Highland Springs just to the East of Richmond, Virginia, (not Winston-Salem in North Carolina as was stated on the Tobacco-A-Go-Go compilation) was this band's home. They formed in late 1964 as a six-piece but soon solidified into the five-piece listed above in early 1965. Donnie Thurston's dad became their manager and they took part in various 'Battle Of The Bands' during 1965. Their first 45 in 1966 comprised an unimpressive folk-rocker on the 'A' side and an instrumental cover on the flip. They put it out on their own Cuda label. The same session also produced I'll Never Fall Again, their best original, and a bizarre medley of Gloria, Baby Please Don't Go, which remains unreleased.
In 1967 they recorded an album for Justice Records of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Besides two originals:- I Can't Believe and I'll Never Fall Again, the album comprised sloppy teenage versions of Blue Feeling, Feel A Whole Lot Better, Not Fade Away, I Call Your Name, ShotgunI'm A Man, which were so faithfully rendered and devoid of fuzz that they sound more U.K. than U.S.. Clearly The Rolling Stones were their inspiration. One of the better tracks was I'm A Lover Not A Fighter, a frat-rocker from the Kinks' second album but Shotgun, in particular, was a pityful attempt at exploiting sixties soul music. Nevertheless the album sold over 700 copies and the band became popular on the college frat-rock circuit. and
By 1968 they had progressed into a Hendrix/Cream-type heavy jam sound, but suprisingly their final 45 in 1969 was a folk-rocker. They quit in late 1969. Their album is now quite a big collectors' item but it's really overrated.
One of the better albums to come out of Calvin Newton's Justice Records label, A Plane View of the Barracudas has been selling for big bucks in Europe for years, partly based on the fact that there weren't many more than a thousand copies pressed. The CD is a welcome addition to the catalog -- these boys may have been a little sloppy, but they were ambitious, and they had the skills to realize a lot of those goals. As an extended jam, the version of "I'm a Man" here may be the best rendition this side of the Yardbirds' classic, and adds a few layers of pyrotechnics that Jeff Beck and company weren't ready to ignite -- lead guitarist Mike Parker has a field day romping and stomping over the basic material, and Sam Shaw's bass swells and surges beneath Parker's work. Donnie Thurston sounds like he's playing on cardboard boxes, but that's par for the course on a recording like this, and not necessarily a problem. "Shotgun" closes the album and CD, and is a pretty decent cover of a then current soul hit. The notes are minimal, but the music does truly speak for itself. Strangely enough, only their covers of Lennon-McCartney tunes like "I Call Your Name" don't come off too well (though their version of "All My Loving" is pretty cool), but overall, the mix of folk-rock, soul, and blues-rock works beautifully. This must've been a great record to play at dance parties. It's also easy to see why the Barracudas did well on the frat circuit in Virginia and other East Coast locales -- they must have been great live.