Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Mystery Trend - Johnny Was A Good Boy/House On A Hill

The Mystery Trend
Johnny Was A Good Boy/House On A Hill


Released 1967 on Verve
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 10/08/2007ce


Personnel:
Ron Nagle-vocals
Larry Bennett-bass
Bob Cuff-guitar
John Gregory-guitar
Larry West-lead guitar
John Luby-drums

The Mystery Trend were one of the original San Francisco bay area pyschedelic garage groups, formed in 1965. Sadly they are for the most part forgotten by most people associated with that scene with the exception of Flamin' Groovies leader Cyril Jordan who has gone on record saying they were one of the top groups of the early SF scene. But like other worthy SF groups such as The Other Half, Final Solution, The Serpent Power, Frumious Bandersnatch & others their legacy is this one 45 that was released during their lifespan (an EP of unreleased material was issued by Sundazed in the 90's.)

"Johnny Was A Good Boy" is most certainly an impressive debut recording that rivals the best acts of their era. The song is well constructed and confident, it is driven along with a fuzz bass similar to Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady. The overall feel is that of Moby Grape fused with mid 70's era Flamin' Groovies with even a slight hint of The Easybeats "Friday On My Mind." The subject matter of the lyrics is unclear, I have heard a few rumors but I'll leave them alone.

The flipside "House On A Hill" is much more light hearted but that's not to say it's not good. I would say it comes across as prime-time Monkees blended with The Sopwith Camel. I would guess this song describes the Haight-Ashbury district before it got ugly. Both sides of this record have been re-issued in various forms over the years. If you are a student of the SF bay area scene of the late 60's you should really hear this record as it hints at what a potent force The Mystery Trend could have been with a bit of luck (the very fact they recorded for the jazz label Verve probably didn't help their chances of success though.)

After the group's split singer Ron Nagle issued an LP called "Bad Rice" and later became involved with ceramics. Guitarist Bob Cuff joined another failed bay area group called Serpent Power, while guitarist John Gregory later played with Seatrain.


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