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Notes From The Underground

Berkeley, CA, psychedelic outfit Notes from the Underground formed in 1965, originally comprised of singer/multi-instrumentalist Fred Sokolow, guitarist Mark Mandell, bassist Mike O'Connor, keyboardist John Miller, and drummer Joe Luke. One of the first Bay Area rock bands of any real distinction, the group played at the first Longshoreman's Hall concert presented by the now-legendary Family Dog collective -- they also regularly headlined the local club the Jabberwock when the house band, their chief rivals Country Joe & the Fish, were taking a night off. With the exits of Miller and Luke, Notes from the Underground recruited keyboardist Jim Work and drummer Peter Ostwald; soon after, fledgling producer and folklorist Chris Strachwitz proposed helming the Notes' first recording session, which yielded a self-titled EP issued in 1966 on the Changes label.

The attendant publicity no doubt prompted an offer to serve as the house band at Berkeley's New Orleans House, followed by a contract with Vanguard Records -- after swapping Work for jazz-trained keyboardist Skip Rose, the Notes traveled to New York City to cut their lone LP (also self-titled), an expansive, eclectic affair highlighted by the single "Down in the Basement." However, both O'Connor and Ostwald resigned soon after the sessions wrapped, and Vanguard -- questioning the band's continued existence -- opted to cut its losses, spending no money on promotion and voiding their contract.

Sokolow and Mandell nevertheless forged ahead, assembling a patchwork lineup that included prodigal bandmate Miller as well as bassist Bing Nathan and drummer Furry Grasso. Relocating from Berkeley to Taos, NM, did little to stave off the inevitable, however, and Notes from the Underground dissolved in 1969. Sokolow and Mandell then returned to Berkeley and formed a new project, Prince Bakaradi; in 1977, the former also recorded a solo bluegrass effort titled Bluegrass Banjo Inventions. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Hear Me Howling!: Blues, Ballads, & Beyond

x

Track List: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970

Disc 1

2. I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag

3. You Were On My Mind

6. Don't Talk To Strangers

7. Anything

8. It's No Secret

9. Johnny Was A Good Boy

10. Free Advice

12. Stranger In A Strange Land

13. Who Do You Love

14. She's My Baby

15. Coffee Cup

16. Live Your Own Life

17. Fat City

20. Section 43

21. Hello Hello

Disc 2

1. Psychotic Reaction

2. Got Love

3. Satisfaction Guaranteed

4. Foolish Woman

5. My Buddy Sin

6. Streetcar

12. I'm A Good Woman

13. No Way Out

14. Hey I'm Lost

15. I Love You

17. Fly To New York

18. Thing In "E"

19. Hearts To Cry

Disc 3

1. Alabama Bound

2. Carl Street

3. Somebody To Love

5. Two Days 'till Tomorrow

6. Omaha

8. The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)

9. Codine

10. Down On Me

12. White Rabbit

13. Roll With It

14. Why Did You Put Me On

15. Underdog

16. Summertime Blues

17. Glue

18. Soul Sacrifice

Disc 4

1. Evil Ways

2. Red The Sign Post

3. Lemonaide Kid

4. 1982-A

5. How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away

9. Murder In My Heart For The Judge

10. Light Your Windows

11. I'm Drowning

13. White Bird

14. Dark Star

15. Fool

16. Mexico

17. Mercedes Benz

18. Get Together

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