The Super Stocks were one of the better and more interesting studio creations of producer-composer Gary Usher. Usher had been a singer and recording artist in his own right, but made his biggest splash in the music business during the early '60s, through his collaborations with Brian Wilson on such songs as "In My Room" and "409." He wrote more songs in that vein in collaboration with Roger Christian (who also worked with Brian Wilson), and was soon prevailed upon to provide actual recordings of surf and car songs, which were a hot sound in 1963. This resulted in his organizing of several "groups" that existed only in the studio (usually comprised of the same singers and featuring the same session musicians playing on them), including the Hondells, the Revells, and the Surfaris (who were an actual group produced by Usher, and who saw lots of the same session people turn up on their records). The Super Stocks were among Usher's more fondly remembered surf "bands" of this period, and one of the more ubiquitous, with three complete LPs to their credit as well as appearances on two popular compilation albums.
The Super Stocks first showed up on the Capitol Records car song compilation album Shut Down (not to be confused with the Beach Boys' Shut Down, Vol. Two, which was done in its wake), on which they had four songs. They also contributed six songs to the album Hot Rod Rally, but the group's main claim to fame lies in the three LPs of their own that they released in 1964: Thunder Road, Surf Route 101, and School Is a Drag. Following those odd early sides, Usher assembled a core of regular players, including Glen Campbell, Richie Podolor, and Paul Johnson on guitars; Hal Blaine on drums; and Steve Douglas on sax. He handled some of the early vocals himself, with Chuck Girard, Ritchie Burns, and Joe Kelly also singing; and Girard eventually took over most of the vocal chores.
The Super Stocks were a good match for the early Beach Boys in the field of surf music or car songs -- which isn't surprising, as they utilized several session musicians who subsequently moved in and out of the Beach Boys' orbit (as well as those of the similar-sounding Hondells, Revells, Surfaris, et al.) during the mid-'60s, as well as Usher and Christian as songwriters -- but never for anything beyond that. The personalized touch that Brian Wilson and company began bringing to their work, however, both in music and lyrics, as they matured in 1964 and 1965, was totally lacking in the Super Stocks' work. On the other hand, blasphemous though it may sound, some enthusiasts for the Beach Boys' early sound regarded that maturation with disdain (more than one fan echoed Pete Townshend's criticism of Pet Sounds at the time as too soft, romantic, and sentimental), and surf and car song buffs understandably love the three Super Stocks albums. The group might well have continued, had Usher not become much more interested in releasing records by the Hondells (utilizing most of the same musicians, who enjoyed a Top Ten hit with "Little Honda"), the Revells, and other outfits that he'd created; before joining Columbia Records as a staff producer in 1965. Most of the Super Stocks' alumni were already busy and established musicians -- Glen Campbell became a superstar, Hal Blaine a legend, and Richard Podolor one of the most successful producers of the 1970s -- but among the relative neophytes, Chuck Girard became the best known to the fans, by virtue of his lead vocals. ~ Bruce Eder
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