Too Much

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (as The Clee-Shays 1965-66)

- Larry Brown -- drums, percussion

- Buzz Carre -- bass

- Richard Delvy (RIP 2010) -- drums, percussion

- Rob Edwards -- guitar

- Ed Fournier -- guitar




- The Bel-Aires (Richard Delvy)

- The Challengers (Richard Delvy)

- The Clee-Shays





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Secret Agent Man

Company: Timberline

Catalog: AW#14035

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 1628

Price: SOLD $90.00


So here's another tax scam album released by the Timberline Records affiliated with the mysterious Album World conglomerate.   Unlike many Album World releases, it was actually pretty easy to figure out the story behind 1977's "Secret Agent".   Credited to "Too Much" (clever name there guys), this was a repackaging of a 1966 album released by The Clee-Shays.


"Super Spy Themes" (Triumph catalog number TR 109)


Formed by the late Richard Delvy, The Clee-Shays were a mid-'60s surf/garage studio entity featuring the talents of guitarists John Anderson, Rob Edwards, Ed Founier, drummer Larry Brown and bassist Buzz Carre.  The original "Super Spy Themes" album was produced Delvy with Mike Lietz serving as engineer, and Delvy and Fournier doing the arrangements.   The album was apparently recorded in an effort to cash in on the mid-'60s secret agent/spy craze.  I found an online comment about the album from band member Founier: 


"We were going for the Japanese market at the time. I wrote these songs. I was 18 and trying to fit in. A few years later, I got better. I wrote the Fat Albert Theme song. I wrote songs for Helen Reddy, Glen Campbell, Willie Bobo, and a whole bunch of really cool people. Never made that much but I'm still here."


There wasn't anything particularly original here with Delvy and company basically pounding out a mixture of Fournier originals and covers of every popular spy-oriented tune the could get their hands on.   It was the kind of stuff that will appeal to folks who loved The Challengers, The Ventures, and other hot rod, surf bands, but would probably have little appeal beyond that genre.  Speculation on my part, but I'm guessing that in an effort to avoid having to pay anyone, the reissue set credited production to Ruth Stratchborneo and Ernie Freeman.  By the way, the original cover art was way better than the reissue package.


So, there were a couple of differences from the original Clee-Shays album.   As was fairly common, the track listings and actual songs didn't line up right.   Notorious for short running times, the Timberline/Album World reissue dropped a couple of songs found on the original LP.  Missing in action were 'The Spy' and 'High Wire'.   It got even crazier given the side two running order didn't match the track listing.   You can read the song-by-song comments to see what actually happened.  The reissue also re-titled a couple of the original songs (see below) - probably sloppy copy editing more than anything.


"Secret Agent Man" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Man from U.N.C.L.E. (instrumental)  (Jerry Goldsmith) - 1:50

Give the band credit for adding a nice surf guitar/psych edge to their cover of 'Man from U.N.C.L.E.'  The song was also released as an instantly obscure 1966 single:

- 1966's 'Man from U.N.C.L.E.' b/w 'Dynamite' (Triumph catalog TR-65)  rating: **** stars

2.) I Spy (instrumental)   (Earle Hagen)  - 2:00

Ah, the late Earle Hagen ...  the man should be world famous just for his television theme songs. 'I Spy' was one of his best, but he also wrote the theme songs  for 'Make Room For Daddy', 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', 'That Girl', 'The Mod Squad', 'The Andy Griffith Show', and 'Harlem Nocturne' (used on Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer;)   The Clee-Shays all but trashed the original's jazzy feel for an almost hard rock arrangement.   It was impressive, but maybe because I'm old enough to remember the original, that's the one I'd go with.   rating: **** stars

3.) Our Man Flint (instrumental)    (Jerry Goldsmith)  - 2:03

Their cover of 'Out Man Flint' had a Western feel.   Easy to picture it being used in a cowboy film.

4.) Run Spy (instrumental)   (Ed Founier)  - 1:35

To my ears 'Run Spy' also had an attractive, almost Western vibe.   rating: *** stars

5.) Angel's Ring (instrumental)   (Voshida) 

Another one where the title was misprinted ... The original title was 'Ed Spy' with the writing credit going to Yoshida, rather than Voshida.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) Secret Agent Man
(instrumental)   (Steve Barri - P.F. Sloan) - 2:12

Well, the liner notes listed this one as 'Secret Agent Man', but the tune as actually a toughened-up cover of Irving Szathmary theme from 'Get Smart'.  Their taunt cover was one of the album highlights.    rating: **** stars

2.) Hong Kong (instrumental)   (Ed Founier) - 2:00

Labeled 'Hong King', the second track was actually the missing 'Secret Agent Man' theme.   Decent, enough cover, but most folks will vote for the Johnny Rivers vocal version.   rating: *** stars

3.) Man From THURSH (instrumental)   (Lalo Schifrin) - 2:00

I'm guessing this tune was actually 'Hong Kong'.   Nice "groovy" jazz vibe.  By the way, on the original album the song was entitled 'Our Man in Hong Kong'. .   rating: *** stars

4.) Thunderball (instrumental)   (John Barry - Don Black) - 2:18

Continuing the labeling chaos, this wasn't 'Thunderball'.  Instead you got an interesting, slightly jazzy piece with one of the album's best melodies.  I'm guessing this was 'Man From THURSH'.   rating: **** stars

5.) The Spy (instrumental)   (Ed Founier) - 1:45   

Shown as 'The Spy', the final track was actually 'Thunderball'.  Hard to describe why (especially given the lead guitar pattern sounded flat), but this may be one of the best versions of 'Thunderball' ever recorded.  Very dark and angst-ridden.   rating: **** stars


By all means this should have been a complete turn, but I'm surprised by how much I actually enjoy the collection.