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The Brogues

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An early square in the crazy quilt of psychedelia, this Merced, CA quartet included Ed Rodrigues (guitar); Rick Campbell (organ, bass); Bill Whittington (bass, guitar); and Greg Elmore (drums). Joining forces in late 1964, the long-haired R&B stylists did their first gig New Year's Eve and rapidly gained a devoted local following. Their confidence swelled, they cut two demos ("Someday" and "Journey") and began hawking them to various record labels. Alec Palao, the group's "official" biographer, said the latter tune -- an instrumental -- sounded like "the theme for a TV game show." Fortunately, "Someday" (a Rodrigues-penned folk-rocker) was strong enough to get the attention of Hush/Twilight Records. The Brogues rewaxed it with a Campbell-Elmore composition, "But Now I Find, " at San Francisco's Coast Recorders on June 23, 1965. First released on the Twilight label, then reissued on Challenge (a larger independent), the single drew rave reaction in Fresno, Bakersfield, and Stockton, but its success remained regionalized. Enter Gary Grubb (aka Gary Cole, aka Gary Duncan), former lead vocalist of the Ratz. With this hard-bitten punk as their new frontman, the Brogues appeared on Ninth Street West (an L.A. TV show) to promote their 45. Shortly thereafter, Challenge demanded a second single. Pressed for time, the group plucked Nancie Mantz and Annette Tucker's "I Ain't No Miracle Worker" from a stack of otherwise dire publisher's demos, and concocted "Don't Shoot Me Down" on the spot. Palao reveals that it was Rodrigues' amp, and specifically, its shredded speaker cones, which produced the distinctive fuzz-guitar sound. In comparison, "Don't Shoot Me Down" does seem a tad robotic and repetitious. "Miracle Worker" is not quite as convincing as the Chocolate Watchband's reading, but, given the circumstances, both tunes are surprisingly tight performances. The new 45 went nowhere. Duncan later claimed it was inadequately promoted -- Challenge having lavished their affections on a simultaneous release, the Knickerbockers' "Lies." The point was moot. Uncle Sam had given Campbell and Rodrigues their draft notices, sounding the Brogues' death knell. The band had been together only nine short months. Returning to his folk roots, Whittington became part of the Family Tree. Fate dictated that Duncan and Elmore should find eventual success with Freiberg, Cipollina, et al in Quicksilver Messenger Service. The Brogues' demo of "Someday" resurfaced on The Hush Records Story (Ace/Big Beat CDWIKD154). The four single sides were reissued on the vinyl-only EP (Sundazed SEP 114); while "I Ain't No Miracle Worker" and "Don't Shoot Me Down" were included on the various artists' compilation Psychedelic Microdots, Vol. 1: Orange, Sugar & Chocolate (Sundazed SC11005). ~ Stansted Montfichet