Great Lost Bands no.9: The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band

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Most of the bands I have featured in this series have dated from the 1980s and 1990s, but this week's is the oldest one yet, as the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band were most active between 1965 and 1969.
I hadn't heard their music until five or six years ago when the English group The Clientele did a cover of one of their songs 'Tracey Had a Hard Day Sunday'.

I liked the sound of that so I dug a bit deeper and grabbed a couple of their albums. The WCPAEB came back into my head this week as I heard the sad news about Davy Jones of the Monkees. Whereas the Monkees were a band assembled for the purposes of a TV series, the WCPAEB were put together with another motive. The son of an oil tycoon, Bob Markley had been trying to find fame as a pop singer or an actor in LA since 1960 with limited success, but in 1965 the record producer Kim Fowley (The Runaways, Kiss, etc) hosted a party in Markley's house which the Yardbirds played at. Fowley had been working with some younger musicians including Michael Lloyd and Shaun Harris and they were also at the party. The story goes that Markley was so impressed by how the bands at the party got the attention of so many teenage girls that he effectively bankrolled Lloyd and Harris and formed the WCPAEB with them in order to get in on the action. His supposed blueprint for their recording relationship was the way that Andy Warhol had been working with the Velvet Underground and Nico. Whether this is true or not is debatable but it has passed into music history now.
They completed an album for the tiny label Fifo records of which only 100 were pressed. It was simply called Volume One and an original copy of it once reached as much as $15,000.
Shifting Sands

The band build up a live following and signed to Reprise. They released two albums, 'Part One', which was all over the place in its blend of straight forward pop and psychedelia, and 'Volume Two - Breaking Through' which sounds more like the work of a coherent band. My favourite of their albums is 'Volume Three: A Child's Guide to Good and Evil' which came out in 1968 and contains this classic.

Eighteen is Over the Hill

The band did not have the success they were aiming for and started to fizzle out. They recorded two more albums 'Where's My Daddy' (which I've never heard) and the confusingly titled 'Markley: A Group' which although it sounded like Markley had taken over, it was still a group effort. The band ceased to exist in 1970 and their influence has only become apparent in recent years.

Roger the Rocketship

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