By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
As most of you know, legendary Buffalo dummer Ted Reinhardt passed away this week. He was unfortunately poorly represented on vinyl or even CD recordings, for a player of his caliber. I had to stretch my brain to think of a 45 that would be relevant but here we go…
Ted began playing music with guitarist Bruce Brucato at a young age. By high school they had formed Rodan with Victor Marwin, Rick McGirr, and Bill Ludwig. Rodan were highly skilled players, performing the complex music of progressive rock bands like King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, ELP, Yes and Peter Gabriel; and even obscurities like early American prog rockers Touch. In 1973 they opened for Genesis, then on their first USA tour, who complimented them and proclaimed it to be the first time they’d ever heard of a band covering their music!
Rodan played regularly on Sunday nights at McVan’s in the mid-1970s, alongside bands like Pegasus, Black Sheep (with Lou Gramm) and Rasputin, Victor Marwin’s next project.
Rodan folded in 1977 and Reinhardt drummed for a while with future jazz/fusion superstars Spyro Gyra right before they cut their first album.
In 1980 Ted was part of a jazz fusion band called Taxi with horns and keyboards and guitarist Paul Viapiano but more importantly for his future: guitarist George Puleo.
Eventually Reinhardt reunited with Brucato and together with Puleo and Greg Piontek on bass formed Gamalon in 1982. Gamalon’s membership was fairly stable for a long time, though eventually more former Rodan members joined their ranks.
Puleo had other interests besides progressive rock and fusion. He was also into Soul / R&B sounds – for example, he played on a local LP by Modern Soul vocalist Johnny Mayes – and he was writing vocal songs which weren’t appropriate for the all-instrumental group.
In 1984 while still a member of Gamalon he went into Select Sound Studio with Chuck Madden as producer, bringing with him vocalist Flick Williams and members of Gamalon and especially Spyro Gyra. Ted Reinhardt played the drums alonside Spyro percussionist Gerardo Velez, who’d been a member of Jimi Hendrix’ Woodstock band.
The result was an album’s worth of Soul/ R&B /Rock tunes that had something of a resemblance to the current work of Prince. Modern soul, Rock and Boogie Funk were all part of the mix. George intended the album to serve as a demo and a calling card to the music industry, hoping to score a deal and build a career in different styles of music. Promotional copies were made but only a small quantity – maybe 100? The album was titled PUL-E-O, there was no record label name (or maybe the label name was ‘Puleo’) and a logo of that name was the entirety of the cover art.
Unfortunately George and Chuck Madden had a falling out and the album was never released. George received only a handful of copies. The rest seemed to have disappeared completely, locked up tight; or at least unavailable to anyone.
Two years later a 45 on Sequel Records, bearing a 2315 Elmwood Avenue address. “Lyin’ Louie” and “Salamanda” were two of the tracks from the Puleo album. This was apparently issued by Chuck Madden.
Some years later a copy of the original Puleo album turned up. Then another, and eventually a few more. There was a place for them to be numbered (it was intended as a numbered limited edition); some were numbered, some not. These found copies mostly made their way to Europe and Japan where collectors wanted the funky beats and grooves.
About 10 years ago a CD version started appearing on eBay and collector sites – a mini-LP covered version probably taken from a vinyl copy. It appears to have been unauthorized though one party (who should know has sugested it may have been somewhat authorized… by SOMEONE. I believe there’s a question of who owns the rights to this contested work.
When this album failed to appear it was a setback for George, who had put his heart an soul into it and pinned his hopes on it toward a recording career outside the limited world of hi-tech guitar and fusion. He continued to play with Gamalon until the mid-1990s, recording several albums with them. After leaving he joined some other bands and eventually formed his own Rock/Fusion group Haiku. Many Buffalonians have benefited from his guitar tutelage over the decades, something he still enjoys doing.
Ted of course continued to play with Gamalon and there were other bands along the way, like Willie & The Reinhardts. Some years ago there was a big reunion of all the Gamalon players, including George. Resulting videos can be seen on YouTube and feature some stellar playing- of course.
Today’s cut is from the 1986 PULEO single. “Lyin’ Louie” features guitar by George, vocals by Flick, bass by Jerry Livingston and drums by Ted Reinhardt. There are many album cuts and many live performances (see YouTube) by Ted, which show his monster drum chops. Here’s a rare occasion to hear him playing for the song alone. R.I.P.