Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1968-69)
- John Hall -- vocals, bass, guitar, pedal
steel guitar, keyboards
- Bo Grumpus (N.D Smart)
- The British
Walkers (John Hall)
- Hello People (N.D Smart II)
- Holy Moses (Teddy Spelies)
- Hungry Chuck (N.D Smart II)
- Mountain (N.D Smart II)
- Gram Parsons
and Fallen Angel (N.D Smart II)
- The Stone Coyotes (Barbara Keith)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Catalog: SE 4586
Country/State: Boston, Massachusetts
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: original inner sleeve
Catalog ID: not yet listed
I guess you can categorizer Kangeroo as part of Alan Lorber's ill-fated attempt to market The Bosstown sound. Like many Bosstown acts some of the members had roots in the Boston area. They also shared having been signed by MGM Records. Like most of their Bosstown compatriots, Kangeroo's recording career was short-lived and didn't do much in terms of sales. Their recording catalog reflects one 1968 album and a series of three instantly obscure singles. One difference - Kangaroo was too talented to be completely ignored. While the album didn't initially rock my world, over the years it's steadily grown on me.
Kangeroo's roots trace back to 1966 when Dayton-born drummer Norman D. Smart II headed for New York City where he found a job playing with The Remains who scored a spot opening for The Beatles on their 1966 US tour. Following the tour Smart quit the band, heading back to Ohio. Early 1967 found him living in Boston where he was a member of The Bait Shop. Relocating to New York City, the band found a mentor in Smart's friend Felix Pappalardi. Changing their name to Bo Gumpus, the band started playing city clubs, while recording some demos for Pappalardi. A performance at the famed Cafe Wha? introduced Smart to the Washington DC-based band Kangeroo - then featuring singer/bassist John Hall and former The British Walkers lead guitarist Teddy Speloes. The debut album liner notes erroneous listed his name as Spelies.
"Kangaroo" track listing:
1.) Such a Long, Long Time (John Hall) - 2:13 rating: **** stars
John Hall and Barbara Keith's sweet harmonies, the bouncy 'Such a Long, Long Time'
didn't sound all that different from a prime slice of Mama and the Papas
folk-tinged pop. That said, the big difference came in the form of Teddy Spelies'
squealing lead guitar which added a tasty folk-rock
ingredient to the mix. Would love to know what he did to get the
cool guitar effect.
combination of Spelies' blistering lead guitar and John Hall's
melodic bass served to kick 'You're Trying To Be a Woman' beyond
conventional folk-rock into harder rock territory. Nice example of Hall and Keith's strong
Stallion' b/w 'The Only Thing I Had' (MGM catalog number K-13961)
4.) Make Some Room In Your Life (John Hall) - 2:42 rating: **** stars
the previous song opened the door to West Coast psych influences, 'Make Some Room In Your Life'
found the band crashing through the door. Spelies' fuzz powered
guitar moves were awesome and Hall'sthundering bass proved equally impressive.
This is the song MGM should have pushed as a single.
Geez, talk about bizarre - Smart's spoken word introduction was enough to make you wonder what was going on ... "Frog Giggin' is where you kill frogs and have sex at the same time ..." Not sure any parent would have wanted their daughter to hang out with Smart. The old timey, country flavor reminded me a bit of Lovin' Spoonful-styled jug band moves, but didn't do much for me and the song's cutesy factor was quickly lost on me.
Gawd only know why, but credited to N.D, Smart II with Kangaroo, the song was tapped as one of the band's three promotional singles:
1968's 'Frog Giggin'' b/w
'Maybe Tomorrow' (MGM catalog number K-13962)
6.) You Can't Do This To Me (John Hall) - 3:45 rating: *** stars
fuzz guitar was the star of the rocker 'You Can't Do This To Me'.
Unfortunately the song suffered from a forgettable melody and a crappy
1.) If You Got Some Love In Mind (John Hall) - 2:40 rating: *** stars
faux-British accents, 'If You Got Some Love In Mind' has always struck me
as one of the album's odder numbers. Imagine John Lennon backed by
The Mamas and the Papas. And even though I'm a big Speleos fan,
telling him to go hog wild on lead guitar probably wasn't necessary on
I've always loved Speloes acoustic guitar opening with it's Jan Akkerman / Mason Williams vibe. The addition of Keith's scatting vocals and xylophone gave the tune an unexpected jazzy vibe. And just as I was thinking this is different and kind of cool, a minute and a half in the song dived into a more conventional rock direction. Interesting lyrics and one of the album's stronger melodies.
- 1968's 'Such a Long
Time' b/w 'I Never Tell Me Twice' (MGM catalog number K-13960)
3.) Tweed's Chicken Inn (Norman Smart) - 2:45 rating: ** stars
second composition (he also handled the lead vocals), 'Tweed's Chicken Inn'
offered up a
country-blues number. Yeah, it again reached for a cutesy factor
that I find so cloying.
album highlight, with a Beatles vibe, the Speleos rocker 'Happy Man'
sounded like it was influenced by his Northern Virginia roots with the
bands Us and The British Walkers (he replaced the late Roy Buchanan in the
latter). Judging by this one it was unfortunate Speleos wasn't given
more space on the album.
dreamy ballad 'The Only Thing I Had'
was the second Keith spotlight. While she didn't write it, losing
some of the vibrato in her normal delivery, her performance was even
better than 'Daydream Stallion'. The combination of Speleos guitar,
xylophone and violin reminded me of something It's a Beautiful Day might
have recorded. Beautiful.
Country hoedown ... a disappointing way to end the album.
Vocalist Keith recording a pair of little heard early-'70s solo albums:
- 1970's "Barbara Keith" (Verve Forecast catalog number FTS-3084)
- 1973's "Barbara Keith" (Reprise catalog number MS-2087)
Starting in the late 1980s she went on to record ax estensive string of Americana albums with husband Doug Tibbles and son John Tibbles under the name The Stone Coyotes.
Smart worked with a host of bands including The Remains, Great Speckled Bird and an early Mountain line-up.
Bassist Hall enjoyed brief mid-1970s success with Orleans, followed by an anonymous solo career and a stint in the Congress.
Speleos formed the band Holy Moses !! which recorded a 1971 album for RCA Victor ("Holy Moses !!" RCA catalog number LSP 4523.
And then his life becomes somewhat mysterious. He apparently returned to Northern Virginia, but the pressures of rock and roll apparently took their toll and Speleos retreated from the spotlight spending some time living in a monastery. He also started a family and has at least one son. Interestingly, though he doesn't appear to be a participant, there's a Facebook page dedicated to him at: (2) Facebook
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