Smith, Bob

Band members                         Related acts

- Bob Smith (aka Buck Smith) (RIP 2007) -- vocals, guitar


  supporting musicians:

- Captain Keyboard (aka Darryl Dragon) -- keyboards, vibes

- Larry Chapman -- violin

- James Curtis -- percussion

- Mike Degreve -- rhythm guitar

- John Latini -- bass

- Stan Keiser -- flute

- Don Preston -- keyboards, synthesizers

- Skip Schneider -- drums




- The Captain and Tennile (Darryl Dragon)

- The Lid (Bob Smith)

- The Mothers of Invention (Don Preston)

- Stop (Bob Smith)

- Truth (Mike DeGreve and John Latini)




Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Visit

Company: Kent

Catalog: KST-551

Year: 1970

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve;  no poster

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4273

Price: $200.00

Cost: $66.00


Wish I knew more about this guy, if only due to the fact his 1970 LP stands as one of my favorite discoveries of 2004 - certainly my favorite double LP over the last couple of years.  That said, I'll readily admit initially being a little skeptical of this one. Most of the online reviews I'd seen were rather lukewarm and for goodness sake it was a double LP ... c'mon, when's the last time you were knocked over by a double LP?   


Singer/guitarist Smith was apparently a member of various Los Angeles-based bands including The Lid and Silverskin.  It would also be interesting to learn how he came to be signed by the L.A.-based Kent Records which was better known for it's R&B recording roster.   Although 1970's "The Visit" featured support from eight musicians (including Darryl Dragon (credited as Captain Keyboard)) and Mothers of Invention keyboardist Don Preston), the focus was clearly on namesake Bob Smith.  In addition to handling all of the vocals and lead guitar, Smith wrote all 14 tracks, arranged, directed, and along with Mark Taylor, co-produced the album.  Musically the set was quite diverse, taking credible stabs at pop, blues ('Source You Blues'), hard rock, psych, jazz ('Ocean Song') and even occasional detours into outright experimentation.  Luckily aural experiments such as the instrumental 'Indian Summer' were far and few between, leaving most of the set with a surprisingly commercial sheen.  Exemplified by tracks like the harpsichord-propelled 'Please' and 'The Wishing Song' Smith had one of those flexible and likable voices that allowed him to find a nice balance between commercial and non-commercial moves.  Material like 'Constructive Critique' and 'Source Your Blues' also demonstrated Smith was quite an accomplished guitarist.  Personal favorites included the opener 'Please', 'Don't Tell Lady Tonight' and the scorching rocker 'Can You Jump Rope'.   (Anyone seen the John Kress poster insert that came with the album?  It's supposedly quite cool.)    Bottom line; this one's a keeper that should be in every psych collector's stash.   


back cover: top row right to left: Dragon - Latini - Keiser - Preston

bottom row right to left: Schneider - Degreve - Curtis - Chapman


So that's what I wrote some six years ago.  Literally a day after I posted those comments, someone read the review and bought my copy of the LP.  Since that time it's stood as one of those rare LPs I wish I'd held onto.  Well, as fate would have it, I bought a replacement copy and almost immediately stumbled across another copy at a yard sale.  Needless to say, I threw myself at the record and wasted no time revisiting it (no pun intended).  For what they're worth, my updated comments and thoughts are found below.


- Kicked along by harpsichord, some nice bass moves from Latini, and Smith's fuzz guitar, the mid-tempo ballad 'Please' has always reminded me of a bit of The Association on an extended acid kick.  In part due to the nice harmony vocals, the song was surprisingly commercial, but it also exhibited a distinctive lysergic edge.   Nice way to start the album.   rating: **** stars 

- Maybe it's just my damaged ears, but on 'Don't Tell Lady Tonight' Smith's voice recalled something Michael Nesmith might have recorded on a post-Monkees album.  'Course Nesmith's never recorded a song that rocked as hard, nor turned in a blazing solo like the one that graced this song.   rating: **** stars

- 'Constructive Critique' had two things going for it:  1.) one of the album's prettiest melodies, 2.) one of the album's best lead guitar solos.   rating: **** stars

- The first disappointment, 'Ocean Song;' sounded like an in-studio jam that was included to pad out the double album set.  Ponderous and ill-focused, the combination of Smith's lengthy, jazz-tinged solo, some lame spoken word lyrics ("my love is the sun for all to see; my love if the spring after winter's flow..."), and irritating ocean sound effects made this one to forget.   rating: ** stars

- Side two opened up with what was probably the album's most commercial song - 'Wishing Well'.  The song started out as a pretty acoustic ballad, before morphing into a platform for an extended Smith fuzz guitar solo.  It's bugged me for years, but on this performance Smith's voice always reminded me of some top-40 act ...  it'll come to me someday.   rating: *** stars

-Even better, 'Can You Jump Rope' was a catchy rocker in spite of the fact it featured a weird time signature and flutes.  To my ears this one sounded like something David Crosby might have recorded with CSN&Y ...   The track featured another tasty Smith guitar solo.   rating: **** stars 

- While I liked the song, 'Latter Days Matter'  had some clunky lyrics and about halfway through the song morphed from catchy pop number, to jazzy jam, and then back to pop number.   The sudden changes were somewhat jarring..   rating: ** stars     

- 'Indian Summer' was a rather discordant instrumental ...   Complete with what sounded like freak out sitar, clunky keyboards, synthesizer burps and chirps, and a persistent police siren in the background, it would have fit well in the acid meltdown scene from one of those 1960s 'B' flicks where the hero accidentally gets heavily dosed with bad acid and goes stumbling through alleys ...   Clocking in at almost eight minutes, this one quickly got old.    rating: ** stars

- While I've never been a big blues fan, after surviving the painful 'Indian Summer', 'Source You Blues' sounded pretty friggin' good.  Yeah, it was a rather pedestrian blues number and to be honest, Smith didn't really have a great blue-styled voice, but the song and performance (particularly Smith's meltdown lead guitar), were 100 times better than the earlier discordant jam.   rating: *** stars 

- Dedicated to the Elmore James, 'Sunlight Sweet' slapped together a acid tinged melody with some heavily treated vocals and Smith's James-styled acoustic slide guitar.   Definitely one of the stranger songs on the LP.   rating: *** stars

- 'Of She, Of Things' was a nifty country-rock number.  Great vocal, great melody, and nice effects laden solo ...   rating: **** stars

- Kicked along by John Latini's amazing bass line and Larry Chapman somewhat irritating violin, 'Mobeda Dandelion; was easily the album's funkiest offering.  The title was somewhat cryptic since the entire lyric was Smith singing 'moving on down the line' on and on ...   rating: *** stars  

- Another likeable and commercial country-rocker, Stan Keiser's flute gave 'The Path Does Have Force' kind of Marshall Tucker Band vibe. Okay, maybe not a great comparison, but it's what came to mind.  Regardless of whether you agree with the comparison it was a very nice performance.   rating: *** stars

- I've always liked the closer 'Try, Try To Understand Yourself' due in large part to the fact it was so damn weird - imagine a top-40 pop song, with fuzz guitar, jazzy xylophone backing, and uplifting hippy dippy self help lyrics.  Very much an early 1970s timepiece, but quite cool.   rating: **** stars 


I also stumbled Across a January 2000  interview Smith did with a Florida newspaper where he talked about the album explaining it as: "It was supposed to evoke every human emotion, from philosophical pondering on two beers to whether their love life was successful and where they fit into the big picture. It was supposed to change the world.''  You can see the entire interview below.


"The Visit" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Please   (Bob Smith) - 2:08

2.) Don't Tell Lady Tonight   (Bob Smith) - 3:10

3.) Constructive Critique   (Bob Smith) - 4:40

4.) Ocean Song   (Bob Smith) - 4:50


(side 2)

1.) The Wishing Song   (Bob Smith) - 5:04

2.) Can You Jump Rope   (Bob Smith) - 5:48

3.) Latter Days Matter  (Bob Smith) - 3:29


(side 3)

1.) Indian Summer  (instrumental)  (Bob Smith) - 7:55

2.) Source You Blues   (Bob Smith) - 6:02

3.) Sunlight Sweet   (Bob Smith) - 3:04


(side 4)

1.) Of She, Of Things   (Bob Smith) - 3:16

2.) Mobeda Dandelion  (Bob Smith) - 3:13

3.) The Path Does Have Force  (Bob Smith) - 5:23

4.) Try, Try To Understand Yourself  (Bob Smith) - 4:14



There's also a 1990s Swiss CD reissue (on Virgo Records catalog CD1518), which may be a bootleg and apparently suffers from crappy sound quality.  


In 2000 Raymond Dumont tracked Smith down and signed a deal to reissue the album on his RD label. Recorded from the master tapes that Smith had retained,, the result was a three LP boxed set entitled "Stop for a Visit Down Electric Avenue" (RD catalog RD6).  The compilation included the original double LP, plus a third album of material drawn from two subsequent, never-released LPs (1971's "Stop" and 1972's "Electric Avenue").  The package also included  a copy of the poster original found in "The Visit".




Living in Orlando, Florida, the reissues were apparently enough to motivate Smith to start performing again.  Forming The Visit (), he started playing local clubs and recorded another album on his own Southern Rose label - "The Visit - Destiny 2000"   Anyone seen, or heard it?  



The internet is an amazing communication vehicle.  My original comments on this album indicated I wanted to know more about the band.  Lo and behold, I got an email from bassist John Latini.


"My early background included touring and played bass with an R&B singer by the name Johnny Daye.  Daye recorded for Stax and was considered by some to be one of the greatest blue-eyed soul singers.  Supporting Daye I did concerts opening for The Staple Singers, Alex Chilton and The Box Tops, etc.  With a 30 minute rehearsal, I even got a chance to back up The Marvelettes at a concert.  


Starting in early 1969 Bob Smith, James Curtis, Mike Degreve and I hung out together for about a year and half.  At the time Mike [ Degreve] and I were recording "The Visit" we were in actually in another group.  That group was called Truth, and it included a husband and wife from New York who were singers and actors.  The vocals sounded similar to The Mama & Papas.  We had an album on James Brown's People label, which was run by former Motown Vice President Mickey Stevenson who was dabbling in "hippie" (for lack of a better word), type music, after he moved to LA. We did a promo concert at the Palladium in Hollywood, with Blue Cheer and Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids. Unfortunately, the husband and wife split from each other and that group went by the wayside.  That's an album you might want to look for. I'm sure it's hard to find. It had a lot of Eastern Religion ideas combined with 60's social stuff, mixed with oddball songs and even a touch of Southern Gospel.


Although "The Visit" liner notes only show him as playing hand drums (congas), James Curtis was the original drummer, along with Bob Smith on vocals, and guitar and myself on bass.  The three of us developed a lot of the basic arrangements for most of the album's songs like 'Can You Jump Rope', 'Of She of Things', 'Don't Tell Lady Tonight' and others.  We played clubs in Hollywood like The Experience (where Hendrix frequently jammed) and met a bunch of acts including Alice Cooper when they were just a local act playing the Whiskey on the Strip.  We almost got signed with ATCO Records and actually met in the 9000 building to discuss a record deal which would have put us along side such acts as Iron Butterfly.  At the time we had a lead singer with an operatic styled voice.  After the ATCO deal fell apart Bob decided to do his album, asking me to play bass.


A couple of other recording tidbits.  A few days before we started recording my 1963 Fender Precision bass was stolen from my apartment in Hollywood.  I rushed out and rented and eight string bass which had a warped neck and was extremely hard to play. 



Darryl Dragon played keyboards under the name 'Captain Keyboard'  Dragon  later became the Captain of 'Captain & Tennille fame.  We rehearsed for "The Visit' at Darryl's home in the San Fernando Valley right after he returned from an Australian tour backing The Beach Boys (he was he keyboardist who made that eerie sound on the Beach Boys song 'Good Vibrations'). Don Preston used a Mellotron on many of the songs.

The much sought after poster was done by an artist named John Kress.  Kress was known for doing these amazing collage artworks and sold his works like paintings around LA. back in those days.

I still play bass part time around the Southern California area and work on musical projects here and there."

John Latini (April 2005)



Here's a copy of  the January 2000 Orlando Sentinel interview with Smith: 


By Bo Poertner of The Sentinel Staff

Bob Smith had been writing and playing country songs most of his life, except for the rogue '60s and early '70s when he was grinding out psychedelic rock 'n' roll in wild and freaky Los Angeles.

He had recorded enough mind-bending music to fill 10 albums, but only one made it onto vinyl.

In 1970, now-defunct Kent Records of L.A. gave the talented young guitarist the key to the studio. For four months he was given the artistic freedom that most struggling musicians only dream about

The result was The Visit from Bob Smith, a double album filled with introspective and poetic messages about life and love delivered in a hailstorm of jingle-jangle guitar, lilting flute and violin and whirling keyboard sounds.

The Visit was recorded with top-notch musicians, including Daryl Dragon of Captain & Tennille fame, and was distributed worldwide. But it didn't reach the level of the psychedelic powerhouses - the Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane or the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

Smith never received a royalty check as The Visit faded into obscurity. He recorded two subsequent albums of psychedelic music, but neither was released.

As the '70s turned into the '80s, Smith yearned for a more stable family life. He moved his family to Deltona in 1985, set up Southern Rose Recordings in his house and began cataloging the 300 country tunes he had written. In 1997, he produced a country CD called Love Don't Burn.

Smith wore cowboy boots, drove a pickup and earned a living playing country music in local bars. The youthful psychedelic guitarist Bob Smith was gone. He had become Buck Smith.

The Visit was forgotten - or so Smith thought.

In Europe, The Visit from Bob Smith had become a cult classic - a vinyl collectible in great demand by lovers of obscure psychedelic music and memorabilia.

Since the mid-1970s, a legend shrouded in mystery had grown up around the album and the long-haired guitarist pictured on the cover of The Visit, surrounded by lighted candles.

Was Bob Smith the real name of the musician who produced this spiritual, supernatural masterpiece, or was a common name chosen to represent the universal man? Rumors spread that it was the work of renowned Finnish guitarist Garrett Lund.

As collectors debated the existence of Bob Smith, the legend grew - and with it the popularity of The Visit from Bob Smith. The original album and colorful, mystical poster insert was commanding up to $400.

Smith knew nothing about all of this until one day in November 1997 when a man named Raymond Dumont called from Graenichen, Switzerland.

The past echoed in Dumont's first words, ``Is this Bob Smith, from The Visit?''

``He had been looking for me for five years because he heard a rumor that I was a real person,'' said Smith, 53. ``I was a mythological character. Everybody wanted to know whether I was for real.

Dumont, a chemist by profession, said in a phone interview from Switzerland that he had become increasingly attracted to the pure artistry evident in the psychedelic music in the '60s and '70s. Tracking the musicians became a hobby for him.

``I was interested in obscure recordings - that means records that didn't make it,'' he said. ``There are albums that I don't know of and you don't know of, but they are fantastic. The artists did something for themselves. It is not commercial.''


He was particularly interested in Smith because of the peculiar legend surrounding The Visit.

``I wanted to find out who this Bob Smith was. His name sounded so normal I thought it was a pseudonym,'' Dumont said.

``There are a lot of mysteries in this music - the '60s and '70s obscure music. On a whole lot of these albums, you have absolutely no information about who is behind the music. Maybe you have the name, some song titles, but nothing about the story.''

Dumont, 43, had heard the rumors that Bob Smith was actually the Finnish guitarist.

``Garrett Lund made a fantastic album in the mid-'70s in California. If you look at the picture on his album and compare that to the photo of Smith, you can well pretend that it's the same guy - although in the '60s and '70s a lot of guys looked the same way,'' he said.

About three years ago, Dumont tracked Stan Keiser, who played on The Visit, but the flutist had lost touch with the other musicians. The contact only intensified his interest. He kept searching.

Finally he stumbled across the phone number of rhythm guitarist Mike DeGreve in Cheyenne, Wyo. DeGreve had kept in touch with Smith and gave his home telephone number to Dumont.


Over the years, Dumont had turned his hobby into a sideline, releasing old psychedelic music under the RD Records label. He and Smith struck a deal to compile a three-album compilation that includes The Visit and two subsequent albums - The Stop and Electric Avenue - that never were released. It also includes a copy of the original poster. The package, which retails for about $65, is called Stop for a Visit Down Electric Avenue.

They now are working on another package that will combine two of Smith's first albums - The Lid and The Lid II.


As it turns out, collectors were hunting The Visit and trying to unravel the mystery of Bob Smith on both sides of the ocean.

``At the same time record collectors in Europe were looking for copies of The Visit, record collectors in the U.S. also were looking for copies of The Visit,'' said Stan Denski of Aether Records in Indianapolis, the U.S. manufacturer and distributor for RD Records. ``That reputation developed on both sides of the ocean and in Japan at the same time.''

U.S. collectors doubted the existence of Bob Smith just as their European counterparts had.

``One guy on the East Coast had a theory that he had worked out - that there was really no Bob Smith, that it was really Thomas Pynchon, the novelist,'' Denski said. ``Pynchon is notoriously reclusive.''

Denski said collectors focused on hard-to-find psychedelic music made until the late-1970s. When Punk Rock became popular, a network of small shops popped up throughout America. Small bands no longer had trouble marketing their music.

What the obscure records have in common is an unfiltered emotion that attracts collectors.

``When it gets commercial, usually the thrill is gone,'' Dumont said. ``The artist is unfiltered. The emotions and the feelings are just as he wanted it to be and that's fascinating and that's different from the mainstream you hear on the radio.''

Denski, 47, said he most appreciates the unfettered amateurism apparent in much of the collectible psychedelic music.

``To me it's a struggle with articulation,'' he said. ``Most of these people are in their teens and 20s, and they are struggling to articulate something - the big answers to the big questions.''

The Visit was more professionally done but still captured the struggle to articulate, he said.


That's pretty much how Smith explained The Visit: ``It was supposed to evoke every human emotion, from philosophical pondering on two beers to whether their love life was successful and where they fit into the big picture,'' he said. ``It was supposed to change the world.''

This newfound popularity may be all part of a lost world of rock 'n' roll subculture, but it has changed Bob Smith.

He is no longer Buck Smith. He is back in the bars playing classic rock and doing quite well.


One last thing to add - sadly Smith died from a heart attack in 2007.


And another member of the Bob Smith extended family checks in ...


I was just reading your article on Bob. I was co-manager of this group when the first LP dropped. I do have a few sealed copies, on the Kent Label still. These are not promo LP's but ones we took from shipping. They all have the foldout mural in the insert. Yes, I have been offered in excess of $400.00 for one. I also have the Silverskin acetate that was recorded at Columbia Studio's before the name change. I doubt there is another one in existence at this time. It has been played rarely and packed away for a long time. I read Bob passed away, that's too bad. I had talked to him prior to this about re-releasing this LP but we couldn't come to an agreement on how things would work.


Steve Fischler 

August 2011