This record has been on my radar ever since a fantastic interview from 2010 on Nerdtorious with Edan.
Mid-interview Edan talked about a record he had recently found at a record fair and how tripped out he was by one of the songs, “Lookin’ In My Toaster.” As Edan describes, it’s basically a song about a guy who is clearly on some serious drugs based off of the things he seems to see in his toaster. The sound of the song so intrigued me that I’d be on the hunt for a copy ever since. I held out for quite a while, hoping I’d run into it digging at local spots, or at one of my pilgrimages to Groove Merchant. Eventually I swiped a moderately price copy off of Ebay and when the LP arrived I was surprised that as trippy and freaked out “Toaster” was, it wasn’t even nearly my favorite song on the album.
Research 1-6-12 was a trio of mild-mannered California dudes (as pictured on the back of their cover) plus someone on the drums. From a discussion on another blog from someone claiming to be a member of the group (which would seem totally legit, I mean why would anybody claim to be in a group this obscure?) the band just never caught on, despite their best efforts (my favorite line from now “Rabbi” Yess’ account is “I recall one gig in Lancaster, CA where we did one set and the manager told us to go home, he preferred the juke box…great for one’s self esteem.”) But thankfully, they did record and it’s material that holds up pretty nicely in comparison to other underground groups from that period of time.
“Can You Baby” is just all kinds of groovy. With all the rhythm hanging out in the left channel, the drums are so fantastic that I’d wager the drummer is a sessions player of note. The song just has 60s swagger for days. “Highway Song” is a post Summer of Love cautionary tale of a Hippie down on his luck that’s as good as anything I’ve heard from this period of time, especially lyrically.
If you see me on the highway, please don’t pass me by,
I’m only trying to get back home, looking for that ride,
My clothes are a little dirty and my hair might look too long,
But please don’t judge me by my looks for I promise you no wrong
I been up to San Francisco, lost everything I own,
Now all I ask is just for a ride, no money, food or home
My head is feeling heavy and my legs are feeling numb,
My arm is almost breaking from holding out my thumb,
Trucks and cars keep coming by, nobody seems to care,
The heat on this old highway’s almost more than I can bear,
But I hope I catch a ride by dark, caus emy shirt is pretty thin,
I sold my coat for an upper and I gave that to a friend
So if you see me on the highway and you need some company,
I’m only trying to get back home to be what I used to be
It’s really a shame this song didn’t end up in Easy Rider or a similar film, it’s really just classic. When you listen to all the other tracks on the album, it almost seems like this is a totally different group. Listening to the album from start to finish might also give you that impression since they shift into very different genres almot from song to song. But the idiosyncrasies of the lyrics connect to other songs, even if the subject matter and the sounds are very different. “Juicy” for example has some of “Can You Baby”‘s swagger, combined with some truly ribald lyrics, including “Not because you come so loud, but just because you’re juicy.” I could have easily chosen 2 or 3 other songs, still not including “Toaster,” and this post would have been just as satisfying. It’s pretty rare that I pick up an album and it actually surpasses my expectations, but this one certainly did and I’m thankful for finally tracking it down.