Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Some of the records I've talked about here are very difficult to obtain. This one, however, is more likely to be impossible to obtain. I don't know much about this group, but I'll tell you what I do know, and also offer a bit of speculation. If anyone who reads this knows anyone involved in the making of this record, every little bit of detail would help piece the puzzle together. For starters, a scan of the label of this obscure record is practically the Holy Grail among garage rock lovers (like myself).
This some comes from an acetate recording that was made at the Nashville West Recording Studio on Melrose in Los Angeles, probably around early 1966. That studio was run by a record promoter named Charlie Underwood. Earlier, it had been the old Decca studio that Frank Sinatra used.
The studio musicians who worked there included Charles Wright and James Carmichael, who formed the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band in 1967. Before that, Charles Wright was making records as The Soul Runners, including one called Grits 'N Corn Bread that reached #33 on Billboard's R&B charts and briefly threatened to cross over to the Billboard Hot 100. It made it only to #103 on the Bubbling Under chart. It was a funky soul instrumental. Think about the similarity of the names, Soul Runners vs Soul Vendors.
Another group was also working hard in that same recording studio around that time, and you've probably heard of them. They did a little song called Psychotic Reaction and called themselves The Count Five. That band was formed in 1964 in San Jose, California by John "Mouse" Michalski, a 16 year old lead guitar player from Cleveland, Ohio. His partner was Roy Chaney who played bass, also 16 years old, from Indianapolis, Indiana. The originally called their group The Squires. After several personnel changes, they became The Count Five, featuring John "Sean" Byrne from Dublin, Ireland on rhythm guitar and lead vocals and Craig "Butch" Anderson from San Jose on the drums.
All we know about the Soul Vendors, or think we know, is that they came from Hayward, California, just across the bay from San Francisco. They were either formerly known as The Apollo's, or acquired members of that band. These two groups evolved into a soul group known as Crusader Rabbit.
Now the speculation part. Listen to Get Out Of My Eye and compare the vocals and style to most of the Count Five's releases. The similarity is fairly obvious, at least to me. I'm not saying there's any connection because I just don't know. But, it does appear that the guys who made today's New Oldie at least recorded in the same place where The Count Five worked out Psychotic Reaction, and around the exact same time. Sadly, we can't ask Sean about it because he passed away on 15 December 2008. But maybe some of the surviving members know something about the Soul Vendors.
I'm guessing this song was inspired a bit by Get Off My Cloud by the Rolling Stones. "Get Out Of My Eye!" is a cool phrase that I don't think I've ever heard anyone else use. Have you?
The song is available to buy on a compilation CD called You Got Yours, East Bay Garage 1965 to 1967 on Big Beat. It's available at Amazon.com and you can read more about it by clicking here.
Here's Get Out Of My Eye by The Soul Vendors from an acetate recording circa 1966:
Here's the flip side of that acetate, a cover of Shake A Tail Feather:
For comparison purposes, here's Psychotic Reaction by The Count Five on Double Shot 104 from 1966:
Do you know anything about these guys? If you lived around Oakland back in the 1960's you might have heard them playing a a local club, like maybe the Penthouse Club in Hayward, or maybe at the dances at the Rollarena in San Leandro. Share what you know!
There are several dozen more acetate recordings played regularly on MusicMaster Oldies. A lot of them are just as obscure as this one.
Posted by joeknapp at 10:37 AM