The Smoke

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968)

- Stan Ayeroff -- guitar, bass

- Steve Baim -- drums, percussion

- Michael Lloyd -- vocals, keyboards, bass




The Cattanooga Cats (Michael Lloyd)

- The Laughing Wind (Steve Ayeroff and Michael Lloyd)

- Max Frost and the Troopers (Stan Ayeroff & Steve Baim)

- Markley (Michael Lloyd) 

- The Rubber Band (Stan Ayeroff, Steve Bain and Michael Lloyd)

- Waterfall (Stan Ayeroff, Steve Bain and Michael Lloyd)

- West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (Michael Lloyd)





Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Smoke

Company: Sidewalk

Catalog: ST-5912

Year: 1968

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4104

Price: $100.00

Cost: $45.00


One of those child progenies you read about, by the time he was in his early teens Michael Lloyd had signed a publishing contract with artist/manager Kim Fowley.  By the time he was in his late teens, Lloyd had recorded under a number of alias, including a single credited to 'The Laughing Wind' and a stint with the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.  Through Fowley he also came into contact with music mogul Mike Curb.  Curb in turn quickly hired Lloyd to score a series of teen-exploitation "B" movies being financed by Curb-owned companies..      


Having produced a number of rock acts, including The October Country, by 1968 Lloyd had himself become interested in returning to the recording studio.  He quickly found a pair of collaborators in the form of former Max Frost and the Troopers alumnus Stan Ayeroff and Steve Baim.  Lloyd subsequently approached mentor Curb about financing an album.  Curb quickly agreed, resulting in the release of 1968's "The Smoke" on Curb's Capital affiliated Sidewalk label.  


Co-produced by Fowley and Lloyd, it's easy to see why this album's become such a sought after collectable (underscored by the fact it didn't see a CD release until 2003).  With Lloyd writing the majority of the material, the resulting mix of California pop moves and psychedelic touches stands as a perfect example of the "sunshine pop" genre.  Full of subtle and not-so-subtle homage's to the likes of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys ("Cowboys and Indians" and "Self-Analysis") and The Beatles ("Gold Is the Colour of Thought") makes this LP a wonderful candidate to play 'spot the reference'.   Elsewhere the LP includes Lloyd's cover of "October Country" which he'd previously written and produced for the band October Country.  Personal favorites: the catchy "Fogbound" (which with it's nice "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds" fade out would have made a great single) and the odd "Umbrella".  (As an aside, the back cover shows what appear to be four band members - the fourth being keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon, who didn't actually play on the album and went on to join the newly formed Three Dog Night.)


"The Smoke" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Cowboys and Indians  (Michael Lloyd) - 

2.) Looking Thru the Mirror  (Stan Ayeroff) - 

3.) Self-Analysis  (Michael Lloyd) - 

4.) Gold Is the Colour of Thought  (Michael Lloyd) - 

5.) Hobbit Symphony (instrumental)  (Stan Ayeroff) - 

6.) Daisy (Intermission) (instrumental)  (Michael Lloyd) - 


(side 2)

1.) Fogbound  (Michael Lloyd) - 

2.) Song Thru Perception  (Michael Lloyd) - 

3.) Philosophy  (Michael Lloyd) - 

4.) Umbrella  (Stan Ayeroff) - 

5.) Ritual Gypsy Music Opus 1 (instrumental)  (Michael Lloyd) - 

6.) October Country  (Michael Lloyd) - 

7.) Odyssey  (Michael Lloyd) - 


Always envisioned as a studio entity, the group never toured, nor did they release a follow-on under the Smoke name.  The trio did continue to record, releasing several cover LPs under the guise of The Rubber Band and then Waterfall.



The internet is such an amazing communications device:


Thanks for your kind words about The Smoke record. I was the guitarist, sometimes bassist and composer of three songs… "Looking Through The Mirror", "Umbrella" and "The Hobbit Symphony".  It's not a big deal after so many years but I would appreciate being listed as the composer of those songs. It was an interesting time ....


I don’t get around to seeing stuff on the internet very often (as you can see) but thanks for the writing credits. I appreciate it.


Here’s a few more things I can clear up. 


Jimmy Greenspoon indeed was going to join the group as a keyboardist (not guitarist). I remember Danny Hutton (who was friends with Michael) and Bruce Johnston (later a Beach Boy and the guy who first put me in a recording studio) came to hang out at some of the sessions.


Steve Baim and I were both members of The Laughing Wind and we toured the “Teen Age Fair” circuit with Michael.


Kim Fowley had nothing to do with the record except to help make the deal. Michael produced and engineered the whole thing. It was just the 3 of us, all twiddling the knobs and pushing the buttons.


Here’s a story for you. Steve was looking for a different sound for one of the songs. There was the back of a television set that sounded cool. The only problem was that it was filled with holes. So Steve had to play the whole song without having a stick hit a hole instead of the wood. He finally made it through but it was not an easy thing to do. Fun in the studio - Michael and I both were laughing at and with him.


Thanks for being interested in this stuff. It was a fun, creative time to be in music. 

I still feel that way.


Best,Stan Ayeroff