Fire Escape – Psychotic Reaction (1967)

FrontCover1The Fire Escape was an American psychedelic rock band formed in San Francisco, California, in 1967. Existing mainly as a studio group composed of unknown session musicians, the band was masterminded by record producer Kim Fowley and Michael Lloyd. The project produced one album called Psychotic Reaction, which contained mainly cover versions of popular songs from the era. It is reported that Sky Saxon of the garage rock band, the Seeds and Mars Bonfire of Steppenwolf, played on some of the tracks.

Prior to the Fire Escape’s formation, Michael Lloyd had been involved in multiple projects including the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (WCPAEB), the Smoke, and October Country, among others. Lloyd had collaborated with record producer Kim Fowley ever since he was introduced to him during Lloyd’s stint with the WCPAEB, recording a Fowley solo album and later, in 1968, an album for the psychedelic rock band St. John Green. Although how the Fire Escape formed is not revealed, liner notes on the band’s album humorously details how a couple of individuals are in search of where the Fire Escape was performing, only to find them regularly playing in “a club called the Gutter”. For recording, Lloyd and Fowley teamed up with production duo Larry Goldberg and Harry Levine, who assembled a group of uncredited session musicians for the project.

Kim Fowley01

Eight of the 10 tracks on Psychotic Reaction are cover versions of popular garage rock compositions from the era, including the title track “Psychotic Reaction” by the Count Five, the Music Machine’s proto-punk tune “Talk Talk”, and ? and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears”. The two originals, credited to Goldberg and Levine, are “Blood Beat” and “Journey’s End”, while the tune “L.S.D.” is an explicit reference to acid originally recorded by Thee Midniters (as “Love Special Delivery”). Strong speculation points to Sky Saxon of the Seeds, Mars Bonfire of Steppenwolf, and Fowley as some of the session musicians playing on the tracks. Some of the evidence attributing to Saxon’s supposed involvement include the two Seeds compositions, “Trip Maker” and “Pictures and Designs”, and that the Fire Escape shared his record label GNP Crescendo.

Psychotic Reaction was released in 1967, and the group disbanded soon after. One music critic writes the album “is still being regarded as a pretty collectable item, being a kind of a precursor to the Nuggets-and-related concepts, no less than five years before Lenny Kaye’s own ‘comprehension’ of the whole thing”. In 2007, Fallout Records reissued the album on vinyl, and in 2009 GNP Crescendo made Psychotic Reaction available on compact disc. (wikipedia)


Because it is totally hardcore, has the word “psychotic” spelled wrong in huge print on the back cover, and is almost impossible to find anywhere, ’60s freaks will want this. No members of the so-called Fire Escape are mentioned by name, and there’s an arranger’s credit, which is not exactly a sign that a regular band is playing. It is a good guess that the group is fabricated and the project is actually performed by the so-called production team of Larry Goldberg and Hank Levine, with help from sessionmen. The liner notes detail how some jokers arrived in San Francisco during the height of the Haight-Ashbury scene and spent more than $50 in cab fare wandering around trying to find where the group the Fire Escape was playing. And guess where that was? A club called the Gutter. If that is not proof enough that this is one of the greatest sets of liner notes in music history, sample the intro: “San Francisco, a far out city! The Fire Escape, a far out band!” Well, it certainly has good taste in covers, that’s for sure. Practically all the good parts of the original Nuggets collection are here: the title track, “Talk Talk,” “96 Tears.” There’s not one but two obscure Seeds covers. The producers take credit for writing “Blood Beat” and “Journey’s End,” both yucky, but no one takes credit for “Love Special Delivery,” advertised as just plain “LSD” on the front cover. This is one of three overt references to acid in the song selection — talk about targeting an audience who are hallucinating too hard to respond. This album is, frankly, a ripoff, but at least good stuff was ripped off. And yes, Shockabilly also spelled “psychotic” wrong on the back of the original Rough Trade release, Dawn of Shockabilly, but at least that was in small print. (by Eugene Chadbourne)


a bunch of unknown studio musicians


01. Psychotic Reaction (Byrne/Ellner/Atkinson/Chaney/Michalski) 2.48
02. Talk Talk (Bonniwell) 1.52
03. Love Special Delivery (Garcia/Espinoza) 2.18
04. The Trip (Hardesty/Fowley/Godes) 1.50
05. 96 Tears (Martinez) 2.34
06. Blood Beat (Goldberg/Levine) 2.05
07. Trip Maker (Saxon/Hooper) 2.52
08. Journey’s End (Goldberg/Levine) 2.38
09. Pictures And Designs (Saxon/Hooper) 2.30
10. Fortune Teller (Frey) 2.20



Various Artists – Pan-American Travelogue (1976)

FrontCover1Production music (also known as stock music or library music) is recorded music that can be licensed to customers for use in film, television, radio and other media. Often, the music is produced and owned by production music libraries.

Unlike popular and classical music publishers, who typically own less than 50 percent of the copyright in a composition, production music libraries own all of the copyrights of their music. Thus, it can be licensed without the composer’s permission, as is necessary in licensing music from normal publishers. This is because virtually all music created for music libraries is done on a work for hire basis. Production music is a convenient solution for media producers—they can be assured that they will be able to license any piece of music in the library at a reasonable rate,[1] whereas a specially-commissioned work could be prohibitively expensive. Similarly, licensing a well-known piece of popular music could cost anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the prominence of the performer(s).

Keith Mansfield

Production music libraries typically offer a broad range of musical styles and genres, enabling producers and editors to find what they need in the same library. Music libraries vary in size from a few hundred tracks up to many thousands. The first production music library was set up by De Wolfe Music in 1927 with the advent of sound in film. The company originally scored music for use in silent film.

Alan Hawkshaw

Production music is frequently used as theme and/or background music in radio, film and television. Well-known examples of British TV series whose themes were sourced from library catalogues include Ski Sunday (“Pop Looks Bach” by Sam Fonteyn), Dave Allen At Large (“Studio 69” or sometimes known as “Blarney’s Stoned” by Alan Hawkshaw), Mastermind (“Approaching Menace” by Neil Richardson), the original theme for the BBC’s Grandstand (“News Scoop” by Len Stevens), Crimewatch (“Rescue Helicopter” by John Cameron) and Grange Hill (“Chicken Man” by Alan Hawkshaw). The Christmas hit single based on the character Mr Blobby uses excerpts from “Mr Jellybun” by Paul Shaw and David Rogers. Arthur Wood’s “Barwick Green”, written in 1924, still serves as the theme for long-running BBC Radio soap The Archers. TV comedy series such as The Benny Hill Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus also made extensive use of production library cues (many sourced from the De Wolfe catalogue) as background or incidental music.

Les Hurdle

American TV has also utilized production music, most notably with the themes for Monday Night Football (“Heavy Action” by Johnny Pearson) and The People’s Court (“The Big One” by Alan Tew). Other notable examples are the Nickelodeon animated series The Ren and Stimpy Show and SpongeBob SquarePants, which use well-known classical music excerpts and a wide range of pre-1960s production music cues, composed by Emil Cadkin—including many pieces familiar from their use in earlier cartoons—which were chosen for their ironic, suspenseful, patriotic and humorous effect.

Frank Ricotti

Production music composers and session performers typically work anonymously and have rarely become known outside their professional circle. In recent years some veteran composer-performers in this field such as Alan Hawkshaw, John Cameron and Keith Mansfield have achieved attention and popularity as a result of a new interest in production music of the 1960s and 1970s, notably the ‘beat’ and electronica cues recorded for KPM and other labels, which have been widely sampled by DJs and record producers. In recent years some of these British musicians have given public performances of their classic compositions under the group name KPM Allstars. (wikipedia)


And here´s an intersting example of libary music from the mid Seventies … in  the typical fusion-jazz-rock sound from this period.

The label “Themes International Music” was founded by Alan Parker:

Alan Parker01Alan Frederick Parker (born 26 August 1944) is a British guitarist and composer.

Parker was born in Matlock, Derbyshire, and was trained by Julian Bream at London’s Royal Academy of Music. He had a successful career as session guitarist starting in the late 1960s, and played with Blue Mink, The Congregation, Collective Consciousness Society and Serge Gainsbourg.

Much of his session work has gone uncredited, but he has been named as the electric guitarist on Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man”, the Walker Brothers’ “No Regrets”,[2] David Bowie’s “1984”, Mike Batt’s “The Ride to Agadir” and the Top of the Pops theme music version of “Whole Lotta Love”.

Parker’s later work comprised compositions for film and television. His television work includes Angels, Minder, The Glory Boys, Dempsey and Makepeace, French Fields, Room at the Bottom, Red Fox, ITN’s News At Ten, and the BBC series Walking with Cavemen and Coast. His film scores include Jaws 3-D (1983), American Gothic (1988), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and Alex Rider: Stormbreaker (2006).

Parker is also known to have owned Jimi Hendrix’s Epiphone acoustic guitar, which was given to him by Hendrix in March 1970. (wikipedia)

Alan Parker02

Listen while driving car and enjoy… a unknown album, recorded by some of the best British studio musicians like Keith Mansfield, Alan Hawkshaw, Les Hurdle and of course Alan Parker.


01. Alan Parker: Home Freeway 2.56
02. Alan Parker: Unlimited Love 2.08
03. Keith Mansfield:  Californian Freeway 3.17
04. Alan Hawkshaw: Broad Theme 2.30
05. Keith Mansfield: The Champions 2.19
06. Len Hunter: Underpass 3.03
07. Harry Roberts: Night Rider 2.40
08. Harry Roberts: Braziliana 3.19
09. Les Hurdle: Tequila Festival 2.22
10. The Frank Ricotti Quartet: Girl From Rio 2.55
11. Mike Moran: El Zoro 2.09
12. Keith Mansfield: L.A. Groove 2.55
13. Les Hurdle: Jellyroll 1.59