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Fuzz Acid & Flowers:
This Berkeley-based band were one of the first wave of Bay Area rock bands. Sokolow came from a very musical family and owned a five string banjo by the time he'd reached High School. Mandell was an old High School friend of his, who earlier played with a band called The Dune Patrol in Santa Barbara. Joe Luke was the drummer in the original line-up, which played at the first Family Dog Longshoreman's Hall concert. With folk musician, O'Connor, on bass they started gigging at the Jabberwock where Berkeley's only other rock band at the time, Country Joe and the Fish, were the houseband. Through The Fish they met Chris Strachwitz who had earlier recorded their Rag Baby EP and he recorded them on a four track EP in 1966. This is now rare. The tracks were Where Does Love Go, Down In The Basement (which was later re-recorded for the album), What Am I Doing Here? (also on the album), and I Got To Get Out Of This Dream. By this time Oswald, who'd played with various blues and jazz outfits, had replaced Luke on drums.
The Notes later became the houseband at The New Orleans House (Berkeley), and built up a strong local following playing lots of benefits around The Bay Area. They got a manager, Dan Carey in 1967 (he'd earlier been a road manager for Junior Wells in Chicago), and then a contract with Vanguard for the above album. Ex-jazzman, Skip Rose came in to replace the original keyboard player, John Miller, who fell ill just before it was recorded. The album, which was cut in New York, reflects the diverse musical backgrounds of the band's members. Its most psychedelic cut was Why Did You Put Me On? which had a fine fuzztone solo and swirling organ. Their lightheartedness is best represented by Follow Me Down (To The Und6rground), I Wlsh I Was A Punk and Mainliner. Other notable tracks were Where I'm At, Cantaloupe Island and What Am I Doing Here?
Sadly, after O'Connor and Oswald left the band, Vanguard, fearing they would disintegrate, became unwilling to provide them with the necessary financial backing and eventually dropped them, Further personnel changes ensued before they left Berkeley for Taos in New Mexico and finally disintegrated. Fred Sokolow and Mark Mandell later formed Prince Bakaradi in Berkeley in 1970. In the late seventies, when Sokolow and Mandell were co-operating on a book about their sixties music experiences, they re-assembled the band with a new line-up recording one album, Prince Bakaradi (Apaloosa AP 006) 1980, using mostly material recorded back in 1970 and 1972. Prince Bakaradi was the villain of a fifties Sci-Fi series.
Sokolow also recorded a bluegrass album, Bluegrass Banjo Inventions (Kicking Mule) 1977. Skip Rose went on to play on a number of Charlie Musselwhite albums. Mandell now writes fiction and non-fiction full-time. Sokolow still plays music and writes guitar instruction books for many publishers.
Follow Me Down (To The Underground) (O'Connor / Rose)
I Wish I Was a Punk (Mandell)
Down in the Basement (Mandell / O'Connor)
What Am I Doing Here? (Sokolow)
Where I'm At (O'Connor / Rose)
Cantaloupe Island (Hancock)
Why Did You Put Me On? (Mandell)
Tristesse (Mandell / Sokolow)
Who Needs Me (Mandell / Sokolow)
Fred Sokolow - guitar, banjo, mandolin, tambourine, vocals
Mark Mandell - guitar, vocals
Skip Rose - piano, electric piano, organ, harpsichord
Mike O'Connor - bass, vocals
Peter Oswald - drums