The Ponderosa Stomp Mau Mau
Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of American Music
From the Sky Saxon and the Seeds website:
During the mid 1960’s, suburban garages across America rocked to the fuzz-drenched frenzy created by kids hoping to emulate THE SEEDS, one of the biggest and best bands to emerge from the phenomenon known as Garage Rock. The Seeds style was undeniably simple but nonetheless brilliantly original. Muddy Waters once called them, “America’s own Rolling Stones”.
The Seeds’ debut album arrived in April 1966. Saxon’s lyric’s were infected by a wondrous charm, while the blend of British and blues influences served notice that The Seeds were developing a sound quite distinct from that of their “Louie Louie” based rivals. “Evil Hoodoo” is a piece of high octane freak-beat that was as much a genuine slice of punk as anything the late seventies punk explosion threw up. This sentiment of primal angst, as defined in the classic “Pushin’ Too Hard”, is the reason why Joey Ramone started singing in the first place, as the now deceased founder of punk titans, The Ramones, expressed in an interview.
Best known for their rock and roll standard “Pushin’ Too Hard”, the Seeds combined the raw appeal of garage rock with a fondness for psychedelia. They were the creation of charismatic vocalist Sky Saxon who, along with guitarist Jan Savage, recruited Daryl Hooper on keyboards and Rick Andridge on drums to unleash The Seeds onto the world. They soon signed to record biz pioneer Gene Norman’s label Crescendo Records and debuted the 45 RPM, “Can’t Seem Too Make You Mine” (1965). This was a slow, driving’ number that highlighted Saxon’s unique vocal style, and their patented Combo sound, which for the record, pre-dated the Doors! This single earned the band appearances on all the major variety shows at the time including American Bandstand and Shebang. “Pushin’ Too Hard” was the anthem for a generation and hit number one in many cities across America including Los Angeles and New York and hit #36 on the Billboard national chart in 1966. It was based on a simple driving riff over which Sky vented and growled and was characterized by a masterful minimalism that would make the band a source of inspiration for countless bands to come (check out bands that have covered The Seeds). Their self titled debut LP had other great groovy stompers like “No Escape”, “Nobody Spoil My Fun” and “Girl I want you”.
A second more adventurous LP, A Web of Sound, appeared in October 1966. The album brimmed with rockin’ mid-60’s classics, including the fourteen-minute “Up in Her Room”. Another smash on the American charts was the tightly grooving’, pro-pot / working class anthem “Mr. Farmer.” This song was included on the soundtrack of the recent movie “Almost Famous” by director Cameron Crowe, which won a Grammy for best soundtrack! (Check out the Discography)
The band then changed their garage style and threw the lot in with their emergent flower-power movement. The Seeds coined the term “Flower Power” only to watch it crumble in commercial media hype. The result was “Future” (1967). Saxon’s compositions contained a strong element of acid-tinged horticultural playful whimsy as in “Travel with Your Mind” and “March of the Flower Children”, while the band, like the Beatles, were innovators with Eastern-style instrumentation. Mega success seemed just around the corner, especially after their cameo appearance in the Jack Nicholson film “Psych Out” performing the song “Two Fingers Pointed at You” and a follow up 45, the moody, haunting, psychedelic rush of “Wind Blows Your Hair” (1967). At this point in their success the Seeds headlined over bands like the Doors, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Vanilla Fudge, Jefferson Airplane, The Kinks, Four Seasons, Diana Ross and The Supremes and others. They also split bill with Jimi Hendrix in New York City. One has to realize that the Seeds far surpassed the Garage rock label, what other garage band can boast selling out the Hollywood Bowl!
The next LP was A Spoonful Of Seedy Blues (1967), released under the moniker Sky Saxon Blues Band and featuring sleeve notes and songwriting collaboration by blues giant Muddy Waters. The Seeds were back with the 1968 album Raw and Alive: Merlin’s Music Box. This exciting live LP was recorded in Orange County California at Merlin’s Music Box and produced a song that captured The Seeds at one of their most powerful moments, “I Can Satisfy You”, Jan’s scorching brilliant guitar and Daryl’s wonderful contrapuntal bass and keyboards demonstrate one of the bands most vital ingredients-Intensity. Originally a single, this song was a powerhouse live. In later years, some called The Seeds “the original punk rock band”. Although this was true as far as raw furor goes, their sophistication level was light years beyond this label, especially for the 60’s.
Sky was a magnetic sex symbol. Women would frequently throw themselves at him. He possesses a very mysterious charisma! When coupled with the raw psycho-sexual sounds of The Seeds, “chicks” would come completely unglued! On a summer night during the 1967 concert at the Hollywood Bowl, sky whipped the 18,000 plus crowd into a frenzy with a 15-minute version of “Up in Her Room”. It was the longest rock song ever recorded to date. Famous Manager, songwriter, and scene monger, Kim Fowley referred to Sky as: “The American Mick Jagger before Steven Tyler”! At the height of their career, The Seeds were considered by some to be a major threat to the Stones!
After the last single and a final sold out concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, CA, The Seeds disbanded, never to achieve major commercial success. This did not however stop the band from being a major influence to many, and underground heroes to bands and fans alike. Sky has maintained an aura of mystery, based on many urban-legend type stories and sightings. He’s a surviving member of the sixties, acid warrior, rock icon club, along with Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, and Skip Spence… a true living legend! Unlike his counterparts, he has never stopped making albums and has amassed a large body of work (see discography) and is deserving of such titles.
Saxon re-united the Seeds to headline “The Summer of Love Tour” in 1989. The show included Big Brother and the Holding Company, Arthur Lee and Love, Music Machine and The Strawberry Alarm Clock. Shortly after the success of that tour they were off the radar again.
In the year 2002 Sky and LA fixture and bassist Rick Collins (Tongue, Decry) set out to resurrect The Seeds music for fans all around the world with an all-new lineup. Veteran musician Dave Klein (The Bomboras, Invisible Men, Finks) entered first on the ivory keys, followed by Norman Cabrera (Ghastly Ones) on drums and accomplished guitarist Mark Bellgraph (The Beeters). This new line up performs all of the classic Seeds songs and is the only band truly able to capture the true power of the Seeds musical anthology (check out recent reviews).
The Ponderosa Stomp Mau Mau Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of American Music The Seeds From the Sky Saxon and the Seeds website: During the mid 1960’s, suburban garages across America