Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Great Lost Singles of the Sixties (An Occasional Series): Special "I'd Be Very Surprised if Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd Didn't Have a Copy of This Album" Edition

From their eponymous 1968 waxing, please enjoy shoulda-been-contenders NYC folk/rock/psychedelic/proto-New Wave band Autosalvage and their astoundingly prescient and fabulously jangly "Land of Their Dreams."

Attentive readers will recall me singing (heh) the praises of these guys several times over the years, but never specifically this song, whose aural mismash of symphonic strings, bluegrass influenced guitars, Dylanesque vocals and kick-ass rhythm section has confounded me (in a good way) ever since I stole a vinyl copy of it from my college radio station shortly after its original release.

Seriously, it's one of my forever faves, a haunting and stunningly abstract piece of jangle-rock that has always seemed (to me) to be utterly outside of time. I mean, for years, before and after it finally got reissued on CD in the late 90s, I used to play it for people and ask them to guess when and where it was recorded.

Invariably, the answer would come "Athens, Georgia, mid-to-late 80s?"


Anyway, the short background version: Despite Autosalvage being a big deal on the local NYC scene back in the day, their sole LP never sold much, and the concensus has always been that they missed out by not moving to San Francisco in time for the Summer of Love, when their mix of psychedelic jam stuff and tight concise song structures would probably have gone down a storm.

They were also an interesting couple of guys. Guitarist Rick Turner, who I interviewed once, was a charming dude who went on to a hugely successful career as a luthier on the West Coast; he used to write a column for Guitar Player magazine, and he made and maintained all of Lindsey Buckingham's custom instruments for ages. Bassist Skip Boone was the brother of Lovin' Spoonful bassist Steve Boone, and went on to be a seminal figure, as a producer and recording engineer, in the Baltimore alt-rock music scene. And the band's rhythm guitarist Darius Davenport was the son of one of the founders of The New York Pro Musica, among the first and best original instrument groups performing medieval and early baroque classical stuff. (His dad is on the album somewhere, actually.)

But I mean seriously -- what I wouldn't have given to have heard these guys cover a Wilson Pickett song with backing by a crumhorn section.

Anyway, the even shorter version: If the song above doesn't remind you of Television (the band) you're just not paying attention. Which is the larger point this post is about, duh.

I thank you.


Sal Nunziato said...

I really don't hear Television.
But, I do think it sounds like a 60's version of The Wallflowers. That singer and Jakob Dylan sound almost identical.

steve simels said...

Sal -- you'll hear Television on this Autosalvage track fer sure.

Sal Nunziato said...

The guitar tone is absolutely Verlaine. That singer though, really sounds like Jakob Dylan to me. Not a bad thing.

Blue Ash Fan said...

I’m hearing “2000 Light Years From Home” more than I’m hearing Television.

Anonymous said...

If your going to do a psychedelic intro listen to
the Strawberry Alarm Clock - Incense and Pepper mint - that's how it's done if you want a hit

getawaygoober said...

Re: Blue Ash Fan
Yes, it does mirror “2000 Light Years From Home”, the best cut on HSMR.
Maybe they were hoping for a soundtrack gig on a Roger Corman psychedelic flick.

Anonymous said...

Rick Turner died in 2022. Steve's right. he was very warm person. He did stuff for Ry Cooder as well as Lindsey. Sometimes we'd stop by when in Santa Cruz.

Picked up the Autosalvage album at Aron's on Melrose early 1968. I got the mono copy because it was the only one in stock. A couple of years later I bought a used stereo copy at the same store for 33 centavos. The mixes are quite different. I prefer the mono by a lot. I love the album. And quite deeply. A- / 4 ¾ stars! It's unlike any other band. It would be even better if someone would remix it. That is if anyone knows where master tape is. I think it was recorded on an eight track machine. Think of the things that could be done.

Being that I was the only kid at school with an 8-track cartridge recorder, and also an enterprising little minx, I started making custom tapes around the middle of 1967. This was in exchange for money, favors, drugs, dinners, concert tickets, records, clothes, jewelry, you name it. Some were straight album transfers. Some were made to order mix tapes. Other customers let me go freeform, trusting my taste, knowledge and insight into their musical predilections. Nobody ever requested Autosalvage, but when allowed to freeform, I slipped in a lot of their tunes. So, as far as Autosalvage was concerned, I turned whoever I could on to them.

If Autosalvage ever toured the West Coast, I never knew about it. A pity. Could they pull this stuff off live? If Zappa liked them, they must have been pretty good. The album is great! It got quite a bit of airplay on LA and SF underground FM. I think they’re the best East Coast psychedelic band of that era. They put most of the so-called “Boston Sound” bands to shame.

They really fucked up when they had an open invitation to move out to the Bay Area and turned it down. Rick Turner was all about it, but the other three didn’t want to live in Marin. Fools! Bad business decision. Bad artistic decision. Bad quality of life decision. Marin rules! Even stupider, they never bothered to grace any of the San Francisco ballrooms with their presence. Their album went lead and their career went the way of the Balloon Farm. Turner ended up working for the Dead at Alembic before the other stuff. R.I.P. And that goes for the whole band. All passed away.


whistlin' past the graveyard while givin' the bird to Mr. D