J.K. & Co.

Band members                             Related acts

   line-up 1 (1969)

- Jay Kaye (RIP 2015) -- vocals, guitar 



- The Blues Davils

- Champion

- The Jay Kaye Band

- Masterpiece

- Shotgun

- The Javier Vargas Band





Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Suddenly One Summer

Company: White Whale

Catalog: WWS 7117

Year: 1969

Country/State: Saint Louis, Missouri

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear; small name sticker on back cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID:  4275

Price: $150.00

Cost: $66.00


I've sold thousands of albums over the years.  Most made little impact on me - the sale was just a business transaction.  That said, there are a couple of exceptions and one that I wish I'd held on to is the J.K. & Co. album.


Yup, this is a weird one and it's up to you whether you want to believe the popular story or not. Supposedly then-fifteen year old singer/guitarist Jay Kaye and his girlfriend drove from Las Vegas, ending up to Vancouver, British Columbia where he recorded one of the era's more obviously LSD influenced slices of pop. While the album was essentially a Kaye solo effort, White Whale executives felt it would sell better as a group effort, hence the "& Co." 

Produced by H.R. Spurgin, 1969's "Suddenly One Summer" reportedly teamed Kaye with members of Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck (Spurgin had previously produced their debut album) and various Vancouver studio musicians.  For some reason nobody but Kaye was listed in the album performance credits. Featuring all original material, the album was apparently intended as a concept piece
; the plotline seemingly intended as a reflection on mankind's never ending cycle of life and death.  Judging by tracks like 'Nobody' and 'O.D.', perhaps it wad meant to highlight the ramifications of drug abuse.  Beats me as to what the right interpretation is - perhaps neither.  Full of treated vocals, backward tapes, heavy orchestration, segue ways between songs and odd studio effects, material such as the single 'Fly', 'Little Children' and the closer 'Dead' offered up a dark, dreamy and studied collection of lysergic-tinged psychedelia.  To be honest it's hard to adequately describe this one.  While several reviews draw comparisons to early George Harrison solo material, my ears heard the late Arthur Lee and Love. 'Little Children' and the stunning 'Nobody' reminded me of Lee's quiet, serious, loner vibe.  Truthfully, every time I hear the album I'm left with this weird feeling I'm about to be enveloped in a cloud of dark fog. Still, it's not all deep and thought-provoking.  'Christine' was a great pop ballad, while The Turtles could have gotten away recording the radio-ready pop tune 'The Times'.   Personal favorites, the all too brief instrumental 'Crystal Ball', the raga-flavored 'Magical Fingers of Minerva' and the closing number 'Dead'.  I think it's an undiscovered classic that should be required listening for psych fans. It's also one of those album's that's a better listening experience if heard in one session rather hearing individual selections.  Besides, I always liked the trippy Ray Leong cover collage.



After recording the album Kaye relocated to Southern California where he recruited a band (including his cousin John Kaye on bass and buddy Rick Dean on drums) and hit the club circuit in a futile attempt to promote the album.  That seems to be validated by the appearance of a live album.  I've never heard it, but there's actually a live album out there (only available as an MP3): "JK & Co. Live In San Francisco 1967".  I will point out the album title date doesn't make a lot of sense to me given Kaye recorded the album in 1968.



And that's where most references stop.  Kaye remained active in music over the next 35 years.  Moving on from JK & Co. as a 17 year old he relocated to Los Angeles and  formed The Rush Hour.  The group was active on the club scene and opened up for national touring acts. That was followed by a project with  former Elvis Presley bassist Fritz Carney in the L.A. band Shotgun.  The mid-'70s found him recording an album with the power trio Champion ('Champion" Uranus catalog number 091010).  Next was a stint with the band Masterplan who recorded a pair of mid-'70s singles for A&M, following by stints supporting The Imperials and Guns and Roses drummer Matt Sorum.  By 1985 Kaye had moved to Wales.  Two years later he was in Mallorca, Spain playing at local casinos.  He also formed the hard rock trio The Jay Kaye Band, recording a series of four European CDs.  He also found time to tour and record with The Blue Devils and The Javier Vargas Band.  


Sadly Kaye died of brain cancer in February 2015.


"Suddenly One Summer" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Break of Dawn (instrumental)   (Jay Kaye) - 0:32  rating: ** stars

The brief opening instrumental 'Break of Dawn' was little more than a song fragment - Imagine listening to an oscilloscope, or waking up to the sound of someone's car siren blaring in the background.  Why White Whale elected to tap it as a 32 second promotional 45 is a complete mystery to me and luckily things got better after this bizarre start.:








- 1968's 'Break of Dawn' b/w 'Break of Dawn' (White Whale catalog number WW 277)










2.) Fly   (Jay Kaye) - 4:41  rating: ***** stars

Geez, this may be one of the best lysergic-tinged songs of all time. Imagine 'Strawberry Fields Forever' soaked in an acid bath.  With a floating, acid dripping melody, backward tapes and all sorts of production effects and Kaye's heavily treated vocals, 'Fly' was a stunning accomplishment.  How does a fifteen year old come to sound like this?  Put it on you stereo and feel your blood pressure drop ten points.   It's the kind of song bands like Radiohead always wanted to write and record.  In the UK the track was released as part of a three tune EP.  Easy  to see why top-40 radio wouldn't touch it.








- 1969's 'Fly' b/w 'Christine' and 'Magical Fingers of Minerva' (London catalog number 10 191)








3.) Little Children   (Jay Kaye) - 3:05  rating: **** stars

With a bouncy, carefree melody and some lovely lyrics, 'Little Children' was probably the album's most conventional and commercial performance.  Besides, how many psych tunes have you heard the incorporate the 'Frere Jacques' melody into their structure?  Once again I found myself wondering how a fifteen-year old could sound like this.  
4.) Christine   (Jay Kaye) - 2:12 
rating: **** stars

'Christine' was another tune that was more pop than psych.  Love the un-credited drumming and bass lines on this one, as well as the subtle horn arrangement ...  Speculation, but I'm guessing this one was dedicated to the girlfriend accompanying him to Vancouver.  
5.) Speed (instrumental)   (Jay Kaye) - 0:14
   rating: ** stars

Hey, who let the crickets in the house?
6.) Crystal Ball (instrumental)   (Jay Kaye) - 1:03 
rating: *** stars

'Crystal Ball' was a mildly interesting surf-meets-psych twin guitar powered instrumental.  It felt slightly out of place on the album.


(side 2)

1.) Nobody (Jay Kaye) - 4:00 rating: **** stars

Geez, forget the George Harrison comparisons since the true inspiration seems to have been the late Arthur Lee and Love.  Hard to image a kid singing lyrics as dark and frightening as 'Nobody'.  Stunning.
2.) O.D. (Jay Kaye) - 3:18
rating: **** stars

Another album highlight, 'O.D.' had a heavy psych sheen, but also a blatantly anti-drug lyric.  Complete with acid-tinged horns, percussion and treated vocals, this was great.  Loved the guitar solos on this one.
3.) Land of Sensations & Delights (Jay Kaye) - 2:48
rating: **** stars

Perhaps it was the harpsichord, but the fragile 'Land of Sensations & Delights' has always reminded me of something off one of The Left Banke albums. Glistening pop-psych, I'm a pushover for this kid of stuff. My only complaint was the track was too short.
4.) The Times (Jay Kaye) - 2:20
rating: **** stars

The opening industrial sound effects were a dodge since the rest of 'The Times' was the album's most blatantly pop-oriented tune. It wasn't a stretch to image The Turtles recording this one.  Certainly the track I would have released had I been looking for radio airplay.
5.) Magical Fingers of Minerva (Jay Kaye) - 2:52
rating: **** stars

Boasting a raga flavored melody ' Magical Fingers of Minerva' just dripped '60s zeitgeist.  The mix of a sitar solo courtesy of Poppy Family band member Craig McCaw), Kaye's ominous vocals, moody organ fills and trippy '60s lyrics made for a wonderful timepiece.  This one would not have sounded out of place on "Revolver".
6.) Dead (Jay Kaye) - 4:22
rating: **** stars

Sporting a glistening folk-rock arrangement and attention grabbing lyrics, 'Dead' was a wild performance.  It got wilder and wilder; particularly when the sound of gravediggers shoveling dirt on a grave kicked in.   How many fifteen year have the maturity to grabble with a topic like this?



Interesting piece of related trivia.  With Danny Zager and Rick Evans having enjoyed a massive hit with the song 'In the Year 2525',  White Whale acquired rights to some of the duo's earlier material.  The company apparently didn't have enough material for a full album so they grabbed the six songs on the first side of "Suddenly One Summer"  and slapped them on side two of the Zager and Evans album "The Early Writings Of Zager & Evans (And Others)" (White Whale catalog number WW 7123). Say what you will about music industry scruples, but it's far cheaper to buy a copy of the Zager and Evans LP than the JK & Co. album, though you'll only get half of the music ...