Arthur Lee and The Tangerine Connection once made a bootleg called To the Core: The Tangerine Connection. The band was composed of three tangerines, two Mandarin oranges, and a manic bitter-sweet tangelo on drums. The tangelo was alternately too flighty or too self-conscious to grant interviews. Later, addicted to dark corners, he molded out of defiance. In a personal blog, some fifty years later, the record’s producer, Jack Kleg, formerly of Apple records, stated that the unreleased record “was the best kept secret in music for years.” Things started to fall apart for the band after Sonny Orange claimed that his song, “Loving Squeeze,” was meant to be played without horns. Then, the tangerine on lead guitar, Ross “Pinky” Osage, started to overshadow Lee’s lyrics with some chugging riffs that Arthur claimed made his bed vibrate at night. But the tangerines knew better. They didn’t have the heart to tell Arthur that it was a side effect of his addiction to a subtle variation of reticulata deliciosa, not the street brand that could be sucked without feeling. During the last stages of recording in 8-track, Arthur was starting to go glum. On tour, Arthur sang the wrong lyrics and Barney Fickle-Orange collapsed on stage in Cologne, Germany. Several groupies, formerly of loyal stock, refused to give Arthur good peel. The group quietly disbanded after bassist, Mike “Theolonius” Tangerine, devoted himself to the Maharishi’s teachings of self-denial. It got to a point where he freed himself from his skin, from the little eyes of petty greed, in other words, this existence of muck sweetened with saccharine, with body-painted babes carrying canned goods. He could actually float over orange groves. Arthur, on the hand, could never get much further than the pulp, the dry hump of performing in grimy squalid clubs at the outskirts of town. Some say that had the album been released back in the day, it would have been the 4th coming of Love–runny, Seville-sour, occupying a grand spectrum between red and white wavelengths of acid rock. When the album was released recently, there was a hush over the citrus tongues of this world–tangerines, oranges, and an occasional third-generation tangelo blushed, remained speechless. Behind thick porous walls, there must have been a restrained tear. It all comes back, like a singing grape crushed before its time, dripping between the grooves. It all comes back. It always does.
Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. His latest collection of poetry/prose is Future Wars from Another New Calligraphy. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s.