The Electras

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From Minnesota, the Electras put out about half a dozen singles from 1965-67 that were admirably ferocious slabs of garage punk, with generous shades of both pop and psychedelia. The group were heavily…
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From Minnesota, the Electras put out about half a dozen singles from 1965-67 that were admirably ferocious slabs of garage punk, with generous shades of both pop and psychedelia. The group were heavily indebted to the British Invasion sound of the Yardbirds, Zombies, and others, though on several of their tracks they in fact sounded like a slightly rawer version of Paul Revere & the Raiders. That was never more true than on their regional hit "Dirty Old Man," with its menacing unison fuzz guitar and organ lines. A hit in Minneapolis, "Dirty Old Man" was, like most of the Electras' material, written by their producer, Warren Kendrick. The best of their other singles were "You Love," which had something of a garage Zombies feel, and the riff-driven "Soul Searchin'."

For legal reasons, the group changed their name from the Electras to 'Twas Brillig for a few singles in 1966, including one that was licensed to the CBS subsidiary Date (although the A-side, "Dirty Ol' Man," had already come out under the Electras name for Kendrick's label, Scotty). Certainly a better name than 'Twas Brillig could have been chosen; indeed, it's hard to imagine that a worse one could have been chosen. Moreover, the confusion surrounding the name change, which saw "Dirty Ol' Man" reissued under the 'Twas Brillig billing not once but three times, probably hurt the band in the long run.

There has long been some confusion as to whether the Electras were an early version of the Litter, or at least shared some members with the Litter. This probably came about because both groups were produced by Kendrick, and both issued the Litter's most famous song, "Action Woman" (again written by Kendrick), as a single in 1967; also, the Litter did "Soul Searchin'" on their first LP. Furthermore, a Litter compilation on Eva, Rare Tracks, included four tracks by the Electras, with a sleeve note that erroneously claimed that Kendrick "used the Litter musicians to record also some obscure singles under the name of 'Twas Brilling [sic], Electras...Thus 'Dirty Old Man' or 'Soul Searchin'" were played identically by Litter under several names of groups." In fact there was no connection between the Electras and the Litter, other than that they shared the same producer and record label. The damage has already been done, however, and dozens if not hundreds of collectors are probably still under the misguided illusion that the Electras were the same or almost the same as the Litter. Most of the tracks from the Electras' singles, as well as a few unreleased tracks, are on the Arf! Arf! compilation The Scotty Story, which assembles 30 tracks that Warren Kendrick produced for his labels.