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The Outcasts are an American garage rock band from San Antonio, Texas that released a total of five singles between 1965 and 1967. Their best-known songs are I'm in Pittsburgh (And it's Raining), and 1523 Blair. Their recordings have been reissued on a number of compilation albums. According to the Ugly Things compilation album notes, they are the most recognized band of this name that were active in the mid-1960s, including a popular band from Manhasset, New York (see below for others).
The Outcasts were formed in San Antonio in late 1963 by Buddy Carson, Rickey Wright and Denny Turner. In late 1964, Jim Carsten and then Jim Ryan joined the band. This line-up prevailed until the band's fifth single, when Galen Niles replaced Denny Turner on guitar. In 1964, Denny designed a logo and slogan for the band, "Music from the OUTER LIMITS", taken from the name of the popular science-fiction television series of the period, The Outer Limits. The band had the logo emblazoned on the backs of their uniforms and also issued business cards with a similar design.
Early direction for the band came from Mike Post, whose many later musical credits include producing the first three albums for The First Edition and creating the theme music for Law & Order, The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues and many other television series. Post was the songwriter and producer of the band's first single. He also recruited the Outcasts as the back-up band for a performance by Jimmy Carlson (who was active in the New York folk music scene) and Jimmy Hawkins (who later worked in Elvis Presley films and on The Donna Reed Show).
According to member Denny Turner, they had all of the trappings of a successful rock band: a succession of managers (Sally Senter and Major John Carson), go-go dancers, a fan club with a regular newsletter, and adoring fans. Their performances at area military clubs led to gigs as opening act for Herman's Hermits in San Antonio and Austin. In 1965, The Outcasts were even invited to appear in Houston, Texas with The Beatles. but turned down the opportunity; the Five Americans took their place at the concert.
In May 1966, they shared a bill with the 13th Floor Elevators (ticket pictured) and also appeared at Texas Teen Fairs and other venues with such popular acts as Lou Christie, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Peter and Gordon and The Rolling Stones.
The Outcasts regularly participated in Battle of the Bands competitions, usually placing first or second; in 1966, the band won the competition statewide, at the peak of garage rock fervor, beating the large number of bands that were then active in Texas. (No other state is so heavily collected today in compilation albums of garage rock and psychedelic rock music; as one example, the landmark Highs in the Mid-Sixties series devotes five of their twenty-three volumes to bands from Texas.)
The band dissolved in 1968; founding member Buddy Carson died of complications of hepatitis that same year.
"The Outcasts", with various spelling variants, has been a fairly common name for rock bands for many years; at least 10 bands were using this name during the mid-1960s. This has led to some confusion among these varied groups.
One common misconception has to do with the 1960s band The Outcasts from Manhasset, New York, whose recordings were reissued by the same Collectables label, even before they featured the Texas band. In the mid-1980s, Cicadelic Records released three archival albums by the New York group: Meet the Outcasts! (studio recordings, mostly previously unreleased), The Battle of the Bands Live! (split release) and Live! Standing Room Only (a 1967 concert). In 1993, Collectables reissued both albums on CD, with additional songs that include "Society's Child" and "Get It On". Popular recordings (reissued on compilations) of this band are "Don't Press Your Luck", "I Didn't Have to Love Her Anymore", "Nothing But Love", "Set Me Free" and their unique versions of "Walk On By" and "Gloria".
Another band called the Outcasts recorded several tracks backing Linda Pierre King, an artist featured on a compilation of female garage rock artists from Texas, We Had the Beat / The Heartbeats & Other Texas Girls of the 60s. That album's liner notes suggested that the San Antonio band had backed her on these songs, a natural mistake, since King is from Houston, and the record label that released the final single by the Outcasts, Gallant Records, was based there.
The 1995 retrospective I'm in Pittsburgh and It's Raining (15 tracks, all the band's music on the Collectables label) omits the band's first single, Nothing Ever Comes Easy b/w Oriental Express; according to the CD's brief liner notes, it was "not up-to-par with their subsequent releases." Since neither side has yet been issued on a compilation album, we have only band member Jim Ryan's description: the first is "a very tender, yearning ballad with some nice changes and arrangement by a talented composer [Mike Post]. The B-side [is] a surf instrumental that rocked in fifths to give that Asian sound."
I'm in Pittsburgh (And it's Raining) embodied much of the innocence and charm of garage rock, as well as the less-than-slick production common of the 1960s garage sound. This was the band's most successful single, receiving national airplay and charting locally in San Antonio and also in Houston and Austin, Texas. The opening lyrics - I'm in Pittsburgh and it's rainin' / I'm sittin' in the subway here complainin' - contain an error of fact (Pittsburgh does not have a subway system), which cooled off the initial rush of record sales in that city. The title lyric was taken from Mountain's first lines of dialogue in the Rod Serling teleplay Requiem for a Heavyweight, the theatrical film version of which had been released three years before the song was composed. This track was included in the first of the Pebbles compilation albums, where the original liner notes call this song a "blistering punk-rocker, which has been compared to the Pretty Things at their best."
Numerous bands have released covers of this song over the years. Perhaps best known is the 1990 cover by The Cynics, from Pittsburgh; others have been recorded by the Flies, the Vibes and the Go-Devils. The original version of the song was re-pressed in 1977 as a bootleg recording in Amsterdam, and marketed to new wave fans, with the band name changed to the Kicks.
The band's last single, 1523 Blair features a "wind-up" introduction, followed by guitar riffs played at a furious pace, then barely intelligible lyrics, all at a blistering tempo. (The title was taken from the address of the Doyle Jones recording studio in Houston.) One recent reviewer remarked, "The music on this selection is jarringly experimental, the spirit is possessed fervor. '1523 Blair' is one minute and forty seven seconds long because it couldn't have possibly been any longer". This song inspired the name of a British psychedelic rock band, Blair 1523 (Bomp! Records released their lone album in 1993, after the band had already broken up).
The Outcasts tried their hand at many styles, from protest songs ("Price of Victory"), blues ("Sweet Mary"), to instrumentals ("Come on Over" and "The Birds") and romantic ballads ("I'll Set You Free" and "Everyday"). The Outcasts also recorded covers, notably "Smokestack Lightning" and "Route 66".
This list (which may have dates, numbers, etc.) may be better in a sortable table format. (October 2012)
 "I'm in Pittsburgh (And it's Raining)" is featured on:
"1523 Blair" is featured on:
"I'll Set You Free" is featured on:
"Everyday" is featured on:
"My Love" is featured on:
"Sweet Mary" is featured on:
"What Price Victory?"
"The Birds" is featured on:
"Smokestack Lightning" is featured on:
"Route 66" is featured on: