Thorinshield


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-69)

- Terry Hand (RIP 2004) -- drums, backing vocals 
- Bobby Ray -- bass, backing vocals
- James Smith (aka Jimmy Guitar Smith) -- vocals, guitar

  
 

 

- Bob and Kit (Bobby Ray)

- The Crossfires (Terry Hand)

- Everpresent Fullness (Terry Hand)
- The Moon (Terry Hand)

- Bobby Ray (solo efforts)
- Rocket Science (Terry Hand)

- Jimmy Guitar Smith (solo efforts)

 


 


 

Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Thorinshield

Company: Philips

Catalog: PHS 600-251

Year: 1967

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor cover wear

Catalog ID: 1631

Available: 1

Price: $45.00

 

This one drove me crazy for the longest time. Several years ago I found a copy of the album at a yard sale, only to discover the sleeve contained the wrong LP. Aaaghhhhhh !!!  Making this an even stranger story, several years later while on a business trip to California I found a copy of the album sans cover. Yes, three years and 6,000 miles finally produced a match !!!

All that effort and I have to admit I don't know much about this Los Angeles-based trio. Drummer Terry Hand had previously played in a number of surf bands, including The Crossfires.  He'd also released a couple of singles as a member of Everpresent Fullness.  Bassist Bobby Ray was a sessions player probably best know for his work with Donovan.  Credited to Bob & Kit, he'd also released an obscure 1966 45 for Hanna Barbera.  Singer James Smith remains a complete unknown to me, though he's apparently best known as a songwriter.

 


First a quick warning - the first time I heard this LP it didn't do much for me. Luckily, I was willing to give it a couple of spins, in the process discovering a mid-1960s album with more than its share of pleasures. Produced by Steven Douglas (always wondered if it's the same guy who did the Aerosmith albums), 1967's "
Thorinshield" showcased material entirely penned by Ray and Smith. Musically the set was hard to peg, though if you enjoy the sunshine pop characterized by Curt Boettcher and groups like Sagittarius, it was something you'd want to check out.  Tracks such as 'Wrong My Friend', 'Here Today' and 'Life Is a Dream' offered up a highly commercial mix of folk-rock, radio friendly pop and soft psych influences.  Today I guess you'd label it 'sunshine' pop.  The combination of great harmonies (check out 'Pleasure Time'), coupled with slightly acid tinged atmospherics (nice backwards guitar on 'One Girl'[) and attractive orchestration ('Prelude To a Postlude'), made it quite impressive and when it all came together like on the songs 'Pleasure Time' and 'Daydreaming' the results were simply stunning.  Sure it was hardly the year's most original debut, but it was well worth hearing, particularly since you can still find relatively cheap copies.  

"
Thorinshield" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Life Is a Dream   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:03  rating: **** stars

Yeah, I know these guys were from L.A., but James Smith's vocals had a distinctive Southern twang which made 'Life Is a Dream' a neat way to start out the LP.  Interesting blend of Baroque orchestration and psychedelic touches that gave the tune a very mid-'60s vibe.  Imagine a heavily stoned Association tune.  Philips tapped the tune as a single:

 

 

 

 

- 1968's  'The Best of It' b/w 'Life Is a Dream' as a single (Philips catalog number 40492).

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Brave New World   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:21  rating: **** stars

'Brave New World' was a beautiful, fragile, lysergic-drenched ballad.  Note I didn't say lysergic-tinged.  Pretty melody that showcased the trio's nice harmony vocals - kind of a stoned CS&N.   Well, even more stoned than your usual CS&N recording.   Ah, bring on the Nehru jackets.   
3.) Wrong My Friend   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:21
  rating: **** stars

'Wrong My Friend ' was one of my favorite songs on the album.  Great folk-rock melody cloaked in acid tinged orchestration.   Yeah, it sounds totally innocent and so naive.   Every time I hear the song, I end up humming it for a couple of days.   
4.) Here Today   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:42
   rating: ** stars

The first mild disappointment, 'Here Today' sounded like a mash-up of a Merseybeat tune, something Peter and Gordon might have recorded, with a bit of acid sprinkled on top.  Not particularly tuneful, or memorable.
5.) Pleasure Time   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:21
  rating: **** stars

My pick for the album's standout performance - 'Pleasure Time' had the album's most memorable melody. Simply glittering folk-rock with stoned lyrics.  This is the one that should have been the single.  
6.) The Best of It   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:25
  rating: **** stars

'The Best of It' started out sounding like a drunken lounge singer, but there was something immensely appealing in the combination of the eerie organ and the laidback James Smith vocal.  The refrain was highly catchy.    

 

(side 2)

1.) Daydreaming   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:48    rating: *** stars

A pop tune that was turned inside out with treated vocals, wild sound effects, and heavy orchestration, that was so innocent you had to laugh.    
2.) Light That Love Brings   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 4:14
   rating: ** stars

Another harmony rich, Association-styled pop tune that simply never kicked into gear.  
3.) Prelude To a Postlude   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 4:15
    rating: *** stars

Very atypical for the group, 'Prelude To a Postlude' was a stark, dark acoustic ballad.  Geez, talk about a timepiece - it even include lyrics about smoking cigarettes on a beach ...   Smith turned in some nice classical guitar on this one.    
4.) One Girl   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:16
  rating: **** stars

With a nifty mid-'60s Beatles-tinged arrangement which included a great opening guitar riff and a backward guitar solo, 'One Girl' was another album highlight. 
5.) Collage of Attitudes (instrumental)   (Bobby Ray - James Smith) - 2:00
    rating: *** stars

Another atypical tune, 'Collage of Attitudes' closed the album with a classically-inspired instrumental.  Well it started out that way, but about 50 seconds in the tune headed off in a jazzier direction (complete with sax solo).  Always liked Hand's martial drumming on this one.


One last non-LP single and the trio seem to have called it quits.   Shame since their final single upped the commercial pop quotient of their sound, while holding on to the acid influences.  Complete with some intricate vocal arrangements, 'Lonely Mountain Again' may have been more commercial than anything on the album.   The flip side 'Family of Man' was an atypical acoustic tune showcasing some activist/social criticism lyrics.

 

- 1968's 'Lonely Mountain Again' b/w 'Family of Man' (Philips catalog number 40521) 

 

 

 

Hand briefly reappeared as a member The Moon and several decades later was a member of Rocket Science before dying in 2004.  

 

 

 

 

 

Ray cut a hard to find solo LP for Johnny Rivers Soul City label.  1970's "Initiation Of A Mystic" (Soul City catalog number SCS-92007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smith continues to performer at local L.A. clubs.

So out of the blue I got an email from Terrence Tally.  Turns out that Mr. Tally knows James Smith (aka Jimmy Guitar Smith).  Not only does he know Smith, but a couple of years ago he made a documentary on Smith - "Blue Minded."  Mr. Tally was kind enough to send me a copy of the documentary along with some new music Smith had recorded.  Haven't had a chance to check the documentary out, but the CD offered up a mix of okay nightclub jazz and more entertaining blues-influenced numbers.  As Mr. Tally mentioned, 'his current music is nothing like the 60's sound of Thorinshield, but he certainly has a gift, but one that will probably go unrecognized."  Listening to the CD, Smith's voice is a little deeper (though quite pleasant), while his guitar remains ever tasteful.  I'd certainly pay to see him in a small club.

 

Thanks to Terrence Tally

July 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

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