Hailing originally from Torrance, California The Yellow Payges were created out of the ashes of surf rockers The Driftones and initially only formed to provide last minute support for rising stars The Newbeats. Singer Dan Hortter was a regular at the infamous 60’s Hollywood hangout ‘The Hullabaloo’, even performing impromptu on stage with Beatles-alike house band The Palace Guard. Eventually the band would go on to replace The Palace Guard at The Hullabaloo and take their place in the circuit as one of the most recognisable bands on the scene.
The band were taken under the wing of Hullabaloo owner and promoter Gary Bookasta who had them on a militant touring schedule from the outset, this schedule included ‘Dick Clark’s Happening 67’ Tour’, of 45 shows in 45 nights! From 67-70 they would support the likes of The Beach Boys, Iron Butterfly, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane and The Jimi Hendrix Experience in their appearances around California. Their first single was released in the middle of this frantic schedule, 1967’s ‘Jezebel, it still stands up as a great slice of 60’s garage rock complete with fuzzy guitar and some great moments of Farfisa style organ playing..
By 1969 the group were signed to MGA subsidiary ‘Uni’ and had issued a number of relatively successful singles including 68’s ‘Crowd Pleaser’ and the stunning ‘‘The Two of Us’. By 69 the group were ready and ‘Volume 1’ was released; the LP was recorded in part at American Recording Studios in Memphis and also at CBS and Gold studios in Hollywood. Although by no means perfect, it captures perfectly the melting pot of sounds that were drifting through California during this golden era, the rough edged garage rock sound, dreamy, warm psychedelia and the softer, more commercially palatable ballads.
Standouts are certainly the psych/garage rock monster ‘The Two of Us’ with its stoned imagery “imagine the deep black sky, facing the light of the moon, a voice whispers soft and clear, a hand it reaches for you” and great riffing. Hard rocking ‘Devil Woman’, and bluesy workout ‘I’m a Man/Here Tis’ (a Palace Guards classic and a nod from Hortter back to his earlier days), are also excellent and definitely worth a listen.
'Volume 1' 44 years from it's original release still stands up as a great example of California’s take on the psych/garage sound from that era, and is certainly a hidden gem that deserves bringing to the surface. The album is available via reissue label Relics on CD and iTunes or can be acquired in its original, beautifully packaged gatefold form for under $50 on discogs. 1969’s 7” only ‘Vanilla on My Mind’ is also worth checking out.
The band had disbanded by 1970 although 42 years later in June of this year, the band reformed and played a one off gig at the Roxy theatre on Sunset boulevard.
The Two Of Us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_-cBL-8ilU
Devil Woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrTRLCopK1s
I'm a Man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWH97t67rWI
Vanilla on My Mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqcIfpM2vdI