The Appletree Theatre


Band members                             Related acts

   line up 1 (1968) 

- John Boylan -- vocals
- Terry Boylan -- vocals

 

  supporting musicians
- Larry Coryell -- guitar

- Michael Equine -- drums, percussion
- Eric Gale -- guitar 

- Paul Griffin -- keyboards

- CHuck Israels -- bass
- Herb Lovelle -- vocals 
- Chuck Rainey -- bass  

- Buddy Saltzman -- drums, percussion

- Zal Yanovsky -- guitar
  

 

 

 

- Terrence Boylan (solo efforts)

- Larry Coryell (solo efforts)

- Hamilton Streetcar (John Boylan)

 

 


 

Genre: psych 

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Playback

Company: Verve Forecast

Catalog: FTS-3042

Year: 1968

Country/State: Buffalo, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; Canadian pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4

Price: $90.00

Cost: $40.00

 

A studio project spotlighting the talents of brothers John and Terry Boylan with support from guitarist Larry Coryell and jazz and rock sessions players, The Appletree Theatre survived long enough to release one of the year's more interesting collections. 


Co-produced by the brothers with Pete Spargo serving as executive producer, 1968's "Playback" offered up a weird concept piece, though admittedly the plotline was totally lost on me.  Perhaps something to do with the generation gap?  Written by the Boylans, the collection offered up a bizarre collage of interlaced vocal narratives, sound effects, song fragments and comedy snippets.  Those experimental aspects were balanced out by occasional pop pieces like the single 'Hightower Square', the bouncy 'Brother Speed' and the trippy 'You're the Biggest Thing In My Life'.  My personal favorite was the backward tape instrumental 'Lotus Flower'. There was no doubt the Boylans' were talented. Anyone doubting that merely need to check out the collision of musical genres compressed into 'The Sorry State of Staying Awake' which somehow managed to stir together C&W, blue-eyed soul with a not so sly nod of LSD and virtually every other pharmaceutical known to man. On the other hand, the set was simply too experimental for your regular top-40 listener - no matter how strung out they may have been.  Hard to adequately describe, I have never been able to figure out if these guys were serious, or just trying to have a laugh at America's mid-'60s infatuation with youth culture. Imagine The Association having overdosed on bad acid, or perhaps The Association having added Cheech and Chong to the line-upand you might get a rough feel for the set ...  That said, it was one of those albums where the sum was greater than the individual tracks.  While grossly inconsistent and somewhat of a timepiece, it made for a great slice of demented "sunshine pop".  For fans of the genre it should definitely be checked out with a good se
t of headphones.  

 

"Playback" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) In the Beginning    (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 0:55   rating: * star

A brief spoken word segment quoting biblical scripture (think it's John 1:1), 'In the Beginning' has always struck me as falling somewhere in the spectrum between Firesign Theatre and Monty Python.  It certainly left you wondering what you had stumbled into.
2.) Hightower Square   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 2:24  
rating: *** stars

'Hightower Square' found the band swimming in the Toytown psych pool.  With the Boylans seemingly sharing lead vocals, the trippy lyrics recalled The Association on acid ...  Relatively commercial compared to remainder of the LP, Verve Forecast tapped it as a promotional single:

 

 

 

 

- 1968's 'Hightower Square' b/w 'Who Do I Think I Am' (Verve Forecast catalog number KF 5071)

 

 

 

 

3.) Lullaby (instrumental)   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 0:25  rating: * star

The title was apt in that this was a brief snippet of a child's lullaby.  It added little to the proceedings.
4.) Saturday Morning   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 1:53
  rating: ** stars

'Saturday Morning' started out with an interesting jazzy groove and then I remember wondering if I'd mistakenly slapped a Peter, Paul and Mary album on by mistake.  What on earth?
5.) Nevertheless It was Italy   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 2:15   
rating: *** stars

'Nevertheless It was Italy' found the band diving into ornate Baroque pop with some lyrics that were at least marginally interesting
6.) I Wonder If Louise Is Home   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 2:10   
rating: *** stars

'I Wonder If Louise Is Home' sported a nice Beatles-esque tune that was marred by a weird flat megaphone effect on most of the talk/sing vocal.   The song's mid-section sounded like a completely different effort that had been stapled into the arrangement.
7.) Chez Louise   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 1:02  
rating: ** stars

A spoken word skit, 'Chez Louise' seemingly took a pot shot at the cultural perceptions between straights and hippies.  Maybe it was funnier in 1968?
8.) E-Train   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 1:00  
rating: ** stars

A painful ballad that hasn't gotten better with time.  At least it was short.
9.) Meanwhile   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 0:15  
rating: * star

WHo put on the Cheech and Chong album?
10.) Brother Speed   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 3:15  
rating: **** stars

I first heard the Hamilton Streetcar cover of this tune.  Admittedly the two didn't sound all that different - this one perhaps getting the nod in terms of outright commerciality and the fact it had a better guitar solo (courtesy of Larry Coryell).  Hard to understand why this track wasn't tapped as a single.

 

(side 2)
1.) You're the Biggest Thing In My Life   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 3:35
   rating: **** stars

Sporting one of the album's sweetest  melodies, the lilting, harmony-rich 'You're the Biggest Thing In My Life' would have made Brian Wilson smile.  Throw in a dazzling Coryell fuzz guitar solo and a freak-out segment and you had to wonder why this wasn't the album's leadoff single.  
2.) Don't Blame It On Your Wife   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 2:50
   rating: **** stars

Always loved the song title, the straight-faced vocals and the song's wonderful country-rock vibe.  The Boylans' vocals were simply glistening.  "Buy her a tractor instead ..."
3.) The Sorry State of Staying Awake   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 3:54
   rating: * stars

The hitchhiker sound effects were a little odd,  It got even weirder in a Firesign Theater way when they started playing around with the radio stations and you listened to the list of pharmacological products...
4.) Barefoot Boy   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 2:43  
rating: *** stars

'Barefoot Boy' was back to a more conventional song structure, though the melody wasn't particularly impressive.
5.) Lotus Flower   (instrumental)   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 2:16  
rating: **** stars

Totally bonkers, 'Lotus Flower' offered up a mixture of what sounded like a bluesy studio jam spliced with some backward tape segments.

6.) What a Way To Go   (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) - 2:50   rating: **** stars

'What a Way To Go' closed the album with a pretty pastoral ballad.  Sweet vocals, hypnotic lyrics and a slightly lysergic vibe made it another standout performance.

 

 

 

- 1968's 'What a Way To Go' b/w 'Lotus Flower' (Verve Forecast catalog number FTS-KF-5082)

 

 

 

 

 

The 1972 UK reissue featured a different album cover (MGM catalog number (2353051):  

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the wake of the set's commercial failure Terry re-enrolled in Bard College, where he ended up worked with fellow students and future Steely Dan front men Walter Becker and Donald Fagen on what would become his solo debut under the name Terence Boylan.  Through  1970, '80s and '90s he released two more solo albums and a retrospective LP..  

 

- 1969's "Alias Boona" (MGM catalog number FTS-3070)

- 1977's "Terrence Boylan" (Asylum catalog number 7E 1091)

- 1980's "Suzy" (Asylum catalog number 6E 201)

- 1999's "Terrence Boylan (A Retrospective)" (Spinnaker catalog number SP 307)

 

 

 

 

 

By the 1980s he'd formed his own Spinnaker label, shifting his focus to songwriting and soundtrack work.  He has a web presence at: http://www.terenceboylan.com/

 

John reappeared as a member of the short-lived Hamilton Streetcar before turning his attention to production and the business side of the house, working with the likes of The Association, Boston, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, The Dillards, The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, etc.

 



 

 

 

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