitely understood the subtler aspects of gloriously neo-Edwardian clad, rockin’ pop.