Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster
For their second long-player, the Astronauts got distinctly more ambitious, and with good results. The harmony singing, while no match for the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean, is a lot better this time out, especially on the title track and "Our Car Club" (which are a lot of fun to begin with). And their playing is bolder as well, with the result being that the group's second album still makes good listening five decades later.
The Astronauts were an American rock and roll band, who had a minor hit in 1963 with "Baja" and remained successful for several years, especially in Japan. They have been described as being, "along with...(the) Trashmen, the premier landlocked Midwestern surf group of the '60s." For most of their career, the band members were Rich Fifield, Jon "Storm" Patterson, Bob Demmon, Dennis Lindsey, and Jim Gallagher.
The Astronauts developed out of a group, The Stormtroopers, which was originally formed at Boulder High School, Boulder, Colorado in 1956 by Jon "Storm" Patterson (vocals, guitar), Robert Graham "Bob" Demmon (11 February 1939 – 18 December 2010) (guitar), and Brad Leach (drums). In 1961, they became The Astronauts after adding Richard Otis "Rich" Fifield (vocals, guitar) and Dick Sellars (guitar), the change of band name recognising the fascist connotations of the previous name and to pay tribute to local hero, astronaut Scott Carpenter. Patterson switched to bass, Leech was replaced on drums by Jim Gallagher, and soon afterwards Sellars left to join the US Navy, being replaced by Dennis Lindsey.
With a line-up of Demmon, Patterson, Fifield, Lindsey and Gallagher, the band gained a strong local reputation, toured as far as Chicago and Dallas, Texas, and released their first single, "Come Along Baby", in 1962, on the small Palladium label. They were signed to RCA Records after a record company executive was impressed by their performance at a local night club, the Tulagi.
Their first single on RCA was "Baja", an instrumental written by Lee Hazlewood originally for his friend, guitarist Al Casey. Released by The Astronauts in early 1963, the track was described as "a typical surf instrumental with a reverberation-heavy twangy guitar and driving drumbeat", and reached # 94 on the Billboard Hot 100 for just one week, the pinnacle of their US chart career.
However, they released a succession of further singles on RCA, in an attempt by the record company to emulate the success of the Beach Boys and other surf music-related groups in the charts at the time. According to reviewer Richie Unterberger, "the group shone brightest on their instrumentals, which used mounds of Fender reverb and two rhythm guitars; when they sang, the results were much less successful."
|Japan Single 1964|
As well as a succession of singles and EPs, the band released four LPs over nine months, starting in May 1963: Surfin' with The Astronauts – which reached # 61 on the Billboard 200 album chart – Everything Is A-OK! (recorded live at the Club Baja in Denver, Colorado), Competition Coupe, and The Astronauts Orbit Campus (recorded live in Boulder).
They appeared several times on the Hullabaloo TV show, and have the distinction of appearing in more beach party movies than any other surf band: Surf Party, Wild on the Beach, Wild Wild Winter and Out of Sight.
In 1964, their record company discovered that they had a growing fan base in Japan, where they outsold The Beach Boys and toured with The Ventures. Five albums and three singles made the top 10 there, with "Movin'" – retitled as "Over The Sun" – reaching number one in the country.
In all, they recorded nine albums. Gallagher and Lindsey were drafted for Vietnam before the last album, Travelin' Men in 1967, and were replaced by Mark Bretz and Rod Jenkins respectively. Demmon also left, being replaced by Robert Carl McLerran, before Fifield and Patterson finally decided to end the band name after a tour of Asia in 1968.
01. Little Ford Ragtop 02:07
02. Competition Coupe 02:21
03. The Hearse 02:18
04. '55 Bird 01:52
05. Devil Driver's Theme 02:11
06. Happy Ho-Daddy 02:16
07. Our Car Club 02:25
08. Devil Driver 02:11
09. Chevy Scarfer 01:57
10. 4:56 Stingray 02:00
11. El Aguila (The Eagle) 02:00
12. 650 Scrambler 01:54