Top 10 Songs By The Blues Magoos

The Blues Magoos Songs

Feature Photo: KLRA/Beat Publications-page 1, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The top 10 songs by the Blues Magoos feature a roster of psychedelic garage music from a group that was among the pioneers of the genre as of 1966. Headed by Emil Thielhelm, Dennis LePore, Ralph Scala, Ron Gilbert, and Jon Finnegan, these five men from The Bronx originally began to rock with their fellow New Yorkers as The Trenchcoats in 1964. It wasn’t until 1966 the band would change their name, first Bloos Magoos then Blues Magoos.

Pepped Up

As the group’s frontman, Emil Thielman adopted the stage name “Peppy Castro” and served as vocalist and guitarist. Joining the lineup at this time were lead guitarist Mike Esposito and drummer Geoff Daking. Together, they released their first record while they were signed with Verve Records. “So I’m Wrong and You Are Right” and “The People Had No Faces” were Rick Shorter compositions that were covered by The Blues Magoos but they failed to earn much of an impression with the audience. After this, they signed with Mercury Records to a record deal they hoped would prove to be more fruitful. Psychedelic Lollipop was released soon afterward. This led to The Blues Magoos serving as an opening act for Herman’s Hermits and The Who in 1967. Whenever performing live, The Blues Magoos stood out with their electric suits and giant lava lamps. This is what made them so popular, mainly in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

After the success of Psychedelic Lollipop and its biggest single, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet,” The Blues Magoos returned to the recording studio to produce Electric Comic Book and Basic Blues Magoos. These, however, failed to make measure up to the band’s commercial expectations, and by 1968, The Blues Magoos broke up into two entities. The first was Castro’s Blues Magoos who signed up with ABC Records. The second version of Blues Magoos moved to the West Coast and signed up with Ganim Records. Castro’s lineup featured Richie Dickson, Roger Eaton, Eric Kaz, and John Leillo.

The rest of the old Blues Magoos lineup headed to the West Coast. While there, they signed up with Ganim Records with a new member to their lineup, Ted Mundra. After recording and releasing “Let Your Love Ride” as a single, he was replaced by Joey Stec. Eventually, this version of Blues Magoos went their separate ways that would lead Ralph Scala and Joey Stec to perform for The Dependables.

As for Castro’s Blues Magoos, there was the 1969 release of the studio album Never Goin’ Back To Georgia. Leaving this particular band roster after the album’s release was Roger Eaton. For about two years, Castro’s Blues Magoos continued to perform before it officially disbanded in 1970. Before going their separate ways, Gulf Coast Bound was released as a follow-up album behind Never Goin’ Back To Georgia. As for Castro, his recording career continued for a few more years, this time with Barnaby Bye. 1972’s Room to Grow and 1973’s Touch featured Castro and the brothers of Bobby and Billy Alessi.

Balanced Comeback

With a group named Balance, Peppy Castro made his comeback with the 1981 release of the hit single “Breaking Away.” He’d later team up with Ralph Scala in 2000 for a performance at the garage band revival show known as Cavestomp. However, the actual reunion of The Blues Magoos didn’t come about until 2008 when they performed with The Zombies in New York. He, along with the original lineup of Geoff Daking and Ralph Scala, continued to perform in concerts again that included some overseas bookings. Six years later, The Blues Magoos released their sixth studio album, Psychedelic Resurrection. This was followed by a tour in 2015. Since then, Repertoire Records released the first three albums produced by the original lineup of The Blues Magoos in the form of a CD package. There were also Collectables Records which did the same, as did Mercury Records, and Sundazed Records.

Top 10 Blues Magoos Songs

#10 – I’ll Go Crazy

Originally recorded and released by James Brown in 1960, “I’ll Go Crazy” became his fourth bit hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at number fifteen. This R&B cult classic has become a major fan favorite that has been covered by scores of recording artists over the years in both the pop and R&B genres. The Blues Magoos recorded their bluesy-psychedelic version for their debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, in 1967. Although “I’ll Go Crazy” was one of many cover songs performed by The Blues Magoos, their musical talent enabled them to go from one style to another with ease. This, plus what was a lavish on-stage presence at the time, is what set them apart from the average garage-style rock bands that were competing against each other to win over fans.

#9 – Worried Life Blues

“Worried Life Blues” originally came from the influence of “Someday Baby Blues,” which was first recorded in 1935 by Sleepy John Estes as a country blues tune. In 1941, Big Maceo Merriweather first recorded “Worried Life Blues” as a Chicago blues number that would become a staple song for a long list of recording artists from various genres over the years. Blues Magoos recorded their bluesy psychedelic rock version of this song for their 1967 debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop. While their recording may not have made it to any official music charts, it did become a cult favorite among fans who soaked up the energy Peppy Castro and his bandmates poured into it. While Blues Magoos may not have stood out as an elite rock band during the late 1960s, they did earn a loyal fan following who appreciated their mix of original music and covers that made each song sound like their own.

#8 – I Wanna Be There

As a single, “I Wanna Be There” wasn’t quite able to break into the US Billboard Hot 100. It was released in 1967 with the hopes it would be enough to have the group’s third studio album, Basic Blues Magoos bounce them back into the music industry’s spotlight. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and tensions between the bandmates began to mount. The song was about living life on the road, sometimes a painful reality that touring musicians face as they usually endure a grueling schedule from one concert performance after another. The song was co-written by Peppy Castro and Ralph Scala in what could be described as a partial autobiography by a pair of men that was part of a band that earned international fame after the highly successful release of Psychedelic Lollipop and its prized single, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet.”

#7 – I Can Hear the Grass Grow

From Basic Blues Magoos, “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” was a song the group recorded in 1967. Originally released by The Move earlier in the year, it became a number-five hit for them on the UK Singles Chart. While the version from The Blues Magoos didn’t experience a chart hit for them, it did heighten their popularity in the UK as they were the opening act for The Who at that time while they were on tour.

The song focused on the challenges of a mentally ill individual. At the time, the press concluded it was about controlled substance abuse and the connection it had with the entertainment industry. While Blues Magoos wasn’t regarded as a top-class act among critics, they did earn a loyal fan following as pioneers of a musical age that would influence the remainder of the 1960s and into the early 1970s.

#6 – Sometimes I Think About

“Sometimes I Think About” was a traditional folk song The Blues Magoos covered during the recording of their debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop. Considered a lengthy song at the time at four minutes, “Sometimes I Think About” produced a notable keyboard performance that made this song a favorite among fans of psychedelic-style rock. The amount of energy poured into this song by the band members of The Blues Magoos is what distinguished them from most other garage-style bands that attempted to make their mark in the psychedelic craze that erupted going into the second half of the 1960s.

#5 – There’s A Chance We Can Make It

“There’s A Chance We Can Make It” became a number eighty-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 as a released single in 1967. From the album, Electric Comic Book. Despite the song title’s suggestion The Blues Magoos had a chance to make it, the group broke into two halves in 1968 that would have Peppy Castro’s version mainly stay in the east while the rest of the roster ventured west. Not long after this division, both versions of Blues Magoos dissolved as bands. It wouldn’t be until 2007 some of the original band members would be united again to pick up where they left off. The organ work performed by Ralph Scala was the major highlight of “There’s A Chance We Can Make It,” which the majority of the fans agreed played a key role in the influence of psychedelic rock that would flood the music scene before the 1960s decade was over.

#4 – One by One

The 1967 single version of “One by One” was a rerecording by The Blues Magoos that would chart as high as number seventy-one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number fifty-six on the Canadian RPM Top Tracks chart. Originally, the song came from t The Blues Magoos‘ debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, which was released in 1966. Often compared to musical material better identified with The Beatles, “One by One” was the follow-up single behind the successful hit “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet.” According to their fans, what made “One by One” so great was the combined performance by five young men who may have paved the way for psychedelic rock but were more regarded as a garage-style rock group.

#3 – Pipe Dream

On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Pipe Dream” became a minor number sixty hit for The Blues Magoos when it was released as a single in 1967. This came from the group’s second studio album, Electric Comic Book. While it didn’t receive the same amount of attention as their biggest hit, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet,” it still earned its place as a cult favorite. In Canada, “Pipe Dream” peaked even higher at number forty. The content behind “Pipe Dream” made direct reference to drug usage, most notably cocaine, and marijuana. The second studio album recorded by The Blues Magooss was intended to draw in a younger audience with musical material that would appeal to them. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as the album met with commercial failure and the band’s breakup.

#2 – (We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet

“(We Ain’t Got” Nothin’ Yet” emerged as The Blues Magoos‘ best performance as a hit on the music charts after it was released as a single. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number five and it was a number four hit in Canada. What made the song stand out as an all-time cult classic was the Vox Continental organ riff. This served as a key influencer that would see psychedelic rock catch on like wildfire, inspiring groups like Deep Purple to help this musical genre evolve, especially going into the 1970s.

The song was written as a team effort by Mike Esposito, Ron Gilbert, and Ralph Scala. What this song did was carve a niche into acid rock and punk rock, creating a psychedelic-style genre that would inspire upcoming recording artists to perform their own versions of this historical groundbreaker. For 1968’s Easy Rider, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” was played during one of its scenes and was included in the 2004 deluxe edition of the movie’s soundtrack.

#1 – Tobacco Road

Originally a 1960 release by John D. Loudermilk, “Tobacco Road” started out as a folk song. It was later covered as a bluesy rock number by The Nashville Teens in 1964. This became the most popular version to date as it peaked as high as number six on the UK Singles Chart and at number fourteen on the US Billboard Hot 100. Since then, the song has become a standard for several musical genres around the world. The Blues Magoos covered “Tobacco Road” in 1966 as a recording from their debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop.

Their version sparked UK-based psychedelic rock band, Spooky Tooth, to do the same in 1968. What made “Tobacco Road” a standout favorite among Blues Magoos fans was the guitar performance by Peppy Castro and Mike Esposito. The organ swells from Ralph Scala featured an awesome rave-up midway through “Tobacco Road” that made it feel like a psychedelic joyride. It was this version of “Tobacco Road” that spawned a wave of psychedelic rockers to adopt this musical style into their own musical material.

Top 10 Songs By The Blues Magoos article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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