Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1967-69)
Benderoth -- bass, keyboards
- The Hangmen (Tony Taylor)
- Lenny and the Squigtones (as Dwight Knight) (Steve Benderoth)
- The Roaches (Tony Taylor)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Catalog: ABCS 663
County/State: Washington, DC / New York
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: bullet hole top left; gatefold sleeve
Catalog number: 134
Wish I knew more about this short-lived
outfit ... Singer Tony Taylor
had previously been a late inning member of the Washington, D.C.-based band The Hangmen.
When The Hangmen collapsed, Taylor joined lead guitarist George Strunz
in The Button and relocated to New York
City's Greenwich Village. With the addition of multi-instrumentalist Steve
Benderoth, drummer Richie Blakin, and rhythm guitarist Jon St. John,
they morphed into Graffiti, attracting the attention of ABC Records which
signed them to a contract in 1968.
"Graffiti" track listing:
1.) Father Protector (George Strunz - Steve Benderoth) - 4:11 rating: **** stars
'Father Protector' opened up with some unexpected Gypsy-styled acoustic guitars before morphing into a more mainstream fuzz guitar propelled country-rocker. Taylor's husky voice seldom sounded as good as on this lead-off track, though the overall song would have been better if it had stuck closer to a central melody, rather than bouncing around between tow or three aural plotlines. Still, a cool way to start the album.
2.) The Capture of Me (Steve Benderoth - Jon St. John) - 9:34 rating: **** stars
'The Capture of Me' has always reminded me of a tripping version of The Association, with a dollop of David Crosby-styled jazzy influences added to the mix. Originally this one didn't do a great deal for my ears, but over the years I've grown to appreciate it more and more and the song serves as a wonderful example of the band's great harmony vocals - CSN&Y didn't have anything on these guys ! Add to that George Strunz turned in a pair of blistering guitar solos. Elsewhere, kudos to Steve Benderoth who displayed some wonderful bass work throughout the track.
3.) Life Blood (Steve Benderoth) rating: * stars
Even more jazz-influenced, other than The Association-styled vocals and Richie Blakin's drumming, 'Life Blood' was the first disappointment. This one simple didn't kick into gear until the fade out jam section and by then it was simply too late to make any difference ...
4.) Interlude # 1 (instrumental) rating: *** stars
So remember this was recorded din 1968 when instrumental interludes were all the rage ... Regardless, 'Interlude # 1' was a surprisingly impressive slice of Booker T. and the MG's Stax-styled soul.
5.) Jingle Jangle Woman (Steve Benderoth) - 4:06 rating: *** stars
Side one's most commercial offering, 'Jingle Jangle Woman' tried to meld Association-styled top-40 pop moves with some first-rate Strunz fuzz guitar (the split channeling was interesting to hear on quality speakers or headphones).
Bouncing between Association-styled pop and some very tipped out moves, 'New Life' found the band operating at their most psych-ish. Fascinating dichotomy.
2.) Girl On Fire (Steve Benderoth) - 2:24 rating: **** stars
Full of phasing effects and sporting one of the album most straightforward and commercial tunes, 'Girl On Fire' was easily one of the album highlights. Would have made a dandy single.
3.) Interlude # 2 (instrumental) - 1:16 rating: *** stars
Showcasing the band's lovely harmony vocals, shame 'Interlude # 2' was just a song fragment since it was also quite commercial.
4.) Coldwater (George Strunz - Ted Taylor) - 4:35 rating: * stars
Opening up with what sounded like a bunch of Atari sound effects, 'Coldwater' shifted gears into what was a fairly pop oriented tune, before abruptly turning into an organ propelled slice of blues-rock, and then back to pop. Simply too fragmented to make a lasting impression.
5.) Interlude # 3 (instrumental) - 0:38 rating: * stars
'Interlude # 3' featured a moment of outright experimentation that recalled someone recording a piece of sandpaper rubbing on wood.
6.) Love In Spite (George Stunz - Steve Benderoth) - 3:17 rating: **** stars
Another slice of Association-on-acid pop, 'Love In Spite' blended sweet harmonies with fuzz guitar, and another of the album's stronger melodies.
7.) Ugly Mascara (Ronald Hovanacz) - 5:10 rating: **** stars
Too bad more of the collection didn't reflect the same focus found on the closer 'Ugly Mascara'. A slinky, blues-rock number sporting some great vocals and more fine fuzz guitar from Strunz, this was easily the album's standout performance.
Needless to say, the set vanished without a trace.
As much as I enjoy the album, you can only imagine what the results would
have been with a few more focused songs. Shame they didn't get another
There are also a pair of non-LP singles which are quite hard to locate. I've never even seen a copy of the final 45.
1968's "He's Got the Knack" b/w "Love In Spite" (ABC catalog number 45-11123)
1969's "Do You Feel Sorry" b/w "Girl On Fire" (ABC catalog number 45-11182)
Unexpected got this email related to the band:
was in the studio when this album was recorded and could probably answer
most of your questions, assuming you have some. Like you, I think this album
broke some barriers that have never again been confronted, and I still enjoy
hearing it now and then. I even played some backup guitar on one cut,
although I was not an official member of the band. For a number of years
before this, I was Jorge Strunz's flamenco guitar duo partner
("George" Strunz later returned to his Costa Rican birth name
"Jorge", which he also used during our time as a flamenco duo). If
you check "Jorge Strunz" on Amazon, you should find his subsequent
work with Caldera and in the duo Strunz and Farah. Jorge has established his
own school of guitar based on a unique encyclopedic knowledge of the
instrument gained through his self-imposed education in flamenco, classical,
Latin American, rock, and "jazz" guitar. This album was recorded
at the Record Plant in New York City, engineered by Eddie Kramer (of
"Woodstock" fame and also Jimi Hendrix's preferred engineer) about
the time that Jimi Hendrix was putting the final touches to his
"Electric Ladyland" album. In fact we had the privilege of meeting
Jimi a few times in the studio and engaging in illicit-drug activities with
him. But you didn't hear that from me!
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