Agony Shorthand

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I can’t figure out whether this CD would have any legitimacy in a brutal police raid on my music collection, but it appears to collect the complete recordings of a great lost 1968 San Francisco band who have probably had a much lower posthumous profile than they deserve. For instance, I live in San Francisco and have for many years, yet I always thought these guys were Brits (probably because THE FALL covered their outstanding drug ode “Mr. Pharmacist”). Joel Selvin, San Francisco 60s hippie chronicler to the exclusion of virtually everything else (to this day), has to the best of my knowledge said not a word about them (but oh, please don’t get him started on Sly and the Family Stone). This CD brings all the old OTHER HALF 45s together, and then some. Many psychedelic and raw garage moves abound – you might hear the RATIONALS, STANDELLS, sometimes YARDBIRDS and sometimes even a precursor to the band that guitarist Randy Holden broke up THE OTHER HALF to join, BLUE CHEER. “Mr. Pharmacist”, is, of course, a knockout classic, but there are other bounce-filled numbers that would make a Dutch Beat freak spill his fondue pot. There are also a couple long hippie freak-outs that are tolerable, if just barely. Oh, and “Feathered Fish”, which I heard for the first time on that LOVE bootleg I wrote about last month – well, it’s an Arthur Lee original, covered here by The Other Half (and it sounds a LOT like early LOVE). Rumor has it that The Other Half also recorded the theme song for the 70s TV cop show “The Mod Squad”, a huge favorite of my TV-besotted youth (Peggy Lipton was hott!), but a tune I can’t pull up to memory. Anyone out there who can confirm it?