Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Monocles And The Higher Elevation - The Spider The Fly And The Boogie Man (1965-69 us, fabulous garage beat surf folk psych, 2008 release)



Hailing from Greeley, CO, the Monocles served as an unwitting example of the strange effect LSD had on America's youth during the mid- to late 1960s. Early on, the Monocles started out as a fairly ordinary pop-rock outfit, playing stuff like "Sound of the Surf," "Heartbreak Hill," and "Treat Me Nice" that would raise no eyebrows at a typical teen club gig or high school dance. Then in mid-1966 the Monocles began to change; they cut a tune called "Psychedelic (That's Where It's At)" that doesn't sound all that freaky until you get to the guitar solo, but it led to some truly bent sessions later on, most notably the twisted psychodramas of "The Spider and the Fly," "The Boogie Man," and "The Diamond Mine" (the theme song for Dave Diamond's Los Angeles radio show). 

What happened to these guys? It's anyone's guess if they were ingesting the dreaded lysergic acid, but they certainly learned the benefits of sounding like you were gobbling the stuff by the fistful, and there are some prize moments of small-town psychedelia lurking on The Spider, the Fly and the Boogie Man, a collection of 31 rare and unreleased sides from the band. In the summer of 1967, the Monocles changed their name to the Higher Elevation, but while the new name may have sounded a bit more trippy, by this time the band had scored a deal with Liberty Records and their material developed a far greater degree of polish, with sharper playing and exacting harmonies, though there are some fine examples of psychedelic pop ("Odyssey" and "Crazy Bicycle") and sunshine pop ("Here Comes Sunshine" and "Summer Skies") featured here, as well as a solid cover of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Good Time Music" which supposedly features John Sebastian on tambourine and backing vocals.

Given that neither the Monocles or the Higher Elevation ever released an album, this is a surprisingly thorough summary of their career, including a well-detailed liner essay by Les Peterson (though someone needs to tell the folks at Fab Gear that small grey type on a black page doesn't make for easy reading), and is likely to remain the definitive anthology of their recorded work. 
by Mark Deming
Tracks
1. KLZ Jingle (The Monocles) - 0:19
2. Let Your Lovin' Grow (The Monocles) - 1:57
3. You Don't Know (The Monocles) - 2:18
4. A Little Bit Less (The Monocles) - 2:54
5. On The Other Side Of Happiness (Jon Floth, John S. Carter Jr) - 2:50
6. Looking Glass (The Monocles) - 2:38
7. Boogie Man (Jon Floth, Don Hirschfield, Tom Behm, Rick Hull) - 1:54
8. Psychedelic (That's Where It's At) (Jon Floth, Robb Casseday, Don Hirschfield, Tom Behm, Rick Hull) - 2:19
9. The Spider And The Fly (Stevens, Strong) - 2:06
10.The Diamond Mine (Dave Diamond) - 2:15
11.Crazy Bicycle (Jon Floth, John S. Carter Jr) - 2:48
12.Here Comes Sunshine (William R Baughn, Frank Slay Jr) - 2:52
13.Thoughts Of Lila (Jon Floth) - 2:20
14.Country Club Affair (John S. Carter Jr, Timothy B. Gilbert) - 2:18
15.Summer Skies (John S. Carter Jr, Timothy B. Gilbert) - 2:08
16.Odyssey (Jon Floth, John C. Phillips) - 2:55
17.Highway 101 (Jon Floth, Roy Robert Freeman, John C. Phillips, Frank Slay Jr) - 2:32
18.Crazy Bicycle (Alternate) (Jon Floth, John S. Carter Jr) - 2:46
19.Wizard Of Love (Charles Hatfield, Paul O'Lone, Gary Young) - 2:20
20.Good Time Music (John Sebastian) - 3:03
21.Country Club Affair (Alternate) (John S. Carter Jr, Timothy B. Gilbert) - 2:16
22.What Is It (The Monocles) - 1:44
23.Sound Of The Surf (The Monocles) - 3:16
24.Heartbreak Hill (The Monocles) - 2:07
25.Where Is My Life (The Monocles) - 2:31
26.Treat Me Nice (The Monocles) - 2:30
27.Boogie Man (Instrumental) (Jon Floth, Don Hirschfield, Tom Behm, Rick Hull) - 1:55
28.Looking Glass (Instrumental) (The Monocles) - 2:39
29.A Little Bit Less (Instrumental) (The Monocles) - 2:55
30.Psychedelic (That's Where It's At) (Instrumental) (Jon Floth, Robb Casseday, Don Hirschfield, Tom Behm, Rick Hull) - 2:19
31.Boogie Man (Alternate) (Jon Floth, Don Hirschfield, Tom Behm, Rick Hull) - 2:47
Tracks 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21 as The Higher Elevation.

The Monocles
*Jon Floth - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Hull - Bass, Vocals
*Robb Casseday - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Don Hirschfield - Piano
*Kevin McIlhenny - Drums
*Tom Behm - Drums, Vocals
*Peter Johnson - Keyboards

The Higher Elevation
*Jon Floth - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Hull - Bass, Vocals
*Peter Johnson - Keyboards, Vocals
*Tim McDonald - Vocals
*Bob Saunar - Drums
*Rich Sallee - Bass
*Jim Krug - Drums

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