The Strange Case of Phil and The Frantics- By: Johnny Mystery

Written by on January 13, 2022

Welcome to Mondo Rock ‘n Rolla! Let’s talk about rock ‘n roll records. Obscure rock ’n roll records to be precise.  It’s the stuff you’ve probably never heard but should have.

For instance, a ragtag band of forgotten losers from the forsaken hills of Arizona called Phil and the Frantics. Phil wore a saxophone around his neck that he never seemed to play.  Kitschy, huh?  The rest of his band were nothing to write home about.  The rhythm section was pedestrian, at best. The guitarist played like he was half asleep.  The keyboardist played like that dude on Lawrence Welk.  

Yet, they had the unmitigated gall to rip off a song by The Zombies called ‘I Must Move’ and turned it into ‘I Must Run’.  Which is what they would have done if the lawyers had the chance to go after them.  

But here’s the kicker, as great as The Zombies song is, Phil and The Frantics somehow, by their sorcery, made it better.  

It’s a moody lament about a guy who has realized his girl doesn’t give a squat about him anymore, and he spent too much time with his band and not enough time with the girl.  So, he got what was comin’. 

The melody of ‘I Must Run’ works great and unlike most obscure “garage” records put out in 1965, it is driven by a creepy reverberated Farfisa organ and fuzzy guitar is nowhere to be heard.  

Another noteworthy item here is that it was produced by a certain Waylon Jennings. Yes, that Waylon Jennings!  The Waylon Jennings who was Buddy Holly’s last bass player.  The Waylon Jennings who was to become a future Country Music Hall of Famer.  

But this ain’t no country record.  ‘I Must Run’ is a bonafide mid-tempo/ wanna drown myself/ teen doom anthem.  Phil’s voice sounds like he’s on his way to the gas chamber after his last meal of canned ravioli and birch beer.  No where do you hear the snotty blues based vocals that are so common on these unknown records from no name bands.  

I think it should have been a hit, at least at the local level, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen.  Every copy of this record I’ve ever seen has been a radio promo, including my own.  Who knows if it ever made it to the public.

It also looks like Phil was a tough guy to work with.  The Frantics seemed to change members weekly, with Phil the only constant.  Seek out ‘I Must Run’ online and give it a quick listen.  I would also listen to ‘I Must Move’ by The Zombies, so you can compare both tunes for out and out plagiarism on the part of Phil and The Frantics.  Both songs are enjoyable, but I give it to Phil and The Frantics for having the guts to pull off such a coup.  For it is written you are only as cool as the people you steal from.

The only question that remains is why the hell and how the hell did they get Waylon Jennings to produce this sappy platter? Perhaps another story.  

That’s all I got.  See next-ish and until then, get out to the record shops and hit the bins! Johnny Mystery out.

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