It’s fee a fun day here in Ridgeway beginning with some Master Chef junior over a plate of roasted corn and scrambled eggs, a 15 minute parade featuring period soldiers wearing more than any human being should ever be requested to wear on such a sweltering day, some frisbee at the beach and dinner of BLT’s and broccoli slaw. I didn’t do the lawn (too stupid hot) but, hey, other than, that I’m pitching a pretty good “Daddy Daughter Day”. We’re relaxing now with something else that I brought home from my last trip to San Antonio, Tecas, ‘When the Rainbow Disappears: An Anthology 1965-68‘ by The Kitchen Cinq.
Lee Hazlewood’s LHI flagship group, The Kitchen Cinq, had everything but one elusive factor: success.
Formed as The Illusions (and briefly The Y’alls) in Amarillo, Texas, the group blended garage punk with killer harmonies and a slight sense of the absurd. Picking up steam locally in the mid-‘60s, the members started to think about cracking it on a bigger scale, and, in 1966, moved to LA. “Almost immediately upon arrival, we auditioned for Lee,” says guitarist/vocalist Mark Creamer. “He said, ‘Deal.’” Another of Hazlewood’s coterie, Suzi Jane Hokom, was charged with producing the group, making her a de facto female pioneer in the industry.
By 1968, The Kitchen Cinq issued a total of five impressive singles and one album, Everything But. They recorded a surprisingly vast amount of material, all of which is collected here. Their version of The Beau Brummels’ ‘Still In Love With You Baby‘ was a regional hit in many cities, but they were still chasing a big hit, and the LA dream was wearing thin. In the end, the industry burned them out: the endless gigging, the radio spots, the long journeys–including an ill-fated East Coast tour that required them to drive from LA to Florida in three days. “I think LA ate the Texas boys; I really feel that way,” says guitarist/vocalist Jim Parker.
The group split in ’68, and the members spread off into bands including Them, rock outfit Armageddon and, eventually, careers in studios. One–temporary member J.D. Souther–has a recurring role on the popular soap opera Nashville. The Kitchen Cinq was just a springboard for each of them, but listening to these overlooked works of beat-pop brilliance, you can’t help but wonder why it didn’t work out for the Texans at the time.
The band hailed from Texas, but don’t expect to hear a tough garage/psyche sound similar to other Texas garage bands. While they could (and did) lay down some fairly nasty fuzz guitar, and some decent harmonica work occasionally, their sound was based on the close harmony, British Invasion sound (hear ’67’s ‘I Can’t Let Go‘) of the period. Besides the basic quintet you’ll hear some of L.A.’s best session players and some orchestrated arrangements (by Don Randi) later on in the band’s life like ‘I Am You‘, and ‘Dying Daffodil‘. The band included cover tunes by Neil Diamond, The Beatles, Them, Al Kooper, and others. But they also recorded some pretty decent originals that can stand on their own as good examples of this type of music from the era.
The combination of covers like ‘Solitary Man‘, ‘Searchin”, ‘Gloria‘, ‘Run For your Life‘, ‘Wasn’t It You‘, and a couple of others alongside band originals make this collection a pretty cool listening experience. For a slightly surreal trip, check out the band’s version of Buffy St. Marie’s ‘Codine‘ (made famous by Quicksilver Messenger Service) with the juxtaposition of the hard-hitting lyrics, delivered with dreamy vocals and a soft folk/pop arrangement that will turn your head around some.
What…the fuck, is going on here?
There is even a 42 page booklet with an essay by noted music fan Alec Palao, many quotes from a couple of band members and producer Suzi Jane Hokom, plus period photos and other ephemera that helps give you a better period feel for the music. Also here are notes on the tracks by band members and Hokom which give some good insight into just what was going on at the time. All in all one of the better booklets I’ve seen lately – especially for a band no one knows/remembers.
Gotta love the obscure Texas bands, and what a wicked cool collection piece for the ‘ol collection.