Attila

Attila’s “When/Come Out” is one of my fave West Coast private 45s. The top side, “When,” is the one that gets all the attention with its two-note, Count Fivey fuzz intro, close-to-acid punk organ, and bee buzz-soloing. When the adenoidal vocals kick in, it gets a kind of a primitive, garagey Strawberry Alarm Clock sound, before going into a marching beat break with an improvised distorto-guitar lead, followed by a sped-up Ray Manzarek organ solo and then back into the two-note intro fer the outro. Totally incredible. The flip, “Come Out,” is even better. Again kicking it off with two notes (this time on organ), it’s a moody teenage attempt at being heavy with poetry class rhymes like “Give me one more try before I die.” Then they guys rip into the riff from the Four Seasons “C’mon Marianne” (which the Doors would also rip off for “Touch Me”) with another great Manzarek organ solo over it. Then it’s back to the verse and adieu with a fuzzy rave-up outro.

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We tracked down Attila Galamb (who was listed as the writer of “Come Out”) a couple years ago and he was happy to fill me in a little on the story of that record and his musical career. When this record came out, Galamb was only fourteen and living with his parents in North Hollywood. He’d already had a full career in the music biz. A child prodigy, he came to Canada from his native Hungary after the 1956 revolution. His father, a bandleader back in Europe, began teaching him music and the younger Galamb picked it up quickly. By age eight he was the sole source of income for his family, playing about eleven different instruments, including sax, clarinet, piano, harmonica, and accordion, including an electric one. At ten he’d performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Radio City Music Hall and was sponsored by the Hohner company. He’d even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show playing his saxophone in 1964 just a few months after the Beatles.

Now this is still unconfirmed, but we have a sneaking suspicion that Galamb played briefly in a surf-style group with guitarist Peter Klimes who also grew up in North Hollywood. Remembered Klimes in an interview before his death, “I went to Milican Junior High School and we used to play for the dances. There was an electronic version of an accordion called a Cord-a-Vox (and) we had a Cord-a-Vox player in the band. I can’t remember his name. One of my highlights was stepping backwards off the platform, falling off the stage onto my back. Boom, flat on my back.” Klimes was a lifelong musician and is credited as appearing on the Mr. Gasser and the Weirdos LP and later put out an interesting solo LP and played with Tom Waits.

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Anyway, in late ’66 Galamb’s father decided that his son should be releasing some music. “I recorded my first couple of records in 1967,” Galamb recalls. “I couldn’t get a record deal so my dad and I just started our own label, I joined ASCAP, recorded our own masters at Gold Star and pressed up a few thousand 45s and sold them at my personal appearances and concerts through out the country.” The first release on Attila Records is “Sax-O-Phun/Bonanza” (A-1000). We haven’t heard this one but the a-side is a cover of an old Rudy Weidoeft jazz song, while the flip is a Galamb original and not the theme song from the tv show. The artist is listed as Attila Galamb playing alto sax on one side and accordion on the other. Next was “A Lonely Day/Banana Split” (A-1001). The A-side is a moody easy-listening instrumental with Galamb on clarinet while the flip is more of a groovy instro with tenor saxophone. Again the artist is Attila Galamb. Neither of these records are very “rock.”

At some point in ’67 however, Galamb fell in with a new crowd. Like most kids in the mid-’60, the teenager was inspired by the new sounds coming through the radio. Already a more-than-proficient musician, Galamb knew he could do it too and looked to get in on that scene. “I met 14-year old drummer Randy Ezratty who introduced me to his 13-year-old buddy, guitarist Art Laboe Jr. (son of Art Laboe of Original Sound fame). The three of us started a rock group.” They decided to call the group Attila.

The three teens went to work immediately, rehearsing and working out song arrangements. “I co-wrote six original tunes that we recorded in Hal Mooney’s home studio in Glendale somewhere,[1] Galamb told me. “We pressed them up and I continued trying to sell them.” The best of the lot is the aforementioned “When/Come Out” 45 (A-003). “I recorded that in a home studio with Art Laboe Jr. on guitar in the summer of 1967 when I was 14 and he was 15.” Of course the senior Laboe had released the Music Machine on his Original Sound label and it’s feasible that Galamb and Art Jr. witnessed some of the magic happening at the Original Sound studios on Sunset with Paul Buff at the board and Keith Olsen’s fuzz box in full effect. Clearly the guys were influenced by the Doors, especially Galamb who was already a wiz on keyed instruments thanks in part to his sponsorship by Hohner. Galamb explained a slight twist in the story however. “You mention organ on the records but what is interesting is that the instrument is a Hohner Electravox. It was an accordion shaped electronic organ instrument that was invented by the Hohner company. In fact I had an endorsement deal with the Hohner company for quite a few years and they gave me one to use, as well as many harmonicas, melodicas, guitars, and amps. I was one of the first to play the ElectraVox, a precursor of the Accorgan and other electronic keyboards.” Galamb’s tune “Come Out” (Laboe wrote “When”) particularly shows a Doors influence and is especially reminiscent of “Touch Me” which didn’t come out until late ’68. Of course the Doors stole the riff from “C’mon Marianne” which was released in June of ’67. Unless Galamb is wrong about when he recorded “Come Out,” he and and the Doors both had the same idea, Galamb just beat them to it by a year!

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It seems to me that at least two 45s on the Attila imprint came from these sessions. We know “When/Come Out” did, and its follow-up “Sound of Love/Rock Rhapsody” (A-004) sounds like the same group. “Rock Rhapsody” is just arranged by Galamb so it may be based on a classical composition. It’s an instrumental with heavy ElectraVox, sax, and what sounds like some of that same distorted guitar from “When.” “Sound of Love” features Galamb singing over some prominent more electric accordian. It’s a slow number with some fuzzy guitar bursts, sort of a “Come Out” part two. This had to have been released at least by mid-‘68 as by February of ‘69 (as we shall see) Galamb was out on tour. We’ve never seen (A-002) but possibly it contains the other two songs Galamb remembers co-writing in ’67. Details of the group are few (hopefully Galamb can fill in a few more) but it seems they were in existence from the summer of ’67 to the end of ’68 when they split. Remembers Galamb, “After the records did not do particularly well, we just broke up the band. We never had a chance to perform live but once or twice that I can remember around town.”

When the band broke up it seems that Galamb went back to his old ways and went out on tour for a few months to make some money playing more “traditional” music. A newspaper article from a Florida paper dated Feb. 23rd ’69 shows the 17-year old looking pretty straight-laced, in a suit with parted hair. There is no mention of any acid rock recordings, instead he’s just “a teen-age boy who has been thrilling school children, their teachers and parents throughout America with his musical genius.” “I performed in front
of hundreds of thousands of school students in 43 states around the country,” he remembered,” adding “It would be interesting to hear from anyone who remembers my
performances.” Galamb left us with this intriguing teaser about that era, “Next time I’ll tell you about my experience at Woodstock.”

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When he returned from the ’69 U.S. tour, Galamb told us he settled down in Highland Park, a neighborhood along the Arroyo Grande, halfway between downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena, and most famous for being home to Jackson Browne before he made the big time. There Galamb settled down for a while. “My first studio was on Raphael Avenue in Highland Park. I lived there from 1969 to 1973 and built an 8-track garage studio where I recorded a lot of singers, artists, and produced a lot of cheap B-movie soundtracks up until about 1970 when I relocated it to Hollywood and opened a better, larger 8-track facility on Western Ave, just south of Santa Monica, that was also shared by a well known vocal coach at the time Roger Wolff. He had a lot of vocal students and pro singers for whom I recorded demos at that studio. That is where I recorded tons of stuff for records, for other people and for some of the world’s worst movies such as the 4-D Witch. That was a funny experience.”

An occult softcore doozey, Psyched by the 4-D Witch (A Tale of Demonology) was released in 1973. Galamb laughingly calls it an “abomination.” The film appears to have been shot on 16mm on and around what looks like the USC campus. It’s pretty umm, “psychedelic” and seems to have been shot earlier than ’73, what with all the liquid light show effects. Galamb’s theme song “Beware of the 4-D Witch” features driving guitar, effecty keyboards and some schmaltzy singing credited to someone named Johnny by the Way. The words and melody are not Galamb’s either, they were written by one Joe Bisko, an aspiring blue movie producer whose sole release, Dingle Dangle (1966) was advertised as a XXX tale “from the land of the Golden Gate.” It featured a couple of “actresses” from Behind the Green Door and guest appearances by our man Johnny by the Way and one Ed Sanders, who may or may not be the poet/Fugs founder. Interestingly, Sanders was in San Francisco in November of ’65 as the Fugs played the first benefit for Bill Graham’s Mime Troupe with the Jefferson Airplane and Sandy Bull, so who knows what he got up to!

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The theme song was released on a promotional two-sided 45 with an instrumental version on the flipside. Galamb’s name is nowhere to be seen and the only info listed is a Hollywood Blvd. address and phone number for Coastline Music Publication. Possibly this was Galamb’s new studio. We’re still looking into what else Galamb recorded in his studio(s) and whether or not anything else was released, as he told us, “I actually wrote some great material that never saw the light of day, but also some crap that got some pretty wide release.”

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By the time he was of legal age, Galamb was done with Hollywood business. “I worked nonstop in music until I was about 21,” he told us, “When I finally got burned out of it, got married, moved to Reno, Nevada with my wife and got into the business of running a productions studio producing radio and TV commercials and eventually owned and operated a full service advertising agency.” Drummer Randy Ezratty would later become Vice President of Sirius Satellite Radio. Laboe Jr. may have been one of KRLA’s “Hitmen” who in the ‘70s who were sent out hand out cash to people who displayed a KRLA sticker on their car. Rumor has it he died of a drug overdose.

 

It seems like there are at least four Attila 45s on the Attila label.
Bonanza/Sax-O-Phun (A-1000)
A Lonely Day/Banana Split (A-1001)
? (002)
When/Come Out (A-003)
Sound of Love/Rock Rhapsody (A-004)


[1] Hal Mooney was the staff arranger at Mercury up until about this time when he moved to Universal Studios to work on tv shows.

Thanks to Westex for posting the audio!

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Hal Mooney was the staff arranger at Mercury up until about this time when he moved to Universal Studios to work on teevee shows.