Sunday, April 8, 2018

Yesterday's Obsession

Yesterday's Obsession only made one record, which barely registered at the time, but has cast a long, haunting shadow since the sixties. 

Yesterday's Obsession consisted of:

Greig Gabourel (lead vocal)
Leo Oliver III (lead guitar)
Kenneth Lee (bass)
Frank Jeffers (rhythm guitar)
Stephen Fowler (drums)

An unknown member also played the organ, and someone provides maracas on one side of their record. Although they sound like they could be peers of the Elevators or Fever Tree, the group actually consisted of teenagers from the Port Arthur and Nederland, Texas, area (near the Louisiana border), several of whom attended Stephen F. Austin High School in Port Acres. In January, 1968, they trekked to Gold Star Studios in Houston and recorded "The Phycle" and "Complicated Mind." Jim Duff did the engineering. In a wildly improbable turn of events, the record was released on Huey Meaux's Pacemaker label on January 12. Meaux, of course, had no taste for psychedelia at all, and "The Phycle" is the black sheep of the Crazy Cajun catalogue. 

Leo Oliver III, lead guitarist, in 1969.

All band members were minors, so their contract with Music Enterprises had to be signed for by their parents. A copy of this contract has survived and is reproduced below. 

Boxes of unsold copies of "The Phycle" sat in the back room of Gold Star Studio for the next decade until Doug Hanners and David Shutt began picking through Meaux's old stock and discovered it. This resulted in the first of several reissues of "The Phycle" to a wider public, via Texas Flashbacks Volume 6 in 1982. Less attention has been paid "Complicated Mind," which is odd since many people believe it's the stronger side. 

No photographs of the band are known to exist, but portraits of three of the band members appear in Port Arthur area high school yearbooks between 1965 and 1969. 

Lead vocalist Greig Gabourel in 1966. 

Both songs have a menacing vibe and a downbeat atmosphere. "I'm on the brink of madness," moans Gabourel in "Complicated Mind." It's probable that a Jim Morrison influence is present in both the monotone vocal approach and the surreal lyrics, but to their credit, the band doesn't come across as mere Doors imitators. I've tried to decipher the lyrics as best I can below, but I'm not even going to attempt to figure out the chorus to "The Phycle." 

"The Phycle" (Frank Jeffers-Greig Gabourel)
I had this peace inside of me
That's lasted for a thousand years
It has survived
A million lives
And weathered through
A thousand tears

chorus -- ?

I had a love
And she had me
But now it's late for her
The time has come
The others watch me
As I clear
The webs away
And give them some
Collecting all their eyes
But normal things
Have gone somehow
and call "life is dead"

I rest in peace
Along shores
For I return
Another day
To see myself again

And the moonlight
Greets and dies in me ...

Frank Jeffers, rhythm guitarist and co-writer.

"Complicated Mind" (Frank Jeffers-Greig Gabourel)
Look who's gonna break
A lot's at stake
I'm on the brink of madness
Complicated mind enraged
Must be saved
Brain's enslaved
Nerves full of holes 
Complicated mind estranged

Unnecessary illness
Dominates the will
-- of loneliness and time
Insert in head
Shake well
in two weeks
Comes complicated mind

Look who's gonna break
A lot's at stake
I'm on the brink of madness
Complicated mind enraged
Circles in my head
Cannot look ahead
What a groovy feeling
Complicated mind estranged

Unnecessary illness
Dominates the will
-- of loneliness and time
Insert in head
Shake well
In two weeks
Comes complicated mind

Below: Yesterday's Obsession contract with Music Enterprises, dated January 2, 1968. 

Below: Dance at the gymnasium of Stephen F. Austin High School in Port Acres during the 1967-68 school year. Music by Yesterday's Obsession???


  1. Great post. Have a few questions and can also provide more information about this band if needed (I have a VERY reliable source), please comment back!

  2. Figured them to be older Houston guys. That it was a bunch of Golden Triangle teens conjuring that moody vibe is monumental. Filed away a factoid at some point that the correct title of the A-side is 'The Psycle'. Huey may not have gone much for psych but I can only conclude that he felt YO had at least some potential or he would've issued it on Shane.