Space Blues
The musical career of Jeff Cotton

Jeff Cotton, The Exiles, The Magic Band & MU

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The Exiles Single Releases

It wasn't long before The Exiles were asked to record some demo material for Glen MacArthur who ran the Glenn Studios in Palmdale and was always on the look out for local talent. I've not been able to confirm how many or what tracks were recorded for this demo although one track claiming to come from the demo, Buddy Holly's Rave On turned up on a recent compilation album.

The band's first proper recording session resulted in their first single, Glenn 308 - Please Be Mine backed with Too Many Heartbreaks. Both tracks were credited to Merrell, and the band name became MERRELL AND The Exiles on the label. The two songs are straightforward boy/girl pop obviously heavily influenced by Ricky Nelson with a nod towards the emerging British beat invasion.

There are a number of photographs taken at the same session to promote the single - the song title appearing in the cymbal held by Jim Ferguson and the band gathered around the bass drum which defiantly reads 'The Exiles'. Released in March/April 1964 the single proved to be strong enough to get good local radio play and enter the local charts. Palmdale's local radio, KUTY, had the single listed at number 34 on the 4th April 1964 and up to number 9 the following week. (Jan and Dean's Deadman's Curve was number 1).

This initial success was enough for Glenn Records to release a second single Send Me Your Love backed with Don't Call On Me (Glenn 310). These were recorded at a separate session along with some other unknown songs with a slightly different band (Greg Hampton had left and Danny Martin had replaced him on drums). Again these are both Merrell compositions but the b-side, Don't Call On Me, is significant in that Jeff gets to do his first recorded solo.

A third single followed in 1965, Glenn 313, Sorry for Yourself backed with I Saw Suzie Crying.

Glenn Records white label promo of 'Sorry For Yourself'

Label of 'Sorry For Yourself' release

This created sufficient interest for the Hollywood label, Interlude Records to license and re-release the single and for the band to get an appearance on the L.A. television show, 'Ninth Street West', hosted by local DJ Sam Riddle.

Label for Interlude version of 'I Saw Suzie Crying'

The primitive and unpleasant conditions at Glenn Studios had not impressed the band. Overpoweringly hot in the High Desert heat and having to do repeated takes while Glen MacArthur tried to get a good level and balanced sound was too much so Merrell decided to look for another recording facility. The one he chose was Audio Arts in Hollywood whose superior equipment allowed them greater freedom to overdub instruments and vocals. As Merrell said in an interview "It made my mind start thinking in layers."

The fourth single, recorded at Audio Arts, was financed with the band's own money. Can't We Get Along and That's All I Want From You were both cover versions. This was released on Golden Crown Records (GMA102) and received a four star review in 'Billboard' magazine (September 1965). The improved production values made possible by the better studio are evident on these songs and the interest created meant extra bookings for the band in many of the happening clubs on the Sunset Strip. However, this was the last single released by the original line-up.

When Merrell reformed the band in 1966 with Mark Thompson, Larry Willey and Randy Wimer he chose Audio Arts again to record some tracks. Tomorrow's Girl and When I Get Home were released as a single on Glenn Records (Glenn 426) in 1967 but oddly it was credited to Merrell and The Xiles! There was an obvious step change here with songs more in tune with the emergent drug culture and it proved to be Merrell and The Exiles most successful single even getting onto Dick Clark's American Bandstand show.


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