29 May 2015
"A Plane View Of The Barracudas" is one of the better 60s Garage albums to come out of "Calvin Newton"'s legendary "Justice Records" label.
"The Barracudas" formed in late 1964 in Richmond, Virginia suburb of Highland Springs as a six-piece but soon solidified into the five-piece: "Mike Parker" (vocals and lead guitar), "Chris Layne" (vocals and rhythm guitar), "Sam Shaw" (bass guitar), "Butch Earnhardt" (organ and saxophone) and "Don Thurston" (drums).
They took part in various 'Battle Of The Bands' during 1965 in Richmond area and began attracting a local audience and led "Don Thurston"'s father to take an active role as band manager.
By early 1966 the group had formed their own "Cuda Records" label, releasing the single "I Can't Believe" / "20-75" (Cuda Records 1, 1966). While it did little in terms of sales, the single attracted the attention of producer/record label president "Calvin Newton" who wasted no time signing them to his Winston Salem based "Justice Records".
In 1967 they released their sole album, "A Plane View Of The Barracudas" (Justice Recording Co JLP 143, 1967).
In terms of content the set offered up a then-standard mixture of R&B oriented material and more conventional Pop-Rock. To his credit "Calvin Newton" generously allowed the band to include two original songs, "I Can't Believe" and "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" (two of the more impressive numbers).
The album sold over 700 copies and the band became popular on the college Frat-Rock circuit. Musically most of the set was rather raw and rough, though enthusiastic performances such as "I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter", "Not Fade Away" and an extended Yardbirds "I'm A Man" (complete with some knock-your-socks-off Fuzz leads), more than made up for other performance and production short comings.
By 1968 they had progressed into a Hendrix/Cream-type heavy jam sound, but suprisingly their final single "Days Of A Quiet Sun" / "Apple Pie" (Cuda Records 2, 1969) in 1969 was a Folk-Rocker. They quit in late 1969.