Exposé Online banner

Marvin Gardens — 1968
(High Moon HMRCD 05, 1968/2016, LP/CD/DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2017-01-07

1968 Cover art

Considering the first wave of 60s San Francisco bands as Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and of course the Grateful Dead, then Marvin Gardens was definitely part of the second wave. That initial wave of bands produced mountains of enduring albums, setting the bar higher for the followers. Marvin Gardens, taking their name from the Game of Monopoly, tried to compete but slipped through the cracks into obscurity. Their only legacy was their name on posters of the day. They drew comparisons to Big Brother & the Holding Company as both bands were fronted by a distinctive and compelling female vocalist. In Marvin Gardens’ case that was Carol Duke from Bakersfield, CA, but she was no Janis Joplin. Duke gave the band direction, moving them away from a top-40 cover band, to a blues rock and psychedelia. Carol’s voice lacked Janis’ grit and was more in line with Judy Henske, both in tonal quality and sense of humor. Marvin Gardens built a loyal following with their residency at the Lion’s Den in Sausalito, which resulted in a demo record for Reprise Records in 1968. However, no record deal materialized and the band quietly fractured in 1969 due to the band wanting to rock out in opposition to Duke’s more traditionalist electric folk tendencies. They did self-release an extremely rare four-song 7 inch. The demo tapes, the single, and a live performance recorded at San Francisco’s infamous Matrix Club are all that is left of their musical legacy and have now been combined (19 tracks) on this archival release 1968 by High Moon Records. So what we have here are covers of gospel and traditional songs, as well as covers of Bob Dylan, Leadbelly, Odetta, Eric Andersen, and Buffy Saint-Marie songs. Since there is scarcely any information about the band, I believe that their only original song was “Whips and Leathers,” a song embraced by the gay biker club scene. Marvin Gardens consisted of drums, bass, guitar, organ, and Carol. They put their unique folk-pop-psych spin on their covers, most notably those songs covered by most everyone on the scene: “I Know You Rider” and “Duncan and Brady.” They also blended a jug-band approach evident on “Titanic,” ”97 Men,” “Gloryland,” and “The Whispering Song.” For the live performance they played their hearts out, even though it only sounds like 10 or 20 people in the audience. So if you are interested in hearing 60s San Franciscan music that should have been successful, 1968 may be for you.


Filed under: Archives, 2016 releases, 1968 recordings

Related artist(s): Marvin Gardens

Latest news

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Iconoclasta - Live in France – Is it amazing that the Mexican band Iconoclasta is still around? Yes, but on the other hand with the passion founder member Riccardo Moreno shows to keep the torch of prog rock in Mexico burning, it's...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues