By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
Happy Independence Day! I had a special track lined up for today- Jimmie Raye’s Stand Up America, with its American Flag picture sleeve. Turns out it’s on the internet but not on YouTube so I couldn’t use it here. I guess it’s time for me to start uploading to YouTube some of the great songs that can’t be found there yet.
I decided to go with a fun track that might have slipped by a lot of local music fans. I’ve recounted the history of Raven before and it’s already known to most locals. To recap:
The Rising Sons started in the mid-1960s and included Jimmy Calire, Tony Galla and a very young John Weitz. They got a deal to release was a 45 for Swan Records (the highly-regarded “In Love”) and became one of the the house bands at the legendary Glen Park’s “Inferno”. They became good friends of local rivals Stan & The Ravens and after first trying to lure away Tony to join Stan’s band, Tom Calandra and Gary Mallaber decided to leave Stan and join up with the Rising Sons.
This group recorded a 45 for Upstate Records. Subsequently they changed their name to Raven and got a major label deal with Columbia Records, with whom they put out an album. The album sold fairly well and they started playing some big shows, opening up for bands like led Zeppelin, Johnny Winter And, Procol Harum and Jethro Tull. They moved to New York City where they played the Fillmore East and Steve Paul’s The Scene, the hangout for musicians Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, with whom they became acquainted.
At some point Columbia released a single from the album. It doesn’t seem to have sold well, but their sound really wasn’t right for the AM radio market anyway. They toured the UK where they were well received and did some more recording for Columbia. My guess is that they were working on a another album, because a second single containing two new tracks was released.
The A-side was a Tom Calandra composition, Children At Our Feet, which has a mild Gospel feel and something of a conservation theme. Unfortunately it’s kind of bland and not ‘AM Radio’ material. The B-side isn’t hit material either, but it’s something else again!
Here Come A Truck is a real odd track. Written by guitarist John Weitz, it’s instrumentally a straight-ahead rocker with a bit of a West Coast feel. But the vocal and lyrics are bizarre. I don’t know what they were going for here, unless it was just a joke; but it would be odd to waste a shot at chart success on a joke. Maybe they were just rebelling after being told to do something more commercial. It sure doesn’t sound anything like all the other stuff they did.
Somewhere around this time, they broke up, and/or the record company gave up on them. I’m not sure which came first and I don’t know if this 45 came out before or after they split. That’s almost the end of the story except years later a live album came out, Raven- Live At The Inferno. The material is similar to the released Columbia LP (with some of the same songs) but more raw and energetic in performance. And containing absolutely nothing like Here Come A Truck.
As most of you know the members of Raven all had subsequent careers in music, ranging from star-level to low-level to behind-the-scenes. But the original band remains the true sound of Buffalo 1960s music to those who followed them back in those heady days.
Anyway, if you ever wanted to hear a late-60s Fillmore-era band doing their own take on Surfin’ Bird, this is for you!