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Plain and Fancy

Music gives soul to universe, wings to mind, flight to imagination, charm to sadness, and life to everything.


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Koala - The Koala (1968 us, frantic rhythms, garage and riotous psych with future members of Sir Lord Baltimore band)

This snotty proto-punk act had the misfortune to be marketed as Australian (in an era when Oz was still perceived as a mysterious land of kangaroos and convicts). In fact the truth was more prosaic: they hailed from the East New York section of Brooklyn, bordering Queens.

Gigging locally, they came to the attention of producer-managers Art Polhemus and Bob Wyld, who'd already achieved smash success with the Blues Magoos and were on the lookout for another snappy garage act to push. With a Capitol contract in the bag, the band issued their one and only 45, Don't You Know What I Mean?

I Scattered Children's Toys (Capitol 2365) in mid-1968, and though it didn't sell, proceeded with an album later that year. The majority of it is high-energy garage rock, featuring searing fuzztone and feedback (typified on Poor Discarded Baby, Poppa Duke Tyler and others), but there are some decidedly psychedelic touches too, such as the sitar on Strange Feelings and the ethereal harmonies on Elizabeth.

The album slipped out in a unipak sleeve whose design was decidedly similar to that of another contemporary Capitol release, The Inner Mystique by The Chocolate Watch Band (which actually appeared on Tower), and promptly bombed. The 'Australian' marketing concept (itself borrowed from a strategy that had safely seen another New York garage band, The Strangeloves, have a hit with I Want Candy in 1965) was apparently news to the band, who split up almost immediately after the LP's release.

Jose Mala went on to sing (as Jay Mala) with legendary glam punks the Magic Tramps, before touring with the Joe Perry Project (a side project for Aerosmith's lead guitarist). Rhythm guitarist Joey Guido also stayed in music, playing with glam act The Brats, while lead guitarist Louis Caine joined hard rock legends Sir Lord Baltimore.

The album they made together was largely forgotten until the 1990s collector's market drove the price of original copies ever upwards, and word of its energetic charm began to spread. It is to be hoped that this first CD reissue will firmly establish its claim to be one of the earliest New York punk albums ever recorded.

1. Don't You Know What I Mean? - 2:40
2. Look At The Way She Comes - 3:28
3. Poor Discarded Baby - 3:08
4. Nothing's Changed - 4:22
5. She's A Lady - 3:21
6. Colours Of Our Rainbow - 5:29
7. Poppa Duke Tyler - 2:41
8. Strange Feelings - 2:54
9. Elizabeth - 2:37
10.You Say - 2:30
11.Yesterday's Rain - 2:33
12.Lady Dressed In White - 2:42
13.Scattered Children's Toys - 4:38
All compositions by J. Mala and J. Guido.

The Koala
*Jose Mala - Lead Vocals
*Joey Guido - Rhythm Guitar
*Joe Alexander - Drums
*Louis Caine - Lead Guitar
*Anthony Wesley - Bass