The Mystery Of Chris Lucey

Originally posted November 16, 2007

When I first started wandering the world of music blogs – about eighteen months ago, I guess – I kept coming across a name that supposedly had a great mystery behind it.

The name Chris Lucey kept popping up in the corner of the blogging world that focuses on mid-1960s folk-rock and pop-psych music, the sounds of the Byrds and the Seeds and the Leaves and – at the far end of the block, under the umbrella of AM radio – the Association and The Mamas & The Papas. And behind those well-known groups were lined up hundreds (thousands?) of groups banging their way around the L.A. basin, playing the clubs, living the mid-1960s California Dream, hoping to get a record on the radio and – for the guys, at least – working at staying away from uniformed service and the resulting trip to a land of jungles and rice paddies.

The tales that surface from the survivors of that time and place can be fascinating – one of the best websites to dig into the history and personalities of the time is The Great Hollywood Hangover. And the music that came out of L.A. at the time was great listening, from the Top 40 I heard in the Upper Midwest at the time to the more serious (and sometimes seriously self-indulgent) stuff I dug into in later years. A third part of the musical landscape of the time has come to bright light in recent years, as blogs and CD reissues have resurrected the efforts of many of the little known groups and fringe performers of the time.

And, as I say, as I wandered through Blogworld, I kept seeing occasional references to Chris Lucey and an album called Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest that was, if not legendary, at least well-known. And every mention of the record contained a caveat that Chris Lucey might have been someone else. After all, the performer pictured on the cover looked a lot like Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. (It should have; that’s who it was.)

As I dug further, it became clear that Chris Lucey was the pseudonym of Bobby Jameson, and that quickened my pulse, as Bobby Jameson was listed on a website devoted to The Band as one of the performers who had recorded a version of “The Weight.” I found an ripped copy of Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest and enjoyed it, but still, the story eluded me. I read tales filled with logical conclusions, suppositions, wild-ass guesses, wishful fantasies and plain old lies, I now know. Because shortly after I posted Bobby Jameson’s album, Working, Bobby got in touch with me and urged me to post the rest of his catalog, the Chris Lucey album and Color Him In, an album he released in 1967.

Bobby became Chris Lucey in 1965, after recording and releasing a couple of singles in the U.S. and then heading to England for a year. In England, he worked with Andrew Loog Oldham, the manager at the time of the Rolling Stones. Another single followed there, and then Bobby left the U.K.

Back in the U.S. after almost a year, Bobby says on his MySpace page, “I met a girl named Pam Burns who was Randy Woods’ secretary at Mira Records. Mira had a budget label that they put stuff on that they weren’t sure what to do with.” And one of the recordings set for release in Europe was an album called Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest by a performer named Chris Ducey.

Mira and Ducey had some contractual issues, and the singer bailed on the project, which left Mira with thousands of album jackets already printed and, Bobby notes, a European release date to meet. “They figured out that they could alter the album covers to say Chris Lucey instead of Chris Ducey,” Bobby says. And Pam Burns persuaded Randy Wood to let Bobby Jameson become Chris Lucey. So in a very short time, Bobby Jameson took Chris Ducey’s songs titles, wrote new songs for them and then recorded them. Marshall Lieb, a one-time member of the Teddy Bears in the 1950s with Phil Spector, produced the record.

The record, Bobby said, turned out better than anyone expected, and Randy Wood tried to sign Bobby to a long-term contract. Bobby refused: “I had been hired to rewrite Ducey’s songs and sing them, that’s all.” But Wood had promised Bobby that if the album did well, Mira would record and release a Bobby Jameson single. The track “Vietnam,” backed with “Metropolitan Man” was the result. (You can hear it, and a few other tracks, at Bobby Jameson’s MySpace Music page.) Deejays in L.A. refused to play the record because, Bobby says, it was considered too political and anti-American. He notes that the song was used in the soundtrack to the cult film Mondo Hollywood.

Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest did not sell well, in Europe, in the U.S. or in England, where it was released under Bobby Jameson’s name as Too Many Mornings. Those who did hear it heard what All-Music Guide calls “a deeply idiosyncratic psych-folk opus resembling the classic early LPs by Arthur Lee and Love.”

If you’re going to be pigeon-holed, at least that an interesting place to be stuck. And it’s not inaccurate. There are hints of Arthur Lee’s whimsy and sense of melody and filigree. To me, the stand-out tracks on Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest are the gloomy “I’ll Remember Them,” “I Got The Blues,” which has a Byrds-ish feel, the haunting “That’s The Way The World Has Got To Be (Part 2),” and “Girl From The East,” a lovely tune that was covered on a single by the Leaves.

The copy of the album I found – from a CD on Rev-Ola that’s available only as an import here in the U.S. – has four bonus tracks. One of those, listed as “Metro Man,” has to be the B-side to “Vietnam.” It and the other three bonus tracks, also likely recorded later – “There’s A War Going On,” “Insecure Little Person” and “World War 3” – have a distinct Bob Dylan vibe that’s at odds with the Chris Lucey material. (I neglected to ask Bobby about them; if I’m wrong about their provenance, I’m sure he’ll let me know.)*

Tracks:
That’s The Way The World Has Got To Be (Part 1)
I’ll Remember Them
Girl From Vernon Mountain
I Got The Blues
Saline
That’s The Way The World Has Got To Be (Part 2)
With Pity, But It’s Too Late
You Came, You Saw, But You Didn’t Conquer Me
Girl From The East
Don’t Come Looking
Metro Man
There’s A War Going On
Insecure Little Person
World War 3

Chris Lucey (Bobby Jameson) – Songs of Protest & Anti-Protest [1965]

*Even after several years,  I’m not certain that the four bonus tunes are correctly identified. Since I wrote this post, Bobby has been posting his music – released and unreleased alike – at several YouTube pages. His current YouTube page is here. Note added May 22, 2011.

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2 Responses to “The Mystery Of Chris Lucey”

  1. Boettcher Produces Jameson « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] Roogalator” from 1966 and “Vietnam” and “Metropolitan Man” from 1967. (When I posted the Chris Lucey album, I included a track that the CD release had labeled as “Metro Man.” The track was […]

  2. psychedeligoat Says:

    Have you not heard the real Ducey Tapes from Songs of Protest? Jameson basically transcribed them and he does not mention it in his ‘story’. All eyes on Jameson, he hopes people forget about Ducey. Ducey is a gifted songwriter..and has a back catalogue to prove it.
    Ducey set the stage and Jameson simply acted a role. this is why he was not paid in spades. He refuses to answer questions about it or even publish the notion in the comments of his blog(s). He’s always been star-struck and is pretty much guided by the limelight. He’s a walking con-tradiciton.

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