Lost Classics of the 1960s, Vol. 5

A carefully curated selection of obscure musical wonders from an ex-disc jockey with a specialization in American and British psychedelia released between 1965 and 1972.

{Note: This series features ten lost sixties classics at a time, offered in no particular order but intended to be approximately the length of an LP. Among the genres and subgenres included in the series are rock, pop, folk, soul, funk, reggae, psychedelic pop-rock, psychedelic folk, folk-rock, folk-pop, proto-electronica, proto-punk, early prog, early glam, early trance, garage rock, art rock, and instrumentals. The reading of “60s” used here is what collectors call the “long 60s,” which ends in 1972. Dates are—to the best of my ability—recording, not release dates.}

The news has been so dire of late that I decided to make this edition of “Lost Classics of the 1960s” the most saccharine-sweet entry in the series ever—and by a lot. There are no fewer than five bubblegum” songs here, that term being a reference (for those who don’t know) to that sub-genre of sixties pop songs considered acceptable for both an adult and a younger audience, though this was often because the songs used puns and sugary melodies to obscure the high volume of sexual innuendo contained therein. Kudos to the hyper-obscure Fredric for adding a wonderful psych component to their tune, and indeed, in fairness, the Fredric would probably be termed “twee” rather than bubblegum (and no surprise, as they were just teenagers when they recorded their LP).

This said, what you’ll find first here is an obscurity from one of the great sixties bands: Pink Floyd. Later on you’ll find a garage-psych classic by The Galaxies IV and a song by the “Argentinian Beatles” (Almendra) that required me to break out my high school and college Spanish skills from decades ago—as well as my poetic license—to try to generate a translation. For those who grew up, as I did, watching the Brady Bunch on TV, you might be interested to know that The Peppermint Trolley Company, a minor bubblegum band, sang the theme song to that show (though it was later re-recorded by others for the version you likely heard on television). One of their bigger hits is below.

Another tidbit: if you can believe it, Giles, Giles, & Fripp morphed into King Crimson.

Yes, really.

Curiously, “Springtime Girl” by The Yellow Balloon was a real hit when I used to play it on my radio show. Beach Boys “lite,” I guess? To me, though, the real “lost classic” here has to be “Rosanna of the Roses”—a song about a down-and-out street corner flower seller—by two obscure subway buskers who formed a folk duo called Subway.

I’ll say plainly that this edition of “Lost Classics of the 1960s” has even more rarities than a typical edition, and the “flower power” component of the songs has been amped up to an 11. Even the rather obscure folk songs here, by Subway and Fresh Maggots, are pretty sweet-sounding—though you can tell “Rosemary Hill” is not a bubblegum song intended for children both because of the name of the band and the likelihood that the song is about sex (as indicated by the use of the preposition “with” at a key point in the song).

{Note: Having said this, “Yummy Yummy Yummy”, the most famous bubblegum song of all time, by The Ohio Express, was self-admittedly, per a band interview later on, about oral sex.}

Let me know your favorites (or least-favorites) in the comments. Which of these songs were justly forgotten? Unjustly? Are the songs below proof of genius—or sheer folly?

1. Pink Floyd, “See Emily Play” (1967)

2. The Lemon Pipers, “Green Tambourine” (1968)

3. The Five Americans, “Western Union” (1967)

4. The Galaxies IV, “Don’t Lose Your Mind” (1967)

5. The Fredric, “Red Pier” (1968)

6. Fresh Maggots, “Rosemary Hill” (1970)

7. Subway, “Rosanna of the Roses” (1971)

8. The Peppermint Trolley Company, “I’ve Got to Be Going” (1967)

9. The Yellow Balloon, “Springtime Girl” (1967)

10. Giles, Giles, & Fripp, “Why Don’t You Just Drop In?” (1968)

Bonus: Almendra, “Tema de Pototo” (1969)

{Note: My translation of this Argentinian song—I speak some Spanish—is below. I admit to some artistic license in trying to capture what this song is conveying in its native language.}

Pototo’s Song (Luis Alberto Spinetta; tr. Seth Abramson)*

To understand what loneliness is like, imagine someone
no longer by your side
who never made you wonder,
“Where’s the good in the world? And where’s the bad?”

Loneliness is a friend who’s absent—
whose voice doesn’t come to you as it once did.
(Yet when memories of a friend swirl about your head
like tiny suns, you learn that friendship never dies.)

Watching the death of a flower helps us accept
that gentle things die, but also
that solace can be reborn in song—
that when a flower dies, a song can plant it anew.

Loneliness is a friend who’s absent—
whose voice doesn’t come to you as it once did.
(Yet when memories of a friend swirl about your head
like tiny suns, you learn that friendship never dies.)

*This song is apparently about an old friend of the band who band members erroneously believed—at the time “Tema de Pototo” was written—had died.