Sunday, July 19, 2015

Phluph - 1968 - Phluph


01. Dr. Mind - 2:51
02. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - 2:41
03. In Her Way - 3:03
04. Another Day - 4:40
05. Girl in Tears - 3:10
06. Ellyptical Machine - 2:30
07. Lovely Lady - 5:50
08. Death of a Nation - 2:30
09. Love Eyes - 6:56
10. Patterns - 2:33

* Lee Dudley - Vocals, Drums
* Ben Blake - Vocals, Guitar
* John Pell - Vocals, Bass
* Joel Maisano - Vocals, Organ

Hailing from Boston in the late sixties, Phluph recorded their one and only album for the Verve record label before drifting off into obscurity. One wonders why such a talented group never achieved success in the music industry.

Perhaps Verve, being a predominatly jazz based label, did not know how to promote the band properly. Or perhaps it was because Phluph were part of the ill-fated "Bosstown Sound" scene which caused such a furore in the music industry at that time.

The “Bosstown Sound” was started as a publicity campaign by producer Alan Lorber, aiming to market the various Boston based psychedelic bands on MGM’s books (The Ultimate Spinach, Eden’s Children etc) as being part of one singular movement.

The idea was to rival the burgeoning San Francisco scene as well as the Mersey-Beat sound that was being imported from across the Atlantic. Unfortunately the rock critics and the underground took umbrage at what they deemed was a shallow corporate attempt at selling the counter-culture back to them as a package.

There was strong anti-establishment feeling at this time because of the Vietnam War, and this helped to fuel the fire against the Boston scene.

This coupled with the subsequent pressure from those on the West Coast who declaimed them as frauds, meant that many of the bands became black- listed, never getting the sales figures that they deserved.

Phluph never survived the backlash and disappeared, leaving behind their sole album cut for Verve in 1968. Since its rediscovery the album has garnered some disparaging reviews from some quarters, yet has been lauded by others.

In all honesty Phluph is not as ground breaking or experimental as other albums from that era but nevertheless it still stands as a great slice of psychedelic pop.

It is an album very much of its time, combining all the elements most people would expect from a late sixties piece; fuzz guitar, close harmonies, thinly veiled drug references in the lyrics and a heavy amount of organ grinding.

Sadly the sleeve notes don’t reveal which band member played which instrument, but working on the assumption that all organists from the sixties looked like Ray Manzarek, one can probably ear mark the chap with the enormous glasses and cunning haircut as being the man in charge of the keys.

And what a player the organist was. Just as Manzarek was the musical genius and driving force behind the Doors, so too the organist on this album steers the group to safety, manipulating the instrument in every way possible in order to draw from it all possible sounds.Whether it’s conjuring up mournful paranoia for “Girl in Tears” or propelling the group through the brilliant “Patterns” or the Beatles-esque “Ellyptical Machine”, the guy on the organ holds the day.

He even gets a freak out on the bizarre “Love Eyes”. This tune also boasts a haunting guitar solo which DJ Shadow sampled for his Private Press LP. Apart from those moments of genius the rest of track doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny.

“In Her Way” has got to be the pick of the bunch. Spaced out vocal harmonies and jangling guitar chords open the song before the band gets into a bass heavy groove.

The shimmering organ fades in and out under the bass line, before the track moves on to a great fuzzy guitar solo, with the guitarist making the instrument sound like a busted sitar. It’s a near perfect 3 minutes of psychedelic pop.

In the liner notes on the original LP there is a quote about the band from Cashbox Magazine: “We can’t see anything that could possibly hold back a group like this.When their reputation catches up with their ability, Phluph may very well be famous throughout the world”.

Unfortunately something did stand in their way and all the potential from such a talented bunch was never fully realised. In a different world maybe they would have been given a chance to become more than just a bargain bin relic
by Gerard Fannon



  2. Phluph was a short-lived psychedelic band from the late 1960s, releasing one album and two singles.
    Members included: Ben Blake, Lee Dudley, Joel Maisano, and John Pell. Their self-titled album is filled with trippy lyrics, heavy organs, and nice guitar work. Phluph were slightly more commercial than the majority of the Bosstown Sound’s bands. The album is now a minor collector’s item, the two singles that were released were taken from the album.

    Phluph recorded their one and only album for the Verve record label before drifting off into obscurity. (Original 1968 LP on the VERVE label, STEREO V6-5054). Phluph (pronounced fluff) is a strange name for a group but great for searching for information on the internet because there's no other group around past or present with such a name. According to the liners on the back of their self titled album Phluph hailed from the Boston area and were (as it turned out) unfortunately lumped in with the 'Bosstown Sound' groups of 1968. Unfortunate, as these groups were frowned upon by the hippie select of radio stations and music weeklies that hyped every West Coast group but lambasted the so called 'Bosstown' outfits or just simply ignored them. Or perhaps it was because that Verve, being a predominatly jazz based label, did not know how to promote the band properly.

  3. According to the Verve studio archives, Phluph spent three occassions at their New York studio laying down songs from October 1967 to February 1968.....The first Phluph 45 was from their October '67 session and coupled 'Doctor Mind'/'Another Day.' Both of these songs appear on the album.

    A second single 'Patterns'/'In Her Way' from their December '67 session followed shortly after, probably to generate some interest for their album which was released during April 1968. Phluph may have enjoyed some success locally but it appears that they were virtual unknowns everywhere else. Over the years the compilers have also ignored them but the organ dominated mover 'Doctor Mind' has recently come under the spotlight of mod DJ's around the world and as a consequence this 45 has now become quite desirable. My choice is the psychedelic 'Ellyptical Machine' with it's trippy organ and subtle fuzz guitar which I feel is buried too deep in the mix.

    PHLUPH is worth something, however, because it’s actually a really GOOD psych rock album – and the more you collect these obscurities, the more you come to realize just HOW good it is. It’s good primarily because it mixes the sound of the Doors (and a bit of Fever Tree) with a little late 60’s Pink Floyd, in particular the organ sound of Richard Wright. Actually, Phluph is REALLY hooked on the organ sound – which is what draws most of the Doors comparisons, since the vocalist sounds NOTHING like Jim Morrison (thank you). Phluph is the sound of the Doors if they were in a better mood, especially on leadoff track “Doctor Mind”, which could have been a big hit if it weren’t so DRENCHED in that organ sound. “Death of a Nation” sounds like it was plucked straight from “The Soft Parade,” while “Love Eyes” sounds like Bob Dylan sitting in with the Syd-era Pink Floyd, and there does appear to be a little bit of a Dylan fixation hiding among these Doors outtakes. Things get a bit trippier as the album progresses – the frantic “Ellyptical Machine” is aptly titled, riding on a jazzy and very elliptical rhythm, spiked with backwards cymbal sounds and more of those frantic shopping mall organ outlet solos. While the person who titled “Lovely Lady” obviously wasn’t listening to the music – with its disorienting stutter-step organ melody and freakish calliope break, it should have been retitled “Lovely Drunken Circus Clown,” although even I’ll admit that’s not nearly as catchy.

    The lyrics of “Lovely Lady” have nothing to do with lovely ladies at all, instead concentrating on such deep thoughts as “Growing closeness proves an ancient truth” and “Distance losing sets your table and in it grows the match that you will strike.” Jon Anderson, are you listening? Are you behind this, somehow? Simply put, this is total psychedelia, steeped in the Doors and stuffed with more organ than John Holmes’ co-stars. That oozing green cover is a perfect indication of the sounds inside. You won’t find THIS in the cutout bins any longer...;)