The Tea Company

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1966-67) (as The Naturals)

- Frankie Carr (aka Frankie Carretta) -- vocals, rhythm  guitar
- Joe DeGregorio -- drums, percussion 
- Al Franzia -- bass, backing vocals 
- Joe Santos -- vocals

- Al Vertucci -- guitar, vocals


  line up 2 (1967-68) (as The Tea Company)

- Frankie Carr (aka Frankie Carretta) -- vocals, rhythm guitar
NEW - Mike Lassando -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Joe Degregorio) 
NEW - John Vancho -- bass, backing vocals  (replaced 
Al Franzia)
- Al Vertucci - - guitar, backing vocals




- Frankie Carr's All Natural Band

- The Missing Links (Al Vertucci)
- The Naturals
- The Spare Change Band

- The Summa-Sets (Mike Lassando and John Vancho)


Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Come and Have Some Tea with Tea Company

Label: Smash

Catalog: SRS-67105

Country/State: Queens, New York

Year:  1968

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: promo stamp on back

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 6085

Price: SOLD $40.00

Here's an outfit I've always wondered about ...  Singer/guitarist Frankie Carretta (aka Frankie Carr) was the brainchild behind this New York-based outfit.  Showcasing the talents of Carr,, drummer Joe DeGregorio, bassist Al Franzia, singer Joe Santos, and former Missing Links guitarist Al Vertucci, these guys started out as the Queens, New York based The Naturals.  The Naturals generated some attention on The New York - New Jersey - Long Island club circuit, eventually signing with Joseph Cosentino's small Massachusetts Jowar label which released a pair of instantly obscure singles:

- 1967's 'Internationally Me' b/w 'Say Hay-Ha-Ha' (Jowar catalog number JW 120)

- 1967's 'Maiden From The East' b/w 'Theme From A Natural' (Jowar catalog number JW123) 

In 1967 the group underwent a major personnel shift that saw Carr and Vertucci joined by former The Summa-Sets drummer Mike Lassando and bassist John Vancho.  Along with the personnel shift, the band's musical interests shifted towards psychedelia which in turn led to a name change.  Briefly known as The Lip-Tin Tea Company, in the face of potential legal action by a well known tea purveyor, they wisely shortened it to The Tea Company.  Signed by Smash Records, the quartet's debut "Come and Have Some Tea with Tea Company"  saw them continuing their partnership with Joseph Cosentino (listed as Joseph Consenting on the liner notes) again handling production duties.  Musically the album featured a typically mid-1960s set of over-indulgent psychedelia (be sure to check out the hysterical 'As I Have Seen You Upon the Wall').  In case you cared, the lone non-original was a Vanilla Fudge-styled cover of The Supremes' 'You Keep Me Hangin' On'. Unfortunately, as lead singer Carr wasn't any great shakes. Moreover, burdened by dopey lyrics ('Make Love, Not War') and bland melodies ('Love Could Make the World Go Round'), none of the eight originals proved particularly memorable. On the other hand, exemplified by tracks such as the ten minute plus 'Flowers' and 'Don't Make Waves (Water Sound Effects)' the band displayed an awesome affection for studio sound effects.  


"Come and Have Some Tea with Tea Company" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Come and Have Some Tea with Me   (Frankie Carr) - 3:32   rating: *** stars

'Come and Have Some Tea with Me' opened the album with a sound collage that included  a music box, echoy horns, fuzz guitar, and the sound of tea being poured into a cup.  Sounding like it had been recorded in a shower stall, the track literally dripped with lysergic touches including Carr's stoned vocals, hyperactive bass and drums and an awe-inspiring collection of studio effects.   

Amazingly, Smash decided to tap it as a single (though in a heavily edited format).  





- 1968's 'Come And Have Some Tea With Me' b/w 'Flowers' (Smash catalog number S 2176)








2.) Flowers   (Frankie Carr - Mike Lassando) - 10:09   rating: **** stars

Flowers' started out as a pretty, but extremely stoned ballad, before abruptly morphing into eight minutes worth of acid-drench studio experimentation, including the strangest version of 'Mary had a Little Lamb' you've ever heard.  I've heard tons of psych album, but the combination of Vertucci freak-out guitar and bizarre 'Halloween' influenced backing vocals, this was one toasted track.  

3.) Love Could Make the World Go Round   (Frankie Carr) - 3:36    rating: *** stars

Ah, time to get social relevant ...  and how could you not enjoy a track that name checked Lincoln, McCartney, Lennon, and Dylan ...   This one basically found Carr reciting one of the funniest manifests you've ever heard over a folk-rock background that recycled The Fab Four's 'All You Need Is Love' riff over and over ...   


(side 2)

1.) You Keep Me Hangin' On   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 8:50 .   rating: ** stars

Side two was a bit disconcerting given it started out with the same music box/horns as found on side one ...  I remember thinking I'd forgotten to flip the album over ...  Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), after that brief interlude the band launched into their cover of Holland-Dozier-Holland's 'You Keep Me Hangin' On'.  The track's clearly a Motown classic, but trying to turn in the ultimate 'heavy' cover (yes, the tried to outdo The Vanilla Fudge version), ensured their version was flawed from the start.  The painful results went on for eight plus minutes with only a brief spell of relief where they seemingly lost the song's melody and actually come up with something far more interesting, only to lose it again ..

2.) Don't Make Waves (Water Sound Effects) (instrumental) - 1:39    rating: ** stars

Well, kudos to the band for believing in truth in advertising ...  'Don't Make Waves (Water Sound Effects)' was an apt description of this instrumental.  At least I'm guessing that's what water would sound like if you took a bath stoned out of your mind ...    

3.) As I Have Seen You Upon the Wall  (Frankie Carr - John Vancho - Mike Lassando) - 2:46 .   rating: ** stars

Kicked along by a jaunty Vancho bass line and some circus organ, 'As I Have Seen You Upon the Wall' was a breezy, if totally stoned pop number ...  love the line "there's fun in tea ..."  

4.) Make Love, Not War   (Frankie Carr) - 2:36.   rating: ** stars
Yeah,  in this day and age 'Make Love, Not War; sounds amazing naive,  That's actually quite sad.  Goofy, but a great song with some nice screaming fuzz guitar from Carr.   rating: ** stars



By the way, having missed out on the 1960s, I can only report that "tea" was supposedly a reference to weed.  Contrary to popular rumor, I can tell you the plant shown on the cover was not marijuana.

         Tribute LR-1001                          Tribute LR-1002

1977 saw the small Tribute label release a collection of Carr-penned pre and post-Tea tracks under the name The All Natural Band.  The same year, three of the original Tea Company members regrouped as The Spare Change Band.