Otherworld Cottage Industries revisits "Travis Edward Pike's Odd Tales and Wonders, 1964-1974 A Decade of Performance" – with music CDs
Pike's book is an engaging exploration of his early career during that turbulent decade, but talking about music is not the same as hearing it and these three additional CDs help bring the book to life.
"Feelin' Better" introduces the sound made popular by Pike as The Teddy, die Twistsensation aus USA. Then serving in the U.S. Navy, Pike could only perform with his band, The Five Beats, in his off-duty hours, but his performances brought him to the attention of Polydor and Phillips Records.
But before anything came of it, Pike was severely injured in an automobile accident and brought back to the states to undergo more than a year of reconstructive surgery and rehab. Broken, but otherwise healthy, Pike began writing songs and visiting the wards to entertain other hospitalized Vietnam era servicemen.
Pike intended those songs for The Five Beats. Instead, he ended up performing several of them with The Brattle Street East in the 1966 movie, "Feelin' Good." But when he and Adam decided to re-record those songs (and a few more like them), they opted to go for the original instrumentation and sound popular with Travis' European fans back in 1964.
The release of "Feelin' Good" brought Pike a certain local notoriety and his time entertaining on the wards prepared him for coffeehouse gigs, where he could play his novelty songs, perform his narrative rhymes and try out the new songs he composed. And somehow, he managed to stay popular with both the GIs and Boston's college crowds – a rare achievement during the Vietnam era. Most of his early coffeehouse performances were solo, but when he and Adam recorded "Reconstructed Coffeehouse Blues," they went for the larger sound Travis favored when space and venue budgets allowed.
"Travis Edward Pike's Tea Party Snack Platter" is a collection of tried and true audience favorites performed in coffeehouses, clubs and auditoriums all over New England, and later, in various dance clubs in Southern California, from1967 to 1970. For this CD, Travis and Adam went for the most authentic Travis Pike's Tea Party sound they could achieve and both are pleased with the result.
Says Pike, "I wanted the albums to accurately depict the stages of my career and musical development. By going back to the mid-sixties sound of the Five Beats, I managed to revive my early rock 'n' roll roots. "One might say I cheated on the "Reconstructed Coffeehouse Blues," but in fact, the Tea Party played coffeehouses and played most of those songs, too, so those songs are equally as authentic as performed here, as they were as solos. And the "Tea Party Snack Platter" really does sound like Travis Pike's Tea Party. When I sang the harmonies, I found myself singing some of the parts the way George Brox and Karl Garrett used to sing them."
A few of the songs have evolved substantially and may be hardly recognizable to Travis' early fans, but others are so true to the sound and spirit of the originals, you can almost believe they are the original performances. As author, journalist and pop music historian Harvey Kubernik wrote in the introduction to his May 2014 interview with Travis Edward Pike and his brother, multi-instrumentalist Adam Pike, "Travis introduced me to some of the songs he composed and performed in the mid to late sixties … He and Adam recorded those songs, and now these previously undiscovered treasures are ready to rock this century."