Copping a cue from the Beatles, the Byrds and the Vejtables, the Whatt Four figured it would be quite hip to misspell their name. Yes, that was the thing to do back then, and such a practice continued on, as witnessed by groups like as Motley Crue, Ratt and Def Leppard.
Based in Riverside, California, the Whatt Four experienced a flash of regional stardom during their all too brief existence. Pressed on the ESP label in 1966, the band’s first single, “You Better Stop Your Messin’ Around”/”Our Love Should Last Forever,” exposed a rocking attitude through and through. The disc topped the local charts, as did the group’s second and final endeavor, which is the one I am particularly enamored with.
Buttered with the kind of hypnotic sitar strumming engraved in the walls of George Harrison’s “Love You To” and “Within You Without You,” crossed with strains of cosmic folk pop, “Dandelion Wine” (Mercury Records) reels in as a superb flower power anthem. The cool and clever tune was written by Jerry Scheff, a man about town who played with the Millennium, Friar Tuck and later Elvis Presley.
Propelled by watts of garage rock energy, “You’re Wishin’ I Was Someone Else,” spins and sparkles with agile moves galore. Lively harmonies share air with wicked breaks, tipsy tempos and penetrating melodies. The guitars tremble with electricity, the drumming is driven and the vocals are direct and in charge. An ace performance from front to back, “You’re Wishin’ I Was Someone Else,” also sneaks a touch of psychedelic overtones into the show.
Greg Sanders (lead singer and bassist), John Langdon (lead guitar), Tom Bitters (guitar) and Tom Ference (drums) were the talented faces behind the Whatt Four. Armed with a keen vision and the tools to work with, the band proved to be fully realized right from the start.