The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Pharmaceuticals - "Joe's Gass House"

3-21-08 The Pharmeceuticals “Joe’s Gass House”

I am now 49 years old, and have been a record collector for nearly 40 years. That’s right, I started as a little kid, obtaining records whenever, however possible. I ‘absorbed’ my parents’ records, I inherited stuff from my brother and sisters…I traded 45’s with my neighborhood friends…I rode my bike to places that had records, even if they weren’t record stores: Cal Store, The Treasury, White Front, Zody’s, May Company, J.C. Penney, Singer Sewing Machine Store, Dooley’s Hardware, Sears…you name it! The big destination in my ‘pre-hippie record store’ life was Wallach’s Music City, at the corner of Candlewood and Lakewood Blvd. (Lakewood, CA 90712).

Towards the end of the 60’s, even if it wasn’t my stated intention, I was beginning to have “a lot of records” – more than 2 boxes of 45’s (approx. 100 45’s per box), more than one ‘crate’ of albums etc. It was a time when quality and quantity were pretty much the same thing – in some cases, it didn’t really matter what the record was. At times, I was super lucky, and my 45 purchases were things like The Coasters “Run Red Run” (10 cents) or a British 45 by The Rolling Stones “Come On” ($1.75).

I am fairly certain that no later than 1970, I was made aware of a 45 rpm sale at either Sears or Dooley's Hardware – 45’s were something like 10 for $1. Well, do I spend my only dollar on comic books and candy bars or do I buy a small stack of 45’s? The older I got, the more those kinds of youthful decisions leaned towards the phonograph records. Being a young dumb-bell, many of those odd “I want more records!” purchases had some wonderful oddball garbage contained therein. The ravages of time put paid to the 45 that I found called “Magic Fly” with the lyrics: “There is a magic fly, his name is up to you…” (as written and sung by somebody with an amateur Bob Dylan fixation) – anybody know what this is?

One record that was a little luckier than the ‘magic fly’ was “Joe’s Gass House” by The Pharmaceuticals. I still have it, and it’s play-able. A quick Google search will return absolutely nothing about this amazing C-grade 60’s U.S. 45 on the “Newhall” label (#66-11011) b/w “I Don’t Need You”. We can time-line this masterpiece to after “The Slauson, The Dog, The Mashed Potato” – somewhat famous dances of the era – as they’re mentioned in the lyrics. Was the “Gass House” a bar somewhere where this garage band actually set up and played? Was it Skip & Flip on acid? Who was “The Gass House Louse”? It sounds like something out of a Frankie (Avalon) & Annette (Funicello) movie!

It is almost like I dreamed this strange and wonderful record…but there it sits, filed in
“ Misc. ‘P’ “ – do you know anything at all about The Pharmaceuticals? Joe’s Gass House? The Gass House Louse? Newhall Records? Have you heard this record? Do you know what I am talking about? “Wop bop bop, ooo doo doo doo doo”.

And, no. It isn’t some undiscovered “Cool” record. It isn’t worth anything. There’s no jackass in Sweden willing to pay $500 for it. It’s just some cheezy 60’s US indie 45 that almost no-one ever heard. Except for me. And my friend Darrell.

= = =

I wrote the above for my previous blog, “20th Century Music”. It’s been posted there since March, 2005. Believe it or not, I’ve had a few replies to my “Joe’s Gass House” quandary:

“Kenneth Ancell was my brother and Angelo Spezze was my uncle. They are both deceased. Joe's Gass House was one of their songs. They wrote and recorded dozens of songs which my family is in the process of compiling.”


“I am also a brother of Kenny Ancell and a nephew of Angelo Spezze. My brother John Ancell, said it well. We are in the process of compiling as much music of theirs as we can find. Our family is participating well. We are getting recordings (and old photos) that family members are finding in a closet or shoebox, what have you. Nobody has ever made a complete package of all of their work.”

Followed by…

“I'll send you some MPs as we get them together. My brother and I along with my aunt are in the process of gathering up all of the music that we have from them and digitizing them for distribution to the rest of the family.

My brother and uncle were very active in the music industry when they were young. They started in Colorado in the early 60's, cut some records, got some radio airplay, played clubs, traveled a bit, etc... They moved to LA soon after and tried to make it out here. They never quite made it big but they had a good run with it, several bands, lots of clubs, etc... I was very young back then (my brother was 20 years older than me), so I've only heard stories about it. My brother once told me they had struck a deal with Sam Cooke and had been celebrating with him at Martoni's in Hollywood the very night that Sam was killed. My uncle passed away in ‘81 and my brother in ‘93. We were always very proud of their music and love listening to it. It's nice to hear stories that other people enjoy it as well.”

= = =

So, The Pharmaceuticals live on! I cannot post audio clips to my blog, but I’d love for everybody that I know to groove to “Joe’s Gass House”! It’s 1966 garage rockin’ at it’s very finest. I love shedding light on things previously thought to be unknown.

Thanks for the info, Ancell brothers! Please let me know if there’s ever any more Pharmaceuticals material available. I’ve kept my “Joe’s Gass House” 45 for over 40 years…and I love it.

Hey, guys – was “Joe’s Gass House” the A-Side or B-Side? Is a link available to more songs by The Pharmaceuticals? How many more singles did they make?


Anonymous G Ancell said...

Hi Ron, this is Ancell Brother #2. I have the 45 of 'The Pharmaceuticals' in hand. Joe's Gass House is actually the B side. The A side is (in my opinion) a Bob Dylan type song titled 'I Don't Need You'. It's becoming one of my favorites. To my knowledge, this was the only 45 recorded by 'The Pharmaceuticals'. They did however write and record under many different aliases throughout their journey. Aliases such as Johnny Angel, Johhny Angel and the Halos, Kenny Ancel (yes, 1 L...?), Mason Potter, The Exciting Sparklers, Tippy Larkin and Aldo Hubbins. Maybe more that we don't even know about. We appreciate your interest and nice comments!

4:19 PM  
Anonymous G Ancell said...

I forgot to mention that we have compiled 48 singles to this point... it's pretty cool to finally get it all together in one package!

5:46 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

Wow, I would love to hear more of this material!

I always *suspected* that Joe's gass House was a B-Side - making it even cooler!

Please contact me, I'd love to hear more!

- Ron K

6:57 PM  
Anonymous G Ancell said...

I think one of the most interesting finds so far is a track titled 'Conductor In The Sky'. It's co-written by Uncle John and Kenny, but recorded by unknown. My music ear tells me it's either Blood, Sweat and Tears, or Three Dog Night. I would love to know who it is. Maybe it's a group trying to sound like the above mentioned, but if I was put on the spot, I truly believe it's Three Dog Night. It's not just the lyrics, but the way the verses break and also the backbeat. So far, nobody has agreed with me, but I would like to have another ear listen to it!

7:06 PM  
Blogger Tom Diehl said...

I've found that the Aldo Hubbins track, Flipity Flip Flop Fly issued on RPR records was also issued on World Artists records under the name Johnny Shane -- the exact same recording. I dont know the flipside of the Johnny Shane version but i'd laugh if it was the same as the Aldo Hubbins flip.

1:28 AM  
Anonymous G Ancell said...

Yes Aldo Hubbins and Johnny Shane were one in the same. They were trying different labels apparently!

1:51 AM  
Blogger Guy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Guy said...

The flip side to "Flipity Flop Fly" on World Artists (by Johnny Shane) is "Roseanna," a Charlie Rich cover.

7:01 PM  

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