any Austin group of the late '60s could be called the Vulcan
Gas Company's de facto house band, it
would have to be the Conqueroo. That, despite the fact that
the Vulcan was self-billed as a psychedelic concert hall and
the Conqueroo was hardly psychedelic although certainly a hippie
favorite. If any musical genre could have been attached to
the eclectic Conqueroo, it would have been not one but a fusion
of many: folk, rock, jazz, and blues. Nonetheless, the Conqueroo
was a regular at the Vulcan -- featured prominently on many
Vulcan handbills and posters -- from the hall's opening in
October 1967 until its closing in mid-1970. Sonobeat owners
Bill Josey Sr. and Rim Kelley (Bill Jr.) first heard the Conqueroo
perform with the 13th
Floor Elevators at Austin's Doris Miller Auditorium in January
1967. But ultimately it was the Conqueroo's regular performances
at the Vulcan, frequently attended by the Joseys to seek out
new talent, that convinced Bill Sr. and Rim that they had to
record the group.
The Conqueroo's Sonobeat stereo single, I've
Recording sessions at the Vulcan Gas Company -- initially
in December 1967 and again in March '68 -- yielded Sonobeat's
fifth release and third rock single, a pairing of Conqueroo Ed
Got Time (featuring
an enigmatically dramatic, yet strangely reserved, duet) and 1
to 3 (featuring an equally dramatic but uninhibited vocal
by its composer, Bob Brown). No fancy recording techniques
were used; the single is nothing short of two great songs performed
passionately by great musicians, captured just a little raw
at one of Sonobeat's favorite venues, Austin's iconic Vulcan.
It remains the only commercial single release by all founding
members of the Conqueroo, who often shared the Vulcan stage
with the Elevators, Johnny
Winter, or Shiva's
Belmer Wright-Gilbert Shelton sleeve. From left, Charlie
Pritchard (guitar), Gerry Storm (drums), Bob Brown
(guitar), Ed Guinn (bass), four kids and a dog.
issued the Conqueroo's single with a two-sided black
and white picture sleeve designed by legendary Austin
illustrator Gilbert Shelton (who lived with the Conqueroo
and half a dozen other assorted characters in a large
house just off the University of
An imaginative image
by celebrated Austin photographer Belmer Wright (not to be confused
with another great Austin photographer, Burton Wilson)
completed the sleeve, which has a bit of the look
and feel of one of those famous Vulcan Gas Company
concert posters. Both sides of the sleeve are identical,
except for the song titles, hand lettered by Shelton. Shelton's
sleeve art refers to "The Conqueroo", but the group
was better known as just "Conqueroo". A banner
flowing through the OOs in "Conqueroo" proclaims "Recorded
Live at the Vulcan Gas Co.", but the single was not actually
recorded before a live audience. The
Sonobeat archives don't explain this odd discrepancy.
scheduled as Rs-104 (which collectors will
note is the matrix number etched in the single's dead wax), the
Conqueroo release moved up a notch on Sonobeat's schedule after Shiva's
Headband had second thoughts about the release of their single,
also recorded at the Vulcan and originally
scheduled for release ahead of the Conqueroo's.
Bill Josey Sr.'s handwritten notes on the Conqueroo master
tape box indicate both songs were recorded
using two 2-track Ampex recorders.
The second recorder was used for vocal overdubs that were recorded
immediately after the band laid down the instrumental tracks.
There is an ethereal "other worldness" to these recordings,
imparted by the band itself but enhanced by the vast acoustics
of the cistern under the Vulcan's floor.
While cataloging the Sonobeat master tapes in 2008, we discovered
two instrumental tracks that the Conqueroo recorded during the
March '68 session. Both are instrumental tracks that probably
were intended to have vocals but that were never completed. One
of the tracks may be titled None
of Your Business, Waitress. Unfortunately,
there's no additional information about these tracks in the Sonobeat
archives, so we're uncertain why they were never completed and
to sound bites from the Conqueroo's Sonobeat single, we also present
sound bites from the unused instrumental backing for an early
version of I've Got Time and two previously unreleased
and untitled instrumental tracks.
Got Time (Sonobeat stereo single R-s103 - "A"
Got Time (instrumental track recorded Dec, 5,
1967, with a faster tempo than the single's "A" side)
to 3 (Sonobeat stereo single R-s103 - "B"