Most famous for featuring Leslie West on guitar in his pre-Mountain days, the Vagrants were extremely popular in their home base of Long Island, NY in the mid-'60s, and recorded some decent singles without approaching a national breakout. Like fellow New Yorkers the Rascals, the Vagrants prominently featured a Hammond organ, and often played soul-influenced rock. The Vagrants were far more guitar-based than the Rascals, however, as well as projecting a more garagey, less mature outlook; their later material lands somewhere between the Rascals and Vanilla Fudge.
One of the few rock bands signed to the folkie Vanguard label, the Vagrants cut some fair singles between 1965 and 1968 that suffered from a lack of identity: a Zombie-ish number here, a punk stomper there, a soul-rock thing here. "I Can't Make a Friend," which shows up on some garage compilations, is the most well-known of their initial efforts, but the group took their closest swipe at stardom after Felix Pappalardi helped them sign to Atco. A rock version of Otis Redding's "Respect" (which surfaced on the Nuggets compilation) was a hit in some Eastern regions, but couldn't compete with Aretha Franklin's rendition, also released in 1967. After a couple of other singles on Atco, the group broke up in late 1968, when West formed Mountain (which also included Pappalardi). Much of the Vagrants' material was reissued in the mid-'90s. ~ Richie Unterberger