Welcome to the latest Squire newsletter where we explore the San Francisco connection and play songs from the post Squire ‘Spring Collection’ project!
The photo above shows Anthony wearing the KUSF sweatshirt, the University of San Francisco radio station, standing with Linda Ryan, the radio host that first played Squire in Northern California and who has interviewed a veritable caravan of celebrated musicians over the years on her shows!
When Squire relocated to Southern California in 1985, Anthony made many trips up to San Francisco making many lasting friendships with the musicians from the local SF scene.
The photo shows an assembled super session of local SF musicians connected to or interested in the ‘Mod’ scene, Buddy Woodward of the 13th Chair, Jeff Smith from Noonday Underground, Patrick Winningham from New Breed, Bennett Bowman, drummer and producer from Flying Colour and Kristi Callan from LA band Wednesday Week are amongst the group! The occasion was a recorded ‘All Star Jam Session’ live on Linda Ryan’s KUSF Radio show in San Francisco.
Here's Buddy again playing the 12 String Rickenbacker on the day. His later band The Lost Patrol contributed two tracks to the HiLo compilation ‘Its A Mod Mod World’, the excellent ‘Jaguar Skies’ and ‘My Guilty Pleasaure’ which epitomised the San Francisco ‘mod influenced’ sound. Anthony also got to contribute harmony vocals to the two tracks.
He helped arrange and produce the excellent Byrds song, ‘Eight Miles High’, which was later released as a Squire single.
Indeed so good was the effort that Roger McGuinn contacted Buddy directly offering praise for the result and later enquired often to how we got the sounds!
Buddy was not the only musician from the scene to capture wider attention. Patrick Winningham's sister Mare Winningham appears in St. Elmos Fire and so his band The New Breed made a cameo appearance.
Linda Ryan remains a key radio personality and music stalwart in San Francisco, and we are always grateful she had a soft spot for Squire back in the day as you can see from the Get Smart review!
The San Francisco mod scene was a fascinating mixture of 1960s influences tinged with psychedelia and folk. A classic San Francisco blend that harks back to the folk stylings of bands such as Jefferson Airplane with input from The Byrds, and using Peter, Paul and Mary as a touchstone. This key folk ingredient, missing from British bands underscores many differences between American and British sounds where 60s American folk musicians electrified their sound post British Invasion. This influenced the songwriting and arranging approach of American pop and the later experimental music, whereas British group sounds, originally inspired by American rock and roll. incorporated skiffle, soul, ska, blues and novelty into an amalgam of borrowed cultures.
This cultural legacy of connections has as much to do with the local geography and isolation San Francisco enjoyed from larger nearby music centres such as LA, and the music provides a key reminder why the local scene provided a self sustaining characterful sound, in the same way Memphis, Chicago or even Liverpool UK managed to create its own unique personality.
It also had its own mod fanzine, the incredibly successful Wha-a-a-m!, created by Liz Pepin, which managed to cultivate global connections and spread the word of its unique music and style.
HiLo joined with Wha-a-a-m! on issue 7 to include the first ever Flexi disc featuring Squire's ‘Does Stephanie Know?’ coupled with The Beat Direction's ‘Ska Au Go Go’.
The scene extended into Berkeley, Oakland and as far as Santa Cruz and Fresno. Photos on Instagram and the Whamm Facebook page provide a fascinating glimpse of a parallel universe of mod culture separate from the Southern California scenes and in touch on its own terms with the rest of the world.
The KUSF 'All Star Jam' was a unique opportunity to meet and perform together, without rehearsal, and swop stories and share mutual enthusiasm! The running order of songs performed that day included three post Squire songs destined for the Spring Collection project that remain unrecorded and unreleased on record.
After playing records from the bands, the live section started with Anthony singing ‘Red Painted Dream’ which captures a sympathetic folk rendition rather than its electric demo version. Then a duet between Anthony and Kristi from Wednesday Week on ‘Oh Lonesome Me’ by Don Gibson, perhaps better known in the UK as covered by Neil Young’s slower version on ‘After The Gold Rush’.
Wednesday Week were a Los Angeles based band visiting San Fransisco at the same time and we managed to arrange a duet to perform on the radio!
The show continued with ‘Feels All Wrong’ by Jeff Smith of the Noonday Underground, seen here with Kristi.
That was followed by Anthony singing ‘September Gurls’ from the then current Squire album.
Patrick Of The New Breed, seen here with Linda then performed “What’s Become Of You’
Anthony then covers ‘Time Machine’ written by Jack Lee as a special homage to powerpop pioneers The Nerves who hailed originally from San Francisco.
Jack Lee (on the right above) also wrote Blondie's ‘Hanging On The Telephone’ and Paul Young’s song ’Come Back And Stay’. The other two Nerves members Paul Collins (Left) and Peter Case (Centre) went onto form The Beat and The Plimsouls.
Anthony follows ‘Time Machine’ with another as yet unreleased song ‘If I Had My Time Again'. The ensemble of musicians and friends then combine into a singalong of ‘Cotton Fields’ referencing the Beach Boys, and close on The Kinks ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’!
The entire show provides a fascinating snapshot of mid 1980s music culture where college radio was a key factor in reaching audiences. The San Francisco scene also spawned bands such as The Uptones, while the legacy of SF powerpop remained with the excellent Flamin' Groovies. REM, who transformed the sound of mid 80s US college radio rock were just starting to emerge as a phenomenon.
You can hear an edited version of the session featuring Red Painted Dream, Oh Lonesome Me, Time Machine and Dedicated Follow Of Fashion on the attached video.
Look out for next weeks special announcement, and in couple of weeks we will be returning to San Francisco for a fantastic All Star Jam part 2 featuring an all British cast!
Finally, thank you to everyone who bought the Squire ‘Get Ready To Go!’ bundle and the special limited black vinyl ‘version of ‘My Mind Goes Round In Circles’. We have less than 10 of the ‘Circles’ singles left, and as the previous Blue and Milky Clear issues sold out ages ago, hurry if you are pondering the idea of getting a copy of the single for your collection. Click here or on the picture below!