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"The best popular record that has ever been recorded."
(John Peel on 'I Can Take You To The Sun', 11 August 1968)

"By God, they were a great band! If they hadn't been broken up by the US Government when they tried to draft Rick ... they would have ruled the world, I think."
(JP, 26 August 1999)

"If I had to list the ten greatest performances I've seen in my life, one would be The Misunderstood at Pandora's Box, Hollywood, 1966. It was the only time I've seen an audience reduced to impotent silence."
(JP, interview, 2003) [1]

The Misunderstood by John Peel04:37

The Misunderstood by John Peel

Peel introduces 'I Can Take You To The Sun'
(31 December 1967)

The Misunderstood were a psychedelic rock band originating from Riverside, California in the mid-1960s. The band moved to London early in their career, and although they recorded only a handful of songs before being forced to disband, they are considered highly influential in the then-emerging genre ... (read more on Wikipedia)

Links To Peel

John Peel managed the Misunderstood while working as a DJ at KMEN in California and was instrumental in the ill-fated band’s move to England. Their ‘I Can Take You To The Sun’ single was played twice on the final Perfumed Garden of 14 August 1967, became a Peelenium 1966 choice, and was later found among the favourites in John Peel's Record Box.

In 1996, Peel recalled his first encounter with the Misunderstood:

"In 1966 I was living and working in San Bernardino, California and I went to a shopping center in the nearby town of Riverside to … witness the opening of a new shopping mall along with a band called the Mystics, who were playing there. And also playing there that afternoon was a band called the Misunderstood, one of the very best bands that I ever saw in all of my life.” (06 October 1996 (World Service))

On the John Peel's Record Box TV documentary, bassist Steve Whiting remembered:

"John first became aware of the band at a gig we played at. We were just sort of together from that point on, and he kind of became our big brother, surrogate father, whatever."

Soon afterwards, Peel would “produce” demos for the band at Goldstar studios in Hollywood – or, as he later admitted to John Walters, “sat there, like the one who couldn’t play anything.”[2] In the short-term, the recordings would fail to drum up interest, although they would be released in later decades.

Peel was a huge fan of Glenn Campbell, whose lead steel guitar gave the Misunderstood a unique sound, which he described to Walters as "sort of Yardbirds-y ... yet with an extra dimension to it."[3] According to the DJ, the results were devastating live, and he would always rate their performance at Pandora’s Box in Hollywood (presumably in early 1966) as one of the best he had ever seen:

"The most glorious musical evening of my entire life actually took place with The Misunderstood, at a place called Pandora’s Box on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood … one of those places where people go … so they won’t be impressed. The Misunderstood went up there and they started off with a 24-minute version of Smokestack Lightning, with little tiny spidery Glenn standing over his guitar just flashing out these beautiful stunning staggering sounds. And people were clutching their faces, you know. The tension was building up and up and up, and they were going mad. And by the time the thing was over, everyone in the place was standing by the stage and they’d closed down the bar and they’d stopped dancing and they were just standing there looking." (12 July 1967)

But despite Peel’s best efforts, which apparently included putting up singer Rick Brown and Steve Whiting at “Ravencroft Acres” in San Bernardino, it was eventually decided the Misunderstood might do better in England. [4] Things got off to a poor start when the band turned up with all their equipment at Peel’s mother’s house in London only to find no one home. In John Peel's Record Box, his brother Alan Ravenscroft recalled:

”We came back one afternoon and there were these musicians on the pavement with a whole load of boxes. They said, 'Oh, John said we could come and stay'.”

Although facing problems getting work papers for the UK and singer Rick Brown being drafted back in the US, the band eventually secured a deal with Fontana Records and released their first single, ‘I Can Take You To The Sun’. Back in California, Peel gleefully informed readers of KMENtertainer of a positive review in the Melody Maker:

“All this give[s] me an opportunity to say ‘I told you so’ to a large army of skeptics.” [5].

Nevertheless, the apparent breakthrough marked the end of the band. By the time Peel himself returned to England in early 1967, the Misunderstood were no more, with members scattered across different continents. Campbell and othes would go on to form Juicy Lucy, who had some commercial success and recorded one session for Top Gear in 1969, but attempts to revive the original Misunderstood proved unsuccessful.

But while the band had remained largely unknown in their lifetime, Peel’s continuing enthusiasm and regular reissues of their material meant subsequent generations of listeners to his radio shows were unlikely to be unaware of them. On 26 August 1999, after playing one of the band's old demos that singer Rick Brown had sent him, he pondered what might have been:

"Those of you who were around in 1966 will know that there was nobody making a noise even remotely like that. Hendrix, you could say, was doing some of it, perhaps the Rolling Stones doing bits of that sort of thing as well, and the Allman Brothers would do something similar a few years later, But, as I say, if they'd been able to stay together, those lads, my goodness me! What would they have done? But there you go: vain conjecture."

On 06 February 2002, revisiting records from his final Perfumed Garden show, after once more playing ‘I Can Take You To The Sun’, the DJ commented:

“One of the great records of all time: the only record for which I actually know the catalogue number off by heart, because I used to be asked for it so many times...a record which still has the capacity to astonish me."

Festive Fifty Entries

Sessions

  • None

Other Shows Played

1967
  • 12 July 1967: (JP: "You may have heard me raving – you must have heard the records by The Misunderstood. And when we were in America, when I was in California with them, we went into Gold Star Records of Hollywood to cut a demo LP so they could come over here and get work. And at that time they were a blues band, and the demo LP I have is lost in the States somewhere, and it is very scratchy. And they did the whole thing – they went and recorded nine songs in two hours, you know, it was one of those things. So if you just get it right the first time or forget it. And they did a single, which I sent to my brother and I’d forgotten all about, and I found it, you see, and I’m going to play it for you right now. So you have to remember this was recorded in just one take, and it was the first number they did. But it’s on a single, and it’s called “You Don't Have To Go”. And there’s nothing very exciting on it, but you can just, you know, hear Glenn Campbell. And hearing Glenn Campbell should be enough to make your entire week, really, so stop and think. The Misunderstood...")
    You Don't Have To Go (unreleased demo acetate)
    (JP: "Those are The Misunderstood, recorded about a year and a half ago. That’s called You Don't Have To Go, with Glenn Campbell on lead guitar, and there’s movement afoot, actually, to try and get Glenn Campbell – there are two Glenn Campbells. One of them is a session musician who records for Capitol Records in the States, and we don’t want to pay any attention to him. This is little tiny withered Glenn Campbell of The Misunderstood. And the most glorious musical evening of my entire life actually took place with The Misunderstood, at a place called Pandora’s Box on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. And we went in there to play, and it’s one of those places where people go, you know, so they won’t be impressed. You know the kind of place I mean? Everyone sort of sitting around, and, you know, “We’re not going to be impressed, definitely.” And they went, and The Misunderstood went up there and they started off with a 24-minute version of Smokestack Lightning, with little tiny spidery Glenn standing over his guitar just flashing out these beautiful stunning staggering sounds. And people were clutching their faces, you know. The tension was building up and up and up, and they were going mad. And by the time the thing was over, everyone in the place was standing by the stage and they’d closed down the bar and they’d stopped dancing and they were just standing there looking. And when they got through, they didn’t clap or anything – they just stood there completely sort of turned into great beautiful pillars of something. It was marvelous, it really was. I wish you’d been there. Anyway, we’ve got to get Glenn Campbell back over here.")
  • 16 July 1967: You Don't Have To Go (unreleased demo acetate)
  • 18 July 1967: I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana TF 777 (JP: "That’s the stuff that hymns should be made of. That was The Miunderstood, and that was called I Can Take You To The Sun. And even if I can’t I shall keep trying, said he throwing things about.")
  • 22 July 1967: I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana
  • 06 August 1967: I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana TF 777
  • 14 August 1967: (JP: "Anyway, here’s a group who really had a voice that is for the ages and then sad things happened and they had to break up and went in several different directions. But in some ways they are going to get back to us, I know. I don’t know exactly how but they will. Anyway, here are The Misunderstood and the one pearl that they did produce, and this is called I Can Take You To The Sun. And for about four minutes, they did. Listen!")
    I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana TF 777
    (JP: "The lead guitar of Glenn Campbell – searing with fiery intensity as he does and then turning around and bubbling like mountain pebble streams, very gently and very quietly. An amazing guitarist. He’ll be back, you watch."
  • 14 August 1967: You Don't Have To Go (acetate owned by JP)
    (JP: "At last I am left alone in the dark green of the Perfumed Garden. Those are the Misunderstood, and You Don't Have To Go. And I do wish actually that it is possible for me to play for you the other acetates that I have from the Misunderstood, but they are still in America unfortunately and I can’t get my hands on them. One of these days, however, I will and you will hear them, and you will be amazed.")
  • 14 August 1967: I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana TF 777
  • 29 October 1967: I Can Take You To The Sun (7" - I Can Take You To The Sun / Who Do You Love) Fontana
  • 31 December 1967: I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana TF 777
1968
  • 06 March 1968: (JP: "This is a record by a group that I used to manage in California that was released about fifteen months ago, and it shows you, I think, that groups are capable of making records that never get anywhere that people should hear. It's unfortunate that the group was subsequently broken up.")
    I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana TF 777
  • 01 May 1968: Who Do You Love? (single - b-side of I Can Take You To The Sun) Fontana TF 777
  • 11 August 1968: I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana TF 777 (JP - "the best popular record that has ever been recorded.")
  • 22 December 1968: I Can Take You To The Sun (single) Fontana TF 777
1969
  • 02 February 1969: I Unseen (b-side of single Children Of The Sun) Fontana TF 998
  • 29 June 1969: Never Had a Girl (Like You Before) (single) Fontana TF 1041
1972
1976
  • 28 December 1976: I Can Take You To The Sun (7") Fontana FF#30
    (JP: "I was very chuffed to see that get in there...the only record the catalogue number of which I know off by heart 'cos of the number of times I've had to write and tell people what it is....I'd like to dedicate that one to my mother, because when the band came over here in 1966, they went and stayed with her for a few months. I don't think she's ever fully recovered from that.")
1981
1982
  • 14 April 1982: My Mind (album - Before The Dream Faded)
  • 27 April 1982: Children Of The Sun (LP - Before The Dream Faded) Cherry Red
  • 27 April 1982: My Mind (LP - Before The Dream Faded) Cherry Red
  • 03 May 1982: My Mind (LP - Before The Dream Faded) Cherry Red

1983

1984
  • 11 July 1984: Shake Your Money Maker (12" - Golden Glass) Time Stood Still 12 THYME 1
  • 06 August 1984: I Can Take You To The Sun (LP - Before The Dream Faded) Cherry Red (JP notices that the sleeve of the Misunderstood record has a lot of stuff about his days as a DJ in America: "I did say some amazingly stupid things, I must confess.")

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990
1992
1994

1995

1996
  • 10 August 1996: 'Shake Your Money Maker (CD-Golden Glass)' (Get Back)
  • 17 August 1996 (BFBS): 'Shake Your Money Maker (CD-Golden Glass)' (Get Back)
  • 31 August 1996 (BFBS): My Mind (CD-Before The Dream Faded) Cherry Red
  • September 1996 (FSK): My Mind (CD-Before The Dream Faded) Cherry Red
  • 22 September 1996: Who Do You Love (7" b-side I Can Take You To The Sun) Fontana
  • 06 October 1996 (World Service): (JP: ”In 1966 I was living and working in San Bernardino, California and I went to a shopping center in the nearby town of Riverside to see, well, to witness the opening of a new shopping mall along with a band called the Mystics, who were playing there. And also playing there that afternoon was a band called the Misunderstood, one of the very best bands that I ever saw in all of my life. And I went with them a few weeks later to a recording studio in Hollywood where they made their first and only demo tape. And some of the tracks of that have survived and have been issued a couple of times now on record, and here’s one of the tracks. It has a very strange beginning, which I don’t remember from the studio, but nevertheless I shall leave it in. It’s marvelous stuff. The Misunderstood…”)
    I'm Not Talking (LP – Before The Dream Faded) Cherry Red
1997
  • 01 April 1997: Who's Been Talking (CD-The Legendary Gold Star Album) Cherry Red
  • 10 April 1997 (BFBS): Who's Been Talking (CD-The Legendary Gold Star Album) Cherry Red
  • 15 May 1997: I’m Not Talking (CD – The Legendary Goldstar Album) Cherry Red
  • 23 May 1997 (BFBS): (JP: "In the past I've obviously gone many times over the history of the Misunderstood in California in the mid 1960s and said how wonderful they were, particularly for the time in which they played, and here's an opportunity for me to remind you of that again. Bear in mind that this record was made early in 1966, and just consider where they might have ended up if they'd been able to continue. The lead singer Rick (Brown) got drafted, and the band didn't break up exactly. They continued but it was a different band.")
    I'm Not Talking (demo)
1999
  • 07 January 1999: My Mind (LP-Before The Dream Faded)' (Cherry Red)
  • 26 August 1999: (JP: "There will probably be a record or two in the course of the Peelenium by the Misunderstood. I mention this because Rick Brown, who was the singer with the Misunderstood, sent me a tape which we were listening to in the car driving out of London this evening. It had all the tracks which regular listeners will already know: "I Can Take You To The Sun," "My Mind," "Children Of The Sun," those sort of things, and some of the stuff recorded at Goldstar studios in Hollywood as a demo, and also one or two tracks which I'd never heard before, one of which I'm about to play you. But by God, they were a great band! If they hadn't been broken up by the US Government when they tried to draft Rick, who now lives in Thailand, they would have ruled the world, I think. At least for a while.')
    Mona (cassette)
    (JP: 'My goodness me, what an extraordinary recording that is, and obviously bootleg quality and I apologise for that, but I just thought it was so wonderful that I must play it to you. The Misunderstood, and I've never heard that before, a version of Bo Diddley's "Mona," sent to me by Rick, who used to be the singer, now living in Bangkok. That must have been recorded in 1966, and for those of you who were around in 1966 will know that there was nobody making a noise even remotely like that. Hendrix, you could say, was doing some of it, perhaps the Rolling Stones doing bits of that sort of thing as well, and the Allman Brothers would do something similar a few years later, But, as I say, if they'd been able to stay together, those lads, my goodness me! What would they have done? But there you go: vain conjecture.")
2000
2002
2003
2004
Other

See Also

External Links

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