Mar 02, 2023, 06:28AM

Shore Euphoria

Even with the dominance of radio pop, coastal Maryland still managed to produce two essential DIY/indie music artifacts.

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Maryland’s Eastern Shore isn’t a legendary hub for innovative music. Standard Top 40 pop has long been the prime beachside soundtrack for the random vacationers and party animals who converge to turn this region into a tourist trap. Even with the dominance of radio pop, coastal Maryland still managed to produce two essential DIY/indie music artifacts. Both are electrifying teenbeat blasts.

“Your Sweet Love” b/w “Percision” by The Royals (Monumental Films And Recordings; early 1960’s?): “The Liverpool Sound Of The Royals… arranged by Joey Welz.” So reads the label of this forgotten 45. The Royals’ lone release came out on a Baltimore-based imprint with ties to the Dome and Fleet labels; Joey Welz was the co-producer of Dome’s best-known record, the Baltimore's Teen Beat A Go Go compilation. Monumental also put out interesting obscurities by The Ebb Tides, Joy Kendal, Black & Blue, The Telstars, and Bobby Everhart. According to a mid-1960s ad in Baltimore’s News-American’s “Your World” section, The Royals were based in Salisbury, but performed throughout Maryland and other parts of DelMarVa.

Ignore the label description, these are anything but Liverpool sounds. “Your Sweet Love” is a frat-damaged chunk of distinctly American rock with echoey lo-fi production and rousing call-and-response vocals. Side B has a surfy instrumental plonker with an awkward (misspelled?) title. The A-side is manna for fans of the seedy/beer blasted pound of the pre-Beatles era (i.e., Kingsmen, Raiders, Fendermen, etc.). Unfortunately “Your Sweet Love” has never been reissued, but the flip graces volume 9 of Buffalo Bop’s sprawling Strictly Instrumental series.

"Gone And Left Me" b/w "Cause Of All Man-Kind" by Mike’s Messengers (El-Ez-De Records; 1966): This single’s A-side became legendary among punk cultists after it was reissued on Crypt Records’ Back From The Grave series. More importantly, “Gone And Left Me” is one of the best examples of early blues punk. Long before Jon Spencer, The Gossip, and Black Keys became icons of the sub-genre, blues punk was one of many bastard styles spawned by the 1960s U.K. r ’n ’b scene which also served as a global inspiration for 1960s garage rock.

Gene Watson, the lead snarler/bassist of Mike’s Messengers, makes Eric Burdon sound like a sedate choir boy. The riffs and melodies on “Gone And Left Me” are steeped in blues roots. Guitarist Mike “The Prophet” Taylor shreds with a molten energy more akin to Howlin’ Wolf-side player Hubert Sumlin than any of the British artists who worshipped Sumlin, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and similar Chicago axe slingers. The lyrical rant of “Gone And Left Me” radiates streetwise misanthropy: “My love life is empty, but my pocket book is full!”

Mike’s Messengers emerged from two towns less than hour from the shore, Salisbury and Quantico. A primitive studio in the back of a Salisbury electronics store is where the band recorded their wild folk-blues destruction. Salisbury’s most famous today for being home to Salisbury State University and the Perdue poultry empire. A raw stench hovers all around Perdue’s gargantuan farm complex. At the very least this could’ve been a subliminal influence on Taylor’s raw dirty attack.

The flip equals the A-side’s awesomeness with a much different approach. “Cause Of All Mankind” is a proto-bedroom pop dirge charged by psych-folk euphoria and goofy yet earnest lyrics that pay tribute to the spiritual unity of heartbroken friends.


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