Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cover Me Impressed: 'Porpoise Song'

In recent days, we have had a ton of trippy music in our little corner of the blogging community, haven't we? Well, today's selection will continue the groovy theme. We got my youngest his first record player for Christmas. As you can see above, calling it a turntable might be a stretch, but it's a fine introduction for a 10 year old. He has three albums in his collection so far. One is this compilation picture disc by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Last week we found a really interesting used album of hits by the Beach Boys that came out in 1975 and focused specifically on the Brother Records years. His favorite, though, is a new compilation Rhino put out called 'Monkees Forever.'

To my delight, one tune he plays over and over is "Porpoise Song." It's a Goffin-King composition from the Monkees' 1968 film 'Head.' His obsession has afforded me the pleasure to play for him the excellent cover by one of my all-time favorites, Wondermints. The fellas recorded this one for their all-covers album from 1996 called 'Wonderful World of Wondermints.' The album initially came out only in Japan, and I paid a pretty penny for it back in the day, but I believe it has been reissued domestically at least once since then.

The Monkees - "Porpoise Song"
Wondermints - "Porpoise Song"

If you can spare a moment, give this demo by Carole King a listen, too. It's a rough recording, but I just love it. Goffin-King wrote about a dozen songs for the Monkees, and the demos I have heard are real gems. Somebody needs to clean them up and release them as an album. I know I would be the first in line.


charity chic said...

That looks very similar to the portable turntable Mrs CC got me for my birthday last year.
Looks as though the boy is already developing good tastes

C said...

Wow, Brian - what a great post.
I'd only ever heard the Monkees' version of this, an absolute favourite and all I can see in my head (!) when I hear it are the mermaids from the opening sequences - so it's brilliant to hear for the first time the Wondermints and the fantastic Carole King demo -a revelation. Thanks. Hearing these three together and them all sounding so good really proves what a fantastic composition it is.
Good taste obviously runs in your family :-)

drew said...

I bought Leo the Best of Charlie Brown by Vince Gauraldi a couple of Christmas 's ago he loves it.
Your boy seems that be developing good taste too.

JTFL said...

Cheers Brian! Nice to see some love for LA's own Wondermints. And an ace Beach Boys connection as most of the Wondermints have been Brian Wilson's backing band since he started touring again in the 90s.

Brian said...

CC, Not the greatest piece of equipment. The belt seems to really labor to turn at the right speed. Either that or the arm is coming down with too much pressure on the record which would be none too nice to the vinyl. Either way, my son doesn't realize these things and is enjoying the music.

C, I don't know what my little guy would think of Head the motion picture, but he loves the old TV show just like his old man did at his age. Porpoise Head and Circle Sky are my favorites from the soundtrack.

Drew, I think every kid should have some of Vince's music. It's a right of passage. I'm very happy he's enjoying his first three albums. At his age, I was listening to a lot of Monkees and Beach Boys from my mother's collection. So watching him play these records warms the cockles of my heart. Now, his tastes are much wider that mine were at that time. He plays the clarinet and that takes him into jazz and classical areas. Most of the records he wants next will be in parts of the shop I don't visit all that often.

JTFL, La-la-love Wondermints. Just about the tops for me in the '90s. As much as I get on my knees and thank them for all they have done for Brian Wilson (have seen them together about 10 times dating back to 2000), I wish the band could have been tending to their own recording careers at the same time. We haven't heard from Wondermints in many many years. Since you bring up LA, were you into the Sugarplastic at all? Another band I adore from the same scene.

JTFL said...

Brian, I was pretty devoted to the Sugarplastic. The first compilation tape I made for my son (an actual cassette -- I'm older than you guys) had 'Ottowa Bonesaw' on it. Every kid loves that tune. The band played all over LA and I saw them often and got to meet and hang out with them a few times. My son drew a picture for Ben once -- I gave it to him at Spaceland and he got a kick out of it. Probyn Gregory from the Wondermints sometimes sat in, and he turned out to be a friend of my neighbor, so I got to meet him, too. No idea why a band as fantastic as TSP never made it and dropped out. Unfair nature of the biz, I guess.

Awesome trivia: The Sugarplastic is an anagram for Spastic Laughter.

Brian said...

JTFL, This makes my day. I have featured the Sugarplastic quite a few times over the years to tepid responses. You are the first person I have been in contact with that has a similar feeling for them. I had always hoped to see them at Spaceland someday. Always seemed like their spiritual home. When they had a record release party for the 7X7x7 series at Spaceland several years ago I made an effort to fly there, but it ended up not working out. I was living in Chicago at the time, and family obligations trumped such a whimsical trip. As far as I know, they haven't played live since then. They are missed. Now if we can only get Wondermints recording again...

kevinpat said...

Yesterday (Thursday, Feb 9) was Carole King's birthday. So a very fitting post. As we music lovers tend to do I've always been obsessed with Carole King songs.Since I was a kid I collected as many tracks as I could find, which ended w/a 15 CD collection. Some sweet guy (who I lost touch with) gave me (secretly) a bunch of demos Carole did for many of her earlier as well as Tapestry tracks. A bunch of these were released as part of her "Demos" collection released a few years back. I don't think I have the Wondermints track but I'll have to check. I know I found one or two "Porpoise Song" versions besides The Monkees, which has to be the best because it served up their quirky, psychy side. As y'all probably know there are 3 volumes of Goffin/King tracks put out by Mick Patrick, which is hardly conclusive but nevertheless fun. I like to think I had some influence in getting a Bobby Goldsboro track "A Time for Us" buried on one of his 60's albums onto one of the collections. I lobbied hard for that one!! It's on Volume Two. Ha! (It may not be all your "cup of tea"..a bit sappy, but pretty and very G/K, and of course that I just love.

Record players! I still have a "portable" battery operated record player. Not sure it still works, but I like having it. Of course record players were my shadow as a kid. Still have (much to wifey's dismay) every 45 i owned staring with "Dawn (Go Away)" in 1964.

For some reason I don't remember the "Head" movie...I'm sure I saw it. I do have the vinyl with the aluminum foil cover. I think I may have the "Porpoise Song" 45.....??? Gosh it's all blending. Does it have that great "Goin' Down" track on the back?? Down to the basement to track these things down!! 😎

Brian said...

Good to hear from you, Kevinpat. Carole is a big deal in this house too. Mrs. LTL had the good fortune of seeing Beautiful on Broadway the last time she went through NYC, and we have been playing her stuff around the house quite a bit ever since. Goin' Down is a great song, but I think when you dig it out you'll find the flip side of Porpoise Song is As We Go Along, yet another King composition. Wouldn't you buy a CD of King's demos that added up to a lost Monkees album? Of course, sounds like you may have most of them already. Since '64, eh? I bet you have quite a collection of 7" singles. Stop back soon!