The Torques

Band members                             Related acts

   line up (1966)

- Glen Bagby -- bass

- Bill Brooks -- lead guitar

- Charles Carter -- organ

- Phil Copeland -- lead vocals, trumpet

- Paul Mansfield -- backing vocals

- Mike Sullens -- bass, backing vocals

- Butch Thompson -- sax, backing vocals

- Mike Thompson -- drums, percussion





- none known





Genre: garage

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Torques Live

Company: LEMCO

Catalog: #604

Country/State: Lexington, Kentucky

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1270

Price: $125.00


Perhaps the best frat record ever recorded ?   That may not sound like much in the way of praise; something along the lines of "he's the smartest dumb person I know ..."  but if you're a fan of this particularly musical genre, you're probably already aware of Lexington, Kentucky's The Torques (still active to the day).


So here's what the liner notes off their 1967 self-titled album have to say  (typos and all):  "The Album, recorded live December 31, 1966, is much like a sharp ,clear photograph.  It reflects a single moment in tie, musical time, it reflects a moment in the everchanging, eversearching style if a progressive group.  Cut  for your enjoyment, the sounds demonstrate the groups' real versatility in reproducing the standard vibrations of the big name groups, along with their own psychedelic expressions.


With the declining English influences [guess they hadn't heard Sgt, Pepper yet], the American rock groups have a found a style characteristically their own - this is where The Toques step in to record live, their interpretations both original and strict.


The interpreters of the sound include:  Bill Brooks, lead guitar (A medical student on the side); Charlie Carter, organist (and long) Thompson drums (and professional "everything that happened") Mike Sullens, bass (and also 'kid' of anyone who will say he is), Butch Thompson , sax and vocal back-up (sometimes leader of the leaders who are leading the band); Paul Copeland, lead vocals and trumpet (pop vocalist turned hard rock with a possible return in sight); Glen Bagby; bass, back-up vocals *law school, yes, and group electrician and a half); Paul Mansfield back-up vocal, (Soprano-mind you, and, remaining half electrician.


The members have changed and are changing with time, but for this time (thirty-six minutes and some odd seconds), could reveal what change disguises."    Yeah, left me confused as well.  Guess they couldn't afford a good publicist, or a proof reader.


Alright, enough of the cheap shots.  What about this 36 minutes of change ?   Released by the small, Lexington, Kentucky-based LEMCO label, in--spite of what the liner notes had to say, what you got was a poorly recorded collection of popular pop and soul covers.  Yes, there were a couple of pop tunes given a nice rock edge (check out their cover of The Monkees I'm Not (You're Stepping Stone)').  Their closing cover of The Rascals' 'Come On Up' even had a mild psych sheen to it.  Still, most of this was top-40 territory which is what a bunch of people celebrating New Years were going to want to hear.   Musically these guys were actually surprisingly good with lead singer Phil Copeland exhibiting a nice blue-eyed soul voice.  Shame he sounded like he was singing through a mattress.   The song selections were all good.  Seriously, I like and own copies of every one the ten tunes they covered.  Their arrangements seldom strayed far from the originals (which was good if you liked the originals) and there was no doubting the band's enthusiasm and dedication. They sounded like they were having fun up on stage.   The downsides were the fact there were no originals; the sound quality was abysmal, and the editing sounded like if had been done with a machete (check out the conclusion to 'But It's Alright').  In fact the song sequence sound like it had been re-ordered with at least a couple of the band's instrumental selections dropped (listen to the comments before 'It's Not Unusual'.    


"The Torques Live" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I've Been Hurt (Ray Whitley) - 2:43

Bill Deal and the Rhondells had the original hit (Guy Darrell had a minor English hit with his version), but it was also recorded by The Tams, and the band Snow).  Their version is true to the Bill Deal original arrangement, exhibiting some of the band's nice backing vocals.   rating: ** stars

2.) Black Is Black   (Hays - Wadley) - 2:33

So much for the American-bands-are-back comments ...   I'm guessing they didn't know Los Bravos were actually Spanish.  So this one sounded like an almost exact copy of the original with Copeland even nailing Mike Kennedy's clipped, nasal delivery.  Hardly original, but still a great tune.   rating: *** stars

3.) What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am)   (Ray Whitley) - 4:33

Another Bill Deal cover (yes, The Tams also covered it).  Yes, another rote cover.  Nice slow dance tune with those great backing harmonies.   rating: *** stars

4.) But It's Alright  (Jerome Jackson - Tubbs) - 3:18

As I recall, J.J Jackson had the original hit, but Huey Lewis and the News had the bigger seller.  And this one sounds like the Huey Lewis version, which is to say it's quite commercial.  rating: *** stars

5.) Love Is a Hurting Thing   (Raleigh - Linden) - 3:18

Ah, the song that made Lou Rawls a star and Copeland and company do the ballad proud.  rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) It's Not Unusual   (Les Mills - Gordon Reed) - 2:55

If you weren't paying much attention, you couldn't have been blamed for thinking this was live Tom Jones.   Nice mid-'60s vibe and one of those tunes that you'd only grudgingly admit to liking.   rating: *** stars

2.) I'm Not (You're Stepping Stone)   (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Hart) - 2:51

So here's one of the band's isolate shots at true rock and roll and they turn in an admirable performances adding a nice snarling edge that simply shredded Mike Dolenz's vocal on The Monkees' original.  rating: **** stars

3.) Hungry   Barry Mann - Cynthia Weil) - 3:11

Perhaps even better than the previous tunes, this one sounded even more desperate than the Paul Revere and the Raiders hit.   rating: **** stars

4.) Out of Sight  (Ted Wright) - 3:00

Yes, it wad credited to Ted Wright, but this was actually a classic James Brown tune with Copeland turning an energetic blue-eyed soul version of the tune.   T'wasn't James Brown, but with a couple of cold beers in your system you would have danced to this one.   rating: *** stars

5.) Come On Up   (Felix Cavaliere) - 4:58

The Young Rascals cover started out as a conventional blue-eyed soul arrangement, but quickly left the tracks with Copeland diving headlong into a frantic, dazed delivery (complete with echo effects), while lead guitarist Bill Brooks finally got a change to cut loose.  I the meantime keyboardist Charles Carter and the rest of the band fell into an increasingly frenetic jam-session.   Nice.  Easily the album's highlight.   rating: **** stars


As mentioned, the band is still active with a web site at: 



I've looked around for a band discography, but never found one, so here's my stab at collecting the singles they released:


- 1964's 'Tidal Wave' b/w 'Harlem Nocturne' (LEMCO catalog number LEM 880-2)

- 1964's 'Don't Give Your Heart Away' b/w '' (LEMCO catalog number LEM 881-2)

- 1965's 'Show Me' b/w 'It's Me, Not You'  (LEMCO catalog number LEM 45-883-2)

- 1965's 'Bumpin' b/w 'Mercy Mercy' (LEMCO catalog number LEM 890-2)

- 1966's 'Linden Walk' b/w 'Deep Blue At Dusk' (LEMCO catalog number 1001)

- 1966's 'I've Been Hurt' b/w 'Bumpin' (LEMCO catalog number 1007)


- 1966's 'Linden Walk' b/w 'Deep Blue At Dusk' (Chesterfield catalog number 5004)


By the way, The Torques was seemingly a popular mid-'60s bands with at least a couple of bands sharing variants on the name, including the California-based Torquays, and the Massachusetts-based Torques (they didn't include the accent mark over the "e" in their name).