45 FRIDAY: BEN HEWITT – I Ain’t Givin Up Nothin’

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

We talked about Ben long ago – way back in the early days of 45 Friday a couple years ago. We covered his second 45 (Patricia June / For Quite A While) and the lone single by his guitarist Ray Ethier (Slave Girl). Both of these were issued on Mercury Records in 1959.

Ben had cut enough tracks at his first session to complete his first and second single releases. The first came out earlier in 1959: You Break Me Up/  I Ain’t Givin’ Up Nothin’.

The circumstances behind the session are simple. Ben was discovered at his regular gig at DeFazio’s bar and bowling ally in Niagara Falls by a Col. Parker-type fellow, and taken to New York City he to record for Mercury Records, accompanied by his longtime guitarist Ray Ethier. It sounds like they were high-spirited boys who really cut loose in the big city and had wild times. But in the studio they were made to knuckle down and work.

I believe the producer was Clyde Otis and the arranger Belford Hendricks. By the time of their third single Hendricks was credited as such on the labels. Ben got his self-composed You Break Me Up on the A-side which was as it should be. he was a prolific composer who in later years got his songs recorded by many R&R, R&B and (especially) Country music artists.

The B-side was I Ain’t Givin’ Up Nothin’ (If I Can’t Get Something From You) – which is the actual complete title.

This came to my attention again recently when I picked up a 1962 45 by Jewel Brown, who sang with Louis Armstrong’s small group in later years but also tried her hand in the Pop/R&B market. Maybe I should say, ‘her hand was tried’ by her producer Clyde Otis. The copy I found had a one side credited to Clyde Otis/ Brook Benton/ Belford Hendricks while the I Ain’t Givin’ Up Nothin’ side carried no writer credit. It wasn’t until I played it for someone else that we realized it was the same song as Ben’s!

My inclination was to believe some record company shenanigans had taken place and Ben was being robbed of some royalties. My first research showed it had later been recorded by Clyde McPhatter, also for Mercury (1960), in a session also arranged and conducted by Belford Hendricks, carrying the credit of Otis-Benton: Clyde Otis and Brook Benton.

Furthermore it was cut in slightly later versions by Rockabilly singers Sonny Wilson (for California’s Candix label) and Jimmy “Frenchie” Dee (for two tiny Texas indie labels). Both of these carried the Otis-Benton credit.

I went back to my copy of Ben’s record and found that even on his the credit was Otis-Benton. I still believed that it was probably Ben’s song and had either had the credit stolen or he’d made a deal to give up the royalties.

But finally with a lot more research I learned it had been recorded just a few months earlier (September 1958) by Priscilla Bowman for Abner Records, backed by the Spaniels. It was the B-side of A Rockin’ Good Way, her version of the Brook Benton hit, also written by Otis-Benton. Her session was almost certainly helmed by Clyde Otis too.

It does fit Ben’s style like a glove. Ben loved Elvis (and could imitate him perfectly) though his his idol and the model for his stage presence was Little Richard, whom he saw on a package tour (probably brought here by The Hound, a friend of Ben) – and later met at Buffalo’s Zanzibar Club!

Ben’s March 1959-issued version obviously shows a strong influence from Elvis’ 1956 Don’t Be Cruel in the vocal and vocal arrangement. Musically though it has much in common with local boy Ersel Hickey’s almost simultaneous (February 1959) Bluebirds Over The Mountain. I’m guessing Ben and Ersel knew each other and likely had shared a song or two.

So I Ain’t Givin’ Up Nothin’ was never a Ben Hewitt composition at all. Was it a case of producers pushing their own song on an artist as a way to increase their royalties? It’s so perfect for Ben that maybe it was his own suggestion. Perhaps he’d already been performing it during his marathon bar band shows where he was known as a human jukebox. Ben had wide-ranging taste in music and loved Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly, Country and R&B. It’s definitely possible he’d heard the Priscilla Bowman song already.

In any case it’s a great track by the guy who many people thought was another Elvis Presley.

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45 FRIDAY: THE BUENA VISTAS – Here Come Da Judge

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

This week is a followup to last week’s short article on the single by Kathy Keppen as “Lynn Terry”, and previous articles on the Buena Vistas and Kathy Lynn & The Playboys.

This was an evolving series of ‘bands’ – really musical groupings involving the core group of Kathy Keppen and her husband Nick Ameno under many names. Sometimes they used assumed names, especially after their 1966 move to Detroit. It seems that as time went on there were less band members and more studio musicians until at some point there recognizable sound of Detroit session men has completely taken over the recordings. And by the time of today’s featured single – 1968 – that process was complete.

1968 saw the release of their first for the new Marquee label, MQ-443, Here Come Da Judge b/w Big Red. Marquee Records is described at Discogs as a “minor late-1960’s Detroit R&B label believed to be formed out of the partnership of disc jockey Tom Shannon, Carl Cisco and Nicholas Ameno”. Shannon and Cisco had been managers of Kathy Lynn & The Playboys/ The Buena Vistas (which by 1968 meant basically just Keppen and Ameno).

Here Come Da Judge begins with that phrase, one popularized at the time by comedian Pigmeat Markham, and used on TV’s popular ‘Laugh In ‘ show. It’s claimed that the backing track was actually ‘borrowed’ from a single by another Detroit band, Tino and the Revlons, on their Cameo Parkway song Ya Ya (itself a version of the Lee Dorsey classic). Supposedly the vocal track was removed from the Tino record and then Soul singer and sometimes produced Richard Popcorn Wiley overdubbed his spoken interjections. Listening to them back to back this does seem to be the case. One question is – who actually played on the Tino record?

For what it’s worth, the label writing credits on the Buena Vistas record are: Here Come Da Judge (Nick Ameno & Ron Sherae) and Big Red (Nick Ameno, Kathleen Keppen and Jim Fazzolari).

In the case of their earlier Buena Vistas records from 1966 it sounds to me like Kathy Keppen and Nick Ameno (and maybe their band members) play on them. In the case of these 1968 ones, not so much. I’d suspect they don’t play on these at all.

But I can’t explain why they were given writing credit then. Both tracks are simply ‘riffs’ that required little composition, only arranging. And one of them is apparently a previous recording! If a producer intended to put out a record using their band name but played by session musicians it seems to me he would only use his own name as wrier, and not give away ‘a piece of the pie’ this way – unless those other people helped create the record.

Anyway, there you have it- another mystery only partially solved.

45 Friday: LYNN TERRY – Boy Crazy

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Today’s 45 is a Pop/Pock female vocal effort out of New York City. As it turns out ‘Lynn Terry’ is actually Kathy Lynn of Kathy Lynn & Playboys.

Kathy Keppen worked under many names, and so did the group, including The LaSalles and The Buena Vistas. Like most of their later recordings the actual recording session personnel is unknown but in most cases one must assume the core group of Nick Ameno/ Kathy Keppen/ Carl Cisco was involved on each, as they are credited as writers on each.

Interestingly, Kathy’s actual correct name should be Kathy Ameno as by this time she was married to Nick Ameno! For completeness’ sake we should maybe call this bunch or Kathy Lynn Terry Keppen Ameno & The Buena Vista Playboys.

We’ve previously covered Kathy Lynn & The Playboys and the Buena Vistas so I’ll leave their full story alone for the most part.

This record was a one-off for NYC’s Rust Records. Based on some of the label information (Shan-Todd Publishing, A Magi Production) we can speculate on the discographical place for this 1966 release among their other releases. It came AFTER their work as Kathy Lynn & The Playboys on Swan, at approximately the same time as their early (1966) efforts as the Buena Vistas on Swan, but before their 1967-68 Detroit recordings as the Buena Vistas and The Antiques.

Based on a real close listen to their recordings my personal guess is that their convoluted recording history goes like this: Kathy Lynn & The Playboys 1963-65, recorded in Western New York (or maybe some in NYC); The Buena Vistas recorded in early 1966 in NYC followed by this mid-1966 one, on Rust, also recorded in NYC.

I think it was only after this that they moved to Detroit along with Tommy Shannon, and made their ‘Motown’ single on V.I.P. Records as the LaSalles. based on this record they’re often referred to as “the first white group on Motown records” though I’m not sure that’s exactly accurate.

In any case, that would be late 1966. Following that their associates (including Carl Cisco, who was at some points their manager) created a record label named LaSalle and the group revived the Buena Vista name for a LaSalle release. Other Buena Vistas 45s also came out, on related (and apparently unrelated!) labels.

These records sound unlike the previous Buena Vistas records, which supports the idea that those were earlier ones were recorded in NYC and these later ones in Detroit.

Just to confuse matters they made a couple 45s for LaSalle under other names. For one, they were The Antiques. On the other Kathy Lynn revived the Lynn Terry name for a one-off release in in 1967 or 68. This particular record is rare with very few copies in circulation. On both of these, the writing credits are again Nick Ameno/ Kathy Keppen/ Carl Cisco.

The A-side of Rust R-5109 is a cover of Jackie DeShannon’s “When You Walk In The Room” (also done by The Searchers). But today we present the B-side, their self-penned “Boy Crazy”. It’s a mildly-soulful effort, sounding like a girl group backed by a garage band. Enjoy!

45 Friday: THE TIGERMEN – Tiger Girl

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Here’s the rest of the story on the Tigermen. Last week I talked about how local collectors were confounded by their two 45s by the Buff record, and the fact that no one knew anything about the band or the label. Until 1985, when their Close That Door appeared on a compilation of Sixties garage punk. The liner notes to “Back From The Grave #5″ described them as being a 1965-1966 New York State band and suggested they might have been from the Southern Tier area. It also verified that their two 45s were recorded in Buffalo, all in one night’s session.

Almost ten years later (1994) another Tigermen track turned up on a compilation. Tiger Girl appeared on Scum Of The Earth. The scanty liner notes to it revealed nothing and in fact those compilers seemed to not know the info previously revealed on Back From The Grave.

Close That Door carried a catalog number of Buff B-1005. Buff B-1006 was Tiger Girl. In retrospect we’ve learned that Close That Door (Buff B-1005) was released in January 1966 and Tiger Girl (Buff B-1006) in June 1966.

In this interent age Information is now a lot easier to obtain, and now the rest of the story has been revealed. As it turns out, there is no dramatic secret.  They were simply a band from the Olean area. They which actually started in 1964. They worked the local Southern Tier area, sometimes branching out into northern PA or Central NY, and came to Buffalo just to record their songs. I don’t believe they ever played the specific Buffalo area otherwise, though it’s possible.

Some of their gigs included a Battle Of The Bands at Olean High School and regular gigs in the Cuba Lake resort area. I’m guessing they probably played the teen club at Alleghany State Park. There was also a teen club in Olean  – like the Peppermint Stick clubs in Buffalo and North Tonawanda and the Sandsabarn in Perry – which partnered with WKBW in holding sock hops with KB deejays. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was there where they got in contact with a KB jock who got them into that Buffalo recording studio in October 1965.

Tom Consedine and John Farrell are the two members whose names appear in the writing credits. The other members were  Jeff Todd and Tim Stavish. Their short run ended in the summer of 1966 when the band was split up the conflicting demands of college and the draft.

Their records were produced by Art Detrick. Art and his brother Rusty Dedrick were jazz musicans and music educators and the Buff label was their creation. In fact a couple of the Buff releases are credited to the Dedricks as performing artists. The next generation of the Dedrick family was Art’s children, the siblings who comprised the hit-making group The Free Design. The Dedrick family was from Delevan NY – not TOO far from Olean.

Art Dedrick studied music at Fredonia State and, after working as player and arranger with lots of the big bands and serving as staff arranger forWGR and WBEN in Buffalo, returned to teach in the music department there. In 1954 he started his own publishing company, Kendor Music, to issue his big band charts for school groups (he was initiators of the school jazz ensemble movement). I believe he started Buff Records originally to release instructional big band records. Clearly, no one would mistake the Tigermen records for one of THOSE.

That’s the story. And here’s their GREAT second record, Tiger Girl. By the way, the only photo I’ve seen shows them in regular suits. But rumor has it they has special tiger-striped suits too. I’d LOVE to see a photo of that!

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Some of this info comes from Chris Bishop’s article in the great blog Garage Hangover – check it out at http://www.garagehangover.com/tigermen/

45 Friday: THE TIGERMEN – Close That Door

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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

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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!