1. THE GROWING CONCERN-"A Boy I Once Knew Well" U.S. Mainstream 685 1968
Back during the early days of Covid quarantine someone on Instagram hipped me to this mega rare LP by this mid 60's band. The stand out track on their untitled 1968 untitled LP was this single. It's a lush mix of male/female harmony vocals on top of jangly folk rock guitars and harpsichord.
2. THE POOR-"She's Got The Time (She's Got The Changes)" U.S. York 402 1967
I was first introduced to this track back in the mid 80's when a cover by a Brit band called The Affex on one of the "Rubble" volumes. Eventually someone hipped me to the original by this LA band that included a young Randy Meisner. Though not as punchy as the cover it's still an upbeat, impressively catchy pop ditty with great call and response vocals.
3. THE RATIONALS-"Feelin' Lost" U.S. Cameo C-437 1966
Ann Arbor, Michigan's Anglophile Rationals cut this beautiful, bouncy Beatle-esque number on their flip of semi hit reading of "Respect", though it was originally released on an A-side. The number is pure Fab Four "Help"era with it's beautiful harmonies and electric/acoustic guitars.
4. THE PARADE-"Sunshine Girl" U.S. A&M 841 1967
This is yet another case of me hearing a cover version first. I was introduced to this by a Swedish girl group version (The Angeliques) before realizing I had the original lurking in my collection. It's vocally reminiscent of the Association and the slick production and sunshine pop happiness of it is an effusive mixture.
5. THE CRYAN SHAMES-"Ben Franklin's Almanac" U.S. Destination 624 1966
Tucked away on the flip of their debut 45, a hit reading of the sappy "Sugar And Spice" is this full on Who aping mod/freakbeat opus. It's delivered at a frantic pace with double tracked harmony vocals and a slathering of fuzz guitar and a speed freak Bo Diddley beat that all lets lose in a rave up in the end.
6. THE CORDS-"Ain't That Love" U.S. Atco 45-6687 1969
Don't let the 1969 release date fool you, this blistering Norman Petty produced track from this Amarillo, Texas combo is far more mid 60's sounding than the heavy late 60's jam one would expect it to be. With great harmonies, searing fuzz guitars and a lead guitarist who worships Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds were hugely revered in Texas) it's an amazing slice of American 60's garage pop.
7. THE WHATT FOUR-"You're Wishin' I Was Someone Else" U.S. Mercury 72716 1967
With vocals calling to mind The Knickerbockers and a tough "Revolver" influenced guitar sound this B-side of the band's second and final single encapsulates the moment where American 60's music melded Beatles influenced harmonies with tough, fuzz guitars.
8. DEL SHANNON-"Gemini" U.S. Liberty 56036 1968
After the soul crunching defeat of the failure to release his U.K. recorded and produced 1967 LP "At Home And Away" Del bounced back in '68 with the much underappreciated long player "The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover". "Gemini" was the second single released from the LP. It's a moody, introspective piece with gentle strings and a martial march beat as Del sings echo laden and detached.
9. THE BEACH BOYS-"Till I Die" U.S. Brother/Reprise 1047 1971
A bit out of our 60's orbit here this track is yet another example of someone on Instagram saving my soul by hipping me to a track I had not known before during the dark days of quarantine. This cut from the band's "Surf's Up" album is another Brian Wilson magnum opus with ethereal lyrics, multi layered harmonies and a spooky organ that adds an almost nautical feel to it.
10. THE REAL DON STEELE-"Tina Delgado Is Alive" U.S. Cameo C-399 1966
Thanks to Larry over at Funky 16 Corners who hipped me to this one many years ago. Cut by legendary 60's Los Angeles DJ "The Real" Don Steele it's a full on raver that's one third "Blues Theme" (dig that fuzz), one third Sunset Strip a go-go and one third "Shindig!" house band music. It's a rollicking good time punctuated by Steele shouting "Tina Delgado is alive! Alive!".
Hear "December's Picks" plus more American 60's goodies on Spotify here.