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Brigade - Last Laugh (1970)


"Reissue of this obscure LP release from 1970, originally from the Pacific Northwest. "This is one of our alltime favorite album when it comes to Underground & Psychedelic music. One of ten we would take on an island. Full of dynamic and strong fuzz guitar solos, driving drums and amazing vocals, which deserves this offical reissue.

We located tons of unknown photomaterials which will be included in the booklet and some linernotes will give you the full background of the band. We can even include all tour dates the band made between 1967 and 1970. (Originals are impossible to find because only 100 copies were made at the time and some even had the wrong record in)." (Shadoks)

"Official release of Portland, OR garage/psych bands, impossible to find independent/homemade (100 copies pressed) album. Hammond organ, fuzz guitar, great vocals. Quintessential 1970 American independent record." (Bomp)

"Formed in North Portland, Oregon during the summer of 1966. Brigade won the KLSN Radio Portland Teen Fair Battle Of The Bands on 9th June 1968 and received a 1954 custom purple Cadillac Hearse as a prize! By now they were a top local attraction and the same year they signed to the American Record Company and recorded a demo which received a lot of local airplay. They went on to record an album for the B&V (Band ‘n’ Vocal) label in 1970, but split up before it was released. Consequently it received little airplay and flopped. The band all went on to college or further education. Today the album is exceedingly rare, even the more recent vinyl reissue on Rockadelic, which was limited to just 350 copies, has already become hard to come by. Even this CD release, issued 6 years ago, is shrinking in supply. Musically, it consists of keyboard-dominated progressive rock. On the first four tracks, which comprised side one of the vinyl release, it is more a case of them finding their voice.

The final four tracks, which comprised side two of the vinyl release, have an overall more solid sound, with some exhilarating keyboard playing on Self-Made God, the highlight of the album.


Peter Belknap (vocals)
Eric Anderson (keyboards, background vocals)
Ed Wallo (guitar, background vocals)
Dennis Steindl (bass, background vocals)
Bob Anderson (drums, background vocals)

"The story of the Brigade will ring bells of recognition from just about anyone who grew up in the '60s. Here's how the story goes: teenagers form garage band, start playing teen dances, eventually cut a record and release it locally to a bit of acclaim but no real fame. Then they move on with life, get married, establish careers, forget about rock and roll - and 30 years later are amazed when someone "discovers" them all over again, starts writing and calling and asking for specific memories long ago cast into the bins of history. The next thing they know, their music is reissued and they reach more people on vinyl or CD than ever heard them the first time around...and we all get a "Last Laugh".

That about sums up our story of The Brigade. Now for the juicey details.

THE PORTLAND SCENE

Of course, The Brigade emerged from a context - in this case a very vibrant '60s music scene in the Pacific Northwest. The "Northwest Sound" in fact had two rival epicenters: the Tacoma/Seattle area and, 3 hours drive to the south, Portland, Oregon. From the late '50s and on into the '60s, the region produced its share of wellknown acts: The Kingsmen, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Don & The Goodtimes, The Ventures, The Fleetwoods, The Wailers, and The Sonics. Most of these bands initially focused on a white version of R&B, gradually moving into original songs that got regional radio play and occasionally broke out into the national "hitmakers" scene. Other wellknown Northwest artists of the era included The Viceroys, The Dynamics, The Frantics (two of whom later re-emerged to form Moby Grape), Little Bill & The Bluenotes, Ron Holden, Merilee Rush & The Turnabouts and a handful more. But of course for every one band that made it into the studio, much less got airplay, there were another 50 bands caught up in the dream.

Portland, with its near neighbors Salem and Eugene to the south, had the usual share of teenagers doing their musical thing. Once they were ready to move out of the bedroom and garage, bands had numerous venues to show off their stuff: school dances, store openings, church events, private parties, plus a whole circuit of teen dance halls and armories. The idea was to have fun, meet girls and make a little money.

Portland also offered an annual teenfair Battle of the Bands, affording the lucky winners some local press coverage, maybe some cash, musical instruments or amplifiers, and often the greatest prize of all, "a recording contract".

THE BETTER SET BEGETS THE BLUE BRIGADE...

Growing up in the north suburbs of Portland during this era, Bob Anderson was an 8th grader when he formed "The Better Set" with bass player Timmy Vetter and singer Peter Belknap. By the time the boys had started high school (Bob and Tim at North Catholic, Peter at Central Catholic), they had picked up guitarist Ed Wallo (also from Central Catholic) who in turn brought in keyboard player Eric Anderson (of Grant high school).

They found a rehearsal place in Eric's basement, and Eric's dad proposed a new band name: "The Blue Brigade". Working under that name, the band gigged all over the area through mid-'67, when Timmy left (to form "The Melody Boys", later "Terry & The Pirates" and "Sound Junction".) ( GREEN-BRAIN )


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