45 Friday: THE TIGERMEN – Close That Door

45-Friday_4

By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Here’s another record which was a mystery for years, though most of the story is know known. If you read my article last week on Rebel & The Jaguars you probably already know where this is going! If not you’ll have to wait until next week for “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey used to say.

  This is all collectors had to go on for years: two 45s turned up in the Buffalo area by The Tigermen on Buff Records (Buff #1005 and Buff #1006). Although few copies turned up, they DID turn up locally. Collectors assumed Buff was a local label and the group was a local group although – in a familiar story – no one could remember them.

When the book Fuzz Acid & Flowers (at the time, a semi-definitive guide to American 60s underground groups – Garage Rock and Psychedelic) came out, it contained an entry for The Tigermen but little info was revealed. It was stated that the group drove a distance to Buffalo to record, cut two singles worth of tracks (four ‘sides’), climbed back into their car and disappeared into the night. back to from whence they came.

No one seemed to KNOW from whence they came, and if the studio owners knew no one thought to ask them. It’s not even known at which studio they recorded though I’d guess it was Howell Studios in downtown Buffalo. Interestingly, unlike bands like Rebel & The Jaguars who recorded elsewhere and merely got a local company to make their tape into records the Tigermen definitely DID cut their tracks in a Buffalo studio.

Although the record labels gave no clues to the band’s origin or even an address for the label, there were other records on labels called Buff which seemed to be loosely from Western New York – though to be specific, those with addresses suggested the Rochester area and the Southern Tier. There were no similarities between the Tigermen’s Buff label and these others and in fact none of the Buff records looked the same as far as design, logo, label info or pressing plant info.

In 1985 one of the tracks made an appearance on a compilation when Close That Door appeared on “Back From The Grave #5”. The liner notes were lacking in much hard info though obviously someone had tracked down the band or someone who knew them. Although we were not told who they were or from where they came, the band was described as a high school project beginning in 1965 and ending in 1966 due to college and the draft, and the band was said to have played around New York State with The Invictas, Ollie & The Go-Gos and Peter & The Wolves. None of these were true Buffalo bands though Rochester’s Invictas recorded and played in Buffalo and the others were from the Southern Tier area.

Back From The Grave’s liner notes also mention the Tigermen’s recordings all being done in one night in October 1965. It’s now known that, although all recordings were done in one session they were issued months apart.

More coming next week when we’ll feature their great second single “Tiger Girl”, released on June 1966. But for today here’s their garage-rocking-est Close That Door, a January 1966 release.

45 Friday: REBEL & THE JAGUARS – It’s All My Fault

45-Friday_4

By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Here’s a record which troubled local collectors for a long time. The copies which turned up had no label (record company) name, just ‘Custom Recording Service’. All copies give a Williamsville location, but there’s no Cameron Drive in Williamsville. No one remembers a recording studio in Williamsville at all. I only saw or heard of one copy for a period or years, and the label credited them as Reble & The Jaguars. No collector or veteran of the local music scene could place the band at all.

One local collector figured out that Cameron Drive is actually in Clarence – in the Harris Hill neighborhood – but was assigned to the Williamsville Post Office zone. Having seen the address on a few interesting records he went there and knocked on the door.

It turned out that the house had once belonged to Vince Morette, the founder – later – of Mark Records, with his son Mark. At that time Vince worked for Century Records out of California. They had no studios. All they had was a pressing plant. You brought your tape to a local representative who sent it off the California to be pressed onto 500 record albums or 1000 45s, or whatever. When they came back they would have a local address, the address of the local agent. Rochester had an agent, many cities across the country had one. In most cases they would have a black label with the Century logo and a local address. This fooled many a collector who assumed the bands were from the same town as the label address but many of the bands apparently traveled far to get their precious tapes directly into the representatives’ hands.

Since there was no need for a studio, Century agents could work out of their homes. Basically all they needed was a place for bands to drop off their tapes and pick up the records.

Eventually Morette realized he was missing a lot of business because many of the bands didn’t have a place to get their sons onto tape. So Mark Records was formed, first as an affiliate of Century, later independent and eventually with their own pressing facilities. Their first recording studio was a shack on Goodrich Road in Clarence Center. Later they moved to a large building on Bodine Road in the Clarence Hollow neighborhood of Clarence where they are still in operation.

Collectors were still no closer to figuring out the identity of Reble & The Jaguars though. One day a customer came into my store with a couple copies he wanted to let go. These copies had a similar yellow label but some different info and now the spelling was REBEL & The Jaguars. There aren’t many guys around WNY named Rebel so I wondered if this could have been Rebel Payne, a member of Stan & The Ravens and also Ronnie Hawkin’s band.

I suspected the owner might have known the band and indeed he did. Turns out the band was actually from the Southern Tier: Olean or Salamanca. That’s why local people here didn’t remember them. There they were well-known, but usually worked simply as ‘The Jaguars’. That’s why it was hard tracking them down – their real name didn’t include ‘Rebel’!

I’m guessing that maybe Rebel’s parents came up with the money to get the record pressed so he insisted on the extra label credit. Also I expect there’s two versions because the first pressing had labels misspelling the name as Reble and the band demanded they be repressed with the correct name.

One thing I don’t know is WHERE it was recorded. The labels suggest it was not just pressed by Century but that the Morettes got it recorded too. Maybe it was their first effort making an actual recording locally. There’s this clumsy statement on the label: “Custom Recording engineered for The Jaguars by Custom Recording Service”.

The single probably came out in 1966, though it could be 1965. The only other things I know about The Jaguars is that they apparently played every summer for a few years at the teen club clubhouse in Alleghany State Park. And both sides are credited to J. Dono who I assume is a group member.

There is one other strange thing. Around 1967 an LP came out on Mark Records titled “Your Sexuality – A Thing Of Beauty”. It was a talk by a Christian husband and wife aimed at kids. It’s mildly explicit – basically sex education for Christian teens. Though it seems to have some strangely specific info that to me doesn’t seem necessary for the purpose! At the end of side two is an instrumental track which turns out to “Take Off”, the B-side of “It’s All My Fault”. It’s weird because there’s no other music on the LP and track seems just tacked onto the end with no relevance and no explanation. I wonder if the band was even notified that it was used?

By the way, the LP has Mark Records labels but mentions Century Records, so it’s from the time the Morettes were transitioning into their own independent business.

Anyway, that B-side is instrumental music in the Surf-Rock vein but the A-side is pure garage rock, albeit on the crude side. Enjoy!

45 Friday: DYKE AND THE BLAZERS – Let A Woman Be A Woman, Let A Man Be A Man

45-Friday_4

By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

One of these days we’ll get around to telling the story of Buffalo’s second-best-known Funksters (behind Mr. Rick James), the fantastic Dyke & The Blazers.

That story has been told before: in a Friday 45 post on pre-Dyke & The Blazers band Carl LaRue & His Crew by Elmer Ploetz, and in greater depth in a Buffalo Magazine (Buffalo News) story by Elmer. You can find that story here: http://www.wnywebshop.com/ploetz/dyke.html

Maybe when we get around to taking another look at them we can find some new angles of interest.

The quick story is that Arlester “Dyke” Christian joined Carl LaRue’s Buffalo band as he was learning to play the bass. That band put out records and achieved moderate success playing live, but eventually most of them found themselves stranded in Arizona after a stint playing backup for The O’Jays. While playing the clubs of Phoenix they tightened up their act and wrote some original material. A customer heard them playing their new “Funky Broadway” and becoming their manager got them into a studio.

“Funky Broadway” went from 1966 local hit to national after L.A.’s Original Sound Records bought it out from their original small indie label. And the rest is history. They had quite a string of singles, and eventually albums. Over the years, some of the original Buffalo musicians left though Dyke of course was always there. But some of the Buffalo guys came back and Dyke hired some new ones, as he knew he could count on their musicianship.

Unfortunately hard drugs had entered the picture and Dyke enjoyed the street life. At one time he had been a master of the Funk idiom of Soul – which he helped create – to the point that his music approached that of the acknowledged master James Brown. In the end (1971) he unfortunately died in the street, shot down, in some kind of street business.

Today’s tune is the very very funky “Let A Woman Be A Woman, Let A Man Be A Man”. There is absolutely NO relation between this song and any recent controversies involving former Olympic decathlon atheletes. So DON’T EVEN…..!

45 Friday- JOHN CULLITON MAHONEY: Summer Love

45-Friday_4

By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Here’s a rerun of a past post, first posted two years ago to celebrate summer. It’s still the only local oldies song that references summer, as far as I know. Great “sunshine and warm breezes” music from a guy who was a long-time fixture around the Buffalo 1970s club and lounge scene, but whose roots go back to the 1960s.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the early 1960s there were lots of bands around Western New York playing Rock’ n ‘Roll and Rhythm & Blues. The scene gained a new momentum with the rise of youngsters playing for their peer group, inspired by the twin phenomena of the British Invasion and the West Coast surf groups.

John Mahoney’s band The Buddies – also known as the KB Buddies – put out a 45 in 1964 that referenced both of these genres. One side was called “The Beatle,” and both sides had a surfy guitar sound. Promo photos show them playing matching the Fender Jazzmasters often used by the surf groups. The Buddies went around to record hops with Joey Reynolds (who produced their 45), Danny Neaverth and Tom Shannon, performing Joey and Danny’s “Rats In My Room”.

John next worked with a band out of Niagara Falls called The Group. As the Sixties were coming to a close he joined up with Barbara St. Clair and The Pinkooshins ,where he starting capitalizing on his songwriting talents, cutting 45s for two national labels with the band.

When the Pinkooshins ended, Barbara formed a harder R&B band, The Houserockers. John moved towards a singer/ songwriter/ guitarist gig but there were few opportunities for that type of sound so he added a rhythm section. The John Culliton Mahoney Band included some ex-Houserockers: initially bassist Bill Zulewski and later keyboardist Jim Beishline – but not before the band cut a single and an LP with pianist Jim Ehinger.

“Summer Love” was the single, a singer/songwriter effort that’s not so much folky as it is pop with Soul and Latin influences. This is the original version as issued on the Amherst Records 45. Jim Ehinger played the distinctive electric piano sound on the intro. In time this was discovered by – of all people! – Japanese crate diggers who sampled the intro and used it in their mixes, to the point that the original recording has become popular in Japan. The song as a whole has a nice breezy, summery feel … but this intro has a special feel all its own.

This version also used on his ‘Love Not Guaranteed’ 1973 album. Later on another Amherst 45 appeared with a different version of “Summer Love,” but this time the intro was on an acoustic-sounding piano which didn’t have the special appeal of the original. In fact, it sounds like an outtake, and I’m not sure why this was even released when the original had failed to find any favor outside of the Buffalo area.

Ehinger left town and became quite celebrated as a keyboards sharpshooter among the musicians’ musician session scene. Jim Beishline, his replacement, went on to play with Billy McEwen in The Billy Brite Band with ex-Mahoney Band guitarist Chris Haug; and Jim can still be found around town playing jazz and R&B solo and in a great duo gig with Janice Mitchell. John Mahoney continued writing and recording with perhaps his biggest success coming out of left field with an album by Evel Knieval at the height of the stuntman’s popularity.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Trivia:  The second version 45 picked up a co-writing credit (Chuck Bosley) whereas the original 45’s credit was Mahoney only. And the producer of both sides is listed as Onion Man! I don’t know who Onion Man could be – maybe the worst superhero name ever?

45 Friday: WILMER & THE DUKES – I’m Free

45-Friday_4

By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Today’s post is in honor of Independence Day. Celebrate freedom!

If the Founding Fathers would have been around in the late 1960s, they probably would have dug this track. They’d have dug the sentiment for sure! Though they may have looked askance at the British origin of this track.

“I’m Free” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Like a lot of their early compositions it may have been intended for other artists. The Rolling Stones were just coming out of their heavy purist Blues / R&B bag. Mick and Keith had been pitching most of their self-written songs to other artists, as they felt these songs were too ‘pop’ for the Stones. And “I’m Free” did come out as an album by UK R&B singer Chris Farlowe in 1966 – produced by Jagger and Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham – though it made a first appearance on the Stones’ late-1965 album Out of Our Heads (slightly later in the USA, on December’s Children).

But this is one early Stones composition with a real R&B feel. It was a staple of many USA garage bands and Wilmer & The Dukes picked it up along the way. Their first single, “Give Me One More Chance” / “Get It” (Aphrodisiac 260)  – reviewed last week – was a regional hit and they picked “I’m Free” as the follow up, backed by an original titled “Heavy Time”.

Aphrodisiac 261 was issued in a picture sleeve which puts “I’m Free” as top side over “Heavy Time” though on the actual record “I’m Free” is labelled Side B. In any case “I’m Free” is the side that DID get radio play. But while their previous release had dented the Top 100 nationally, “I’m Free achieved only regional success. And also unlike “Give Me One More Chance” it doesn’t seem to have gotten released in any foreign countries.

It’s too bad, as it’s a fine track. I’ll bet the Stones were pleased to hear this 1969 version with the full-on Soul treatment of piano, organ and horns!

By the way – I wonder if Bruce Springsteen ever heard this record? The piano and rhythm section parts of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” sound very similar to this.

****************************************************

After writing last week’s article I did some checking. I was pretty sure I’d done a write-up on Wilmer in the past (I was SURE I’d covered “Give Me One More Chance”) but apparently I was wrong. They’re an important local band and need to be properly covered, so expect that within the next few weeks.