Thursday, March 10, 2022

Smokestack Lightnin' - Off The Wall (1969 us, hard edged garage blues psych with cool fuzz guitar)

Smokestack Lightnin' had THE sound... One of the truly unsung groups of the '60's Sunset Strip era, Smokestack Lightnin' was something of a house band at the Whiskey A-Go-Go, as well as at the Cheetah Club. They recorded several strong singles, recorded this LP, which was produced by Bones Howe, "Off the Wall" was surprisingly good. While there seemed to be some truth behind our earlier comments regarding wanting to find a Box Tops clone (check out the leadoff rocker "Watch Your Step"), Darling and company proved surprisingly accomplished performers, effortlessly stomping their way through a mix of blues ("Three Hundred Pounds of Heavenly Joy"), soul ("Something's Got a Hold On Me") and harder-rock oriented numbers ("Light In My Window"). Even more impressive to our ears, the band was at their best when handling the handful of original pieces, including "Well Tuesday".and made a film appearance. However, they are rarely mentioned along with the Doors, Seeds, Love, or Byrds when the top bands of the Strip are listed.

As Smokestack Lightnin' drummer Art Guy reflects: "The '60's in LA and in particular on the Sunset Strip was pure and simply magic. We had just moved from the traditional boy & girl thing with Saturday night dates, school and sports being the most important things in the world. We were at war in Vietnam and the younger generation began to question anything and everything our parents and peers stood for and promoted. This movement didn't happen overnight. It was a gradual trend, fueled in many places around the country. Our neck of the woods with the tremendous musical talent started to fuel the fires of change that spread coast to coast over the next few years. The Sunset Strip drew kids from around the country and across the globe like a magnet. The famed Whiskey-A-Go-Go, which just prior to 1966 was hosting people like Johnny Rivers and audiences in suits and ties, was transformed into a forum for the new upcoming rock stars of tomorrow. The Strip was alive with thousands of fans of this new generation. We had long hair, wore outrageous clothes, promoted free love and lots of it, drank, and smoked pot and created general mayhem wherever we went. Girls wore skirts so short, if they even bent over slightly everything was exposed. Many chose to go bra-less and panty-less. It was one wild party scene after another, with daytime in between. One other point that should be made very clear was the fact that all of the groups got along as if we were one big extended family. It didn't matter if Sly & The Family Stone or The Doors was in the audience. They loved every minute of the music and excitement and appreciated each band for their uniqueness. We all supported each other. We all loved the fans and communicated and partied with them." 
1. Watch Your Step (Bobby Parker) - 2:54
2. Long Stemmed Eyes (John's Song) (John Medici) - 6:16
3. Three Hundred Pounds Of Heavenly Joy (Willie Dixon) - 3:35
4. Something's Got A Hold On Me (Pearl Woods, Leroy Kirkland) - 4:28
5. Light In My Window (Ronnie Darling, Kelly Green, Ric Eiserling) - 3:26
6. I Idolize You (Ike Turner) - 4:39
7. Who's Been Talkin' (Chester Burnett) - 2:28
8. Well Tuesday (Ronnie Darling, Kelly Green, Ric Eiserling, Art Guy, H. Newhouse) - 3:25
9. Smokestack Lightnin'(Chester Burnett) - 12:55

Smokestack Lightnin'
*Ric Eiserling - Guitar
*Kelly Green - Bass
*Ronnie Darling - Percussion, Vocals
*Art Guy - Drums
*Mike Deasey - Rhythm Guitar
*Larry Knechtel - Organ, Piano
*Sandy Zevon - Piano, Rhythm Guitar
*Hal Blaine - Percussion, Crosswords
*Wild Bill Holman - Horns
*The Blossoms - Backing Vocals