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4 Aug 2017

Thomas And Richard Frost "Visualize" 1969-70 US Psych Pop gem unreleased until 2002

Thomas And Richard Frost  "Visualize" 1969-70 US Psych Pop gem unreleased until 2002

The unreleased album Visualize by Thomas & Richard Frost, taken with its attendant singles "Hello Stranger" and "Open Up Your Heart", is a sparkling and heartwarming gem of late 1960s pop, but the project was merely yet another chapter in the remarkable career of these two brothers, from San Mateo on the San Francisco Peninsula. Rich and Tom Martin had been performing together since the beginning of the decade, with the ensuing litany of bands mirroring all the variegates of American grass roots rock 'n' roll in the 1960s: instrumental surf and greasy R&B in the Impressions; jangly folk-rock with The Newcastle Five; the fuzz-tinged garage rock of The Art Collection. And last but not least, the thundering mod sound of the Martins power trio Powder; whose own LP, recorded while the group was based in Los Angeles and employed as Sonny & Cher's road band, remained frustratingly unissued, and indeed acted as a precursor to the creation of the masterpiece you hold in your hands. 

For after the Powder debacle, the Martins returned to northern California to lick their wounds and demo some more introspective material. Though they were enamored of artists like Donovan and Simon & Garfunkel, the Martins innate - and very much Anglophilic – pop sensibility lingered in new compositions like "Bluey Blues Blue" (later to be recorded as "Where Did Yesterday Go?"), "Would You Laugh" and "She's Got Love". It was to be the latter tune that caught the ear of promo man John Antoon, who signed the Martins to his Tons Of Fun publishing imprint, assumed managerial duties and got the duo signed to Imperial Records under the nom de disque Thomas & Richard Frost. As a single, the simple, catchy "She's Got Love" was to achieve a modicum of success as a turntable hit, reaching only the lower half of the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1969, but with strong regional airplay across the country, upon the back of which the Frosts were able to tour. 

Back in LA, Rich and Tom made the scene with their pals Rodney Bingenheimer and Frank Zinn, enjoying a brief but eye-opening spell as bona fide pop stars. Plans were big for the Frosts, with a full, lavishly orchestrated, album release, but it was all to fall apart as the follow-up singles stiffed and parent label Liberty/UA decided to wind down Imperial. In 1971, Rich and Tom signed a new deal with Uni and finally got an album, eponymously-titled and singer/songwriter-orientated, released the following year. In their press interviews the Frosts did for that Uni album, they disparaged the bubblegum of their Imperial period, but the state-of-the art production pop of Visualize has clearly stood the test of time and sounds better now, than it probably ever has. 

The proceedings are imbued with the Zeitgeist of Los Angeles in its last throes of pop innocence, and the Martins heart-on-their-sleeve Anglophilic sensitivity is less derivative then remarkably refreshing, with superbly recorded arrangements that any late 1960s pop fan will cherish. Listening to tracks like "Open Up Your Heart", "Where Did Yesterday Go?" or "Hello Stranger" recalls the simple joys of commercial pop at the dawn of the 1970s. Uncomplicated, fun, yet eminently memorable. Tony Macauley would be proud. Alec Palao, El Cerrito, California.

Thomas & Richard Frost were a talented duo who were involved in some of the most intriguing late 1960s rock groups coming out of California. I first heard them play in one of the best American mod-influenced groups called Powder in the mid-60s. They found little success, even after recording a handful of tracks at Gold Star studios, none of which actually came out at the time. Powder's music was finally unearthed and released on cd/vinyl in 1996 on Biff! Bang! Powder put out by Distortion Records. 

After Powder fizzled and a short stint in Sonny & Cher's touring band, Thomas & Richard Frost tried their hand at the soft rock sound, inspired by how folk rock heroes like Donovan had gone twee pop. Between 1968 and 1970, they recorded a handful of singles for Imperial Records, and finally recording an album in 1969. Sadly, this album was also shelved. It wasn't until Joe Foster at Rev-Ola did some footwork in 2002, that the entire album Visualize was finally released for the very first time, as Thomas & Richard Frost would have released it. 

Visualize is that amazing lost classic we always dream of finding. It combines the remnants of a dreamy folk rock sound, couple it with loungey horns and soft pop harmonies, and combine it all in a mesmerizing blend. Think Kim Fowley or Michael Lloyd, if they worked with Salt Water Taffy or Jan and Dean, and you get an idea of how Visualize sounds. 

The exquisite psych pop opener of She's Got Love (once you get past the 30 second album introduction, Prelude), which was one of the singles released in 1969, is by far the best track here. Where Did Yesterday Go? is the kind of song I dream of finding, an early morning soft pop gem lost in a hazy shuffle. Both December Rain, April Laughter and The Word Is Love have shades of Donovan hovering over them. With Me My Love reminds of the pleasures of the Twinn Connexion's Turn Down Day. Where Are We? is a twee ballad that could be right off of the latest Belle and Sebastian album. If I Can't Be Your Lover is a bouncy sing-along Beatles-esque album closer (just watch for that outro!). 

All of the bonus tracks (13-16) are superb additions, and all except Everyday Judy were released as singles. They all have a similar vibe to She's Got Love (the album's starting track, which was also released as a single) and rate amongst my favorite tracks on the disc. Hello Stranger is a super charged LA pop tune with great horns to emphasize the quirky rhythms. Fairy Tale Affair is an adrenalin inducing pop song, thanks to those harmonies. I love gummy tunes like Open Up Your Heart, this song reminds me of the Rock Flowers, because of the soaring strings and melody. Everyday Judy is a nice slow, soulful number and a great way to end the cd. 

I don't know what we would do without people like Rev-Ola or Sundazed. People who keep unearthing these wonderful, lost pop gems. It's great to know that not only are there still lost pop gems not yet heard or re-discovered yet, but also that there are still people who appreciate great pop music. ......---Patrick, April 22, 2003...

Thomas & Richard Frost (born Thomas Martin and Richard Martin) were members of several San Mateo, CA-based groups during the early to mid-'60s -- including a surf group (the Impressions), a folk-rock group (the Newcastle Five), and a fuzz rock group (the Art Collection, teaming up with visiting New Zealand singer Ray Columbus) -- before forming a mod-pop power trio called Powder. This group moved down to L.A. to record an album at Hollywood's Gold Star studios, and while they were there also found employment as Sonny & Cher's touring group. Despite hailing from Northern California, their pop art-psychedelic singles were the closest thing the West Coast to rival swinging London's early Who and the Creation. Unfortunately for the brothers Martin, Powder's LP was never released. Discouraged, they returned to San Mateo, but it wasn't long before they were recording new material again, this on their own. They soon attracted the attention of Imperial Records, who signed the duo, who were now calling themselves Thomas & Richard Frost. 

Thomas & Richard Frost recorded a handful of classic pop singles for Imperial from 1968 through 1970, including "She's Got Love," which charted at number 83 on Billboard's Top 100 singles chart. In November 1969, they appeared on TV's American Bandstand, performing the song. Each subsequent single was a step toward what was sure to be their artistic tour de force, an album they envisioned as Visualize. For these fantastic 1969 recordings, the duo were backed by Kim Fowley's usual Imperial session gang, including Skip Battin (ex-Skip & Flip, the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage), Steppenwolf guitarist Mars Bonfire, and legendary drummer Hal Blaine. Unfortunately for all concerned, this album was also -- and somewhat inexplicably -- canceled in the 11th hour by the powers-that-be at Imperial, even though the group's master recordings were in the can, and the album had been assigned a catalog number and was being prepared for release. The only explanation Imperial gave at the time was that they were undergoing reorganization after being acquired by Liberty Records; their album simply wasn't a priority to the new suits, and, so, Visualize was indefinitely shelved. 

All of this resulted -- as you might expect -- in Thomas & Richard Frost becoming disillusioned with their record company. In 1972, they recorded a few additional tracks to get out of their record deal, then moved over to UNI, where they eventually released an accomplished country-rock flavored singer/songwriter album, the self-titled Thomas & Richard Frost, produced by Joe Saraceno. In 1996, the Distortions label issued a collection by Powder, entitled Biff! Bang! Powder, which was comprised mostly of their 1968 demos. In 2002, Rev-Ola reissue maven Joe Foster happily negotiated the release of not just the complete Visualize album (tracks one through 12), but additional outtakes and all of the duo's original mono singles, released prior to the album sessions............. by Bryan Thomas

Of all the known or rumoured "lost" albums from the odd pop era when everyone wanted a go at a Superpop classic a la Brian Wilson, (and more succeeded than one might think) this is perhaps the most thoroughly the only essay in this style by the artist, it was a case of never before and never again! 

Richard and Tom Martin were mainstays of The Art Collection aka Powder, America's closest shot at the Pop-Art sound of The Who or The Creation. After a number of classic (and now ruinously expensive!) singles failed to set the charts alight, a change of direction was clearly called for. Calling themselves Thomas and Richard Frost, the brothers signed to Imperial Records and made a number of classic pop singles, some of which indeed hit the lower reaches of the charts - all in preparation for their masterwork, "Visualise". 

Unfortunately, reorganisation at Imperial after their acquisition by Liberty Records meant the album was cancelled at such a late stage that production masters complete with catalogue number and half-completed artwork have languished in the vaults for years. 

Tom and Rich's next project was an accomplished country-rock album for UNI Records… and the breathtaking pop experiment of "Visualise" remaining a closed chapter until now. 

A lost classic of the collectable "Soft-Pop" genre that includes the complete "Visualise", outtakes, and the singles leading to the album in the original Mono mixes. 

Liner notes by renowned West Coast music expert Alec Palao, with input from Tom and Rich themselves...

Unreleased US 1969 LP by these 2 hugely talented brothers. A couple of Fab 45's were the only evidence at the time from the LP session, incl the Amazing "She's got love". If you dig well-crafted/Magic late 60's Orch Pop this an absolute must; and further more, if your musical preference is "Wichita Lineman" more than "Purple Haze" = This is your Cuppa T! ONE OF THE BEST RE-RELEASES OF 2002!! Prior to this, Thomas & Richard Frost were leading the US Cult band, POWDER; a sensational Mod/Freakbeat outfit, who never released anything at the time, but there was a collection of their unrel stuff rel. a couple of years ago on Distortion.....ByJn Johansson.

This cd is highly recommended for those of you looking for run of the mill sunshine soft-rock-pop with very pleasant vocals and very pleasant strings/horn orchestration. It will probably not blow your socks off and there is admittedly nothing terribly original here. However, there are more good songs then bad and a small handful of greats. I find myself putting it in the player quite a bit more than I thought I would when I first bought it. Catchy, modest, some of the lyrics might make you cringe a little for their utter lack of originality. It definately should have been released a long time ago though, there would/should have been a couple radio hits. You can't listen to samples online unfortunately, and there's only one other review thus far listed here, so it's a gamble purchase. I don't think anyone who's a fan of this genre will be dissapointed, the album is fairly consistent though it loses quality as it progresses. Maybe it's not worth list price unless you make a lot of money, seeing as there is more original music from then, and you can hear more than a few borrowed ideas though nothing blatently stolen. Not that that makes it bad. For me, it makes it more enjoyable because I really like music of this genre and Thomas and Richard Frost still have their own style. You can really hear them having fun and trying to make music of a specific genre for a specific audience and at this they do a more than satisfactory job. This is all very well put together. There are a lot of different types of songs showcased while staying in the genre. The production is very very beautiful, and the mediocre songwriting is made up for by how beautiful everything sounds together. It's not too bubblegummy. There are traces of Donovan and Simon and Garfunkel. They rock out harder than you might think from the reviews online on a couple numbers, but for the most part it's softer, or at least has a lot of soft parts. There are a couple songs that easily could have been hits and you will find undeniably sweet to the ears. All in all this is one of favorite "underrated"/"unreleased" albums from the era.(...) Hope this helps to some degree.........By Latkey Fergusan..

Thomas & Richard Frost scored exactly one chart single in late 1969, the psych-pop gem "She's Got Love". This amazing record has haunted this listener ever since, and I always wondered if a stereo mix would ever surface. Low and behold, here it is, along with the entire unreleased album the duo recorded for Imperial Records. What a joy it is to finally hear this wonderful hit in stereo. Although nothing else on the LP quite matches the majestic splendor of the single (how could it?), this is emminently enjoyable stuff. Several tracks have a Donovan-like vocal quality. The non-LP singles are excellent, too; "Fairy Tale Affair", the B-side to "Hello Stanger", is a terrific track which should have been the A-side. "Open Up Your Heart" will remind you of "Love Grows", the Edison Lighthouse hit of the same time period (1970). The vintage CD release of the year........ByFred Cooper

The annals of pop are rife with dubious legends about "great, lost” albums that, had they been released in their time, would have irrevocably altered the cultural landscape, or at least provided a pleasant distraction. But the hysterical archaeological practices of the reissue industry have, more often than not, simply proven that one man’s Holy Grail is another’s Heaven’s Gate. Visualize, however, is so thoroughly an exception to the rule that its 30-plus years of neglect isn’t a head-scratcher, so much as a mind-boggler. Shelved in 1970 when its record label was abruptly shut down by parent company United Artists, this California duo’s sole long-player is a scarily ambitious audio travelogue of ersatz Hollywood psychedelia and Pet Sounds-inspired symphonic grandeur. Straddling the precarious divide between rock and easy listening that the Left Banke, the Hollies and early Bee Gees negotiated so well, the likes of "Where Did Yesterday Go?” and "Hello Stranger” are timeless number ones from a better revisionist past. And the fact that the ravishing and epic "Everyday Judy” — a would-be career peak for most of their late ’60s peers — was deemed an outtake proves that the Frosts presided over some serious quality control. (Rev-Ola) .........By Michael White..

*Richard Martin - Guitar, Vocals
*Tom Martin - Vocals, Guitar, Bass
*Mars Bonfire - Guitar
*Earl Palmer - Drums
*Michael O'Martian - Piano
*Ben Benay - Guitar
*Barney Kessel - Guitar
*David T. Walker - Guitar
*Jim Horn - Saxophone
*Jay Migliori - Flute
*Doug Feiger - Bass
*Tony Sales - Bass
*Max Bennett - Bass
*Red Rhodes - Pedal Seel Guitar
*The Blossoms - Vocals
*Joe Osborne - Bass

1. Prelude/Shes Got Love - 2:55
2. Where Did Yesterday Go - 2:39
3. December Rain April Laughter - 2:54
4. Woodstock - 2:43
5. Gotta Find A New Place To Stay - 2:29
6. With Me My Love - 2:18
7. Where Are We - 2:25
8. Come Clap Your Hands - 2:30
9. The City - 2:33
10.The World Is Love - 2:41
11.On Our Way Home - 2:48
12.If I Cant Be Your Lover (Vic Dana, Ted Glasser) - 5:44
13.Hello Stranger - 2:42
14.Fairy Tale Affair - 2:49
15.Open Up Your Heart (John Worsley) - 2:51
16.Everyday Judy - 4:14

Tracks 1 ans 10 from Imperial single 66405, 1969
Tracks 5 and 6 from Imperial single 66426, 1969
Tracks 13 and 14 from Imperial single 66451, 1970
Tracks 2 and 15 from Liberty single 56191, 1970

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..







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