The Charlatans were, by dint of timing, effort and wardrobe, the first on the scene of the 60s San Francisco psychedelic rock bands. The folkie jug-band scene going down in the Bay Area, circa 1964, was destined to be electrified. The Charlatans achieved this on several levels.
The man behind the Charlatans was architecture student George Hunter, who couldn't play a musical instrument, but wanted to be in a rock 'n' roll band. His concept and ambition were joined by Haight-Ashbury musician and entrepreneur Michael Ferguson's artistic and theatrical bent.
During 1964, the nascent group - which included Richie Olsen and Sam Linde - not only rehearsed, but also filmed and photographed themselves, as Hunter thought a successful band should. Some of that early footage may be seen in the film "The Life And Times of the Red Dog Saloon". The only thing missing was a paying gig, which the band was yet to have.
Drummer Linde eventually left the band, and Dan soon took his place, allegedly when he happened by the band's pad to score pot.
In the summer of 1965, The Charlatans were recruited by Chandler Laughlin to audition as the house band for the newly-opened Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. Dan was skeptical and somewhat reluctant to go, but the other members prevailed upon him, and their LSD-fueled audition at the Red Dog was a success.
The Charlatans' groundbreaking summer engagement at the Red Dog inspired musicians and promoters from San Francisco to begin what was to become a "golden era" of psychedelic music at the various SF dancehalls.
The Charlatans had several recording sessions from 1965 to 1968, and released a single on Kapp Records – "The Shadow Knows" b/w "32-20". The band wanted "Codine" to be the A-side, but the label deemed the subject matter to be too controversial.
Dan left the band in 1968 to concentrate on developing His Hot Licks, which had become an opening act for the Charlatans. After Dan's departure, a Charlatans album was released on Phillips.
Most of Dan's songs from this era are well-known to his fans today: "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away", "By Hook Or By Crook", and "'Long Come A Viper". But his classic anthem of hippie relationship ennui, "We're Not On The Same Trip", should have had the success he envisioned for it. As Dan put it, "That could have been a fuckin' hit. man."
The tracks on the CD are from several sessions; The Autumn Demos (Coast Recorders, SF CA, 8/65), The Kama Sutra Sessions (Coast Recorders, early '66), The Golden State Demo (Golden State Recorders, SF CA, 7/67) and The Pacific High Sessions (Pacific High Recorders, Sausalito CA, early '68).
The Charlatans were not fated to get swept up in the massive SF Band Signings by major labels in the 60s. As Dan says in the liner notes, "We were just cast to be local, just doomed, that was it. Whatever the circumstances were."
by Dan Hicks
1. Codine (Buffy Sainte Marie) – 2:22
2. Alabama Bound (Traditional, Arr. M. Ferguson, D. Hicks, G. Hunter, R. Olsen, M. Wilhelm) – 6:24
3. I Always Wanted A Girl Like You (G. Hunter, R. Olsen) – 1:31
4. I Saw Her (Traditional, Arr. M. Ferguson, D. Hicks, G. Hunter, R. Olsen, M. Wilhelm) – 2:06
5. How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away (D. Hicks) – 2:22
6. 32–20 (Robert Johnson) – 2:27
7. We're Not On The Same Trip (D. Hicks) – 3:12
8. Walkin' (G. Hunter, R. Olsen) – 3:08
9. Sweet Sue, Just You (Will Harris, Victor Young) – 3:40
10.East Virginia (Traditional, Arr. P. Gogerty, D. Hicks, G. Hunter, R. Olsen, M. Wilhelm, T. Wilson) – 1:40
11.The Shadow Knows (Jerry Leiber, M. Stoller) – 2:14
12.I Got Mine (D. Hicks) – 2:27
13.Steppin' In Society (Alex Gerber, Harry Akst) – 1:14
14.Devil Got My Man (Skip James) – 2:46
15.By Hook Or By Crook (D. Hicks) – 2:24
16.'Long Come A Viper (D. Hicks) – 2:41
17.Sidetrack (Traditional, Arr. M. Ferguson, D. Hicks, L. Hughes, G. Hunter, R. Olsen, M. Wilhelm) – 2:26
18.Alabama Bound (Traditional, Arr. M. Ferguson, D. Hicks, G. Hunter, R. Olsen, M. Wilhelm) – 2:45
19.Number One (M. Wilhelm) – 4:15
20.Baby Won't You Tell Me (John Hammond) – 3:41
21.Jack Of Diamonds (Traditional, Arr. M. Ferguson, D. Hicks, G. Hunter, R. Olsen, M. Wilhelm) – 4:49
22.The Blues Ain't Nothin' (M. Wilhelm) – 4:58
23.Groom N' Clean Ad (Traditional, Arr. M. Ferguson, D. Hicks, G. Hunter, R. Olsen, M. Wilhelm) – 0:40
*George Hunter – Autoharp, Percussion, Vocals
*Michael Ferguson – Piano, Vocals
*Mike Wilhelm – Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Richard Olsen – Bass Guitar, Clarinet, Vocals
*Dan Hicks – Drums, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals