For decades, Paul Major has been collecting and selling the strangest records ever pressed on vinyl. Much of what was initially known about many a wonderfully weird LP was due to his mail order catalogs, in which he described the obscure garage rock, psych, and often beyond-classification albums he had for sale. He’s tracked down many of the outsiders who made singularly great, private (a/k/a vanity) pressings, leading to authorized reissues.
Anthology Editions has just released Feel The Music: The Psychedelic Worlds Of Paul Major. The book contains images from his ‘zine-like catalogs, vintage flyers, photos, as well as album art and his assessments of those way-offbeat LPs, many of which are quite rare. Major has loads of great stories, including accounts of meeting some of the eccentrics behind his favorite records.
We’ve put together a collection of tunes and cover art from twelve oddball albums, with Major’s commentary from the pages of Feel The Music.
Jr. and His Soulettes – ‘Psychodelic Sounds’ (HMM Records, 1971)
A pinch-yourself, this-record-can’t-really-exist level of amazing. An 11-year-old guitarist and his three sisters who are even younger grooving it out with funky swirling go-go organs, primordial drums and titles like “Thing, Do the Creep” and “Mama Love Tequila.” They’re so tight and loose they sound like they’ve been playing together for decades!
I have some experience with record collecting, mostly as a seller. I’ve yet to make a really big sale, though a White Stripes single I bought back in the day for two bucks once sold for $350, which paid my rent that month. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve purchased my fair share of rare records, I just could never fathom paying thousands of dollars for a slab of vinyl. But that’s exactly what record collectors do all the time. Take for example this seldom seen 1968 Rolling Stones 45, which recently sold for $17,100.
That’s right: $17,100.
Records by bands considerably less famous than the Stones also have value to collectors, especially those by virtually unknown groups that produced extraordinary music, but didn’t release much material. That, combined with the scarcity of the records, equals big bucks in the marketplace. Snotty garage rock from the ‘60s is a genre that causes collectors to drool with delight, and one such record, a 45 by the Albuquerque band the Chob (a group so obscure there are no known photos of them), is among the holy grails.
Initially going by the name the Choab, the band released a 7-inch under that moniker before shortening it and adding a long vowel accent mark. The Chob would release just a single 45, one that’s now treasured by fans of ‘60s garage punk. Alec Palao of Ace Records explains why (as well as the story behind their mysterious nom de plume) in the liner notes of the compilation, Uptight Tonight: The Ultimate ‘60s Garage Collection.
Two minutes and twenty-five seconds of pure punk genius, ‘We’re Pretty Quick’ emerged from the fertile minds of five Albuquerque, New Mexico teenagers - Dick Hanson (vocals) Quinton Miller (guitar), Robbie Crnich (organ), Keith Bradshaw (bass) and Dave Elledge (drums). This song of songs appeared as a small pressing in April 1967 on Southwest rock maven Lindy Blaskey’s Lavette label, barely sold at the time, and is now considered a prize rarity.
For all its novelty – a breathtakingly frantic pace and one of the more bizarrely entertaining lyrics of the era – the arrangement of ‘We’re Pretty Quick’ bore a couple of classic hallmarks of the garage band style. For instance, the guitar break’s lengthy, unmodulating crescendo was something commonly adapted by many combos of the time from the Yardbirds’ influential and much-covered ‘Mister You’re A Better Man Than I.’ And the sound at the very end of the record is that of organist Crnich switching off his Farfisa whilst holding down a note, providing the odd high pitched sucking sound that can be heard at the climax of several garage discs. Sadly, that was the last we were to hear from this inspired aggregation. Oh, and what is a chob, you ask? Apparently the band’s codeword for a pimple.
It isn’t known for certain how many copies Lavette pressed of “We’re Pretty Quick” b/w “Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore” (a competent Young Rascals cover), but Alec believes it is likely in the 200-300 copies range, definitely not more than 500. I’m inclined to lean towards the lower number, as it doesn’t turn up for sale all that often. I searched the web, including popular auction sites, for a copy currently being offered for sale, and was able to find just one.
Before you say, “That’s crazy!” consider that in 2009 a less than stellar copy sold for $435, and two years later a “mint-minus” specimen went for nearly $2,000. The Amazon seller lists their Chob 45 as being in similar, near-perfect condition, and as rare records such as this certainly aren’t going down in value, it’s conceivable it could sell at auction for more than four grand.
In any event, “We’re Pretty Quick” is a prime example of 1960s American garage rock, and you can always pick it up on the aforementioned Uptight Tonight compilation. Alec Palao tells me the song’s inclusion is the only instance of it being officially licensed for re-release (it’s been bootlegged many times). If you really must have the original artifact, and $4,200 seems a little steep, you can always contact the seller in regards to the price. Maybe you can even get a break.
But probably not!
Special thanks to Alec Palao for his assistance with this post.