45 Friday: Pat and the Satellites – Jupiter-C

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Olean and the surrounding area had its own Rock’n’Roll scene in the 1950s and 1960s. Buffalo and Rochester bands traveled there to perform. Wilmer & The Dukes were regulars at St. Bonaventure frat-style parties. And WKBW Radio worked with an Olean teen club putting on record hops. KB deejays even drove some of the bands out there that they’d brought to Buffalo (like The Barbarians, The McCoys and The Standells) to make personal appearances.

 

 

But it didn’t work the other way around – the Olean / Salamanca area had some bands who never played the Bufalo area. In two cases their records curiously came out with Buffalo-area addresses, confounding record collectors who assumed they could find info on them in this area. No one here remembered The Tigermen or Rebel & The Jaguars and they remained mysterious until info turned up, placing them in the Deep South (of the Southern Tier, that is). Both bands may have never set foot in the area even to record since the company who pressed their records (Century, with a local “office”‘ in a residence on the Williamsville/ Clarence border) generally only accepted tapes already recorded elsewhere.

Those bands recorded in the mid-1960s but they had a 1950s predecessor. Pat and The Satellites was a trio from Olean: Pat Piccirillo, Otis Antonelli and Wayne Lips.

On November 25, 1958, they cut their one and only record. Most likely it was a New York City session where they laid down the two tracks. “Jupiter-C” was a sleazy grinding instrumental, named for an American rocket used for sub-orbital spaceflights in 1956 and 1957. Surprisingly the instro got the A-side position on this rocking platter. “Oh! Oh! Darlin'” was the vocal B-side, a typical late-50s mild teen vocal Rocker.

As with quite a few local artists, the Atco label had signed them. In some cases we can speculate that Buffalo disc jockeys brought artists to their friends at Atco. In this case we don’t have to wonder too much, because KB DJ Dick Biondi got a writing co-credit on Jupiter-C, so it’s almost certain that Biondi helped them get the deal.

Group member Otis Antonelli got another third of the credit. And the last piece went to Olean-based saxman Clyde Dickerson, who arranged and transcribed it. Though Dickerson didn’t actually play the prominent sax on (Atco brought in King Curtis to overdub it), he may have worked with them sometimes. In any case, he has his own great story.

Clyde recorded for Kinzua Records as Clyde Dickerson & The Tear Drops; and probably also Red Arrow & The Braves -he gets the writing credit on both sides of the Red Arrow 45 on Kinzua (a topical song about the flooding and destruction of the traditional Native lands in the Alleghany area by the construction of  the Kinzua Dam). He was also a member of Billy Lehman & The Rock-Itts and may be on their 1958 single on Hamburg’s Prime 1 label, and apparently a sometime-member of the Buffalo-based Jesters.

Dickerson later moved to Washington, D.C., area where he worked by day as a doorman at the Watergate Hotel for 20 years, acquiring the nickname “Watergate Clyde.” Yes, he was there during that infamous break-in. But at night he performed in upscale jazz clubs and did so right up to the time of his death, at age 80, in 2003.

Jupiter-C charted but never topped #81 (February, 1959). No more was heard from Pat and The Satellites as a group. Drummer Wayne Lips (what a great name!) later joined a Rockabilly Revival band out of Pittsburgh, The Rock’n Ravens, who recorded quite a few old-school Rockabilly R&R singles.

 

45 Friday: DERRICK ERNI – Never

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By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon

This one will be short and simple – I know almost nothing about this record or the artist!

Derrick Erni lived in Buffalo and made two records here. Both are lo-fi productions. He issued them on his own personal label. private pressings both in style and sound. They seem to have gotten little distribution if any and were maybe issued just for personal satisfaction more than commercial expectations.

 

 

“Come Home Baby” / “I’ve Got To Know” were issued on Erni Records with a catalog number for each side: ER-1 and ER-2.

“All Alone” / “Never” was issued on Derwall Records as ER-3 and ER-4. ‘Der’ is certainly for ‘Derrick’. I don’t know what ‘Wall’ is for.

They are very minimal productions, sounding like a more stripped down version of fellow Buffalo’s MoDo Records if you can imagine that. A Manuel Morrow gets credit for the arrangement, but arrangement and production is negligible. Instrumentation is minimal, and there’s not a lot of polish.

What you do have is pure emotion shining through. In general his sides are Deep Soul but Never is Sweet Soul taken to an emotional extreme. As such its found an audience among the Lowrider/ East L.A. sweet soul crowd. As rare as it is, you’ll find about eight videos of it on YouTube, most from fans from that audience.

“Never” has instrumentation consists of mostly a prominent organ played without virtuosity and I have a feeling Mr. Erni is the organist. Percussion could be a built-in rhythm box in the organ. The track has the feel of something created at home.

Both records probably came out in the late 1960s, as did MoDo Records; and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out MoDo was involved with them.

The only other thing I know is that a Derrick W Erni,Sr of Buffalo passed away on December 29, 2008. A picture accompanies his obituary. It appears to be from the Sixties or Seventies and he looks as you’d expect, a dapper gentleman who could well be a Soul Singer.

As always: if you know something, say something! I need info on him. And a copy of either of his records wouldn’t hurt. Because I don’t have either yet!

45 Friday: NINO TEMPO & APRIL STEVENS – All Strung Out

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By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon

Last week we talked about the solo career of sultry siren April Stevens, the former Carol Tempio from Niagara Falls. Today we follow the subsequent career she had with older –  by one year –  brother Antonino Tempio, who we know as Nino Tempo.

From its start in 1951 April’s solo career reached its apex with her 1959’s suggestive “Teach Me Tiger” and began a downslide ending with 1961’s similar “Love Kitten”, probably issued after she’d already left Imperial Records to begin recording the new duet act for United Artists.

 

 

Meanwhile Nino’s career was starting take off. He’d been a talent show winner at age four, appeared on TV with Benny Goodman at age seven, and worked as a child actor in 1949’s “The Red Pony”. A multi-instrumentalist, he parlayed his tenor sax skills into work as a respected player in the jazz world, with Maynard Ferguson and many others.

An acting appearance in the classic R&R film ‘The Girl Can’t Help’ led him to think about the pop and teen audiences, as did studio session work. He worked to move from mostly behind-the-scenes to solo releases under his own name.

In the late Fifties he got the chance Solo singles aimed at the teen pop audience followed, featuring both his vocal and sax skills. RCA Victor issued singles from 1958-1960, some as by Nino Tempo, some as by Tony Shepperd. 1959 saw an RCA album release. 1960 he signed on to United Artists for more singles.

At the same time he was becoming a member of the circle of top session men known as The Wrecking Crew, recording for Phil Spector and others. Usually he played his sax but on some sessions played guitar, drums and piano; and sometimes Spector called him down just to have another pair of tuned-in ears behind the board.

In 1961 the first duo single appeared on Capitol Records credited to just “Carol & Anthony” but from 1962 on out it was the familiar “Nino Tempo & April Stevens”, now on Atco Records. Many singles and albums followed with lots of chart success but early on (1963) they hit their highest mark with “Deep Purple”, a Number One hit on both R&R and Adult Contemporary singles charts. It also won a Grammy winner for “Best Rock & Roll Record Of The Year”!

“Deep Purple” established a pattern for many of their follow-up singles in which April Stevens spoke the lyrics in a low, intimate voice while Nino sang them. This was an accident that happened during the session. Nino forgot the words and April was helping him along. The track was intended to be a B-side and so was cut without rehearsal, in just 14 minutes remaining at the end of the session. But some ‘ears’ present thought it had a certain charm. Ahmet Ertegun disliked it, calling it “embarrassing”, and barely wanted it as a B-side. But feedback from radio programmers proved otherwise and it was made the A-side.

Ahmet’s intended A-side – “I’ve Been Carrying A Torch For You So Long That It Burned A Great Big Hole In My Heart” – became a B-side. It ended up having the longest title of a flipside of a Billboard number one record until Prince beat them out in 1984. (I erroneously attributed it to the B-side of “All Strung Out” last week, a mistake).

Subsequently they recorded a number of standards in similar style for Atco. The last Atco releases came in 1966 when they moved to the up and coming new label White Whale. It was there, at the home of The Turtles and many other pop-psychedelic and folk-rock groups, that they recorded their magnum opus. “Deep Purple” had been a lucky accident, but “All Strung Out” was worked on and fretted over with great detail, as Phil Spector would have done. Nino, like Sonny Bono (with whom he often worked) learned a lot from his friendship with and working knowledge of Spector.

The difference was “All Strung Out” had to be done on a budget. So it was recorded in bits and pieces, whenever some cheap studio time could be obtained. Favors were called in and Wrecking Crew players were used. Nino tried to mix it himself but ended up having to get help. The result – ‘Spector on a budget’ – has been called “one of the greatest Phil Spector-inspired productions of all time” (prominent critic Richie Unterberger).

None of this was accidental. Nino had co-written “All Strung Out” for the Righteous Brothers, specifically in the “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” style. He presented it to them but they turned it down so he cut it himself!

They recorded more for White Whale, later for Bell and A&M (a minor hit), later still seperately. Nino scored “his” last hit in 1973 with an instrumental as Nino Tempo And 5th Ave. Sax. “Sister James” was probably the first instrumental disco record to score on the national charts. His continued session work included adding sax and doing arrangements for John Lennon’s 1975 “Rock ‘n’ Roll” album. Quite a varied career, but always musical, and with more high points than many entertainers can boast.

45 Friday: April Stevens – Teach Me Tiger

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By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon

April Stevens was born Carol LoTempio in April 29, 1936, in Niagara Falls. She had a brother named Antonino. Better known as Nino, his sax skills brought him initial notice in the jazz field. He later attempted crossover success as a Teen Idol in the R&R/ Pop and ultimately found his greatest success singing with his sister as April Stevens And Nino Tempo, achieving many chart hits in the 1960s.

But before their duo success April had her own career, starting at age 15 with some small-label releases in 1950. She got picked up by RCA Victor Records and “I’m In Love Again” peaked at No. 6 on the pop chart in 1951. She moved to King Records for a time – an odd choice and settled at Imperial Records by the late 1950s. She achieved only scattered success until 1959’s bold “Teach Me Tiger.”

 

“Teach Me Tiger” was controversial due to its sexual suggestiveness and banned on many radio stations, causing it to peak at only #86 on the Hot 100, but it was a top hit in many markets in which it got played. The sexiness in “Teach Me Tiger” is almost cartoonish -in the lyrics, in her husky voice and odd vocalizations. I suppose they were imitating the sultry Julie London whose vocals were similar but done with more restraint. Maybe she was also channeling Marilyn Monroe on this one?

She was marketed as a sex-kitten, “the girl with the pin-up voice”, “the intimate miss with the musical kiss”. One fan wrote: “Other vocalists sing, but you actually talk to a guy and boy, the things you say!”

Similar recordings were forthcoming, like 1961’s “Love Kitten”, with copious purring sounds. But she didn’t really hit big again until she started recording with brother Nino, with whom she had a ten-year run in the studios and on the charts. A few songs from that era have found favor with the Northern Soul crowd and their recordings for Rock label White Whale (home of The Turtles) touch on folk-rock and pop-rock zones.

It was with White Whale that they recorded their late classic “All Strung Out”. Critic Richie Unterberger has described it as  “one of the greatest Phil Spector-inspired productions of all time”. By the way, the flipside had a long-term record as the longest-titled B-side in history:  “I’ve Been Carrying A Torch For You So Long That It Burned A Great Big Hole In My Heart”.

Did I mention that April was very easy on the eyes? April was very easy on the eyes!

45 Friday: The Jive Bombers – Bad Boy

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By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon

The Sparrows came together in 1949 to record for Coral Records. They changed their name to The Jive Bombers in 1952 to record for Citation Records.  By the late 1950s they landed on Savoy Records, eventual home of many classic R&B groups, though they did an even bigger business in Gospel music.

1957 saw them release “Bad Boy”. It became a hit, topping out at #7 on the R&B charts and #36 on the pop charts. It has since been covered by many artists including Mink DeVille, Ringo Starr and Buster Poindexter.

 

“Bad Boy” was an old song written by Avon Long and Lil Hardin – the legend who was Louis Armstrong’s second wife! The Jive Bombers gave it a new twist with the bizarre vocal stylings of lead singer Clarence Palmer. He would frequently scat-sing with a strange vocal sound at the end of certain words. In “Bad Boy” he uses this effect every time he sings the song’s title. Somehow it clicked with the public- maybe it was the annoyance factor – and from then on he used it in nearly every Jive Bombers record, to the point that some recordings consisted of little else vocally!

I wonder if radio stations sometimes hesitated to play this record. On one hand, it had echoes of Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans scat-singing. But it’s also easy to see it as sounding like a kind of speech defect.

The Jive Bombers combined of members of two previous vocal groups, Sonny Austin & the Jive Bombers and The Palmer Brothers.  The final lineup was Earl Johnson, Al Tinney, William “Pee Wee” Tinney and Clarence Palmer.

Al Tinney had entertainment in his blood. A child actor on the stage, he was a cast member in the original production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in 1935. He leraned to play piano and became fascinated by jazz. He is considered one of the unsung founders of BeBop, leading the house band at Monroe’s from 1939 to 1943, where he crossed paths and influences with Charlie Parker and Max Roach, among others. Though little-recorded in that idiom, due to his prominent placing “on the spot”, ground zero of the Bop movement, he influenced the Bop pianists who came after, like Bud Powell, George Wallington, Al Haig and Duke Jordan.

Al became disgusted with the hard drugs that dominated that form of jazz music and left the jazz world in the late 1940s. When the success of the Jive Bombers ran out he got back into jazz and became increasingly interested in the passing along the culture. He worked locally in jazz music, often playing at the historic Colored Musicians Club or with Peggy Farrell’s band – with whom he recorded an album. He did work in a state prison music program, lectured at SUNY Buffalo, supported the Buffalo arts and music scene in Buffalo, and in general encouraged a love of jazz, jazz culture and the classier side of that world.

Maybe he felt he owed for helping inflict the ‘bad taste’ of “Bad Boy” on the world!