Merrell Fankhauser & H.M.S. Bounty
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1968-69)
- Peter Dodd --
guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- The Exiles (Merrell Fankhauser)
Merrell Fankhauser (solo efforts)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Catalog: SS 701
Country/State: Los Angeles, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: minor ring wear
Catalog ID: 6294
Following the collapse of the criminally
overlooked band Fapardokyl, singers/guitarists Merrell Fankhauser and Peter Drodd
continued their collaboration in the Los Angeles-based Merrell Fankhauser
and H.M.S. Bounty. Band manager Normal Malkin reported picked the name in an
effort to give the band more of an English aura. Recruiting former Impacts bassist Jack Jordan and drummer
Larry Meyers, the quartet was quickly signed by Uni Records' short-lived Shamley
Teamed with producers Norman Malkin, Jack Hoffman and Glen MacArthur, 1968's "Things!" served as somewhat of a showcase for Fankhauser. In addition to serving as front man, main singer (his voice was surprisingly well suited for commercial material), Fankhauser penned and arranged all twelve tracks. Musically diverse, the set showcased a wonderful mixture of top-40 pop ('Things (Goin' Round In My Mind)' and 'Your Painted Lives'), chiming guitar-propelled folk-rock ('Girl (I'm Waiting for You))' and 'What Does She See In You'), and psychedelic influences ('Drivin' Sideways (On a Wrong Way Street)' and 'Madame Silky'). Elsewhere, the Eastern-tinged raga 'A Visit with Ashiya' and the jazzy 'Ice Cube Island' served as precursors to Fankhauser's forthcoming work with the band Mu. To be honest the material wasn't particularly original, inviting a game of spot-the-influences (touch of Roger McGuinn twelve string guitar, bit of Beatles-styled harmony vocals, etc.), but the material with done with such a sense of energy and pleasure that it managed to overcome whatever creative shortcomings existed. It's literally one of those rare albums where it sounds like the band was having a blast during the recording sessions. The LP easily makes my desert island top-25 listing.
1.) Things (Goin' Round In My Mind) (Merrell Fankhauser) - 2:23 rating: ***** stars
Every time I hear 'Things (Goin' Round In My Mind)' it reminds me of something the Bobby Fuller Four might have recorded had namesake Fuller survived into the late-1960s. Musically it offered a glistening slice of jangle-rock that managed to combined the best of The Byrds and English merseybeat bands. Simply wonderful and easy to understand why Shamley tapped it as a single, thought it's harder to understand why the 45 didn't gain any sales traction ...
- 1968's 'Things (Goin' Round In My Mind)' b/w 'Rich Man's Fable' (Shamley catalog number S 44006)
2.) Girl (I'm Waiting for You) (Merrell Fankhauser) - 2:18 rating: **** stars
Showcasing Fankhauser's sweet voice, 'Girl (I'm Waiting for You)' was a breezy, easy-going, and radio-friendly ballad. Like the first song, this one also boasted a great Peter Dodd jangle guitar solo that would have made Roger McGuinn proud. The track was tapped as the album's second single:
- 1968's 'Girl (I'm Waiting for You' b/w 'Rich Man's Fable' (Shamley catalog number S 44006)
3.) What Does She See In You (Merrell Fankhauser) - 2:20 rating: **** stars
'What Does She See In You' was an awesome eastern flavored "green-with-envy" ballad. I think Dodd may have handled lead vocals - not that it mattered a bit since this rocker was easily as good as anything on the album and even sported one of the collection's best guitar solos.
4.) Lost In the City (Merrell Fankhauser) - 2:03 rating: **** stars
Dual lead guitars including some squealing fuzz gave 'Lost In the City' one of the album's toughest edges and found the band dipping their collective toes into Frank Zappa-styled goofball rock ("You guys want to take this elevator down?"). Okay, it was more commercial than most of Zappa's catalog, but had the same weirdo vibe to it with both Dodd and Fankhauser sharing lead vocals ... did I mentioned the great fuzz guitar ?
5.) Your Painted Lives (Merrell Fankhauser) - 2:08 rating: ***** stars
'Your Painted Lives' found the band stepping into -country-rock territory with dazzling results. Perhaps side one's standout performance, this one had everything going for it including a killer melody, mounrful lyrics, wonderful harmony vocals, and tasty fuzz lead guitar.
6.) Drivin' Sideways (On a Wrong Way Street) (Merrell Fankhauser)) - 2:18
1.) In a Minute Not Too Soon (Merrell Fankhauser) - 1:50 rating: ***** stars
How could radio programmers missed something as bouncy and overtly commercial as 'In a Minute Not Too Soon'. Simply one of the best fuzz-guitar powered pop songs you've ever heard with an amazingly bubbly lead vocal from Dodd and Fankhauser.
2.) A Visit with Ashiya (Merrell Fankhauser) - 3:28 rating: **** stars
So remember this came out in 1968 which goes a long way to explaining the lysergic, raga flavored 'A Visit with Ashiya'. Lyrically it may not have aged all that well ("I'll get up on a sunbeam and take it for a ride ..."), but still stands as one of the best pop-raga hybrids I've ever come across and served as a taste of what was to come with Fankhauser's Mu catalog. Shame it faded out just as the band was beginning to warm up.
3.) The Big Gray Sky (Merrell Fankhauser) - 2:12 rating: ***** stars
My pick as the album's most overtly commercial offering, 'The Big Gray Sky' was a near perfect slice of jangle rock. With an instantly memorable melody and wonderful harmony vocals, it was just begging to be released as a single. The Monkees would have killed for a track this good.
4.) Rich Man's Fable (Merrell Fankhauser) - 2:20 rating: **** stars
My pick for best performance, 'Rich Man's Fable' was a pounding rocker (kudos to drummer Larry Meyers for his nice performance) with snarling anti-establishment lyrics, a nifty guitar-and--keyboard lead and one of Fankhauser's best vocals.
5.) Ice Cube Island (Merrell Fankhauser) - 3:17 rating: *** stars
A pretty and slightly lysergic-tinged ballad, 'Ice Cube Island' has always struck me as a precursor to what Fankhauser and Dodd would focus their attentions on with Mu. A bit too flighty and fey for my tastes, though the harmony vocals were too-die-for ...
6.) Madame Silky (Merrell Fankhauser) - 2:20 rating: **** stars
While it wasn't as wild as 'Drivin' Sideways', 'Madame Silky' may have been the better song, managing to blend a driving garage rock beat with some enigmatic, acid-tinged lyrics, and another hyper-catchy melody.
There was also a non-LP 45:
- 1969's 'I'm Flying Home' b/w 'Girl (I'm Waiting for You' (Shamley catalog number S 44008)
In spite of an active performance schedule, the album failed to sell and by early 1969 the band had called it quits. Fankhauser and Dodd quickly reappeared in the previously mentioned Mu.
- 1985 saw the Time Stood Still label reissued the collection (catalog number TSSLP2), adding on the rare 'I'm Flying Home' single.
- In 1995 the Afterglow label reissued the set in CD format (catalog number 015).
- Sundazed reissued the collection with several bonus tracks (catalog number SC 6094)
- Guerssen Records also reissued it (catalog number #GUESS049)
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