In 1968, Danny Norton was the frontman of Winnipeg’s Expedition to Earth, a jangly psych-rock group with mournful vocals, underwater effects, and guitar fuzz that buzzes like Os Mutantes. They recorded a sole 45 with their astounding eponymous song on the a-side and the equally great “Time Time Time” on the flip.
48 years later, in a story that should be familiar to fans of Death or Simply Saucer, Norton is returning to his space-age dreams. As CBC reports, his wife discovered that original copies of the Expedition to Earth single have sold for prices as high as $900 and $1,137 on eBay. The 72-year-old Norton was blown away. So blown away that he booked studio time near his home in Grand Forks, B.C. for a new project called Expedition Back To Earth.
Looking at photos uploaded to the “Time Time Time” video on YouTube, the band members’ bushy hair, coke bottle glasses, scarves, Hofner bass, and Garnet amps place them squarely in the halcyon days of prairie psychedelia.
As a commenter named Arnie M. says, “I remember them playing on that stage in Portage La Prairie at ‘The Centre’ dance hall which was a converted movie theater (former Elite Theater). Peter Swidniki used to run ‘The Centre’ and book the bands. It was the place to be on the weekends back then. Ahhh the memories.”
Sadly, those memories ended when an argument between Norton and his agent (they were truly different times) split up Expedition to Earth. Before they could record a debut album, Norton’s fellow members regrouped as a new band called Colored Rain.
The Expedition to Earth single was reissued in 2008 as part of Franklin Records’ ‘Garage Greats’ series, also featuring Canadian psych luminaries such as Vancouver’s Painted Ship, Toronto’s The Fringe, and Edmonton’s King-Beezz. However, the eBay sale of the original 45 was the true revelation. Norton has now linked up with an independent producer named John Tucker from Nelson, B.C. for his new expedition.
“Dan is about 72 years old,” Tucker told the CBC. “And he's not playing golf. He's still rockin’ and it’s real. How did he get that guitar sound? It sounds like a buzz saw through a bad speaker. Love it.”
“I have no delusions about being a rock star,” adds Norton. “I don't want to be. I never did. I just have some stories and if people are interested then — fine.”
Perhaps it was all foreshadowed by the haunting whispers at the end of Expedition to Earth’s eponymous song back in ’68: “Take a look at your life / And see how you stand / Examine your past / And know your future…”