Thursday, June 9, 2016

San Francisco regional breakout: Earth Quake - "Tickler" (1971)

Earth Quake - "Tickler"
Written by J. Robert Dunbar
Produced by Earth Quake and Allan Mason
45: "Tickler"/"Guarding You" (A&M, 1971)
LP: Earth Quake (A&M, 1971)
Billboard charts: Regional breakout—San Francisco

San Francisco's Earth Quake played the type of melodic, well-chiseled rock and roll that would eventually get called power pop. "Tickler," their first single, is the only record between 1970 and 1974 to appear on Billboard's listings as a San Francisco "regional breakout hit" and to not move any higher.

The song would actually be Earth Quake's only Billboard appearance although they'd maintain a steady following in the Bay Area and have a cachet of historical coolness for their involvement with Beserkley Records, the indie label their manager Matthew "King' Kaufman formed out of frustration with A&M. (He'd also gotten some money from New Generation Pictures, who'd used a snippet of uncredited Earth Quake music in the 1972 Steve McQueen movie The Getaway—it's a scene where McQueen and Ali MacGraw are at a drive-in while Sally Struthers shimmies in a motel room wearing radio headphones.)

The Beserkley label also carried artists such as Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, the Rubinoos (who included Tommy Dunbar, brother of Earth Quake guitarist and "Tickler" composer Robbie), and future hit makers the Greg Kihn Band. By 1979, with six solid power pop albums under their belts, Earth Quake would call it good. (The video link below cuts off the last 30 seconds or so.) Listen:  "Tickler"

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