Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Mission

On my most recent mix, I included a song by the mysterious band The Mission, titled "Gailing Made It."

An absolutely batty bit of psych-prog from 1968, this group is only known to have released one 45, which I have been obsessed with for at least a decade.  It's made the rounds enough to have ended up on a couple of Pebbles-esque comps - Psychedelic Archaeology and Journey Into...Psychedelia, both of which are unofficial CD-R comps and as such I imagine perhaps not a great deal of research was likely put into the information about the music included.  (I do highly recommend seeking out these compilations.)  Discogs confirms these are the only two comps the songs have appeared on, for what that's worth.

Discogs also has the 45 for sale starting at $299.00.  According to the site, only a few people claim to have the 45, and it has only ever sold for $200.  (I've seen one or two floating around eBay over the years in that price range as well.)  45cat lists only one person as having the 45.  All of this is to say - it's a rarity.  "Gailing Made It" is actually the b-side; the a-side is the equally and wonderfully bonkers "Calmilly":

Again, I would absolutely call this psych-prog; it's ahead of its time in 1968, and I'd say I've not heard anything quite like it regardless.  And both are just nuts - "Gailing Made It" seems to be in its own language for a great deal of the song, with lyrics that are mostly incomprehensible, and amazing monk-chant vocals (there are really nearly no solo vocals on either song; they are either all chanted in unison or harmonized).  "Calmilly" - which is not a real word either but totally seems like it could be - is another fantastic monk-chant slice of bonkers progressive psychedelia, with more comprehensible though no less surreal vocals that seem to be about possibly a waitstaff getting ready to serve a couple who are perhaps jumpy as care must be taken not to scare them away.  Seriously, whatever these guys had, I'd like some.

Both songs contain some fantastic shifts, with "Calmilly" spanning a couple of different time signatures.  They have a bit of the frenetic sound of garage psych perhaps, but these songs are wonderfully constructed and complex.

Also, notice how the keyboards take center stage - besides the bass guitar, I don't think there is any electric guitar on these two tracks, or at most it takes second fiddle to keyboards; the breakdown in "Calmilly" sounds like a guitar solo, but I think it's a keyboard solo.  Keep that in mind - even if there's electric guitar on these two tracks, it's absorbed into the melange of keyboards/organs and chants.

Beyond the music itself, the label lists only the song title followed by the name of the group.  There are no name credits on the label.  The record label is identified as BET Records (with the fantastically banal slogan "you can bet it's the best in stereo!"), which, according to Discogs, only put out this 45 and one other release; looking at the other release, I'm not convinced it is the same label, but perhaps it is.  The catalog number on this 45 is 101, with each side identified as "A" or "B," indicating this is the first release by this label.  Other than that, there only remains "Draco Music Co." listed as the publishing company.  Draco is a very evocative name, and has always contributed to the slightly Gothic feel to the songs.  And that's it.

There's something beautiful about something like this; a band, maybe just a garage band, or some session musicians or maybe even - in the vein of something like The Jellies - some students, who wrote a couple of songs, scrounged up some studio time, and laid down a couple of tracks in an hour or two, then went on with their lives, perhaps in bands or perhaps not, with one incredible 45 left to the wind to be discovered later.  I imagine these guys not even being aware anyone has this 45 or that, to a handful of people, these two songs might be near-legendary.  Still, every once in a while, I'll do a Google search, or play the songs for music-collector friends, and I've never gotten closer to finding anything out.  I know I'm not the only one - I've seen comments on a few sites, and no new information seems to ever emerge.  (In fact, doing a search using the song title of "Gailing Made It" as a search term actually returns my most recent mix, which I posted less than 48 hours ago, as a result.)  In a bit of OCD-fueled boredom today, I decided to do a little searching, and it occurred to me that, as the group had gone to the trouble to publish their songs, maybe the songs had been submitted for copyright.  Any music submitted for copyright should be listed in a catalog of copyright entries - assuming these would have been submitted for copyright in 1968, I took to Google Books to search.  And sure enough, I hit upon a possibly fascinating result.

Sure enough, the songs are listed - along with two others, which carry the titles "JUNK WALK" and "LAS ZING NAIL US."  The latter sounds like more batshit language similar to the vocals/lyrics to "Gailing Made It."  How tantalizing to know that two other songs were perhaps at least demonstrated, if not pressed.  But the most fun tidbit here is the name the songs are copywritten under: Daryl Dragon.  

If that name isn't familiar to you:

Yeah, that's right.  Daryl Dragon is the real name of The Captain of Captain and Tennille fame.  

Doesn't make sense?  Sure - Dragon was born into a musical family, with his father a well known conductor, his siblings being involved in music in one form or another (his brother produced the Captain and Tennille albums), and Dragon - who, Fun Fact! was nicknamed Captain by Mike Love of The Beach Boys when Dragon was playing keyboards with them in the early-to-mid-70s - was primarily a keyboardist.  He'd been involved in bands in the 60s, and did join up with The Beach Boys in the early 70s, making what Wikipedia deems as significant contributions to their recorded works in addition to touring with them.  Keyboards are front and center in these songs by The Mission, and it would also perhaps explain why the 45 is a one-and-done affair - within a year or so Dragon would be on to bigger and (your mileage may vary here) better opportunities.  Certainly lucrative ones.  And lastly - Draco.  The publishing name chosen fits and makes sense - it would likely be a take on Dragon Co.  

So not only are there perhaps two other songs recorded by The Mission - including one with the most bug humping crazy title of all (Las Zing Nail Us!) - one of the forces behind these marvelously crazed slices of monk-chanted psych-prog might be The Captain - "Love Will Keep Us Together," "Muskrat Love" (if you want to question your very existence and the existence of the universe, look up the "music video" to "Muskrat Love"), "Do That To Me One More Time" - The Captain.  (He does have a doll made in his likeness, released by the ever-reliable Mego - and, to make it a double-honor, his head mold was later used for Mego's Paul Stanley doll - before melting, of course.)  

I actually think this makes me love these two songs even more.  I could, of course, be wrong - but how many guys are out there named Daryl Dragon who are keyboard players from musical families that were operating in the late 1960s and would go on to work with The Beach Boys (who were not completely out of their more psychedelic period - among others, Dragon would work on the Boys' album Surf's Up, playing pipe organ, Moog, vibraphone, etc.)...?  Now, if I could only get in touch with Mr Dragon, who is still with us (but sadly has been suffering some health issues, apparently)...

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