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Audio Autopsy, 1969: Mark Eric and "A Midsummer's Day Dream" of Mark Erickson
Lost in the fog of decades, this southern California mystery man merges surf-worthy harmonies with dreamy psych-pop. Mark Eric, we hardly knew ye.
Editor’s Note: On May 14, 2023, a longtime good friend of Mark’s, Cherie, contacted FR&B, and informed us that, indeed, Mark passed away in 2009. She had been friends with Mark in the ‘70s, and reconnected with him 30 years later. She will share this article with Mark’s sister. “It’ll mean a lot to her,” Cherie said.
Mark Eric is hiding. Somewhere, in the dark recesses of the Internet resides a singer/songwriter precious few people have ever heard. Little, apparently, is known about Mark Eric Malmborg, rumored to be his real name. To make the puzzling even more confounding, he’s also known (by whomever and however many) as Mark Erickson.
What the Record Shows
Most importantly (and revealing) is that Mark recorded an album in 1969 (on Revue/Universal City/MCA Records).
It was the Year of Woodstock, as the shadow of the Summer of Love was still looming a couple years hence, and the rock landscape was beginning to bloom with heavy metal sounds, the folky lilts of hundreds of new singer/songwriters, harmony-heavy hippie hymns, a little bubblegum, and the dawn of no Beatles.
A Midsummer’s Day Dream is about all Mark Eric has allowed us to see and hear (oh, but there’s more!):
Allmusic Chimes In…
“L.A. native Mark Eric was leading the Southern California dream life in his teens -- surfing by day and writing songs about girls by night -- before his musical talents drew him to Hollywood.
“[Mark] was 16 when he met Russ Regan [shown in photo above], then at Warner Bros. [mid-’60s; he was president of 20th Century Records in the ‘70s, but not before signing Elton John, stateside, with UNI/MCA in 1970], but his first break came while waiting in the lobby of label honcho [and Ode Records founder] Lou Adler’s office. There he met Bob Raucher, an engineer at local KHJ-AM radio station (who wondered why Eric wasn’t in high school)!
“Raucher took a liking to the suntanned surfer/songwriter, and, under his ‘personal management,’ Eric was soon recording at Gold Star studios [frequented by Phil Spector, the Beach Boys, and many others] in Hollywood.
“One of his songs [“When School is Out This Year”] was later recorded by the Four Freshmen in 1968, who were by then on Liberty Records”:
“Subsequent sessions by Eric, backed with studio musicians, led to another meeting with Regan, now heading up UNI (owned by MCA), who signed the promising soft pop singer to the label.
“Eric only recorded one album, A Midsummer’s Day Dream, which was released in 1969 on UNI’s R&B subsidiary, Revue Records. Eric eventually left music behind and began working as an actor in Hollywood, appearing on numerous TV sitcoms and several commercials.
“One of his songs, ‘Fly Me a Place For the Summer,’ was later recorded by the Mike Curb Congregation for an airline commercial” [in 1971, produced by Perry Botkin, Jr.]:
The First Single
Using catalog numbers (R 11052), Revue’s first single for Mark appears to be “Night of the Lions.” The flip was “Don’t Cry Over Me,” which you’ll hear on the album:
The Second Single
Next off the album was “Where Do the Girls of the Summer Go” b/w “California Home” (R 11064). The A-side:
Interestingly enough, a recent cover version of the song by Joshua Sanford:
The FR&B Interview with Joshua Sanford:
The flip side:
If “California Home” sounds like an airline commercial to you, congratulations! It was! In fact, Mark recorded it (or the one-word airline carrier name edited in) three times (Western Airlines, Continental, and United Airlines), apparently to pitch as music beds for radio, or less likely, TV airline ads to places like Hawaii:
The entire album: Mark Eric, A Midsummer’s Day Dream:
A bass cover of “Move With the Dawn,” by Joost van Eck of The Sunset Society YouTube channel:
For guitarists and pianists, FR&B friend and subscriber, Michael Acoustic (whose guitar-playing/singer/songwriter Substack can be accessed by clicking here), brought our attention to Chordify.net, and their chords and diagrams for their Mark Eric Mix, clickable here.
As Michael mentions in the comments below, “Written in 4/4 time, 167 BPM, EMaj - probably not the relative minor C#m, but ya never really know - some non-diatonic chords here and there either way. FWIW, Chordify just taught me how to play along with “Mark Eric - A Midsummer’s Day Dream (Mix)!” As Chordify asserts about the Mix: “This song has non-standard frequency tuning; you might enjoy jamming better if your instrument is tuned to 449Hz.”
Allmusic’s Bryan Thomas reviews the album:
“Mark Eric wasn’t the most original composer of his day, and yet, years after its 1969 release, his long out-of-print one-off soft pop LP for Revue commands a fairly high price from soft pop collectors who’ve managed to nab themselves a copy. The reason?
“A Midsummer’s Day Dream is treasured by collectors as one of the more perfect blends of soft pop and surf pop, with appropriately accenting vibraphones and French horns, pseudo-studio jazzy/soft pop melodies, ‘bah bah bah’ harmonies, and moody string arrangements reminiscent of Curt Boettcher’s productions of Sagittarius and the Millennium [two notable bands in the “sunshine pop” sub-genre, a slot into which we could easily fit Mark Eric].
“Eric’s charming, somewhat imperfect falsetto (in a somewhat obvious homage to Brian Wilson) hints at a subterranean layer of loneliness throughout. His self-penned, broken-hearted Beach Boys-style ballads (think Pet Sounds/Friends) are, in fact, the perfect vehicle for his faltering upper-register voice.
“Highlights include ‘California Home’ (about a homesick airplane flight away from L.A.); an end-of-summer lament, ‘Where Do the Girls of the Summer Go,’ and ‘Don’t Cry Over Me,’ with its gorgeous blend of harmonic filigree and sophisticated studio sheen.”
Eric also apparently appeared, as an actor, on TV’s The Partridge Family as the pal of Snake (a biker played by a pre-All in the Family’s-Meathead, Rob Reiner).
This tells me that he must be more popular than we think among circles of collectors.
For several reasons, I asked good friend and fellow Substack music scribe, Andy of The Vinyl Room, to offer his immediate reaction to Mark and the album. First, I value his opinion; second, he’s got an immeasurably unique vantage point that I thought would be valuable (he’s lived on two continents, S. America and now, Europe, and he’s half my age).
So, as music goes, this is one album where he and I stand on similar ground: I never heard the album until a couple weeks ago. I’ve held back my opinion, because I’d like readers to discover the album like I did: Just Mark Eric and his music.
To that end, here’s London resident, Andy’s reflection on A Midsummer’s Day Dream, and please feel free, valued reader, to offer your musical opinions, as well, in the comment section below:
“I’ve had a listen and so many things come to mind: To start with, if it wasn’t for the accent, I could have thought he was British. There is something in some of the songs, especially ‘Night of the Lions,’ that sounds as if it was born this side of the pond.
“I didn’t particularly like the singing (I’m sorry; I’m really picky with vocals), but I did like the instrumentation, production and some of the melodies.
“Another thing to add is I’ve had a quick look on Discogs and whoever has A Midsummer’s Day Dream on vinyl could easily resell it for at least $100: https://www.discogs.com/sell/list?sort=price%2Casc&limit=25&master_id=315847&ev=mb&format=Vinyl
“Interestingly, only 430 collectors claim to have it on the Discogs page (in any format, including CD, and 1,112 people have it on their Want List (again, for any format). This tells me that he must be more popular than we think among circles of collectors, but it’s true that not a lot can be found about him on the ‘net!
“Crazy that last time it was sold was roughly a month ago. So, there must be some interest in him, or at least in the record!” Andy’s “The Vinyl Room”:
From Last.fm (and not unlike Wikipedia entries, “are editable by everyone”), so it’s with a large gain of salt……
“In 1969, Mark Eric Malmborg, along with arranger and ex-Animal, Vic Briggs [who arranged, and is pictured above; Norman Ratner produced the album], constructed A Midsummer’s Day Dream, a beautiful album, a unique pastiche of Four Freshman/Beach Boys sensibilities coupled with wistful melancholia.
“Defiantly soft, A Midsummer’s Day Dream caught the tail end of Los Angeles 60’s pop innocence perfectly, just as it slipped into infinity. 2002’s CD reissue of A Midsummer’s Day Dream (itself now out of print) caught the soft pop collector’s world entirely off guard: Very few were aware of the LP’s existence, and the reaction was united:
“A masterpiece was unleashed and a new generation of daydreamers was born! The result was glowing reviews in Mojo and Uncut, a Japanese edition, as well as soaring prices for the original long out-of-print vinyl pressing.”
Hero and Villain: His Sound of L.A.
In 2022, Grapefruit Records released a 3-CD compilation, Heroes and Villains: The Sound of Los Angeles, 1965-1968. Mark’s “Move with the Dawn,” the second track from his lone album was included. It’s “buried” a bit as the 30th and last track on disc 2:
Mark Eric 2.0?
Apparently, in 1971, Mark ponied up the dough to fashion his own indy label, the very beach-adjacent Cove Records. At one point, the label was located at 6744 Zumirez Rd. in Malibu (it’s now a vacant lot). Here, he recorded “Hey, In the Water” on Cove in 1971 (as Mark Erickson and the Point Dume Boys; Point Dume is a part of Malibu):
And, at one point, Mark and the label moved its offices to 16222 Monterey Lane in Huntington Beach #298 in the Rancho Del Rey Office Building. The “MM1” catalog number likely stands for Mark Malmborg (as he bills himself on the label), and the first release on the label…the “A” designates the record’s preferred side to be played at radio.
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