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Blues Magoos

The Blues Magoos hailed from the Bronx. The band was formed in 1964 and were originally called The Trenchcoats. The original members were Emil Thielhelm (vocals and guitar), Dennis LaPore (lead guitar), Ralph Scala (organ and vocals), Ronnie Gilbert (bass) and John Finnegan (drums). The band made a name for itself in various clubs in Greenwich Village. By 1966 the band had changed its name to fit in with the psychedelic vibe of the times - they first changed their name to the Bloos Magoos, though they changed that to the more conventional Blues Magoos. They also made some line-up changes, bringing in Mike Esposito as lead guitarist.

Like their name, the group's sound was of the psychedelic variety. They released singles on smaller labels, like Ganim Records and Verve Records, but those singles did not gain the band much recognition. However, Mercury Records signed the band to record deal in late 1966 and the group's debut LP, Psychedelic Lollipop was released shortly thereafter. It was one of the first records to contain the word "Psychedelic" on the sleeve, along with the13th Floor Elevators' The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators.

The group's biggest song, "(We Ain't Got) Nothing Yet" was released as a single in 1967, with "I Want It" as the b-side. The song hit No. 5 on the US charts, although it did not fare nearly as well in the UK. The next single by the Blues Magoos, "There's A Chance We Can Make It," was largely ignored by record buyers, as were subsequent efforts. Neither of the two albums released after Psychedelic Lollip, Electric Comic Book (1967) and Basic Blues Magoos (1968) had much success. By 1968, the band was discourged and they split up.

The group's management had other plans. The band was signed to ABC Records, but most of the members did not go along with this plan Only Thielhelm agreed and started up a revamped Blues Magoos, with Eric Katz, Richie Dickon, John Leillo and Roger Eaton. In 1969, the band completed Never Goin' Back To Georgia, but that release did not attract public attention either. Eaton left the band, and the other Blues Magoos used session musicians for the followup Gulf Coast Bound. It did poorly as well and though the Magoos struggled for another two years, they eventually parted ways.

The group's output on CD is not complete, but their first two albums, Psychedelic Lollipop and Electric Comic Book are compiled on a single CD (Psychedelic Lollipop is also avalible as a single disc, without Electric Comicbook). Finally, there is a "best of" compilation entitled Kaleidescopic Compendium: The Best of the Blues Magoos.