Follow Me Down: Vanguard's Lost Psychedelic Era

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Follow Me Down: Vanguard’s Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970), co-produced by Vanguard staffer Stephen Brower and Birdman Records founder David Katznelson, is a double gatefold, 18 track vinyl compilation that encompasses hand-selected tracks from Vanguard’s best “lost” records and 45’s. Many of the bands featured here only released one record, or a smattering of singles, before drifting into obscurity, though many of the artists went on to greater fame after their stint at Vanguard was done. And while they are stylistically varied, there lies a common thread of musical proficiency and integrity that represents the trademark of quality Vanguard strived (and still strives) to uphold…no matter how bombastic, fuzz-soaked or outer-worldly the music may have seemed.

Some of the artists on Follow Me Down include: The 31st of February (A Nickel’s Worth of Benny’s Help) - Originally forming in 1965 under the moniker The Bitter Ind – short for Independents, this Florida band recorded one album for Vanguard Records.  The band disbanded shortly thereafter, and drummer Butch Trucks was invited to join the Allman Brothers as a permanent member. Circus Maximus (Travelin’ Around) - The band recorded two albums for Vanguard, a self-titled 1967 outing and 1968’s follow-up Neverland Revisited. Each album is driven by the dual songwriting contributions of the band’s leaders and co-founders, Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker, with the band gaining most of its still-modest notoriety from Bruno’s 8-minute epic “Wind,” which became a minor hit on FM radio at the time. The Hi-Five (Did You Have To Rub It In?) -  A classic rock and roll tale of a band that was so very close to superstardom, but fell short. The band were regulars at the famous Café Wah, when Beatles manager Brian Epstein walked into the club and signed the Hi-Five to management.  Soon after, labels like RCA and Columbia were cutting demos on the band. But when Epstein died at 32 of a drug overdose, the doors that had been opened were slammed shut.  It was then that Vanguard, who had also had been interested in the band, offered them a single deal. Did You Have To Rub It In? featured here is a Mamas-and-Papas-esque groover and one of the best titled rock songs of all time. And those are just a few of the various and sundry tales this landmark compilation has to tell.

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