Showing posts with label Fort Mudge Memorial Dump. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fort Mudge Memorial Dump. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fort Mudge Memorial Dump interview with guitarist Dan Keady

Fort Mudge Memorial Dump

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Thanks to Black Widow's channel (link)

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Happy new year. TDATS is in its ninth year now, and still going, so thanks to all those who have shown support and welcome to the first post of 2017!

The Fort Mudge Memorial Dump was a prime psychedelic band from around Walpole and Boston in Massachusetts. They released one LP during their peak in 1969 and it's been a steady grower for me ever since I heard it a few years ago. A rich and varied LP which has something to offer everyone into vintage rock sounds. As was typical at the time, there were less genre constraints and expectations back then and you'll hear blues, folk, country and hard rock sounds mingling happily, with male and female vocals from various members of the band. These were David Amaral [bass], Jim Deptula [drums], Caroline Stratton [vocals], Danny Keady [guitar, vocals] and Rick Clerici [guitar, vocals]. Interestingly, comedian and actor Martin Mull (Roseanne, Mrs. Doubtfire, Veep) made a small contribution to the LP too.

As is often the case when I am looking into bands to include in mixes (Fort Mudge has appeared in three so far: Vol95Vol97 and Vol117), there was a surprising lack of general information about the band and their album, so I attempted to track down a few key members, eventually getting in touch with founding guitarist Dan Keady. He still plays and is currently in South West Florida's Deb & The Dynamics, where he now lives (link). He's kindly agreed to answer a few questions!

Interview with Dan Keady

Dan in a recent show
Hi Dan! Can you give us some background about how you originally became a musician and some key events leading up to being in Fort Mudge?

Dan: I started playing guitar at age 14 and sucked at it for a year or two but eventually put a band together made up of neighbourhood kids playing instrumental guitar music like the Ventures and surf groups. I used to go to see Rick play at the local record hops and he was doing the same kind of music. All that changed when the Beatles arrived and we all had to learn how to sing [and buy mics and vocal amps etc]. I ended up in a band that my older brother left for a gig in Boston. This was Walpole Massachusetts big time band Little John's Nocturnes.

How did you and Rick get together with David, Jim and Caroline to start The Fort Mudge Memorial Dump, and where did that colourful name come from?

While in Little John's Nocturnes playing soul music hits I met Caroline who was doing a folk jam with Rick. We decided that a folk rock band might get us an audience so we added drums and bass. David [bass] was younger than us and playing with a garage band down the street when we recruited him. The first drummer Al Barnicote just wanted to jam and recommended we replace him if we were going to rehearse and write every Tuesday night at my parents house.

Jim "Chicky" Deptula was my drummer in earlier bands and could play well had great hair but was a troubled kid. We spent about a year just jamming and playing Rick and Caroline's varied compositions until they morphed into the crazy mess that is Fort Mudge. The name came from Walt Kelly's comic "Pogo". If the band had been more successful we probably would have had to change the name as it was used without permission.

Pogo comic March 3, 1968 - Full page - Source
Excerpt from Wikipedia (link): "Pogo [Comic, est 1913] is set in the Georgia section of the Okefenokee Swamp; [the Georgia locales of] Fort Mudge and Waycross are occasionally mentioned. The characters live, for the most part, in hollow trees amidst lushly rendered backdrops of North American wetlands, bayous, lagoons and backwoods. Fictitious local landmarks — such as "Miggle’s General Store and Emporium" and the "Fort Mudge Memorial Dump," are occasionally featured."

Can you tell us some things about life in the band? Where did you play shows?

We heard about free concerts on Sunday afternoons at Cambridge Commons near Harvard University and went to check them out. The guys running it said we were welcome to come and play our own material for their crowd [not the standard thing in those days]. We played every Sunday that summer [1968 I think]. At the end they offered to manage us and make us stars. One was eliminated when he started messing with the money [we were playing colleges and high schools by then] and Ron Beaton became our manager with the agreement that he wouldn't get paid until we got signed with a record company.

He formed Moonstone management and went to New York bringing our demo to everyone that would listen. I guess the "Boston sound" had attracted some attention and bands were getting signed and selling records. A few reps came up to see us but the summer of 69 saw a great increase in our audience at the free concerts in Cambridge. So we got a rep from Mercury to come up for a weekend to see us play for a thousand people at a university followed by our headlining the Sunday concert for 8000 or more.

Fort Mudge in front of a home crowd at Walpole Mass.

How did the recording of the album come about, and how did comedian/actor Martin Mull get involved and what did he contribute on the album?

The Mercury rep reported back to NY that we were extremely popular and should be signed. Of course it took months to get the deal done and the rep was long gone by the time we recorded a note. We recorded in Boston in what would later become The Cars' studio [Petrucci & Atwell Sound Studios]. Martin Mull was a struggling musician and house guitar player at the studio. He lent me his Gibson ES-335 for 'blues tune' and entertained us between takes. Once the basic tracks were laid down half of the band just hung out in the front office with Martin while others did overdubs and vocals. Rick Clerici played all the acoustic guitar parts as well as electric on his songs. Most of the noisy stuff is me.

Did the producer Michael Tschudin and engineer William Wolf  have significant input in the record?

The producer Michael Tschudin played all keyboard tracks including picked piano and other odd sounds. Bill Wolf was a bass player and insisted that David use his old Fender bass because it sounded better than David's Gibson EB3. That was his opinion but he insisted like it was fact. I felt bad for David who was very young but accomplished on his instrument and he clearly didn't like the Fender's high action and dead sound but in the end it sounded great.

(l-r) David Amaral [bass], Jim Deptula [drums], Caroline Stratton [vocals]
Danny Keady [guitar, vocals] Rick Clerici [guitar,vocals]

The album is ambitious and diverse, there’s some heavy fuzz guitar on tracks like 'The Seventh Is Death' and 'The Singer', there's blues like 'Blue's Tune' and there's mellow orchestrated songs like 'Actions Of A Man' and 'What Good Is Spring'. No two songs are really alike. Can you explain how such a diverse mixture of styles and instrumentation came to be included?

The songs were written by very different people and we were intentionally not listening to any other music so that we could develop an original sound. I'm told my leadership and arranging were very heavy handed and led to the demise of this version of the band but it was successful and I felt that the band needed a direction.

What equipment did you use to get your sound on the LP?

I was mostly using a Gibson SG special running into a fuzz and wah wah pedal [only on sometimes] then into a Marshall 100W Plexi Superlead amp. I did use Martin Mull's Gibson ES-335 for Blue's Tune and possibly other overdub solos.

Is it you singing on 'Blue's Tune' (which is credited to you)?

Yeah that's me trying to sound blackish. I'm still the blues singer these days, and was also the 'B' in Southwest Fla.'s The R&B Connection in the 90's (the CD is probably on youtube), as the bass player used to say. I am featured doing blues songs on all the latest releases from Deb & The Dynamics.

Front cover
The Fort Mudge Memorial Dump - S/T

Mercury ‎- SR 61256 (1969)

A] Mr. Man / Crystal Forms / Actions Of A Man / Blue's Tune

B] The Seventh Is Death / What Good Is Spring? / Tomorrow / Know Today / Questionable Answer / The Singer

Are you able to give any personal insight into the meaning of “The Singer”? It’s a heavy and foreboding sound that I really dig, along with all your (as always) inventive guitar parts!

If I recall, Rick said The Singer represented good. Like Jesus or Martin Luther King preaching non-violence and, as in the last verse, parents can create hateful children who can grow up to be The Singer's executioners.

Do you have any favourite tunes from the LP?

I still like 'The Singer'. Both musically and lyrically it still holds up today, although my guitar tone has improved quite a bit. I also like 'Tomorrow' for the lyrics and the sounds ...a lot went into the background to get that done.

What was the public/critical reception of the record on release? From what you've said previously, I presume the LP lineup didn't last long after it was made?

In the Boston area we were an instant success. I remember Caroline and I going to a big record outlet and seeing boxes of our LPs stacked up. They were just cutting them open and stacking them. They said sales were so good that they couldn't bother loading into the bins like other records.

Unfortunately Mercury provided no display stands or posters to make us look like a successful band. I do remember hearing that the same brisk sales were reported on the west coast. Mercury blew the promo money on full page trade magazine ads which made us feel great but didn't do the band any real good. They also didn't have any successful acts to put us on tour with so most of the world had no knowledge of us. This led to bad bookings in clubs and such that had no interest in an original act with no hits on the radio. Rick and Dave left to form Brother Ralph a 'Kansas' like lineup of guitars, saxophones and violins. They were great and I did record a demo of them but they were never signed

Fort Mudge's album has been re-released by Mercury and there is a lot of buzz online from all over the world. My daughter recently found a band doing covers of these songs selling downloads online. I had several different versions of Fort Mudge, one even did another never-released album. We eventually morphed into 'FM'. then 'Madeinusa' and finally 'Love Lace' [featuring Mudge's Caroline Stratton and Chicky Deptula]. There's plenty about all that online.

Thanks Dan! And thanks for the music. It would be great to hear the un-released Fort Mudge album one day...

Check out Dan's current band at Deb & The

Dan on stage with Deb & The Dynamics

Thanks for reading!
Some other TDATS interviews:

Neil Merryweather (Vol68| Heat Exchange (Vol96)
Iron Claw interview with Jim Ronnie Jodo Interview with Rod Alexander
Castle Farm Interview with Steve Traveller
Cobra interview with Rob Vunderink (Vol111)
Roy Rutanen interview | Stonehouse interview with Jim Smith
Panda interview with Jaap van Eik (Vol119)
Universe interview with Steve Finn part 1
Gun / Three Man Army interview with Paul Gurvitz (Vol125)
Blue Planet interview with Art Bausch (Vol127)

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Monday, April 6, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 117: Boston Tea Party (The Bosstown Sound)

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TDATS 117: Boston Tea Party [The Bosstown Sound] by Rich Aftersabbath on Mixcloud

This volume of TDATS is inspired by one of the enduring stories in the history of American rock; the "Bosstown Sound". It has been regarded from wildly varying viewpoints as a name made up for a scene that never existed, an unjustified hype, an authentic late ‘60s sound, a cynical industries’ marketing ploy that ended in a debacle, or a tragic end to something that could have blossomed and inspired a lot more great music. Probably the saddest part is that some Boston bands were unfairly tainted by the negative opinions, with their careers being hindered or even finished in the process.

Alan Lorber
Alan Lorber
It began with Alan Lorber, who has been a successful New York-based arranger, producer, musician and composer since the early ‘60s. One of his first successes in pop was creating The Mugwumps, a band which later split into The Lovin' Spoonful and The Mamas & the Papas. In 1968 Lorber devised a plan to use Boston as a geographical base from which to promote a number of his signings. He claims to have chosen Boston because of its convenient proximity to New York, where his Bosstown bands were recorded. A convienient fan-base existed in the 250,000 Boston college students and he claims there was a large number of clubs where artists could develop before touring nationally. There were also many college and commercial radio stations to promte at the grass-roots level. Just after announcing his plan to the trade press like Billboard and Variety, Newsweek carried the story, and coined the term "Boss-town Sound", adapted from “Motown”.

The Boston Tea Party 53 Berkeley St.
53 Berkeley St.
As a backdrop, Gary Burns recounts in his thesis “The Bosstown Sound” that Boston did have a genuine underground, kick-started in the early sixties by a healthy folk scene. A club called “The Boston Tea Party” (53 Berkeley St.) quickly became the main outlet for alternative rock after it opened in the winter of 1966. The Hallucinations playing with The Ill Wind, along with The Lost, were some of the first Tea Party shows to be announced in the underground Boston newspaper, Avatar. Some other important pre-'Bosstown' mid-sixties bands from the area were The (Rockin') Ramrods, The Remains and The Barbarians. The venue was also favoured by big-name visitors like The Velvet Underground, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy and Canned Heat.

The Boston Tea Party opening night poster
The Boston Tea Party opening night poster
Alan Lorber chose the MGM record label for his signed Boston bands Orpheus, Ultimate Spinach and Beacon Street Union for no other reason than the convenience of having used them for similar acts of his already. Almost immediately after the term “Bosstown” was coined, two things happened which would curse it for ever more and bring it to an abrupt end. Firstly, influential rock press like Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy took an immediate negative stance, claiming that the Bosstown sound was a cynical ploy constructed by MGM, to be played against the huge west-coast “San Francisco Sound”.

The spiel in the initial press advert read ”Where the new thing is making everything else seem yesterday. Where a new definition of love is helping to write the words and music for 1968. Three incredible groups, Three incredible albums. The best of The Boston Sound on MGM records.” It then showed the debut LPs of Beacon Street Union and Ultimate Spinach. Also the second LP from Orpheus, showing that the folk/pop sounds of Orpheus were already well-established before being connected to the campaign.

Billboard magazine - 20th January 1968
The first ad in the Boston Sound campaign
Beacon Street Union, Orpheus and Ultimate Spinach
Now it was hip to bash the Bosstown sound, even Boston musicians joined in the vitriol. Russell “Rusty” Marcus, late-joining bassist with Eden's Children was quoted as saying: "Boston could never support a music scene. You can't enjoy yourself if your body's sick, and Boston's sick, physically, psychologically sick. We're glad we're not just lumped together with the rest of the Boston Sound. [At that time, Eden's Children was one of the only "Bosstown" bands signed to a label other than MGM] I mean, MGM's trying to buy its way onto the charts.

Curb (center) with members of the Mike Curb Congregation and Davy Jones on a television special in 1972
Mike Curb (center) & members of
the 'Mike Curb Congregation'.
Davy Jones television special, 1972
Secondly, in 1969 the newly appointed MGM president Mike Curb (who later became a Reaganite politician and 42nd Lieutenant Governor of California) decided to wage a war on “drug bands”, with Rolling Stone reporting his derogatory comments about bands on his own label! In doing so he dropped many bands from the label, relegating them as "just a bunch of junk". Since then it has been speculated that this was a publicity stunt, and these were merely under-selling bands that were nearing end of contract anyway. The hip and trendy opinion-leaders like Rolling Stone made it acceptable to put down Boston bands. In Lorber’s words, “Nevertheless, the reaction triggered a national controversy which continued for more than a year. It became more trendy to talk 'Boston Sound' than to hear it. A snowball became an avalanche, with the artists buried under the outpouring that overshadowed the music, and eventually destroyed whatever future they might have had."

Countering this to some degree, Alan also wrote: "Strangely though, Boston Sound marketing was successful for Boston itself. Record outlets prospered. Revenues of rock 'n' roll radio multiplied. Circulation of local music papers doubled. Boston clubs experienced overflow attendance. For the groups, Orpheus' single Can't Find The Time was #1 in most US markets. The first Ultimate Spinach album sold 110,000 copies its first week out. All the Boston artists flourished creatively in a wonderful diversity of things political, things poetic, things classical and jazz, things of the time."

From the eighties onward, many people have studied what happened and why, including music executives trying to avoid another such marketing mess. Others have tried to defend the bands that they think were all unfairly tarred with the same brush, and recoup some respect. To make this volume I have used some great online resources that champions of the Bosstown Sound have put together. Respect goes to Paul ‘Blowfish’ Lovell for his “Rock in Boston 1967-69”. To Gary Burns for his Paper “The Bosstown Sound”, and Alan Lorber himself for writing about it all in the nineties, some of which you can read at Orpheus Reborn. Thanks also to Desdinova's “Re-evaluating The Bosstown Sound”.

Chevy Chase in Chamaeleon Church
Chevy Chase (2nd from rt)
in Chamaeleon Church
So, this volume is a collection of acts that were part of, or connected to, “The Bosstown Sound”. In TDATS tradition, I have chosen cuts from bands which played heavy at least some of the time. Narrowly missing the grade were Bear (youtube), The Freeborne (youtube) and Teddy & The Pandas (youtube).  Some important Bosstown names like Orpheus, Earth Opera, The Chamaeleon Church, Ill Wind, The Bagatelle and Flat Earth Society may have been good at what they did but do not have songs included here due to the styles they played. I used a band called Fat back in volume 10 (link) but that track ('Country Girl') is in my opinion the best one on their album and I couldn't decide on another. Towards the end of this volume there's a couple punky late-'70s acts. Although obviously not in the Bosstown Sound, I included them as their members were, and it gives some perspective on what influence the old Boston names had on future sounds.

bands in this volume

The opening track, "Thumbnail Screwdriver", is a catchy song with a rolling groove and charismatic group vocals, a great opener indeed. Quill's real names follow, but on the record they went by the psudonyms of Da-ank Khol, Ju-unk Khol, Phil Stan D' There, Red Rocket Rogers, R. Willy North. These pseudonyms are rumoured to have been an attempt at distancing themselves from their Boston roots, as by 1970 the "Bosstown Sound" was well and truly knackered.

The band enjoyed a brief flash of national exposure by playing at the Woodstock festival in August of 1969. The quintet was co-founded in 1967 by brothers John Cole (bass, guitar, vocals) and Dan Cole (vocals, guitar, trombone), who were the main song-writers. The rest of their lineup was Roger North on drums, Norm Rogers on guitar, and Phil Thayer on keyboards, sax, and flute. Most of the songwriting was handled by John and Dan Cole.

Quill LP (1970)
Quill LP (1970)
They were successful enough to get support spots for artists such as Jeff Beck, Deep Purple, Buddy Guy, and Janis Joplin, and their appearance at Steve Paul's Scene in New York City earned them a booking at Woodstock. Unfortunately they never made the cut for the movie, owing to a technical flaw in their footage. They did get signed to Cotillion Records, but the resulting debut album failed, maybe it would have fared better with the help of exposure from the Woodstock movie? John Cole left and the remaining members had their second album rejected by Cotillion. Quill had broken up by 1971 but they received exposure 38 years later when the "Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm" CD contained two of the four songs they played there.

North drum kit
North drum kit
Roger North is probably the most well-recognized ex-member, with a continuing career and a stint with the Holy Modal Rounders. He also gained renown in percussionist circles as the inventor of North Drums, a kit with curved drum bodies that projected their sound outwards towards the audience, which he played from the late '60s onward. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon and plays in the Freak Mountain Ramblers.

Brother Fox & The Tar Baby
Track 2, "Steel Dog Man", starts as it means to go on with a stomping hard rock riff and tight playing, punctuated by glorious psych breaks, backed-up by earthy vocals that cut straight to the bone. Brother Fox and the Tar Baby featured the talents of former Profits guitarist Richie Bartlett, bassist Tom Belliveau, guitarist Dave Christiansen, drummer Bill Garr, singer Steve High and keyboardist Joe Santangelo. Dave Christiansen, Joseph Santangelo, Tom Belliveau and Richard Bartlett were previously in Front Page Review, also appearing in this volume. Belliveau  was also in Pugsley Munion (see vol59), and Bartlett was later in '80s new-wavers The Fools. They were signed by the small Oracle label, which released 1969's Bruce Patch-produced self-titled album. Christiansen was credited as writing all eleven tracks.

Brother Fox & The Tar Baby LP
This has a commercial edge and is a polished product, but it's done right and there's more than enough heaviness here too, over half the album is hard cuts with quite a unique take on combining late-'60s heavy psych with the chunky riffs and hammond organ of the freshly-emerging hard rock sounds of the times. This is what the first Boomerang album should have been like! (see Vol9)

The countrified feel, and high production quality with orchestration, shows that this was a serious stab at a successful album. The mellow tracks and ballads are all good, so make for a nicely diverse listen. The song-writing is consistently good, and the excellent vocals deserve a mention, sounding somewhat like Robert Plant in the heavier tracks. Highly recommended!

The Far Cry LP (1968)
The Far Cry LP (1968)
The Far Cry were a jazzy 7-piece with sax and hammond who made even less impact than most of the bands here. Of all the members, guitarist Paul Lenart reappeared some years later, on Beacon Street Union member Peter Ivers' second solo album. He also played on Keith Moon's "Two Sides Of The Moon" (1975). They play a groovy and flowing form of progressive jazz rock, which is a very unusual thing to have come from the US at this time. User "mekkipuur" at RYM says that they are "the American equivalent to the british heavy progressive groups like Catapilla, Van der Graaf Generator, Gnidrolog or Raw Material" which is a good comparison. Vocalist/Harmonica player Jere Whiting sings with wild abandon, making for one of the most distinctive elements of the record, being compared by some to Capt. Beefheart. I have used the track Hellhound, which has a nice shuffle going on and lots of great extended solos from the band.

The Fort Mudge Memorial Dump's 1969 self-titled album is something to get excited about. A great combination the heaviest Boston sound psych you'll find, with Caroline Stratton's vocals resembling Grace Slick and some killer guitar workouts from Dean Keady, which in places resemble Hendrix at his sludgy-wah'd best. The track I used here, "The Seventh Is Death", is one of the most ominous and longest from the album. It features an unusual, troubled male vocal performance which I presume is from one of the other listed members: James Deptula, Dave Amaral or Richard Clerici.

Fort Mudge Memorial Dump LP 1969
LP cover, 1969
For such a well formed, great-sounding record there is little information to go by but here's what is stated about them: "They were from Walpole, Massachusetts, that started playing by 1969, gathering a good number of fans. Although they were from Walpole, they got filed into the “Boston Sound”, among the Ultimate Spinach, the Beacon Street Union, Orpheus, Tangerine Zoo, ect." A few years ago I found this comment on a Fort Mudge blog post, but as yet I have been unable to verify any of it: "Uncle Rick said...Hi, I worked with Danny (name not Dean!) and Caroline in a band called "Lovelace" in the '70s and we played to packed houses throughout New England. In between was a band called "MadeinUSA" which also cut an album. Lovelace also included locals Chickie Depula on bass and Mick Bendenelli on drums. Caroline, Cindy Daily & Hope Moon on vocals and they kicked butt!"

Apple Pie Motherhood Band - Apple Pie LP 1969
Apple Pie Motherhood Band
'Apple Pie' LP 1969
Track 5 presents a whimsical song with funny, eccentric lyrics. "Grandmother Hooker" easily raises a smile. Psychedelic blues unit the Apple Pie Motherhood Band evolved out of garage outfit C.C. & the Chasers (link).  In 1965 they relocated from Boston to New York City, briefly adopting the name Sacred Mushroom (used on Vol108) and becoming house band at the Bitter End Café, backing acts ranging from Joni Mitchell to Neil Diamond to Kenny Rogers & the First Edition. The Sacred Mushroom moniker was deemed too drug-oriented for a deal with Atlantic, so a sarcastic comment from guitarist Ted Demos resulted in the name Apple Pie Motherhood Band, and their self-titled debut LP followed in 1968. The group relocated to Vermont to record the follow-up "Apple Pie", adding lead vocalist Bruce Paine, guitarist Michael Sofraine, and harmonica player Adam Myers to original members Dick Barnaby (bass, flute), Jack Bruno (drums), Ted Demos (guitar) and Jef Labes (keyboards).

'Apple Pie' LP rear
They were great musicians and their output was all over the board in terms of style and influence, using a lot of covers. This resulted in many great tracks and some mediocre ones, the second album is the heavier and more consistent. What they lack in originality and identity they make up for in exuberant and fun performances. They opened dates for the Jefferson Airplane, the Butterfield Blues Band, and the Chambers Brothers, but in 1970 they split. Demos, Soriphine and Bruno joined Shakey Legs (link) for one album, Labes later backed Van Morrison and Bonnie Raitt, and Bruno spent close to two decades as Tina Turner's touring drummer, then Elton John's. Paine briefly led Steamhammer in the UK, but was better known for acting work.

Eyes of the Beacon Street Union LP 1968
Eyes of the Beacon Street Union LP
For the next track we have a real dancefloor-filler from one of the original MGM-signed Bosstown bands, Beacon Street Union. Having listened to their two albums, I was not bowled-over by their somewhat unfocused sounds, but I did dig "Sadie Says No". Formed in Boston in late 1966, they comprised of John Wright (vocals), Paul Tartachny (guitar, vocals), Robert Rhodes (keyboards), Wayne Ulaky (bass, vocals), and Richard Weisburg (drums). On his site, Paul Lovell writes: "The Union had a few stage tricks. Sometimes they would throw bags of flour around resulting in a low budget fog show. They always fooled me with this next trick no matter how many times I saw them. They would come on stage and we would all clap and yell. They would start plugging in and tuning up. It seemed to take a long time. Eventually your attention would drift and you would just talk to your friends. At some signal the whole band would slam into the opening chord to My Love Is (youtube) at full volume and SCARE THE BEJEEBERS OUT OF YOU."

Eagle (1970)
'Come Under Nancy's Tent' LP rear
The band members were in their early twenties when both albums were recorded and the press hostility against the Bosstown sound took its toll. They split after only two years together. Shepherded by Alan Lorber (along with the groups Ultimate Spinach and Orpheus), the group met with little success, although their first album The Eyes Of The Beacon Street Union charted at #75 on May 4, 1968. The band relocated to New York, where, after a second album, The Clown Died in Marvin Gardens, Wright, Ulaky, Weisberg, and Rhodes recorded a further album as Eagle. This was a far-less psychedelic, countrified rock affair. Later in the 1970s, Wright went on to write and sing country music as leader of the Sour Mash Boys.  He died on December 4, 2011.

One of Alan Lorber's bands, Ultimate Spinach was one of the most well-known, and perhaps the most notorious, of the groups to be hyped as part of the "Bosstown Sound" in 1968. The name itself guaranteed attention, as one of the most ridiculous  "far out" names of the psychedelic era, even outdoing "The Peanut Butter Conspiracy". They were competent musicians with imagination, but their albums were derivative the West Coast psychedelic groups that were obvious inspirations.

On the first two of their three albums, Ultimate Spinach was completely under the control of leader Ian Bruce-Douglas, who wrote all of the material, sang most of the vocals, and played a wide variety of instruments, most frequently electric keyboards. Their self-titled 1967 debut was a serious attempt at psychedelia, but suffered at times from the overly-obvious trappings of the style and could sound like parody. Guitarist Barbara Hudson's great contributions in the vocal department did go some way in combating these problems, and in the end the album sold quite successfully.

1968's "Behold and See" LP was an all-round better, more consistent album and that is where I took the track I used here, "Mind Flowers". Although it's still quite derivative, this track has a couragously long running time and is supremely atmospheric, one of the trippiest songs I have ever heard. Bruce-Douglas quit after the second LP, but Lorber assembled a new lineup for their final album, with only Barbara Hudson remaining from that of the debut. Ted Myers (ex-The Lost and Chamaeleon Church) and guitarist Jeff Baxter (later to play with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers) were introduced for the imaginatively-titled "Ultimate Spinach III" (1970). It was not quite as good as Behold and See, maybe mirroring the changing times it dropped most of the psychedelia completely. A straight-forward country/blues rock sound was adopted which made for a smoother, pedestrian experience, and a less distinctive album.

Eden's Children - Sure Look Real LP inside
Eden's Children
'Sure Looks Real' LP
I found the two albums of Eden's Children quite hard to like on the whole, but they have a few good songs, lots of endearing parts, and a fair amount of good heavy fuzz riffing. It would seem that they seriously lacked in the quality control dept. The production job done by Bob Thiele, who appears to have been quite an accomplished jazz producer since the '40s, is severely inconsistent and lacking in places, making a few of their songs sound embarrassingly amateurish. Being on the ABC label and coming around just after the first wave of the "Bosstown" bands, they are frequently mentioned in the same articles but have always been considered less connected to it. The band was a trio, comprising Richard "Sham" Schamach (vocals, guitar), Larry Kiley (bass) and Jimmy Sturman (drums), at times you'd think they were trying to emulate Cream, but not always unsuccessfully-so. Shortly after the second album, from which I have used the track "Toasted" (voted the best heavy riffer on the album in the TDATS fb group), Kiely left the band and was replaced by Russell “Rusty” Marcus, but they broke up later in 1969. As yet I have found no evidence of further musical efforts from the members.

Jolliver Arkansaw - 'Home' LP
Jolliver Arkansaw
'Home' LP (1969)
Track 9, "Lisa My Love", coasts in on a bouncy bass line with stabs of fuzz guitar. Jolliver Arkansaw were a development from Bo Grumpus, a band who's only album, "Before The War" (1968), was produced by one Felix Pappalardi (pr. Cream & The Youngbloods). "Produced" is probably an insufficient word to use as he also wrote, arranged and played Keyboards, Trumpet, Bass, Guitar, Percussion and Ocarina, so more or less a fifth member of the band. With him were N.D. Smart (drums) and Jim Colegrove (bass), who traveled from Ohio to team up with guitarists Eddie Mottau and Joe Hutchinson. That was a light psych-pop affair of little interest here, but in 1969 the band renamed to Jolliver Arkansaw and made an album called Home. Felix was back in the producer's seat for this one and for one song, Gray Afternoon (youtube), an additional lead guitarist was invited, none other than Leslie West. Apparently it was this early 1969 session that convinced Felix that Leslie was worth working with more closely, which led to the West solo album Mountain and the formation of the group of the same name, initially as a trio with the ubiquitous N.D. Smart. There is more information at (link).

Track 10 finds its mark from the outset as a raving freak-beat monster, "No Reason Why". Along with The Remains, The Barbarians and The Rockin' Ramrods, The Lost were one of the more celebrated Boston bands of the '60s. Unlike those other groups, who were more prolific, The Lost only released a few singles during their short existence. They were pre-Bosstown Sound, but I have included them as their members crop up again in later bands.

The Lost
The Lost
They formed at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont in 1964. Originally the band, with Hugh Magbie as lead guitarist and singer, were among few interracial rock bands of the time. Changes ensued when they moved to Boston in late 1964 and Magbie quit to return to college. The Lost developed a lot of original material, from the imaginations of guitarist Ted Myers and keyboardist Willie Alexander (both mentioned elsewhere in this volume), recording a demo produced by Barry Tashian of The Remains that got them signed to Capitol. Their first single,"Maybe More Than You," was Dylanesque folk-rock, and got some sales and airplay in Massachusetts and New York.

A second single didn't appear for almost a year, although the band managed to open for numerous shows like the Beach Boys' 1966 Eastern tour. Capitol dropped them and in 1967 they split.

The Lost Tapes - Arf! Arf!
The Lost Tapes
Arf! Arf! Records
Main songwriter Ted Myers ventured into psychedelic music with the Chameleon Church (which had future star comedian Chevy Chase on drums), and was a member of the Ultimate Spinach in the band's final days. Keyboardist Willie Alexander and bassist Walter Powers were members of the name-only, Lou Reed-less Velvet Underground of the early '70s, Powers also playing in Listening, coming up. Willie has become a bit of a Boston legend, playing with an endless succession of local bands over time. The Lost did a lot of recording, at Capitol and elsewhere, in addition to their three singles in the mid-'60s, which eventually became available on Arf! Arf!'s Early Recordings and Lost Tapes CD in the '90s. Read some more here. There is a recent interview with Ted Myers here at It's Psychedelic Baby.

Saint Steven - Over The Hills LP 1969
Saint Steven
Over The Hills LP (1969)
Saint Steven was Steve Cataldo. He was previously a member of Front Page Review, who appear here next, a late-joiner to Ultimate Spinach and founding member of the post-punk/power pop Nervous Eaters. In 1969 he made a solo record called Over The Hills. This was an unusual experimental record with lots of things thrown in - psych, folk, hard rock, pop and sound effects in a psuedo-proggresive package. The record is split into two suites, Over the Hills (side A) and The Bastich (side B). It's all pleasant stuff, with a few fuzzy cuts like Ay-Aye Poe Day and Sun In The Flame. The Bastich pts 1 & 2 gives a good cross-section of what he was attempting, with it's pretentious choral intro and groovy psych guitar lead-out. It's not clear whether Steve played all the instruments himself, as nobody else is credited, but it was produced by John Turner who appears to have made some albums of his own. A highly collectible record due to it's rarity, it's worth a listen for Steve's great vocals, proto-prog concept and considered songs.

Front Page Review - Mystic Soldiers LP
Front Page Review
Mystic Soldiers LP
Track 12, "Prism Fawn", has a nice urgency to it, with atmospheric keyboards. Front Page Review rubbed shoulders with bands like Eden's Children, Beacon Street Union and Strawberry Alarm Clock. With Alan Lorber behind the controls, they recorded an album for MGM which was not released at the time. "Mystic Soldiers" is a prime example of late '60s US psych, featuring a young Steve Cataldo (as just mentioned, of Saint Steven & Nervous Eaters) on songwriting / vocals. All the right ingredients are there: wah-fuzz guitars, organ, phasing & effects. Steve wrote all of the material for the group, which played minor-keyed brooding stuff. After they broke up, he made the "Saint Steven" solo album mentioned previously, and later hitched onto the new wave by forming the Nervous Eaters (coming up here soon), who made a couple of LPs. Front Page Review's album was finally unearthed for CD release in 1997 by Big Beat.

Peter Ivers - Knight of the Blue Communion LP 1969
Peter Ivers' 1969 LP
'Knight of the Blue Communion'
Track 13, "Showroom Model", is an intriguing morsel of arty jazz rock that's indicative of the experimental boom of the late '60s. It's compelling and surreal, with off-kilter changes, but anchored by Peter Ivers' bluesy Harmonica. Peter Ivers was born in Boston in 1946. While studying at Harvard University, he played harmonica in The Beacon Street Union. After they split he surfaced as a member of The Street Choir before he signed to Epic in 1969 and issued "Knight of the Blue Communion", an unusual major-label releases for its time: A surreal parade of jazz, psychedelic, pop, classical and vaudeville vignettes with wildly eclectic arrangements and feverish rhythms. Featuring opera singer Yolande Bevan and electronic “modulations”, it evokes Frank Zappa’s most eccentric moments and the United States Of America at their most juvenile. Ivers recorded a follow-up, "Take It Out on Me" (Epic, 1971), but the label never released it, except for the single "Ain’t That Peculiar/ Clarence O’Day". Take It Out on Me has since been issued by Wounded Bird Records (link).

He signed to Warner Bros in 1974. Ivers and his co-producer, free jazz bassist Buell Neidlinger, delivered "Terminal Love", which at times sounded like Beefheart/Zappa. Indeed, Magic Band & Zappa collaborator Eliot Ingber appears on several tracks. A self-titled album for Warner followed in 1976. A year later, Ivers earned arguably his most enduring fame, writing and recording "In Heaven (The Lady in the Radiator Song)" for David Lynch's noir horror classic Eraserhead (youtube). (The song was later covered by Boston's The Pixies.) A 1980 single, "Love Theme from Filmex," was his last official musical release. In the early '80s, Ivers hosted New Wave Theatre, broadcast on the fledgling USA cable network as part of their Friday evening Night Flight anthology. The series provided early national TV exposure for Los Angeles area bands like The Blasters and Dead Kennedys. With his outrageous wardrobe, philosophical interview questions, and rapid-fire social commentaries, Ivers was a most unconventional host, and many of the artists featured on the show made their distaste for him painfully clear. Peter is reported to have played in an avant-garde jazz outfit called Girlz of Zaetar, which had a rehearsal tape issued in 2007 (youtube).

Ivers was bludgeoned to death in his L.A. apartment in 1983. Many suspected the murderer was a member of the local punk scene. Ivers' killer was never found, but in his memory, Harvard University initiated the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Program. The retrospective "Nirvana Peter" appeared on Warner in 1985. Josh Frank and Charlie Buckholtz have written a book about Ivers' life, art and mysterious death, In Heaven Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre (2008). On the basis of new information unearthed during the creation of this book, the Los Angeles Police Department has reopened their investigation into Ivers' death. Thanks to Jason Ankeny at, and Wikipedia for all this info.

Willie "Loco" Alexander (born January 13, 1943) sang and played keyboards with The Lost, The Bagatelle and The Grass Menagerie. He became a member of The Velvet Underground in late 1971, joining fellow Grass Menagerie alumni Doug Yule and Walter Powers and replacing Sterling Morrison. With the Velvet Underground, Alexander toured Europe in support of the album Loaded. Reshuffles brought on by manager Steve Sesnick then ended Alexander's time with the band.

Willie Alexander
Willie Alexander in recent times
After leaving The Velvet Underground, he enjoyed a checkered career. He recorded three solo singles beginning in 1975, and formed the punk-oriented Boom Boom Band the following year. The group recorded two albums for MCA, but broke up in 1978. He released Solo Loco in 1982, and then formed The Confessions, who also recorded two albums, A Girl Like You and Autre Chose. Alexander continued in his solo status throughout the '80s, and formed the Persistence of Memory Orchestra in 1991. In addition to his storied music career, in 1994, Willie narrated a local film entitled Middle Street made by fellow Gloucester native, independent filmmaker Henry Ferrini. Willie has also contributed many songs to the soundtracks for Henry's other films. You can check out Willie's current activities etc at his site (link).

Nervous Eaters c. 1977
Nervous Eaters c. 1977
Track 15, "Just Head", is a chunk of killer Stonesy punk with cheeky lyrics and unstoppable momentum. The Nervous Eaters was one of the bands that kick-started the Boston punk scene at the end of the 70‘s and the birth of a local scene that would foster dozens of influential and successful American artists in the 80’s and beyond. That needs to be said because the "Eaters", as the group was affectionately referred to locally, never achieved much attention outside of Boston or New York City. Featuring singer, guitarist and songwriter Steve Cataldo, previously of Front Page Review and Saint Steven, the Nervous Eaters was considered the house band at Kenmore Square’s Rathskeller (aka "Rat") club by virtue of its many appearances there and a pair of 7” singles released on the club’s Rat Records. Before taking that name, they had dubbed themselves The Rhythm Assholes, while they backed Willie Alexander on his 1977 solo single "Kerouac", and in concert. One of those songs, “Loretta,” became and remains one of the city’s enduring rock and roll anthems powered by a scorching four-piece attack and Cataldo’s husky and fervent vocals.

Nervous Eaters, Steve Cataldo 2nd from left
Nervous Eaters, Steve Cataldo 2nd from left
Ric Ocasek of the Cars became a fan and he produced a ten-song demo for the band that enabled a deal with Elektra Records, also the home of his platinum-selling group. Unfortunately, some blaming the producer, their eponymous 1980 album completely lacked the heaviness and attitude of the band’s live shows and original singles. The album failed and the band stepped into the shadows. A 1986 reunion album "Hot Steel and Acid", for the French-based New Rose label, was subsequently issued by Boston's Ace of Hearts Records. It belatedly redressed the balance with the frantic scuzz of the early singles, but the chance of national fame was already well-passed. New incarnations of the band, still including Steve Cataldo, play sporadically up to this day and you can follow them on facebook (link).

Listening LP front 1968
Listening LP cover (1968)
Rounding this volume off nicely we have a slice of Hendrix-heavy 1968 psych called "See You Again". Vocalist/keyboardist Michael Tschudin led the band Listening, and the later-Velvet Underground bassist Walter Powers (previously of The Lost) and guitarist Peter Malick (aged only sixteen when joining) helped to make this album historic. Walter performed over the years with keyboardist Willie Alexander as members of The Lost, the aforementioned Velvets, and on Autre Chose, a live album from Willie. Peter Malick later became Otis Spann's guitarist and a member of the James Montgomery Band on Capricorn. The album runs the gamut from psych, pop, blues to jazz. Eight of the 11 tracks are written by Michael Tschudin, with three titles attributed to the group. A couple of tracks are top-tear stuff, "Stoned Is", being another of them, while the rest make for a consistently enjoyable listen front to back. Michael Tschudin appeared soon after in Cynara (link), who look pretty mean on the cover of their s/t 1970 album, which is disappointingly loungy commercial piano-based jazz/soul that never works up a sweat. Peter Malick became an acomplished blues player and since becoming a producer/engineer in the 2000s he has had a hand in starting Nora Jones' career (website).  Drummer Ernie Kamanis played guitar for Andy Pratt and Boz Scaggs and later had a solo career. Paul Lovell recounts some memories of Listening here.

See you again!
Cheers, Rich

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

TDATS 97: Queen of the Neighbourhood [Female Vocals 4]

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A happy new year to you all. This is my fourth female vocals special after Vol19, Vol49 and Vol71. It's another diverse mix of new-to-tdats heavy psych, pop, blues and hard rock through the ages. All-girl The Pleasure Seekers was Suzi Quatro's first band and Martha Velèz's album had some big names playing on it like Eric Clapton, Paul Kossoff, Rick Hayward, Stan Webb and Brian Auger. Flame guitarist Jimmy Crespo later joined Aerosmith in 1979. Anne Sarofeen and Smoke's song is a cover of a track from the same Martha Velèz album that I took 'Feel So Bad' from. The Poppy Family offers a slice of creepy, ominous pop psych and Aura (not to be confused with the Aura on Vol93) was a brass funk band with great acid guitar. Cheryl Dilcher's otherwise pop-orientated album 'Butterfly' contained a couple of killer groove tracks with great guitar, 'All Woman' being one of them with it's male chauvinist-pleasing lyrics. Wild Honey were a Dutch band and their song here stands out from the rest as being part of a later-generation of rock.

01. Fear Itself - Crawlin' Kingsnake (1969)
       from album 'fear itself'
02. Made In Germany - The Arrow and the Song (1971)
       from album 'made in germany'
03. Sarofeen And Smoke - Swamp Man (1970)
       from album 'sarofeen and smoke'
04. Medusa - Medusa (1978)
       from album 'medusa'
05. Coreen Sinclair & Indiana - Hey Man (1971)
06. The Poppy Family - There's No Blood In Bone (1969)
       from album 'which way you goin' billy'
07. 60,000,000 Buffalo - Royalty Rag & Cocaine Shuffle (1972)
       from album 'nevada jukebox'
08. Flame - Queen Of The Neighbourhood (1977)
       from album 'queen of the neighbourhood'
09. The Pleasure Seekers - Where Have You Gone (1968)
       from retrospective 'what a way to die'
10. Cheryl Dilcher - All Woman (1973)
       from album 'butterfly'
11. White Honey - Nothing Going On In The City (1979)
       from album 'some kinda woman'
12. Martha Velèz - Feel So Bad (1969)
       from album 'fiends & angels'
13. Aura - Skyrocket (1977)
       from album 'aura'
14. Freedom North - Losing You (1970)
       from album 'freedom north'
15. Fort Mudge Memorial Dump - Crystal Forms (1969)
       from album 'fort mudge memorial dump'

Fear Itself was formed by Ellen McIlwaine in Atlanta, Georgia. McIlwaine sang lead vocals as well as performing harmonica, rhythm guitar and organ. Chris Zaloom performed lead guitar, Steve Cook played bass guitar, and Bill McCord was on drums. Paul Album (real surname) joined the group playing bass guitar after Steve Cook quit. The group performed at Woodstock Festival in 1969, and eventually separated after the bass guitarist Paul Album was sadly killed by a drunk driver. McIlwaine later moved to Canada and started a long-running solo career. When Made In Germany published their eponymous album on Metronome in 1971, this was the reward for their committed practising in grumpy rehearsal rooms for many years. All this began at Beethoven Gymnasium (College) in West Berlin. The West Berliners had started as a schoolboy band in order to play the hits of their protagonists. Under the name of "Cosmics" they still considered the "making of music" a hobby. Encouraged by the local success of competing schoolboy bands and highly infected by the general hysteria for the beat, they soon played in the 1st division. As of 1965 they caused a sensation under the name of "Take Five" in a Berlin youth club. In 1968 they won the first prize in an international beat festival together with the Chechen band "Atlantis". The bands became friends and saw each others. When the musicians of "Atlantis" split up, their guitarist (Stan Regal) stayed in Berlin, married and started to work in Audio recording studio. This was a favourable combination for the band to fulfil their dream to record their music material in a proper recording studio and to get a recording contract as they were technically well-experienced and sufficiently self-confident, too.

The musicians gave up the unpopular name of "Take Five" and called themselves Made In Germany now. Stan Regal provided them the possibility to professionally record in an audio recording studio. First of all, there was planned the recording of a single, an album should follow. A part of the recordings were already completed, when the boys got to know Rita Peuker. Rita was the singer in a local band and the boys had watched her appearing. They were enthusiastic about her and wooed away her at once. The titles were now adapted for Rita and newly produced. Rita became the front woman of Made In Germany.

First, "Don't forget the Time" was published a single recording of the album. A few months later followed an album newly recorded on a CD for the first time.

In this album Made In Germany linked positively pop and progressive rock elements. This is also shown in the duration of the individual titles lasting for within about 3 minutes and up to 9 minutes. The short titles demonstrate the ability of the musicians to compose compact, melodious songs having an unrecognisable value with high standard, in which the flute stands out as leading instrument. On the longer titles the musicians prove their talent for improvisation. They also worked in surprises in sound. In the case of "Man in History" the mag-nificent organ sounds in a church are shown. In that time, Wolfgang Schulz (guitar, vocals) studied electrical engineering and tried out a lot of technical fiddling. So he had developed a rotosizer, an equipment which is based on quadrophonic sounds. It sends sounds smoothly one after the other into 4 loudspeakers. By this, the listener gains the impression, the music is flowing around him. This effect can especially be heard to its advantage when the band appeared in live.

However, Made In Germany would not have been tied to a definitive music trend. "Our style is that we have none!", said Stephan Pade, the songwriter of the band, in a newspaper interview in 1971. "We produce our songs ourselves; presently we are somewhat progressive, but you never know what we will think over tomorrow".

Made In Germany
It is not surprising that Rita Peuker, the attractive front woman and the singer of the band, drew the most attention of the media on herself. In an article about "rock and blues girls" in the "Stern" magazine in 1972 she was honoured besides Inga Rumpf, Chris Braun and Joy Fleming because of her beautiful clear voice and it was reported about her position as the "girl in a group".

Financially, the album only had an average success. The reputation of the well-known band was especially restricted to Berlin. Indeed, the move to West Germany was repeatedly con-sidered , but, in the end, the band still stayed in their home town, Berlin, where it rather felt isolated, however. The recording company didn't support them when performing an all-German tournament so that the band couldn't sufficiently promote the album in order achieve a good turnover of their record.

In 1972 as well as in 1973 one each single was recorded for BASF which are contained as bonus tracks. In preparation for a second LP in 1974, there were other songs which were recorded in a Hamburg studio as demo version with a slightly changed team (new drummer). How-ever, this LP could never be completed, as Rita left this group shortly after the recording. From this time, there are three titles that can be heard as bonus tracks on the CD. Unfortunately, their sound quality doesn't correspond to the justified expectations. They shall not be withheld from the listeners, however, as a contemporary document.

In changing teams Made In Germany continued to play for several years. "Just for fun" the band recorded a German-language single which, however, can be ignored. Hailing from New York, Sarofeen and Smoke was led by singer Anne Sarofeen, who's described in the album's own liner notes as 'a lady both fierce and gentle, whose music knows truth, tragedy and beauty.' We don't really know if she's fierce or gentle, but her incredible voice has often been compared to that of Janis Joplin, Ellen McIlwaine and Mariska Veres (of Dutch stars Shocking Blue); unfortunately rock history is cruel and she never received the credit she deserves for being right at the top with other unique female singers. She has also composed half of the songs on the album. The album offers 9 songs in a bluesy, heavy psychedelic vein, which to a certain extent remind us much of Jefferson Airplane. Most of the songs are the band's own compositions, with the only exceptions being a take on Martha Velez, 'Swamp Man,' and a cover of 'Rocky Mountain Blues,' well chosen covers that fit perfectly the band's identity.

Sarofeen and Smoke LP - rear Sarofeen's vocal style has been compared to Janis Joplin, Ellen McIllwaine, & the Shocking Blue's (recently deceased) Mariska Veres, and if you like those vocalists you should give her a chance. Even if you don't like that heavy, bluesy 60's female vocal style you should still give it a try. Sarofeen & John Martin (especially the latter) wrote some excellent material for the album and the band is strong. Anne Sarofeen also performed on broadway in A Hard Job Being God and later recorded a second album (sans Smoke) entitled Love In A Woman's Heart, which I didn't find as good as this release. Smoke (& Sarofeen presumably) were originally from Auburn, NY, and at least one member of the band, guitarist Ed "Duke" Shanahan continues to perform in that area. He also recordedd with the band Siddhartha (for RCA) in the year before this release and has performed with blues and r&b legends like Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Bobby Comstock, & Bo Diddley.

The Poppy Family
The Poppy Family are up next with a short pop song that has an ominous feeling, especially in the lyrics. I love it! Although they are little-remembered now, they had their brief spot in the limelight with an international top-ten (#1 in Canada, #2 in the US, #7 in the UK) hit with the single 'Which Way You Goin' Billy?', which was on the same album that 'There's No Blood In Bone' is from. Here is what has to say about it: "While in recent years dozens of would-be hipsters have written about the dark undercurrents to be found in the music of the Carpenters, anyone looking for a truly great bummed-out soft rock experience needs to dig up the long out of print debut LP from Vancouver's Poppy Family. While producer, arranger, songwriter, and general straw boss Terry Jacks later found fame for his hit adaptation of Jacques Brel's "Seasons in the Sun," his greatest work was with his then-wife Susan Jacks and their group, the Poppy Family. Blending moody soft pop with light psychedelia, the group hit a rich vein of gorgeous melancholy that made sadness sound positively sensual (the album's token "upbeat" tune, "Happy Island," is significantly also one of the set's weakest moments).

Which Way You Goin' Bill? LP (1969)
The album's two international hit singles, "Which Way You Goin' Billy?" and "That's Where I Went Wrong," are both tales of lovers on the run that sound as desperate as Del Shannon and as lonesome as Brian Wilson's worst nightmare, and such lost classics as "You Took My Moonlight Away" and "Beyond the Clouds" are every bit as strong, boasting clear but emotive vocals from Susan Jacks, brilliant if oddball Indian percussion from Satwan Singh, and melodramatic string arrangements from Graeme Hall. And the two side-closing "freakouts," "There's No Blood in Bone" and "Of Cities and Escapes," manage to be cheesy and powerfully effective at the same time. If the '70s were supposed to be about having a nice day, Which Way You Goin' Billy? shows the Poppy Family were one band waiting for a cloud to blot out all that annoying sunshine; at once kitschy and marvelously sincere, it's a great record worthy of rediscovery. [While Which Way You Goin' Billy? is out of print, ten of its 12 tracks appear on the Poppy Family compilation CD A Good Thing Lost: 1968-1973.]

Medusa - LP band shots with Gerry Brown and John Lee
This info is extracted the excellent Glorydaze Music: Medusa had 7 members, the core of the band was drummer Gerry Brown and bassist John Lee. They both had extensive jazz fusion backgrounds, Brown appeared with Chick Corea's Return To Forever but is now the resident drummer for Stevie Wonder and has achieved rank of master-drummer in the industry. Lee has played with Dizzy Gillespie and Larry Coryell's Eleventh House. Assembled in New York and signed to Columbia Records, the early Medusa recordings also included Dutch guitarist Eef Albers, who at one point had replaced Jan Akkerman in Focus, but had spent many years in outfits featuring both Brown and Lee. Also part of the cast were David Sancious and vocalist Eric Tagg (Beehive, Lee Ritenour).

Medusa LP front (1978)
Medusa LP front (1978)
Columbia had signed the band on the basis of their jazz fusion background, but the material presented to the label wasn't purist jazz fusion at all, the Medusa collective had wanted to pursue a more 'rock oriented' direction, which probably didn't please the label. The album failed, perhaps not helped by the fact that Medusa didn't promote it with live shows. The album disappeared into obscurity but has been rediscovered years later due to the reputation of the players. Lee and Brown reconvened the following year under the banner 'John Lee & Gerry Brown' for a joint album called 'Chaser', which continued the jazz fusion/crossover sound, and featured some of the Medusa members.

Coreen Sinclair & Indiana - For Little Birds / Hey Man

Judy Roderick & Bill Ashford
A huge thanks to Record-Fiend blog for this article on 60,000,000 Buffalo: "Upon the demise of the '60s, it was not uncommon for the folkies of that decade to embrace the rural rock movement of the early '70s. That is, if they hadn't already picked up electric instruments and started rockin' after the release of Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home in 1965. In the case of Judy Roderick, who had put out two highly regarded mostly acoustic albums for Columbia and Vanguard in the mid-1960s, Nevada Jukebox was the product of a 1971 recording session with her new group, 60,000,000 Buffalo. Her signature voice was still there, although years of woodshedding in her adopted home state of Colorado throughout the latter half of the 1960s clearly had an effect on her delivery, which showed the influence of Janis Joplin and other female vocalists of similar ilk. The album photography shows her looking somewhat like a less appealing Bonnie Bramlett along with a man who is probably either bassist Brent Williamson or guitarist Don DeBacker [Edit: It's actually Bill Ashford]. What a pity that the ravages of living through the 1960s deprived Roderick of her elfin beauty that was readily apparent on the cover of her Woman Blue LP.

Nevada Jukebox - LP front (1972)
The story behind the group's name is unclear. Perhaps it has something to do with the number of buffalo that lived on the North American continent prior to their near extinction brought about by the colonization of white people. I've read that some folks compare this group with another Colorado band, Zephyr (which featured a very young Tommy Bolin on lead guitar). But other than the superficial fact that the two outfits both featured female lead vocalists (Zephyr's was the caterwauling Candice Givens), I don't think they have much in common in regard to music. While Zephyr was very much a rock and blooze band, Roderick's folk background clearly had a strong influence on 60,000,000 Buffalo's more rootsy sound.

Nevada Jukebox - LP rear (1972)
Most of the album's songs were written by Roderick and her husband William Ashford. The opening cut, the brief "Royalty Rag" segues into the cowbell-laden and quintessentially early 1970s ode to blow, "Cocaine Shuffle." "Canyon Persuasion" is a pleasant laid back piece featuring Roderick's strummed acoustic guitar and DeBacker's Leslie speaker-amplified electric instrument. "Lovely Ladies" is more of an all-out rocker with some somewhat herky-jerky time signatures, while "Denver Dame" may very well be an autobiographical piece that deals with Roderick's life experiences in Colorado. The traditional "Maid of Constant Sorrow" is definitely Nevada Jukebox's highlight and, in fact, just might be the heaviest version of this particular song ever committed to wax. Folk rock was a dying breed by the time this album came out, but bands like this weren't going to let the genre go down without a fight. Seriously, this rendition of this venerable warhorse fuckin' rocks, especially with the outstanding guitar interplay between Roderick and DeBacker. "Shake It and Break It" is a decent cover of a song originally done by prewar Delta blues legend Charlie Patton and features the boys in the band - DeBacker and Williamson - handling the lead vocal duties. More early 1970s vibes and plenty of cowbell are to be found on the rock-meets-folk-meets-country-meets-funk piece "Callin' You Down." After a fine arrangement of the traditional "Country Girl Again," there is some really nice slide guitar work on "American Money Blues." The closer, "Do What I Tell Me To," is a tune in the same bag as "Cocaine Shuffle" and "Callin' You Down" - definitely a product of its time."

Thanks to RDTEN1's review over at RYM for this information: "Flame's stomping grounds were Brooklyn. Depending on what references you believe, Flame was actually the brainchild of producer Jimmy Iovine who was looking for a platform to showcase singer Marge Raymond who had been pursuing a musical career since the early 1960s.  Raymond's career as a professional musician started when she was a teenager. She fronted Margie and the Formations who enjoyed a couple of minor early-1960s successes.  Working as a demo and background singer, in the 1970s she was a member of the group Sumagna. The trio (Raymond, Susan Collins and Nnancy O'Neill) never enjoyed success on their own, but became in-demand backing singers, supporting a wide variety of acts including Ritchie Havens and The New Riders of the Purple Sage. Raymond also did background vocals on her own, eventually catching the attention of Iovine.

With Iovine's support Raymond began working with drummer Eddie Barbato, lead guitarist Jimmy Crespo, bassist John Paul Fetta, keyboardist Bob Leone, and rhythm guitarist Frank Ruby.  As Flame the were subsequently signed to RCA Victor, releasing 1977's Iovine-produced "Queen of the Neighborhood" . The E Street band's Steve Van Zandt provided arrangements. While the band were quite an accomplished unit (particularly guitarist Crespo), from a marketing standpoint the spotlight was clearly on Raymond and her dark, sultry, slightly dangerous pout (check out the album cover). Raymond certainly had the vocal chops to attract your attention, though, like Joplin, it occasionally wasted on misguided boogie ('Everybody Loves a Winner'), or equally vapid AOR ballads ('You Sit In Darkness') that misinterpreted loud and shrill for good.

RCA made some attempts to market the band, sending them on the road opening for a host of national bands including BTO, and Foreigner.  It didn't do much for sales, though the band did hang together long enough to record a sophomore LP."

White Honey
White Honey were a melodic hard rock band from Groningen, Netherlands. The singer, Hanneke Kappen, went on to be a radio and TV personality and in 1982 she presented a hard rock radio show called 'Stampij'. Here is a 1980 clip of White Honey playing the song I used in this comp; 'Nothing Going On in the City'. Guitarist Erwin Java has been playing in Cuby + Blizzards (see Vol15) since 1996.

Martha Veléz is an American singer and actress of Puerto Rican descent. Veléz is the former wife of trumpet player Keith Johnson. Her son is performance artist, writer-poet, and singer Taj Johnson. Taj appeared as series regular for two years on Parker Lewis Can't Lose. Her brother is the percussionist Gerardo Velez, who has worked with Spyro Gyra, Patti LaBelle, Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison. Her first album 'Fiends & Angels' was a blues-psych-jazz-rock session where she was backed by the stellar line up of UK blues-jazz-rock musicians, inc. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Brian Auger, Paul Kossoff, Chris Wood, Mitch Mitchell, Johnny Almond, Rick Hayward, Chris Mercer, the whole Chicken Shack and most of the Keef Hartley Band.

Thanks for listenin! Rich

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