Val Stecklein Guitar (rhythm), Vocals
Mike Chapman Guitar (lead), Vocals
Richard Larzalere Drums
Richard Scott Bass guitar, Vocals
Along with the Remains, the Blue Things are serious contenders for the title of the Great Lost Mid-'60s American Band. The Kansas group was extremely popular in the Midwest and Texas, but remained unknown on a national level, despite a deal with RCA. Piloted by the songwriting of singer and guitarist Val Stecklein, the group often sounded like a cross between the Byrds and the Beau Brummels with their melodic, energetic, guitar-oriented folk-rock and haunting harmonies. The group's sole album (Listen & See, 1966) and several singles chart a rapid growth from British Invasion-like material with a heavy Searchers and Buddy Holly influence to full-blown psychedelic efforts with careening guitars, organ, and backward effects. Quite innovative for the time, these 1966 psychedelic singles met with no more than regional success. The group's impetus was derailed by the departure of Stecklein at the end of 1966, although they struggled on for a bit. Stecklein went to California and recorded a disappointing MOR folk album for Dot in the late '60s that reprised some of his Blue Things songs.
Originals LP covers :
The Blue Things Story, Vols. 1
The Blue Things began in Kansas in 1964, and by 1965 when they were signed to RCA Records they had earned the reputation as one of the best Midwestern groups in the U.S.A. With a number of regional hit singles for the label, the band recorded an album which was released in 1966. By the time the album was released, the band had changed direction from a pop band to that of a psychedelic group patterned around the songwriting ability of group member and founder, Val Stecklein. The Blue Things' Story, Vol. 1 contains 22 tracks that trace the development of the band from its pop-folk roots to the hard psychedelic sound of its last years. By 1967, the band had run its course and sadly broke up. Val Stecklein went on to explore more of the psychedelic sound with other bands. The Blue Things' Story, Vol. 2 continues the story and history of the band and Val Stecklein where Vol. 1 left off. This CD compiles some early Blue Things singles, songs from the RCA album omitted from Vol. 1, and unreleased tracks from 1966. The CD also features two early pre-Blue Things tracks by Val Stoecklein and the Hi Plains Singers from 1963 and four tracks from 1964 by the Blueboys, another pre-Blue Things incarnation. The 22 tracks on this album are brought to a close with two Grey Life solo project songs recorded by Stoecklein in 1968. Both volumes of Story gives the listener 44 tracks of one of the best bands to emerge from the Midwest '60s music scene and an insight of the remarkable talent of Val Stecklein.
The Blue Things Story, Vol. 2: 1963-1968
The Blue Things (on some releases they are listed as the Bluethings) were an extremely interesting band, full of talent and a willingness to take creative leaps that gives them some claim to being the Great Lost 1960s folk-rock group. Born on the high plains of Kansas, The Blue Things enjoyed tremendous regional success but were never able to expand on it, even though they had a major-label deal with RCA, which led to their only album, 1966's Listen & See. This disc charts their folkier material, beginning with lead singer (and chief songwriter) Val Stecklein's early recordings with the Hi-Plains Singers in 1963, tracks with a pre-RCA version of the band attributed to the Blueboys, key cuts and alternate takes from the Listen & See sessions, and ends with demos from Stecklein's solo project, Grey Life, from 1968. Stecklein has an intriguing voice, reminding one at times of Gene Clark crossed with John Lennon, and although his writing bends too much at times to the maudlin end of things, it is easy to see how a break here or there could have made him a major player. The breaks didn't happen, however, and The Blue Things remain a lost treasure. Highlights here include the Lennon-esque "High Life" and two intriguing songs that sound a bit like the Beau Brummels crossed with Buddy Holly, "Doll House" and "I Must Be Doing Something Wrong." Collectables has also released a CD entitled The Blue Things Story, Vols. 1-2 that includes much (but not all) of what is here, but also adds in some of the group's later psychedelic experiments, particularly the lost psych classics "The Orange Roof Tops of Your Mind" and "You Can Live in Our Tree."