The Answer

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Like a shooting star, the Answer blazed briefly but brilliantly over Berkeley, CA in 1965. A quintet composed of Todd Anderson (vocals), Michael Friedman (bass guitar), Chip Wright (lead guitar), Mike…
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Like a shooting star, the Answer blazed briefly but brilliantly over Berkeley, CA in 1965. A quintet composed of Todd Anderson (vocals), Michael Friedman (bass guitar), Chip Wright (lead guitar), Mike Simpson (rhythm guitar) and Bob Shumaker (drums), the group coalesced at Berkeley High School in late summer of that year. Their musical influences included Mose Allison, Bob Dylan, Fred Neil, and jazzman Charlie Mingus. A cannabis-clouded meeting with the Turtles led to a telephone audition and contract with that band's L.A.-based label, White Whale. From a raft of demos, two Anderson songs ("I'll Be In" and "Why You Smile") got the nod and were released in November 1965 (White Whale 225). "In," a self-admitted rip-off of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," shifts from its own tasty little riff to a wild run of acid carousel music in the bridge. "Smile" is all-out blues wailing harp with dive-bomber bass runs that are smoke-filled and organ-heavy.

Despite the Answer's collective promise, the group soon folded its tent. Anderson and Friedman soldiered on as the Drongos (1966-67), but after a cover of The Stones' "Under My Thumb" vanished without a trace, they too called it quits. "Why You Smile" appeared on the 1993 various artists' CD compilation Sixties Rebellion, Volume 3: The Auditorium (WayBack MMCD 66008), while "I'll Be In" was spotlighted on the vinyl-only Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 1: L.A. '65 (Archive International Productions [Bomp] AIP 10003). Unreleased acetates of the Answer's autumn 1965 demo sessions for White Whale exist (recorded at San Francisco's Coast Recorders). Surviving tracks include "Bleecker and MacDougal." It is unknown whether the Anderson/Wright originals "My Love Is Dwindlin' in the Wind," "How Does that Sound?" or "You Can't Stay" were wiped. The bootleg album Girls in the Garage (Romulan UFO X02) showcases the Answer backing Denise Kaufman on their original "Boy What'll You Do Then?" (miscredited as "Take Me As I Am" by Denise & Co. Kaufman, Wright's girlfriend, sang on this track from a pre-White Whale Coast Recorders session (circa late summer 1965). For further information (and interviews with group members), see Cost and Palao's Cream Puff War (number two, February 1993; Santa Clara, CA).