This World

Every now and then I see some weird old Canadian LP in a used record store and pick it up on pure whim - the latest find is “This World - The Trio of Time” (or “Trio of Tyme” as it’s spelled on the back cover) from Condor Music International out of Burnaby BC - I mean, how bad could it be?

The story behind this gets a little convoluted - it starts in 1965 when a guitarist named Chris Ducey recorded a folk album called “Songs Of Protest And Anti-Protest” for Surrey Records in Los Angeles. After the songs were recorded and album artwork completed, it was discovered that Chris Ducey already had a recording contract with another label and so the music was prevented from being released.

Surrey Records did what anyone else would do in that situation - they hired a guy (by the name of Bobby Jameson) and named him Chris Lucey. This Chris Lucey then recorded a completely new set of songs with matching titles as those of the existing album (he never listened to the original - it was a clean room job) - they pressed those songs and voila. Some “Chris Ducey” versions of the cover were released in the US, but the Canada, UK and subsequent releases had the covers altered to read “Chris Lucey”.

By the way, that’s not Chris Ducey on the cover - it’s Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones.

The album didn’t do much when it was released in 1965, but in the years since it has become a bit of a collector’s item, with a production sound compared to Forever Changes by Love, another LA band.

A few years later the original Ducey master tapes somehow ended up in the hands of Jack Millman (aka Johnny Kitchen, Ralph Morris, Ludie Priessman) who ran Condor Music International which was based out of LA but also distributed records on the Canadian Raja label. Seems Jack took the original Ducey tracks, changed the names slightly, attributed writing credits on all songs to himself or one of his pseudonyms, and then released the album to complete obscurity. Nobody connected the dots for years but finally in 2012 the original Chris Ducey tracks were released on CD and MP3.

The two tracks starting sides A and B on the LP are a pair: ”That’s The Way The World Has Got To Be” parts 1 & 2 (called “Back Trackin’” and “This World” on the Condor release). These tracks epitomize the folk/protest feel of the album - now over 50 years old and the issues are relevant to what’s going on today. Here is those two tracks by Chris Ducey:

In the summer of 1965, Chris Ducey landed a role on a TV pilot for ABC called The Happeners which was based on the life and times of a Greenwich Village folk-rock trio consisting of Ducey, Craig Smith and Susannah Jordan. The one-hour pilot featured an appearance by the Dave Clark Five and starred Lou Gossett Jr. The intent of the show was to go up against The Monkees (on NBC) but ABC pulled out when the producers refused to make a half hour show so only the pilot was shot (it exists, the full audio is on youtube). After the demise of The Happeners, Chris and Craig (as they named themselves) recorded one single for Capitol records - the a-side is “Isha” and it is fantastic:

Craig Smith had met Mike Nesmith on a couple of occasions, and he also wrote the song “Salesman” which appeared on The Monkees LP Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. from 1967. Around this time, Chris and Craig added 2 more members (Bobby Donaho and Donald Glut) to become The Penny Arkade with Nesmith as their producer who was heavily involved in their promotion and first album - you can see his influence with a track like Country Girl (later recorded by Glen Campbell).

The Penny Arkade recorded tracks for their first album to be called Not The Freeze but everything collapsed around them and the band folded - the tracks were finally made available on Sundazed music in 2004.

Chris Ducey released “Duce of Hearts” in 1975 and also the privately produced album “I Am A Rock”. The restored ”Songs Of Protest And Anti Protest” album finally got released as a CD in 2012 with the original cover and his (not Bobby Jameson’s) tracks and his (not Jack Millman’s) names.

Craig Smith quit the Penny Arkade and headed east to tour South America and Asia and pursue mysticism - he returned with new name Satya Sai Maitreya Kali. In 1972 he recorded two albums (Apache and Inca) which contained pieces from the Not The Freeze sessions interspersed with spoken word and general weirdness. In 2016 journalist Mike Stax released a biography of Craig Smith called “Swim Through The Darkness" which chronicles his struggles with mental health, time in prison and homelessness. Smith died March 16, 2012.

Susannah Jordon would go on to record under the names Sidonie Jordan and Sydney Foxx. She was an Ikette on tour with Ike and Tina Turner and married musician Peter Banks (the original guitarist of Yes) forming the band Empire.

Bobby Jameson put out a pair of singles in 1966 with Frank Zappa on the Penthouse label, and his first album (Color Him In) was produced by Curt Boettcher on the Verve label in 1967. He struggled with addiction and mental issues and dropped out of the music business. He died on May 12, 2015.

I’m quite glad I picked this up - I got my 7 bucks of enjoyment just trying to figure it all out and it’s a bonus that the LP is also really interesting and listenable. I have to wonder how many copies of “This World with the Trio of Tyme” were sold and how much lovely lucre Jack Millman made on the deal.