The Electras would've almost certainly been relegated to the fuzzed-out annals of '60s garage rock history if not for the post-garage career of bassist (and future Senator) John Kerry. Forming in 1961 at Concord, New Hampshire's exclusive St. Paul's School (a prep school whose alumni include actor Judd Nelson, cartoonist Gary Trudeau, and FBI director Robert Mueller), the Electras' primary goal was to "meet more babes" according to the maraca-playing co-founder Andrew Gargarin. Gargarin and guitarist Larry Rand were desperate to meet the girls from visiting schools and struck upon the idea of forming a rock combo. The pieces fell together quickly, Gargarin and Rand found eager classmates to occupy the drums (Peter Land), rhythm guitar (John Prouty), piano (John Radcliffe) and saxophone (Tim Norris), and settled on fledgling bass student John Kerry to round out the low end. The septet taught themselves a handful of instrumentals and a couple of gruff vocal numbers ("Summertime Blues," "Ya Ya," etc.), and played their fuzzy surf-inspired numbers at school dances and debutante parties. In 1962, the group (minus sax player Norris) gathered around one microphone and made a tape recording of their tunes, sending the tape off to RCA's custom recording division and subsequently pressing up 500 LPs to sell at dances. Their eponymous debut was never widely available, but internet rumors persist of copies of the album changing hands on ebay for over $2000.
Especially in the D.I.Y. environment ushered in by the start of the Rock Era in 1955, many young people have picked up a guitar or sat behind a drum set in their high-school years, playing with friends for their own enjoyment, and not a few have taken the next step to play for school dances and other semi-professional engagements before stashing their instruments in the closet and moving on to their real adult careers. Even before the days when inexpensive recording equipment became common, some of the more well-heeled of such youthful amateurs managed to put their efforts down on tape. But it may have taken the special arrogance bred into prep school students on their way to the Ivy League and world domination actually to have arranged for copies of their recording to be pressed up on an LP by paying RCA Victor Records to do it. But that's what The Electras, a group of students at St. Paul's School in Concord, NH, did in 1962. The band aspired to the then-current trend in instrumental rock bands like the Ventures, although lead guitarist Larry Rand may not have been up to handling the fleet playing of the Ventures' Bob Bogle, and instead the group covered others such as the Virtues ("Guitar Boogie Shuffle") and the Fireballs ("Bulldog," "Torquay").They also adapted folk group the Brothers Four's "Greenfields" to the guitar-instrumental style and even came up with a couple of vocals ("Summertime Blues," "Ya Ya") that had something of the feel fellow New Englander Jonathan Richman would get into his work almost a decade later. The playing had that just-learned-their-instruments sound of eager amateurs still trying to get all the notes right without yet worrying about anything as sophisticated as interpretation. Still, if you were the entertainment director at a small college or fraternity in 1962 and this record landed on your desk, you might well have considered hiring the Electras for your Friday night dance, provided they didn't charge much more than beer money. The 2004 reissue of The Electras confirms that its members followed their true destinies as lawyers, doctors, and stock brokers, with the longest write-up in the CD booklet going to the bandmember whose contributions are least audible, bassist John Kerry, who went on to a well-publicized career as a Vietnam veteran, war protestor, and politician. LINK: GUITAR BOOGIE SHUFFLE ! ! !