19 of the best Downey records, including some unissued treasures, that present a snapshot of this important Californian independent label’s catalogue.
Which record label brought us one of the two biggest surf instrumental hits of the early 60s? The same label that issued a couple of future Northern Soul collector’s items. Not to mention a clutch of the best garage rockers, and some New Orleans R&B by the cream of the Crescent City’s ex-pat musicians living in Southern California in the mid-60s. Together with, of course, a plethora of instrumental rock and a fair smattering of Sunshine Pop. All this before I even mention the early work of Barry White and one of his first solo efforts.
The huge surf hit was ‘Pipeline’ by the Chantays. The label, Downey. Previous compilations in the five year-old Downey series have concentrated on instrumentals, early 60s pop, R&B, garage rockers and surf. This time out I have gathered tracks that proved hard to pin down to any of those genres, together with some previously unreleased gems and alternate takes, while revisiting a few important sides essential for a label overview such as this.
Following ‘Pipeline’ comes that great garage rocker ‘I Don’t Need You No More’, the flipside of ‘Boss’, the first Downey single by the Rumblers. Other, later, garage goodies include Bud & Kathy’s ‘Hang It Out To Dry’ (once the title of a collector’s LP), ‘Edge Of Nowhere’ by the Sunday Group and our old friends the Last Word, of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ fame, with ‘Freeway’, an unreleased 1966 recording.
A smattering of doo wop comes in the shape of the Invictas and the Debonaires, while the Invictas’ original lead singer, Sonny Patterson, delivers a bluesy ‘Troubles’ in an alternate take from his single. The great Little Johnny Taylor makes a welcome return, as does New Orleans veteran Jessie Hill with an alternate take of ‘TV Guide’. The Sunshine Pop element is present in Craig & Michael (another Chantays-related side), the Slipped Discs and the enigmatic E.S.P Limited.
The Northern Soul sides are ‘Do It’ by Pat Powdrill and ‘Jerk Baby Jerk’ by Carl Burnett. A future contender in that area might be Margaret Williams, whose ‘My Love’ makes its Ace debut here. The song was arranged by Barry White, who also appears as Lee Barry with ‘I Don’t Need It’, a solo 45 issued on Downey in 1966.
Rockin’ instrumentals are represented by the Rivaires doing ‘The Bug’, a previously unissued version of surf hit ‘Penetration’ by Ed Burkey and the great Revels’ ‘Comanche’. Interestingly, this compilation coincides with the issue on DVD of The Exiles, the Los Angeles cult film of 1961 for which ‘Comanche’ was written.
By Brian Nevill