From a darkened vault deep beneath the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio I excavated a door that led to the storeroom of Fraternity Records. If subterranean exploration isn’t your thing, you can also find this gem of pop history on the Nuggets’ compilation set.
Rockin’ out of Tyler, Texas (the birthplace of Doolie Wilson, the piano player in the film Casablanca), Mouse and the Traps recorded various singles between 1965 and 1969. Two of their efforts , “A Public Execution” and “Sometimes You Just Can’t Win”, were regional hits.
The leader of the band, nicknamed “Mouse”, was Ronnie Weiss. Two of their best known songs, “A Public Execution” and a cover of “Psychotic Reaction”, are not actually credited to this band but to simply Mouse and Positively 13 O’Clock respectively. They had a somewhat tangled history too arcane for this space but for me the highlight of the track is the presence of lead guitarist Bugs Henderson.
I had the good fortune to see Bugs play live a year or two before he passed in March 2012. It was at a PRS Guitar Experience in Maryland and although there were lots of fantastic pickers on hand, Bugs brought some serious chops and a great sense of humor to the stage. You could tell he was having a blast. RIP Bugs.
The band had some comparisons to Dylan’s new electric sound at the time but went punkier with their “Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice” release. Many regard it as their best effort but it didn’t repeat their earlier success on the charts. The Dylan influence is very strong here especially in the structure of the verses. Very cool treatment and well worth a listen.