The Pharmaceuticals - "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
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
= = =
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.”
“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
= = =
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?