“Trip Through Hell” (Part one) by the C.A. Quintet
I think we’re all pretty familiar with “Surfin Bird” (and it’s a great song!) but some of the other great garage-y Minnesota records of the 60s are less famous. Less than 500 copies of the C.A. Quintet’s awesome 1968 album Trip Through Hell, and judging from this copy which recently passed through the shop it seems like maybe 400 of them are pretty beat up. It played all the way through without a skip, and that’s good enough for our ears!
Since Narco States are going to visit our shop tomorrow afternoon and play some good old fashioned Minnesota garage rock, we thought we’d explore some of the awesome and rare records we’ve been recording as the appear here in the shop.
First of all, here is the debut EP by Narco States, which was released by Piñata Records last month as a 7″ record. We’re super excited for their in-store performance and we think a lot of people who love the classic Minnesota rock singles collected in this post would really enjoy seeing them, too. They’ll be performing some of these songs and more at 3pm tomorrow!
We’ll have plenty of copies of the new Narco States EP in stock tomorrow, but many of these other local records show up infrequently and sell to collectors very quickly. Here’s a couple that have only appeared once in the past several years, both on a label called Bangar Records. The put out about sixty records, all around 1964. One of them, “Gorilla” by the Shandells, was one of the most expensive 45s that we have had in stock over the past year. It’s too bad we had to sell it because this would be a fun one to play at DJ gigs, maybe people would dance “the gorilla“.
We remembered to record both sides of the single for the blog, but not to take a picture of the label! All of the Bangar singles look the same, and we did remember to photograph another great one with a silly side – the Readymen’s “Shortnin’ Bread” is another old rocker that could have a fun dance associated with it. It was actually the b-side, and the instrumental “Surfer Blues” the a-side.
“Shortnin’ Bread” b/w “Surfer Blues” by the Readymen
“Gorilla” b/w “Hey Little One” by the Shandells
Of course, the most famous Minnesota label of the era was Soma Records, which was founded by Amos Heilcher (Soma is his name spelled backwards!) – he was also, with his brother, the owner of the Musicland chain of record stores, where Dave bought his Ratt and Kiss tapes as a pre-teen in the 80s.
Soma’s subsidiary, Garrett Records, was the label on which “Surfin’ Bird” was released in 1963. It was named for George Garrett, who was an engineer on many of the recording sessions released by Soma. Other famous Soma releases include the Castaways “Liar Liar” and the Chancellors “Little Latin Lupe Lu”. A lot of the local rock singles were covers of popular rhythm and blues tracks.
“Little Latin Lupe Lu” by the Chancellors
“Let the Good Times Roll” by the Del Counts
“Book of Love” by the Underbeats
“Turn on your Lovelight” by the High Spirits
This next song is off a single we recorded a couple years ago before selling it to a local DJ – it’s a 1959 rocker by the String Kings, a band that included future members of the Trashmen. This was released on a label called Gaity Records, which was not renowned for it’s high quality recordings, but the song’s killer guitar makes up for it. We forgot to take a picture of the label for this one, too.
“Bloodshot” by the String Kings
Stillroven was a local band that recorded several singles that were produced only in short runs, so they don’t appear very often. There have been a couple discs compiling their material, including the album they recorded for A&M that was shelved (and on which David Rivkin, aka producer David Z, played with the band). I’ve read that Sundazed Records, the 60s psych and rock reissue label out of California, has considered reissuing these compilations, maybe on LP – they do such a good job of collecting “lost” music that it would be a welcome project here in Minneapolis!
Stillroven’s biggest hit was a cover of “Hey Joe” (which was better than the other, more successful garage-y version by a California band, the Leaves). Their next single was “Little Picture Playhouse” backed with a trippy psychedelic track, “Cast thy Burden upon the Stone”.
“Little Picture Playhouse” by the Stillroven
“Action Woman” by the Litter
The Litter is probably one of the most popular local garage bands of all, and their debut Scotty Records is one of our favorites from the era. Unfortunately, when the Hymie’s computer crashed recently we lost a number of recording we’d made, including one of the b-side of that single, which was an awesome cover of the Who’s “Legal Matter.” Here instead is the a-side, an original by the Litter.
There are several albums by this band, including one from when they reunited in the 90s. One of their albums, the ultra rare $100 Fine, is on the Hexagon Records label, which is pretty awesome. We’re not sure if there’s a relationship between the Hexagon Bar and the label, but there’s something to think about next time you’re watching some super-loud local band shred it up at that legendary watering hole.
The track you heard at the beginning of this post was from Trip Through Hell, an album that Sundazed has reissued, although it’s currently out of stock so we can’t order new copies of it anymore. Some time ago we had one of the few singles the band released in stock, but it was light-hearted and fun compared to their dark, ooky spooky album. Here’s the C.A. Quintet covering the Miracles’ “Mickey’s Monkey”:
“Mickey’s Monkey” by the C.A. Quintet
In the same collection we had the single of Michael’s Mystics covering “But it’s Allright” by J.J. Jackson, but we must have forgotten to record that one. Fortunately, somebody else has made a Youtube video of that fun single, so we can still hear it.
If you ask us, this next track is obscure for a reason. We’re not sure why a collector would want to pay much for “The Cat,” a 1967 single by the Sting Rays, from Rochester. Here is the recording we made of that single on Welhaven Records – we’ll let you decide if it’s a “lost classic” or not:
“The Cat” by the Sting Rays
One thing’s for sure, our kids love this one. Their favorite old garage rock songs are the silly ones about animals, including of course “Surfin’ Bird” and “Gorilla.” In fact, we made them a CD of songs like those! So we were all disappointed this next one was not about a giraffe, given the picture on the label. It did turn out to be a pretty good song.
“Don’t Love Me” by the ICC (In Crowd Consolidated)
Somewhere back in the archives of the Hymie’s blog there’s already been a post about this single because we just loved the label for Hy Nibble Records so much.
There are many more great garage rock record from Minnesota but we’ll save some of the others we have recorded for a future post. Missing from this collection is, of course, “Surfin’ Bird” – tune in (or click in) tomorrow, and we’ll explore the history of that legendary Minnesota Record.
And stop by the shop tomorrow and check out Narco States, and maybe buy their record before it becomes as obscure and rare as all these other ones in today’s post.
“Trip through Hell” (Part two) by the C.A. Quintet