(2010, download, - , crossfire publications)
(2011, flash-drive, usa, crossfire publications)

the buff organization

studio 'a'

2010 download - crossfire publications

    (2011, flash-drive, usa, crossfire publications) = the complete 35 album series, with bonus liner notes on pdf and 56 extra tracks

paul buff
allison buff

  1. you (sax/violin/percussion demo)

  2. studio 'a'

  3. groovy summer afternoon

  4. fuzz instrumental

  5. the land of in-between

  6. chains

  7. orchestral instrumental

  8. upside down world

  9. the parrot goose song

  10. new theme

  11. sunshine girl (full version)

  12. you

  13. the square

  14. summer avenue

  15. the land of in-between (piano/vibes/drums demo)

  16. contemplate your life (version 1)

  17. the kepex demonstration tape


liner notes by Greg Russo:

The Buff Organization released only one single during the '60s: "Studio 'A'"/ "Upside Down World" on Original Sound in 1968. However, Paul Buff and his wife Allison recorded many tracks between 1964 and 1969 that have not been released until now. Drawn from the original masters and work tapes from Buff's archives, "Studio 'A'" is the album The Buff Organization would have released at the time.

Paul Buff was the owner of Pal Studios in Cucamonga, California from December 1957 to August 1, 1964, when he sold Pal to Frank Zappa. Many of the tracks recorded at Pal during this period are available on the 20-volume set "Paul Buff Presents The Pal And Original Sound Studio Archives."

In the spring of 1963, Paul Buff was asked by Original Sound owner and legendary DJ Art Laboe to re-equip the label's studio. Buff completed the studio by the time he sold Pal, and he was busy recording at Original Sound using many different names. After this period, Paul and Allison Buff used just one name - The Buff Organization - to market their more adventurous pop music.

At the same time, Buff was engineering recordings at Original Sound by artists such as The Music Machine and those signed to the All-American label created by Bill Holmes. All-American artists tended to be more psychedelic with deluxe vocal arrangements by hired vocal coach Frank Davis. This modern approach was naturally filtered into The Buff Organization's sound. Today, this type of music is known as "sunshine pop" or "soft psych," but regardless of what box one places it in, The Buff Organization was part of that scene.

Paul Buff likes to call himself a "song mechanic," working with the different elements of a recording (arrangement, performance, effects, mixing, etc.) to get the most out of a song. It is an approach he still uses today. Numerous versions of each song were prepared until Buff was happy with the results.

Late 1967 was a very fertile period for Paul and Allison Buff. "Studio 'A'" was a satirical song about the recording process and how what happens in the studio can lead to success. It liberally used phasing and '60s pop elements along with vocals that harkened back to the doo-wop period to create a unique song. The Buffs went through ten versions of "Studio 'A'" (nine in mono, and one in stereo) before the mono single mix was released. The problem was that the public didn't hear it for the most part, as the record got lost in the sea of stellar releases in March 1968.

The record's B-side, "Upside Down World," also required ten versions before its eventual release. Originally titled "I Care For Her," "Upside Down World" started out as a demo with just piano and Paul Buff's vocal. As Paul continued to work on the song, he hit upon an arrangement that built up into one time signature after another. Buff worked lots of different instruments into the mix, including his rare performance on viola. Different vocal versions by Paul and then Allison Buff were tried until he decided to go with a completely instrumental mix featuring lots of phasing.

For the handful of people that have heard it, "Upside Down World" is considered a high point of the period. One of the groups that Buff engineered at Original Sound was Giant Crab, who used part of "Upside Down World" as the title track of their debut album "A Giant Crab Comes Forth". Sean Bonniwell of The Music Machine got together with Paul Buff as The Friendly Torpedoes to do a vocal version of "Upside Down World" in 1969. When Bonniwell added his own lyrics, the song became "Citizen Fear." That track was not released until the Music Machine archival CD "Ignition." "Citizen Fear" has been included as part of Paul Buff's 20-volume series of recordings at Pal Studios and Original Sound Studios.

Stereo mixes of both "Studio 'A'" and "Upside Down World" appear here for the first time. In fact, all of the tracks on this album are stereo except for "Sunshine Girl."

"You" started out as a complete demo with saxophones and violin flourishes. That version kicks off this album. A few different variations of the song were created, including one with Paul Buff's vocal. That unheard vocal version is included here as well.

"Groovy Summer Afternoon" had 1967 all over it! Paul Buff didn't know what to call this brief instrumental piece with overlapping vocal refrains. He went from "Gloomy Saturday Afternoon" to "Groovy Sunday Afternoon" to "Groovy Summer Afternoon," and versions with all these titles exist. This album has the most developed stereo version, which is "Groovy Summer Afternoon."

As its title suggests, "Fuzz Instrumental" is a powerful fuzz-toned instrumental work that also evokes its period (1967). It is one of Paul Buff's heavier and more insistent pieces, and it stands up really well after all these years.

"The Land Of In-Between" started off as a demo with piano and vibes that ventured into cocktail jazz territory with its intricate and percussive piano part. When Paul Buff added drums to another take with piano and vibes, the melody that was going to be sung on top of it started to come together. The version with vibes, piano and drums is Track 15 on this album.

On "The Land Of In-Between," Paul Buff went with backing vocals that were very similar to the Frank Davis vocal arrangements done on Strawberry Alarm Clock recordings that Paul engineered at Original Sound. Allison Buff's vocal is one of her best and emotional performances, and Paul's backing enhances them more within the orchestration.

"Chains" dealt with the confines of society. A couple versions of the backing track were done before Allison Buff double-tracked her vocal to create the final version. Also notable were the violin flourishes that add an interesting character to the final mix.

"Orchestral Instrumental" and "New Theme" were two of Paul Buff's driving instrumentals that used different approaches and time signatures. While "Orchestral Instrumental" was obviously more orchestra-based, "New Theme" was driven by harpsichord. Both works have distinctive and memorable '60s melodies and arrangements.

One of Paul Buff's occasional characteristics is quirkiness! Just when you think that things are predictable, Buff changes things up and surprises the listener. That's exactly what you get with "The Parrot Goose Song." It's the story of a rebellious parrot that does not want to caged up. After a demo version was recorded with his vocal, Paul Buff firmed things up by having Allison sing the final version included here.

"Sunshine Girl" was one of Paul's best unheard tracks from the time. With its strong commercial sense, it was clearly meant to be an A-side of a single. Like some of the other tracks on this album, it used different timings to create an interesting listening experience.

The quirkiness returns on "The Square." Paul Buff thought it funny that Sonny Bono had a solo hit with "Laugh At Me," so he decided to do his own type of song in a Sonny style. The subject? Hair! There was no need to make a big statement here - it was just a "hit 'em and run" type of song that accomplished its goal.

"Summer Avenue" started out life as "Windows." Another one of Paul Buff's most memorable melodies, "Summer Avenue" captured most of the "Windows" arrangement within a context of a failed relationship.

"The Kepex Demonstration Tape" was created by Paul and Allison Buff in 1969 to promote Paul's new Kepex audio processing product through their company Allison Research. Clips from "You" and "The Square" can be heard along with other finished and unfinished Original Sound tracks that Paul was working on at the time. With the introduction of the synthesizer in the late '60s, electronic music was also represented on this tape. Kepex was used at many studios throughout the country, and it was the precursor to the audio software that many studio engineers and musicians use today.

The latest track on this album is Allison Buff's "Contemplate Your Life." Recorded at Buzz Cason's Creative Workshop, Inc. in Nashville on November 14, 1973, "Contemplate Your Life" is a Mike Nesmith-styled song with hints of country music. Three takes were completed of the song, with the first version included here.

The Buff Organization's other recordings, including alternate versions/mixes of songs included here as well as others, are available at CD Baby on the 3-volume "Demos & Rarities" series and the "Mono Mixes" album."