Monday, September 10, 2012

The Premiers - Farmer John Live (1964)

Authors of the frat-boy classic "Farmer John," the Premiers were one of the many Chicano garage bands kicking around southern California during the mid-'60s. Formed early in the '60s with a lineup featuring Lawrence Perez on guitar and his brother, John, on drums, the band initially practiced at the Perez residence in San Gabriel. Their mother booked an audition with entrepreneur Billy Cardenas, who liked their sound and figured them for a band who could capitalize on the "Louie, Louie" phenomenon; he had the group record Richard Berry's "Farmer John" (like "Louie, Louie," an R&B nugget) and even invited a group of girls into the studio to record live crowd noise (perfect for an early-1964 takeoff on Beatlemania). Released by Faro and later licensed by Warner Bros., the single shot up to number 19 that summer and sparked a full album by the Premiers, Farmer John Live, also recorded with a coterie of fans taking the place of the usual concert crowd.
The band continued recording for Faro, releasing several singles during 1965-1967, a few of them produced by Larry Tamblyn from the Standells. None of them broke out to become national hits, however, and the coming draft basically broke up the band. the Premiers actually returned to the studio 30 years on, recording a new record with the Perez brothers intact as well as guitarist George Delgado.

Farmer John Live (1964)

Although the parenthetical title of this disc claims it was documented "live" and even gives February 29th (must have been a leap year), 1964, as the date, Farmer John is, in reality, a studio recording with copious -- perhaps too much so -- sound effects added for ambience. The title track was originally by the R&B duo Don & Dewey, although it was the Premiers who were able to make a Top 20 hit in the summer of 1964 -- a rare feat during the burgeoning British Invasion. The garage rock styling and rag-tag vocal call-and-response chorus made it an apt predecessor to tracks such as "Louie Louie." The rest of the album retains the same loose party atmosphere and includes a bevy of timely cover tunes, including "Don't You Just Know It," "Over the Mountains, Across the Sea," and a pair of Johnny Ace tracks: "Anymore" and "Cross My Heart." A majority of the material is suited for dancing, such as the up-tempo and swinging "I Won't Be Back Next Year" and the appropriately titled "Feel Like Dancing," challenging even the fuddiest of duddies to keep their respective toes from tapping. This was the sole Premiers long-player, although several singles were cut in the mid- to late '60s for the indie Faro label prior to the group disbanding. In 2003, Collectors' Choice Music reissued the title in all its teenie bopper-meets-garage rock party glory.

01. Farmer John (02:37)
02. Don't You Just Know It (02:54)
03. We Go Together (02:35)
04. Look At Me (02:31)
05. Over The Mountain, Across The Sea (02:31)
06. Annie Oakley (02:10)
07. Anymore (03:22)
08. Feel Like Dancing (02:26)
09. Ruined (02:40)
10. I Won't Be Back Next Year (02:16)
11. Cross My Heart (02:55)
12. Mary Ann (03:05)

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