The Vejtables - Shadows/Feel The Music

The Vejtables
Shadows/Feel The Music

Released 1966 on Uptown
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 15/10/2006ce

The greatest psychedelic 45 from the San Francisco bay area scene of the 1960's was not recorded by The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane or even The Chocolate Watchband. In my opinion the greatest psychedelic 45 of the Haight Ashbury era was cut by a former folk rock combo called The Vejtables on the Uptown label (also home to The Chocolate Watchband & The "E" Types.)

The Vejtables began life as a somewhat routine folk-rock unit in the mold of The We Five or Mama's & Papa's. Signed to the semi-legendary Autumn Records label (home to The criminally underrated Beau Brummels, Mojo Men & others) The Vejtables debut 45 "I Still Love You" b/w "Anything" was a confident debut, sounding similar to Grace Slick's first group The Great Society.
The group's second single coupled "Mansion Of Tears" with "The Last Thing On My Mind", this record was slightly less exciting than their debut, but worthy of a spin or two. It seems at this point drummer/singer Jan Ashton (Errico) left the group to go solo, she recorded the great "Cold Dreary Morning" single for Autumn, and then caught the last train to Clarksville with Jefferson Airplane singer Signe Anderson.

The good news is The Vejtables would carry on for one more single, and boy did they make it count! "Shadows" is an exceptional record, which ranks with the greatest sides of the era. I don't think anyone who was familiar with The Vejtables previous records could have predicted the group would take a quantum leap in sound in such a short period of time, it was as if the group were reborn overnight.

"Shadows" begins with a liquid, underwater bass pattern that comes right after you and never lets up, it sounds like Peter Hook of Joy Division transplanted to the late 60's. The eastern style guitar work of Jim Sawyers is magnificent, it brings to mind a 45 by the pre-Deep Purple outfit Episode 6 called "Love-Hate-Revenge" fused a full measure of The Mystic Tide's Joe Docko's inspired fretwork. Lead singer Bob Bailey sounds like he's calling from another planet, and the backing vocals sound like monks doing some sort of religious chant. The whole thing ends in a flurry of twisted guitar strings and distortion. WOW!

The flipside "Feel The Music" is just as good as "Shadows", this one is more garage-punk in style. It sounds like it is based on the 1965 Who nugget "Out In The Street" but twisted sideways and every place in between. Jim Sawyers shreds his fretboard in every way that is humanly possible. The lead vocalist on the this song sounds quite different than Bob Bailey, it may in fact be someone else. Whoever he is, he is brilliant and sounds like any one of the lead singers of the great San Jose garage groups such as The Chocolate Watchband, Count 5, Brogues or Mourning Reign.

The playing on "Feel The Music" is savage and comes awful close to sounding like 1967 era MC5. The guitar is vicious throughout the number. The song exolodes in a blistering climax with a cymbal crash that sounds like a nuclear bomb. This little 45 is streets ahead of what any of the more celebrated San Franscisco groups of the era were doing at the time. The sad fact that The Vejtables are still uknown is a crying shame, without question.

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