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Area Resident’s Stylus Counsel | The Many Mysteries of Wild In The Streets

Track 220 | When is a soundtrack album not a soundtrack album?

I had never heard of Davie Allan and The Arrows. The usually stern-faced ’60s fuzz-guitar legend had somehow evaded my attention all these years, until I spotted a copy of their 1967 album Blues Theme.

It’s fantastic, so I went looking for more. The first thing I found was a record called Wild In The Streets. At first I thought it was the soundtrack for the cult classic film of the same name from 1968 But, upon closer inspection, it’s actually an album of instrumental interpretations of the original soundtrack. Sigh. OK. Let me try to explain.

In 1968, director Barry Shear’s first film project was Wild In The Streets. Previous to this, he’d worked in TV on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The film was written by Robert Thom, and based on his short story The Day It All Happened, Baby! Thom is best known for writing the 1975 David Carradine film Death Race 2000. The plot is basically a ridiculous cautionary tale about a rock ’n’ roll revolutionary who gets a taste for demonstrating after blowing up his parents’ car. The main character is named Max Frost and his band is called The Troopers. They all live together in a Beverly Hills mansion somehow. The guitarist — Billy Cage — is a 15-year-old genius lawyer. The bass player is named Abraham and has a hook for a hand. The drummer is an anthropologist named Anthony X and Billy’s girlfriend Sally plays keyboards. It’s this “band” which mimes most of the songs performed in the film. In actual fact, those songs are performed by a group called The 13th Power — who are credited on the soundtrack album for doing five of the 10 songs. The additional tracks on the film soundtrack are credited to The Senators, Jerry Howard, The Gurus and The Second Time.

The Gurus perform Shelly In Camp, which I’ve also seen credited to the soundtrack’s fictional band — Max Frost & the Troopers — on a 2014 compilation CD called Shape Of Things To Come. The Senators perform the song Psychedelic Senate. This seems to be the only song they’ve ever recorded. It was released as a single, backed with another soundtrack song called Listen To The Music, performed by The Second Time.

The title track is performed by Jerry Howard — who also seems to go by the name Christopher Jones. I found him doing this song and another called Tree Lovin’ on an Iranian 7″ EP which has the theme from The Good The Bad & The Ugly as its A-side. The fourth song on the EP is Scottish group The Marmalade’s cover of Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da, which was a No. 1 hit in the U.K.

Anyway. So you have this cult film about a revolutionary musician who — with his backing band — mime 10 songs recorded by a bunch of fringe musicians. The very same year, Allan and his Arrows were pegged to cover the soundtrack in his fuzz-tone style as a bunch of adapted instrumentals. Both albums are produced by the same person, Mike Curb — a friend of Davie’s from when the pair met in choir as teenagers. They started a band together playing surf music. By 1963, Curb had started his first of many record labels — Curb Records. Among his first releases: Allan’s single War Path.

This is when the bands-with-many-names stuff started. Curb Records released songs by Allan under a variety of names, including The Sudells, The Heyburners and The Zanies. Curb then founded the Tower Records-distributed Sidewalk Records, set Allan up with a backing band called The Arrows and signed them to a contract. He needed them to help fulfil a major deal he’d just negotiated — doing all the soundtrack music for Roger Corman’s American International Pictures. Corman was already familiar with Allan, who did a song on the soundtrack for his 1965 film Skaterdater.

When Curb needed someone to do the soundtrack of the 1966 AIP film The Wild Angels, he turned to Allan. It was a major success. The opening theme is a track called Blue’s Theme. It was a hit, and spawned spinoffs like the 1967 one I have (Blues Theme). It’s amazing. This is when Allan really hit his stride, taking the newly developed fuzz-box pedal and pushing it over the top. Some of the killer tracks from this time are Devil’s Rumble, Cycle-Delic and King Fuzz.

Allan did the soundtrack for more than a dozen AIP films, including Devil’s Angels, Thunder Alley and The Born Losers. He also cut countless singles. But I’m baffled as to why Curb didn’t get Allan to do the original soundtrack for Wild In The Streets, issued on Tower Records. Instead, he covered it a few months later.

Allan’s version of the Wild In The Streets soundtrack has a different song sequence and, seemingly, two different songs. He dropped Psychedelic Senate and Shelly In Camp, the ones performed by The Gurus and The Senators. Instead, Davie subs in Pentagon Square and Rocky Road to Washington. Truthfully, I’m not even certain these aren’t the same songs, just with different titles. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is Davie covered an obscure soundtrack the same year it was released. What the hell?

Why? My guess is that Curb thought Allan had the chops to make the songs popular. His version of Wild In The Streets was also issued on Tower Records. The catalog number of the original is 5099, and Allan’s is 5139. This, or perhaps the soundtrack for The Wild Racers is the last one Allan did for Curb. He made a few singles for MGM Records in the ’70s, but basically his career washed away until renewed interest in the 1990s thanks to a 1994 compilation of newer material called Loud, Loose and Savage. Since that time Allan has continuously put out new and reworked material, which you can buy directly from him via his website. He’ll even sign stuff for you!

Meantime, here’s a playlist of some of Davie Allan’s best work. Careful not to blow your speakers (not that you’d notice).


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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.