Mid-1960's Richmond, Virginia had little to offer aspiring local artists. Enter Martin Gary, a local kid who grew up working at Gary's, the primary record shop in town that his father opened in 1939. Starting in junior high, Martin Gary became interested in producing local bands, however Richmond lacked any real recording studios. Gary first linked up with The Barracudas, a teen group from nearby Sandston, traveling up to Washington, DC's Edgewood Recording in June 1966. The resulting session produced a 45 on the Cuda imprint, establishing NewBag Music for publishing, and using Gary's Records (which would grow into an 8-store chain) as distribution.
More 45's soon followed in '67 and '68, with Gary creating the Groove label that would release The Hazards "Hey Joe" (one of the best versions from the late 60's garage explosion), King Edward & His B.D.'s "Beg Me" (a snappy garage/soul hybrid with horn section), and the monster soul cut "Gotta Be a Reason" from Bernard Smith & Jokers Wild. Trips to Virginia Beach resulted in a 45 on the appropriately-dubbed Beech label for Group Nine, early adopters of a psychedelic rock sound reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane. Summer 1968 found Gary and The Barracudas reuniting and moving studios to Recordings, Inc. near Baltimore, with now legendary engineer George Massenburg. This session produced "Days of a Quiet Sun", The Barracudas' heavily psyched-up take on a Group Nine original with Massenburg on Moog synthesizer (one of the first units on the East Coast!). "Days" was backed with "Apple Pie" on 45 and released in late '68 on Satori, the last of Gary's short-lived labels. Following "Days", Gary produced a demo session for Richmond's Bosom Blues Band - an amazing bluesy hard rock group that nearly signed a major deal with Capitol Records.
"Days of a Quiet Sun" collects the best of Martin Gary Productions, including several unreleased (like a '73 outtake from notable fingerpicking guitarist Duck Baker) and alternate takes, all professionally transferred and remastered from the original sources. "Days of a Quiet Sun" shines a light on the raw energy and musical colors that swept through Virginia in the late 60's, most of which hasn't been available in over 50 years. Packaging includes liner notes from Martin Gary, a detailed rundown of each track, and five bonus tracks with download code or CD.
Our take: Most of you know Feel It Records as one of the top labels in contemporary punk and hardcore, but they’ve been in the reissue game for a while; their first release was a 7” by the 80s hardcore band Lackey Die, and they’ve also reissued recordings by the Landlords and Insinuations. With Days of a Quiet Sun, however, they take things back a little further, exploring Virginia’s music scene during the 60s and 70s. This compilation focuses on bands involved with the producer Martin Gary, who worked with bands throughout the state and across a wide range of genres. Days of a Quiet Sun covers a lot of sonic territory, from the soul group King Edward & His B.D.’s to garage groups like the Hazards and Jokers Wild to psych groups like the Barracudas to the heavy acid rock of the Bosom Blues Band and even one Fahey-style finger-picking guitarist, Duck Baker. It’s an eclectic listen, but the tracks are tied together by their great-sounding, vintage mono recordings. The inside gatefold also features detailed liner notes that give background information on Martin Gary and the musicians he worked with, notes and/or label scans for each track, and scans of other vintage paraphernalia to set the scene. It’s a top shelf job from Feel It, and as a native Virginian it’s interesting to hear what was happening in the state in the 60s and early 70s. Even though these groups clearly take influence from national acts, it seems like Virginia was slower-paced and less connected to the national zeitgeist than it is nowadays (though maybe that feeling also comes from the fact that these groups seem to come from the southern part of the state rather than the metro DC area). As you might expect given Feel It’s background in punk and hardcore, most of the tracks here are upbeat, energetic, and short, exactly the 60s music you dig if you grew up listening to punk rock.