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.

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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.

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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?

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