The Californians – “Nausea Beast” / “Glass Disguise” (1969)



This one’s mostly a mystery. Presumably a California group that formed from The Avengers VI, a surf band that put out a Good Humor-sponsored LP (Real Cool Hits) that was sold from ice cream trucks! The only other thing I know is that it is “A Brian Ross Production”—the man behind the early Music Machine recordings. Can’t even tell which song is supposed to be the A-side, as there’s no indication on the labels, unless it was deliberately vague with the hope a DJ would play both/either and one might catch on as a hit. I’m going with “Nausea Beast” because it’s not only a badass name for a song, but the bolder statement of the two.

Tinged with a southern rock vibe, it also has a classic power trio sound from the era, but it’s quickly apparent there’s a rhythm guitar as well (pinging between stereo channels naturally). It’s driven by a bouncy beat and call-and-response between the instruments, all echoing the singsongy vocal. As usual, I struggle to make out the lyrics, which may be as pedestrian as a helpless pupil contending with revolting cafeteria food—“house of learning… noon lunch hour… causing me to gag and cough”—which makes me love it even more. As if the class bell had suddenly rung, the band stops dead, ending the tune with a brief, almost Eastern-sounding guitar coda.

The flip is “Glass Disguise”, which gets in and out in less than two minutes (the exact same length as the Music Machine’s “Talk Talk”) which makes the fact that it seems unbounded by time all the more impressive. It starts with an easy beat and jangly guitars embellished by a soaring string section. Again, I can’t make out the words, but there’s a devastating key shift down (most pop tunes do the trick of going high towards the end) followed by a lovely guitar solo and a quick fade out after returning to the opening rhythm, which sounds like it could go on forever. Apart from the vocal I’d almost buy it if you told me this was a lost Bubble Puppy tune.

Evidently the double A-side experiment failed, as this was the last anyone heard from The Californians, but I happily play the hell out of both of ‘em.


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