THE SHOE BOX TAPES – BOB BROWN With The Conqueroo (ENT 020 12”)
Check out the Reviews !
Just in - Sept 2016 - many thanks to Eric Bluhm for his
review in Ugly Things magazine
- the great Kris Needs reviews 'THE SHOEBOX TAPES'
- many thanks to Andrew Young for his fantastic review
Conqueroo or not Conqueroo? That is the question!
Austin, Texas’s Conqueroo band called it a day in San Francisco in 1969. Alongside the likes of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators
, Shiva’s Headband
, Bubble Puppy
, The Golden Dawn
and Janis Joplin
, the Conqueroo were pioneers of the Texas 60s psychedelic scene and mainstays of the now legendary Vulcan Gas Co
, an outpost of wild music, longhair energy, communal spirit and pioneering arts that was continually in the firing line of the Austin police department. Its first art director was Gilbert Shelton
who would go on to fame and fortune with his universally loved Fat Freddy’s Cat
and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
cartoon strips. You can find out more in Scott Conn
’s fine doc, Dirt Road to Psychedelia: Austin Texas during the 1960s
The Conqueroo were Ed Guinn (bass and keyboards), Charlie Pritchard (lead guitar), Bob Brown (guitar and lead vocals) and what seemed like a never-ending succession of drummers, who included Gerry Storm and Alvin Sykes. Somehow whilst the Elevators and co. all got deals at the time, the Conqueroo only got to release one 45 on Sonobeat and a posthumous LP put out in the 80s, From the Vulcan Gas Company. The band was known for its blues based psychedelia, particularly its fuzzed-out, free form jams and wonderful deconstructed cover versions such as ‘Knock on Wood’ and ‘Positively Fourth Street’.
After a short spell in Bay Area combo, the Angel Band, that also featured at various times Austin refugees Powell St John, Tary Owens and former bandmate Charlie P (en route to the wonderful Cat Mother
), Bob Brown returned to Austin in 1970 to a much changed scene and embarked on a number of solo ventures, all of which have received little coverage and certainly no official record releases since. After Kingfish (not to be confused with the West Coast outfit of the same name led by Matthew Kelly), Bob played cafes, bars and clubs as Moon Pie with amazing guitarist John X Reed and bassist, Bill Dorman. He then cut some demos for Chappell Music.
Later when Ed Guinn returned home from the West Coast, he and Bob started a second Conqueroo recruiting other musicians including bassist Michael Rhodes. Sadly this new attempt to re-float the band foundered too. There was then a three-year hiatus during which Bob didn't play music, between the breakup of Conqueroo II and the start of Texoid in 1976, a musical collective that again failed to release anything at the time. They had to lure Michael Rhodes back to Texas to play bass with them as he had returned to his home state of Tennessee and after a few months of unsuccessfully trying out guitarists, Michael suggested an old friend in Tennessee, Danny Rhodes (no relation), who became their guitarist. Texoid’s drummers included George Rains who had played with Doug Sahm
and Kenney Johnson
who went on to a long term gig with Chris Isaak
Over the years, photographer, historian and close friend of Bob’s, Robert Simmons far-sightedly looked after Mr Brown’s recordings from the 70s and they lay gathering dust in a shoe box until last summer when Bob S got in touch to see whether we might be interested in doing something with these ancient analogue tapes, some of which were not in the best of shape. A year later and we have a collection of material ready to unleash on an unsuspecting world, lovingly re-mastered by our very own in-house audio maestro, Tony Poole.
To say we’re knocked out to be releasing this would be something of an understatement – BUT PLEASE NOTE – this is not the full-on amps at 10 Conqueroo of yore but rather a continuation of those early adventures, largely a collection of songs written by and featuring the overlooked vocals of Mr Brown, a fine soulful white rock and roll singer in the venerable tradition of Bob Mosley
and Lowell George
. So no psychedelic freak-outs here but a gold mine for anyone who digs later Grape
, Working Men’s Dead
, New Riders
, later Byrds
, Commander Cody
, Eggs Over Easy
. In places these recordings also hint at the Band, Stoneground
and Mad Dogs & Englishmen
Indeed it’s criminal that Bob never established himself as an accomplished songwriter in the vein of Austin Delone
or Nick Lowe
or Lowell George
. These songs are both witty and highly musical drawing on country music and that bedrock of Texas popular music, the blues – there’s even a bit of swamp, gospel and pop in there too. In the main, they are recordings done in the wake of Moon Pie and Texoid but just to keep the connection with the old days, ‘Martha’ is written and sung by Conqueroo co-founder, Ed Guinn.
Released as a 12” LP with notes by both Bob Brown and Bob Simmons and featuring an inner sleeve crammed with memorabilia from the time, this release also boasts a wonderful front cover illustration by old mate Gilbert Shelton. Released in a run of just 300 copies, the set also includes a nice CD version which features two bonus tracks including a 17-year old Bob Brown singing on KVET Radio in 1965, and who knows if you listen carefully enough, you might even hear the old Conqueroo magically spring to life in its grooves!
(PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT BOB BROWN, THE 1960s EAST COAST FOLKIE WHO RECORDED FOR RICHIE HAVENS’ STORMY FOREST LABEL)
Ships early March, pre-order now at the nice price of just £11 plus appropriate P&P
UK £11 + £5 P&P
Europe £11 + £9 P&P
USA & rest of world £11 + £12 P&P
(Don’t forget that if you want to order multiple copies or other items with it, please email us
first to get best postal rate)