The Palace Guard – All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1967 (Omnivore Recordings)
The early days of Emitt Rhodes – here, as a drummer!
Omnivore Recordings chronicled the early days of the Beach Boys, back when they were just a garage band from Hawthorne, CA, on Becoming the Beach Boys (which we reviewed here). The Palace Guard were another group from that small suburb, who also boasted a three-brother lineup. Although nowhere near as popular or prolific as the Beach Boys, their music deserves to be heard – especially if you’re a fan of the Nuggets collections over the years. They’ve just assembled the groups’s entire recorded output in All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1967.
The band’s most famous member happened to be Emitt Rhodes, who would later go onto moderate success with the Merry Go Round and then solo, releasing a trio of critically-acclaimed, Beatle-esque-infused albums before retiring to relative seclusion in the mid-1970’s. Here, Rhodes is simply the band’s drummer, contributing neither vocals or songwriting to the band’s recordings.
The set opens with “All Night Long,” with a guitar riff that’s borrowed from the Beatles’ “If I Needed Someone.” The “kootchy kootchy kootchy ooh” lyrics were too suggestive for some stations, and prevented the single from taking off nationally. Honestly, the b-side, “Playgirl,” is far superior – the harmonies are gorgeous and the minor chords make for a great, haunting ballad. Don, John & David Beaudoin created a unique harmonic blend that only comes from siblings.
Rick Moser’s bass was front and center for many of the tracks, like “A Girl You Can Depend On.” Most of the songs draw heavily from British Invasion and the subsequent American answer, with bands like the Byrds. When they do try and step out of that style, like in their serviceable take on Wilson Pickett’s “If You Need Me,” the results are less convincing.
Rhodes’ drumming is heard only on the first few tracks – his desire to write and record his own songs clashed with the band’s management. He’s gone by the band’s best single, “Falling Sugar.” Honestly, you can really tell a difference – Rhodes’ replacement, Terry Rae, was a stronger percussionist. The track swings, jangles and features a descending guitar line and excellent vocals. The song was co-written by Paul Leka, who would pen the smashes “Green Tambourine,” and “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye).” The track has been featured on several garage-rock compilations over the years.
The band tackles David Gates’ (later of Bread) composition “Saturday’s Child,” a track that was also covered by the Monkees. This version is grittier, with fuzz guitar and lots of harmonies. Although, I think the Monkees’ take is superior, due to its polish and humor. The single’s b-side is even more strange – “Party Lights” is a cover of the Claudine Clark song, performed at half-speed for most of the tune, it’s hardly recognizable. Then, about halfway through, the track picks up. It’s definitely an interesting arrangement.
“Greed” shows the band stretching out, with a psychedelic, Yardbirds feel, tempo changes and gong rings.
The final two tracks, “Little People” and “Summertime Game,” are curious – a teaming with actor-turned-singer Don Grady, who was a star on My Three Sons. Grady is a decent singer, but these songs are more cute than good and not up to the quality of the other ten on the disc.
Like a lot of bands, their time was brief, marred by poor management decisions and and lack of financial compensation. All Night Long features enough great tunes that any fan of Sixties’ garage rock should take notice. —Tony Peters