45 Friday: JIMMY SATAN – Look At The Clock

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

Today’s post is pretty minimal. Just a song! I have a feeling a few people might know what this is. Most won’t. But many would recognize Jimmy Satan by his real name, and have either heard his music or seen him play; or been customers of his, or at least seen his shop.

For now, I will keep his story – and his real identity –  as a mystery. One clue: it’s connected to something we’ve been talking about lately.

Enjoy the sound of the mid-Sixties, from Spring 1966. For historical perspective, this was released right around the same time as the Blonde on Blonde and Pet Sounds albums; in-between the Beatles We Can Work It Out and Paperback Writer singles; and while the #1 Billboard singles were These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ and The Ballad Of The Green Berets.

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45 Friday: WILMER & THE DUKES – Living In The U.S.A.

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

We covered Wilmer before – somewhat – without delving into the whole history of the band. Previously we focused on their first 45 “Give Me One More Chance” and its killer B-side “Get It!”; and their second 45 (“I’m Free”, B-side to “Heavy Time”). Today we’ll look at their third 45, “Living In The U.S.A.”.

I only touched on the early background of these guys in the past because their story is well-known and has been covered elsewhere. So I won’t write book here. The short backstory is that Wilmer Alexander Jr., Ronnie Alberts, and Ralph “Duke” Gillotte came together in 1957. All three were from Geneva (outside Rochester). Wilmer played sax and sang; Ronnie was the drummer; and Duke was the keyboardist (and sometimes organ). “Keyboard” in the early days meant “piano”, but as the band moved into the Sixties this came to be the favorite axe of jazz/R&B organists, the Hammond B3.

The early band was completed with Bob Egan on bass and Doug Brown on guitar. Doug also wrote “Give Me One More Chance”.  Later on horns were added to the lineup, though on their self-titled 1969 album, the band is presented as just the five core musicians with horns as guests. Incidentally, local heavies Chuck Mangione and Gap Mangione worked on the album too, as players and arrangers.

The band lasted from 1958 to 1974 but their ‘salad days’ were approximately 1961 to 1970. At first they played the Upstate and Central NY circuit, mostly colleges, frat parties, bars, Ski lodges, and lake resort clubs. Later they found residencies as house bands especially in Buffalo, first at The Inferno and later at the new club created by the same owners when The Inferno ironically burned down- Gilligans, in Cheektowaga.

Wikipedia describes those nights: ‘Every Wednesday night, long lines of fans formed through Glen Park and over the bridge on Glen Avenue, many waiting for hours to get into the sold-out Inferno. Wilmer & the Dukes would play such cover songs as “Reach Out” and “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops, “Shotgun” & “Road Runner” by Junior Walker & the Allstars, and “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box” by Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts. Acts they opened for included Wilson Pickett and Sly & the Family Stone.’

The Inferno had a regular R&B/ Soul day on Sundays, bringing in national acts on a regular basis, and the audience there was equally interested in Rock’n’Roll and Soul, which was perfect for Wilmer & The Dukes. And the fact that they were an interracial band doesn’t seem to have raised any eyebrows. This may not have been the case when they started though. In the late Fifities, when they were playing mostly Black clubs, the racial dynamic of the band probably stood out more – and may have been part of their novelty.

As I mentioned before, it’s seems to be more than just rumor that the screenwriter and producer of the movie Animal House (Ivan Reitman) saw Wilmer play gigs at The Inferno and was affected to the point that they became the inspiration for that film’s “Otis Day & the Knights”.

That brings us up to 1968. Buffalo-based Aphrodisiac Records released “Give Me One More Chance” which was a regional hit, placing moderately on the Billboard and Cashbox Top 100 charts. It also earned release in Canada, the UK, Germnay and France. And maybe other markets, for all I know.

The Steve Miller Band was San Francisco-based and considered part of the Fillmore/ hippie/ Frisco scene even though all members were actually from Texas or the Midwest. After a strong first album they released the even-stronger “Sailor” LP in 1968. “Living In the USA” was taken from it to be there second single and it entered the Billboard Top 100 on November 23, 1968. It never got much farther even though it was backed with the equally strong “Quicksilver Girl”.

Not long after the Miller album and 45 releases Wilmer and band picked up on “USA” and started playing it. They included it as a cut on their early 1969 album and released it as a followup single to “Give Me One More Chance” /”Get It” and “I’m Free”/ “Heavy Time” in the summer of 1969. It was a regional-only hit in upper New York state and a few scattered markets (apparently a top 40 in Detroit) but the only made it to #114 on the Billboard chart.

They weren’t quite done on record – one more single followed, pulled from the album – but there were no more singles after these four and no more albums until the CD era when the remaining members recorded as The Legendary Dukes.

In my opinion their album and all the singles are top-notch. They always put on a killer live show and it’s too bad they weren’t able to keep recording.

Living In The U.S.A. – 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: THE ROOSTERS – I Wanna Do It

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

In tracking down information on The Road, especially their ‘Cognition’ album, several mysteries were solved while some remained unanswered. One interesting thing is that five members are pictured on the cover and listed as the actual band personnel but a good portion of the songs were written by other people. In fact the songs that seems to be the most significant – a suite of related songs whose lyrics are printed on the back cover, which give the album the feeling of a ‘concept album’ – are written by people who weren’t members but associates.

One writer is Ken Kaufman. He’s not listed as a band member but is credited for playing piano, while member Don “Jake” Jakubowski is credited with organ.

Although the group did exist as a two-keyboard band for awhile, it seems that Jakubowski was on his way out and Kaufman on his way in. He would remain in the band and in their circle for a time, taking a leading role.

Another writer is Ron Lombardo who had been a member of Baggs. Following one of several Road breakups Lombardo would join with former Road members to form Waves in 1973.

The last ‘outside’ writer on Cognition was John Lotz. All three of these men would end up involved in the Waves project, writing the two songs on their 45, but only Kaufman and Lombardo were actual members of Waves.

The question remained- who was John Lotz, and what did he do, besides help write songs for these local groups?

The answer was surprising and completely unexpected.

John Lotz and his brother Trey Lotz were from Amherst and attended Amherst High School. Trey went on to study Philosophy & Religion at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY (in the Upstate area). While at Hamilton guitarist Trey met bass player Peter Brohl. John Lotz was convinced to move to the area and registered with a College in nearby Utica. With the vocalist question settled (John also played a bit of guitar and keyboards) only a drummer was lacking. Western NY friend and drummer Ralph Guastaferro was soon a student at Mohawk Valley Community College and the band was complete.

The band played the local gig circuit in the Utica / Oneida area, ranging to Syracuse; but specialized in frat parties at all the wide-ranging Upstate NY institutions of higher learning. During their core period (1965-67)

Many of the Upstate NY bands recorded for a series of labels based in Utica with unexpected Eastern-sounding, vaguely-religious names: Krishna, Kama and Buddha. Note that this isn’t the famous NYC-based Kama Sutra Records or it’s affiliate Buddah. In fact, I wonder if the different (‘incorrect’) spelling of the famous Buddah label was due to the correct spelling having already been copyrighted by the Upstate people?

In any case these labels also seem to be associated with Hamilton College, with the Roosters record on Buddha carrying a Hamilton College address.

The Roosters first (probably!) 45 was a version of “I Wanna Do It”. This Feldman/ Goldstein/ Gottehrer (aka The Strangeloves) song was first recorded by The Avons in 1964 and eventually by the The Strangeloves themselves in 1968. In between that time it was recorded by others – Upstate and Western New Yorkers probably know it best by local guy Bobby Comstock – but it was especially popular played by garage bands for wild frat parties. It had mildly risque lyrics which may have been altered for live performance. And a rollicking rhythm which probably broke them up at the keggers!

This 45 appears on Buddha. The flip was a cover of the Zombies’ “You Don’t Need Any Reason”. Next for them was the The Rooster Song on Krishna Records. The label reads “In album ‘The Roosters Live At The Appollo’ (sic)” but no such album ever existed. In a nod to the changing sounds of the day there’s a Yardbirds-sounding guitar riff from Trey Lotz.  John Lotz apparently played piano on this track (promo photos also show him playing rhythm guitar in the band).

Last came “Midnight Green” b/w “Hurry Sundown”, again on Krishna. Following that the band broke up.

John Lotz made his way back to WNY. There’s a lot of info missing but he must have stayed in the music scene and was known to the guys in The Road to the point that he wrote songs for them. I have a feeling he may have PLAYED music here too, in some capacity, but no one seems to know. Eventually John and Trey Lotz seetled in the L.A. area and I have no further info on them.

Ex-Rooster Ralph Guastaferro returned to Buffalo and played with a commercial band, and I have no further info on him.

So, three Buffalo musicians made good records in Upstate NY in the mid-Sixties with no apparent impact on the WNY music consciousness. And one of them has song writing credits on an album by a legendary local band (issued – coincidentally? – on Kama Sutra/ Buudah ‎records). Yet there seems to be almost no info on him or them!

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Thanks to Rich Sargent for leading me down the Roosters trail, and to Chris Bishop’s excellent blog at http://www.garagehangover.com/roosters/ for providing much of the info.

45 Friday: THE TWEEDS – We Got Time

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By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon

 

A few weeks ago we talked about the Tweeds and their first 45. I planned to finish their story and cover their second 45, and then I remembered that someone had already done some research on them, long ago. So I contacted Jim Duffey, longtime local record collector and historian. He generously sent me a copy of his article as it appeared decades ago in Discoveries Magazine, a now-defunct collector’s publication. It shed some light on what we already covered and I’ll be drawing on it for the rest of the story.

The short story: Kenmore teens Paul Varga (drums), Ted Connor, Alan Shaw & Dave Constantino (guitars) formed a band when they were all no more than 14 years old! Shaw left and James Dunnigan came in, completing the group with a bass guitar. This is the best-known Tweeds lineup. After playing in local dances and teen clubs, they won a Battle Of The Bands at WKBW’s annual Fun-A-Fair. They were rewarded with the to record in a New York City studio, toward a possible major label contract. A Thing Of The Past / What’s Your Name was released in the Summer of 1967.

This brings us up to 1968 and today’s record. But first a few additional facts to fill in the gaps with what I already wrote and inform the rest of the story.

— Varga was a student at Kenmore West but the Connor, Constantino and Dunnigan all attended Kenmore East.

— 1967 was the first year for WKBW’s Fun-A-Fair event. It was co-organized by Maury Bloom, area promoter for Decca Records. The contest prize is unclear – apparently a “chance” at a contract with Decca. There was some kind of further acceptance process which included an audition. I’m not sure if they had to pass an audition first before being allowed to record, or if the recording session served as the audition. In any case it was recorded at Decca’s NYC studios and released on Decca’s affiliate label Coral.

— I believe The Rogues, Caesar & His Romans, The Rockin Paramounts and The Vibratos all performed at the Fun-A-Fair. Not sure if they were only performers or actually competed. Two bands that did compete were The Druids and The Cavemen. Though they didn’t win they may have gotten noticed there- both bands got to release a 45 around this time.

— Dave Constantino wrote Thing Of The Past specially for the session. Credit for this (and the other three Tweeds sides) was shared with all members for the sake of unity but Dave was the main writer.

— They used the same Decca studio where things like Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock (a Decca release) was recorded. Mike Jacobs produced and Paul ‘Green Tambourine’ Leka helped.

— Thing Of The Past never cracked the Billboard Top 100 though it sold 30,000 copies over time, peaking at #2 on the local charts.

 

In February of 1968 The Tweeds returned to the Decca studio to record their second 45. Mike Jacobs – son of Coral artist Dick Jacobs – again produced. I Want Her To Know / We Got Time came out also on Coral. Since they had done well with the ballad A Thing Of The Past, I Want Her To Know was similarly intended as the ‘plug side’. But some radio station DJ’s were pushing the rocker side We Got Time. This hurt the momentum of the single.

Following a shakeup at Coral they were given a new producer, John Simon, who promised to cut an album if the single did well. With this motivation, Tweeds’ members personally tried to intervene to get DJs to stick to the I Want Her To Know side. Their manager George Constantino (Dave’s father) tried to contact Coral/Decca for help too. But nothing came of it. DJs continued splitting the play and the single stalled.

Ultimately I Want Her To Know / We Got Time only sold about half as many copies of the first record. So no album would be recorded.

I chose the ‘Rock’ side We Got Time for today’s feature. Unlike the Beatles/Beau Brummels sound of their other tracks, this one has a harder sound, like the British Invasion sound of The Who as filtered through an American teen garage band sensibility. Note that it has TWO guitar breaks- unusual. It’s interesting also to note that the members were 14-16 years old at the time of the first recording, and half a year older at the time of the second! Bear that in mind when listening.

Jim Dunnigan left the group not long after this, as he was preparing for college. Tim Murphy came in on bass but soon Ted Conner also left – drafted – and the Tweeds became a trio consisting of Constantino, Varga and Murphy. When Murphy left Billy Sheehan came in and they continued for awhile as The Tweeds, but eventually became Talas.