‘New’ music from Valenti, Choc. Watchband

songwriter dino valenti“Lost’ recordings from Quicksilver founder Dino Valenti and a newly recorded “hits” package from psychedelic-garage band Chocolate Watchband have bubbled up from the underground.

The late Valenti, songwriter of the hippie anthem “Get Together,” left a bunch of unreleased recordings in storage in Northern California, leading to the new album “Get Together: The Lost Recordings Pre-1970.”

The ItsAboutMusic.com site, which is releasing the collection, is coy about the matter, but it’s quite possible the Quicksilver Messenger Service plays on some of the tracks.

“We really don’t know who’s playing on it besides Dino but some of these songs sure sound like Quicksilver Messenger Service — you decide,” the indie label says on its pitch page.

Dino Valenti played with the earliest version of Quicksilver but landed in prison shortly thereafter. (He sold his rights to the song “Get Together” while raising money to fight a pot bust.) He didn’t play on Quicksilver’s classic psychedelic albums, but rejoined in late 1969, writing most of the albums “Just for Love” and “What About Me” (both 1970) under the pseudonym Jesse Oris Farrow.

The new “Get Together” album features Valenti singing the title song, a massive hit for the Youngbloods. Several of the unreleased tracks top 10 minutes, including the spooky-heavy “Ain’t That a Shame” that flows like Quicksilver.

ItsAboutMusic’s Dino Valenti page offers downloads of sample songs with excellent musicianship and good clear sound. The indie label notes that the “lost” tapes came directly from Valenti’s son Joli and “you can rest assured that Dino’s family is getting paid.”

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“You don’t know how hard it is to be an unknown legend of rock and roll,” the Chocolate Watchband laments in song these days.

“Unknown Legends” (MP3 download) pretty well sums up the band’s legacy. Many 1960s music lovers know the band’s name; far fewer know the music. Like L.A.-based Love, the band from San Jose performed mostly in California, preferring familiarity to fame.

The band is loosely affiliated with the psychedelic movement, partly because of their stoned ’60s name and their gigs with the San Francisco heavies.

1960s psychedelic garage band chocolate watch bandThe band actually dwelled in the limbo between garage rock and the newer psychedelic sounds — see the Leaves, the Shadows of Knight, the Seeds, the Music Machine and Count Five.

The band’s live sound was reminiscent of their British idols such as the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, while the studio work veered toward the psychedelic sounds favored by their producer, Ed Cobb (the Standells). One of the Watchband’s signature songs, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” is a Kinks cover.

Their best-known number, “Let’s Talk About Girls,” found the charts with vocals from a guy in another band. Lead singer David Aguilar’s vocals had been wiped out, part of a long chain of indignities suffered by the Watchband as producer Cobb used various studio musicians and even other groups on their three 1960s albums.

The new “Chocolate Watchband’s Greatest Hits” presents “Let’s Talk About Girls” as it probably would have sounded back then with singer Aguilar.

Bassist Bill Flores and drummer Gary Andrijasevich are the other two remaining members from the classic Chocolate Watchband lineups.

The band appeared in the movie “Riot on Sunset Strip,” performing “Don’t Need Your Lovin” and “Sitting There Standing.” The movie mostly featured the Standells, whose great hit “Dirty Water” was written by Cobb.

The Watchband also contributed “Are You Gonna’ Be There (At the Love-in)” to an even more exploitative movie, “The Love-Ins.”

The band’s revolving door of musicians finally stopped spinning in 1970.

All Music’s article on the Chocolate Watchband called their post-breakup situation “non-existence juxtaposed with a burgeoning cult of admirers around the world.” They reformed at the dawn of the new century and have toured off and on.

The new recordings were made last year at KVP Studio in Santa Clara, Calif. The concept was to re-create the sound found on the group’s Tower Records albums in 1966, ’67, and ’68. The recordings (based on audio samples) are the real deal, garage rock all the way.

Sixties music compiler Alec Palao (the “Nuggets From the Golden State” series) vouches for the new stuff: “The Greatest Hits package is as authentically Watchband as any of this singular group’s vintage recordings.”

If you’ve read this far, be sure to check out singer Aguilar’s hilarious history of the Chocolate Watchband. Here he is on playing the Fillmore with the Grateful Dead:

I always thought of them as a really bad country and western band that had accidentally taken too much acid. … The rest of the group thought the Dead was just about the most amazing bunch of drug addicts to ever hit the stage together at the same time.

Here is the lineup on “Chocolate Watchband Greatest Hits”:

1. Expo 2000
2. Gone and Passes By
3. It’s All Over Now Baby Blue
4. Are You Gonna’ Be There (At the Love-in)
5. No Way Out
6. Misty Lane
7. I Ain’t No Miracle Worker
8. Sitting There Standing
9. Sweet Young Thing
10. Don’t Need Your Lovin’
11. I’m Not Like Everybody Else
12. Let’s Talk About Girls
13. Inner Mystique

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