Saturday, October 7, 2023

Young and Old Monkey Men, Redbone, and Pete Mac, Jr.! - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Cloudberry"

Unlike most of my recent shows, this episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, featured a lot less psych music and a lot more garage rock with some moodier tunes towards the end. Check out this episode's breakdown below.

Monkey Men as seen in Thomas Landseer's Monkeyana or Men in Miniature

Towards the beginning of the night, you heard "I Believed You" by The Young Monkey Men which is one of my favorite garage rock band names because it's so silly and fitting for a group that was made up of kids in their early teens. For their age, the group was definitely punching above their weight and it's a shame we didn't get more music from them beyond their few singles. Because of their similar name, The Young Monkey Men have often been confused with another band named The Monkey Men who also happen to be from New Jersey. Unlike the younger monkeys, The Monkey Men had a wild streak and were known for riding motorcycles into venues and setting off diy pyrotechnics. 

The Satellite Lounge evolution via Google Maps

The Monkey Men were a house band at a famous venue in Cookstown, New Jersey known as The Satellite Lounge, which was destroyed in a fire back in 2013. There's an interesting article on Weird NJ which features some history on the venue, as well as, photos of the long-abandoned club just a year before it was burned down. You'll surely hear The Monkey Men's music on a future episode; however, I should note that although they performed live as The Monkey Men, they recorded under the name The Luv Bandits due to their label's fear that they might be sued by The Monkees.

After The Young Monkey Men, you heard a twangy instrumental track by Pat and The Wildcats named "Green Tomatoes." Were The Wildcats a real band or a purely studio ensemble? Who knows? But what we do know is that the song's writing credits include Pat and Lolly Vegas of Redbone fame. On the show I mentioned that Redbone is known for their most popular hit "Come and Get Your Love" which younger listeners might recognize from the amazing FX show Reservation Dogs. Older listeners probably just recognize the song from, well, being older. 

About halfway through the show, you heard another instrumental track by Calvin Cool and The Surf Knobs named "El Tecolote" which is one of the Spanish words for "owl." Calvin Cool was a pseudonym for the American jazz artist Shorty Rogers, who was an prominent figure in West Coast Jazz which is considered a subset of the wider genre Cool Jazz. The Surf Knobs have one LP under their name and a handful of singles which appear to be tracks pulled straight from the LP, most likely as a way of squeezing out as much money as they could from the recording session. Back in the day, singles, such as those made by The Surf Knobs, appeared in pharmacies and department stores as budget releases. 

During my youth, we also had bargain/generic releases, however, they weren't nearly as cool as the surf rock instrumentals of the 60s but were rather nature field recordings, piano ballads, and various new age schlock produced by companies such as: Gentle Persuasion, Nature Quest, and Lifescapes. What I remember more than the actual releases themselves is the listening kiosks that would often accompany the CDs and tapes. It was always fun mashing the crinkly buttons to hear 30 second clips from each album. I'm sure the sales team at Target loved hearing us kids abruptly switch from the sounds of rain to pan flutes and then to piano covers of adult contemporary hits. 

And finally, I'll mention Japanese GS band The Mummies who played their song "Boogaloo - No.1." At least, I believe their name is The Mummies. Some websites also translated their name as The Mommies and The Mammys. Regardless, the group featured the vocals of Pete Mac, Jr., a singer and actor of both American and Japanese descent. Some of Pete Mac, Jr.'s work includes: acting in the 1972 film Escape where he also provided vocals for the theme, singing the theme for the 1973 drama Suikoden which was later released on the BBC as The Water Margin, and also singing the vocal version of the theme song for the anime Lupin The Third. As for the Lupin theme, Yuji Ohno, the theme's composer, has gone on record stating that the song was too difficult for anyone to sing along with and that he originally had no lyrics in mind when composing the song. Despite this, Ohno believes Mac, Jr. did an acceptable job at singing the theme.

And that's about it for this episode's rundown! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

You can check out this week's playlist below:


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