1977 saw punk music take a more melodic turn towards what would become popularly known as ‘new wave.’ Exponents would still harbour that old ‘F*** you’ attitude, but would express it with a smile rather a than a snarl.
One such band, and a big favourite of mine to this day, were Radio Stars. They wouldn’t claim to be the biggest of bands, but I’m sure everyone of a certain age will remember, their greatest hit, ‘Nervous Wreck.‘ (It tip-toed into the UK charts for three weeks in February 1978, peaking at number thirty-nine.)
It’s not that they were without pedigree – they had that in spade-loads. They were formed in 1976, when the initially heralded glam supergroup, Jet, split up a couple of years and one album into their existence. Vocalist Andy Ellison, who had previously been one of John’s Children, alongside Marc Bolan, former Sparks bass player, Martin Gordon and guitarist Ian MacLeod dusted themselves off and regrouped as Radio Stars.
By 1976, Glam had had its day, and the music press, always keen to pigeon-hole bands for convenience and order, decided the ‘new’ band were more New Wave than Glam or out and out Punk.
In April 1977, the band released their debut single ‘Dirty Pictures‘ on Chiswick Records, and a month later recorded their first session for the John Peel radio show.
This is when and how I first became aware of Radio Stars. I remember it so vividly – especially the track ‘No Russians In Russia‘ which later appear on the ‘Stop It’ EP.
Television appearances followed, the first reportedly being on Marc Bolan’s own show. (See – it sure pays to maintain your contacts, kids.)
The association with Bolan was also apparent on the B-side of ‘Nervous Wreck,’ Radio Stars’ flirtation with the charts in 1977 – ‘Horrible Breath‘ was written by him during his time with John’s Children.
Unfortunately, sales of the latter album were not on the same level as the debut . We music fans it seems, can be so fickle!
It would also appear from Martin’s website there was a bit of dispute within the band and Radio Stars subsequently faded, and died.
I was lucky enough to see them on 10th October 1978 at Strathclyde University, Glasgow – I got a pal who was studying there to sign me in. I must have seen hundreds of gigs in my time, but I can honestly say that there are very few that I remember as well at that one, almost forty-three years ago!
RADIO STARS Andy Ellison – Lead Vocals Martin Gordon – Bass / Vocals Ian MacLeod – Guitar Steve Parry – Drums
It truly amazes me how bands like Leslie’s Motel were / are completely overlooked by record companies.
This was a band that played up and down America’s East Coast, and west to St Louis; a band that opened for likes of Rory Gallagher; Ted Nugent; Charlie Daniels ,Freddie King, Mitch Ryder and MC5 Even John Lee Hooker asked vocalist Bill Tullis to stand in on harp (harmonica) one evening when the band were the main support.
So, no mugs then.
Yet this is what happened to Leslie’s Motel in 1972. During the year following their inception, the band walked into King Studio in Louisville, and cut the nine tracks that would become their debut album, ‘Dirty Sheets,’
Influenced by seeing The Allman Joys play some time earlier, Bill Tullis ultimately surrounded himself with five experienced musicians keen to adopt the Sound of the South popularized by the band who would soon become The Allman Brothers.
‘Dirty Sheets‘ is indeed from that mould, being very ‘heavy blues’ laden, though I’d say it has more of a hard, driving rock edge to it. There are prolonged instrumental stretches, with some tremendous, searing guitar wig-outs, underpinned by flaring Hammond organ … and of course there are drum solos that were almost obligatory in the Seventies.
The album was hawked out to some local labels, including Capricorn (home to The Allman Brothers, and Marshall Tucker Band amongst others) but each one declined to take up on it.
(Talk about ‘mugs?‘)
And so it was, the album, and the dream, just more or less died
Following their disappointing rejection Leslie’s Motel soldiered on gigging up and down the east coast until they eventually called it quits in 1976.
Fast forward thirty-three years from the band’s demise. Again, details are sketchy to say the least, but completely out of the blue, band founder Bill Tullis was contacted by Roger Maglio. Roger is the owner of Gear Fab Records and expressed an interest in releasing the virtually forgotten LP.
I can’t imagine the band, having waited such a length of time, would have been too hard to deal with, and in 2009, ‘Dirty Sheets’ finally hit the shops. (There have been a couple subsequent reissues, the latest being in 2020.)
The album was very well received and racked up good sales worldwide together with some very positive reviews in the music press. The band reformed and began gigging again, one of which was recorded for a CD and DVD release in 2010.
Sadly, I can’t find any information on the state of play with the band in 2021. Perhaps they’ve all checked out by now – it’s all abit of a mystery.
Maybe though, that’s just the way it should be for a band that has flown under the radar all this time.
LESLIE’S MOTEL Bill Tullis – Lead Vocals / Rhythm Guitar / Tambourine Mike Seibold – Lead Guitar / Vocals Richard Bush – Hammond B3 Organ / Fender Rhodes Piano Ray Barrickman – Bass / Vocals Paul Hoemi – Drums Roy Blumenfeld – Drums / Congas
Formed in Dublin in 1975, Radiators From Space are credited with being Ireland’s first punk band, initially adopting the name Greta Garbage and The Trash Cans.
Their music is straight up, first wave punk – nothing too fancy, just high energy, angry but melodic, shouted gang vocals, over raucous guitar and drums with a predominant, throbbing baseline. At this early stage, the music still echoed influences of early Sixties rock ‘n’ roll / garage and like all classic punk songs, none overstay their welcome, and are short sharp and straight to the point!
The band were picked up by the excellent Chiswick Records label (more about them in a later post) and their debut single ‘Television Screen‘ was released in 1977.
Later the same year, their first album (and only LP under this particular name) was released, again on Chiswick Records. ‘TV Tube Heart‘ comprises thirteen tracks, over thirty-three fast, furious and fabulous minutes. You could say that the sound is standard ’77 punk noise, with tracks like ‘Ripped and Torn‘ reflected by The Rezillos and ‘Blitzin At The Ritz,‘ a bit Clash-esque in places.
By the time of the album’s recording, original vocalist, Steve Rapid, had left the band, to be replaced by Phil Chevron who would later move on to join The Pogues.
In 1978, the decision was taken to shorten the band name to simply, ‘The Radiators,‘ and their second album, ‘Ghostown‘ was released in 1979.
Over the years, there have been a few re-incarnations of the band and retrospective releases, but these are the only two albums of The Seventies.
(After leaving the band, Steve Rapid – real name Steve Averill – went on to become a successful design artist, famously responsible for producing U2’s album covers. He is also reportedly credited with suggesting the band changed their name from ‘The Hype.’)
(Steve Chevron sadly passed away in 2013)
THERADIATORS FROM SPACE Phil Chevron – Vocals / Guitar James Crash – Drums Peter Holdai – Guitar Mark Megaray – Bass Stephen Rapid (Steve Averill) – Vocals
Though I wasn’t to know it at the time, Jackie Mittoo was partly responsible for my love of all things reggae, ska and dub.
With the association between punk and reggae back in the mid-Seventies, combined with the release of Bob Marley‘s ‘Exodus’ album, my interest was piqued. The John Peel radio show here in UK, partially satisfied this new thirst for new sounds, but by regularly playing out ska tunes from the previous decade, he led me deeper and deeper into a whole new musical world.
I bought ‘Exodus’ (on cassette) as I’m sure many other punks did but it wasn’t until the two ‘Intensified’ compilations were released in 1979 / 1980 that I totally bought into the ska culture.
Recorded at various points between 1962 and 1967, these albums were produced with a group of studio session musicians providing the backing. From these players would emerge The Skatalites whose sound was supplemented by the piano / keyboards of … Jackie Mittoo.
Donat Roy Mittoo (Jackie) was born in in Brown’s Town, Jamaica in 1948 and died tragically young in Toronto, Canada, forty-two years later. But, boy, did he pack a lot into such a short life!
Initially taught piano by his grandmother, Jackie started playing professionally at age thirteen, having moved to Kingston. It was there he joined the Rivals, playing organ, but soon switched to the Sheiks, one of Jamaica’s most popular club bands, where he would meet up with future fellow Skatalites, Lloyd Knib an Johnny Moore.
Two years later (1963) when Clement (Coxsone) Dodd opened his famous Studio One, Jackie was invited to act as talent scout and session arranger. He worked closely with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry on Coxone Dodd’s productions, while sitting in on piano for The Skatalites.
It was the on the Hammond organ though that Jackie would really make his name. When the Skatalites broke up following trombonist Don Drummond’s incarceration for the murder of his girlfriend in 1965, Mittoo formed The Soul Brothers with Roland Alphonso, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Brevett. They became the backing band for all Studio One’s rocksteady recordings.
In 1968, he formed the Jackie Mittoo Trio, with The Hepones‘ Leroy Sibbles on bass. Jackie, with his experience of arranging, would write the bass lines, pioneering a new style of bass laden reggae.
He moved to Toronto for several years, working for Summer Records and launching a side career in Easy Listening recordings. However, He would regularly return to Jamaica where he’ d record for Coxone Dodd.
In the mid-Seventies, he also worked with the producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. By now, recording technology had come on leaps and bounds and so Jackie was able to re-record many tracks in the new ‘rockers’ style. The likes of drummer Sly Dunbar, bassist Robbie Shakespeare , pianist Ansel Collins and several others joined in the reworkings to produce the landmark ‘Jackie Mittoo Showcase’ album, from which the accompanying tracks are taken.
In addition to his own recordings, Jackie takes credit for writing hits for Alton Ellis, Marcia Griffiths and Freddie McGregor amongst others. In 1970, his ‘Peanie Wallie‘ was versioned by The Wailers, becoming the hit ‘Duppy Conqueror.’ He would also work closely with Sugar Minot and UB40 from the UK.
Throughout his time at Studio One, Mittoo recorded literally thousands of songs for so many of the artists whose talents he nurtured and coached to great success.
Thirty-one years on from his passing, his style and influence still echoes in all aspects of modern day reggae, ska and dub.
JACKIE MITTOO (Jackie worked with way too many musicians to list here!!)
Working with so many artists, Jackie Mittoo has over two hundred, 7″ singles listed on Discogs.
Regards albums, I have listed only those released during Jackie’s lifetime.
There are some albums you know that within a minute of dropping the needle on the record, are headed straight for the ‘favourites’ shelf in your collection. Such is the case with the debut album from 1968 from this New Zealand blues band.
But if the blues ain’t your scene, then wait – read on! You have to move with the times in the music business, and these young lads did just that in later years.
Formed in 1964, in Auckland, the band line-up passed through several transformations, while steadfastly sticking to its blues roots in face of the more popular Beatles influenced sound.
Their stubbornness to change direction paid divided though when British R&B began to break in the country and bands like The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds began to gain traction.
The band however that commanded most respect, and sway, for The Underdogs, was John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. And they weren’t shy of promoting that influence, with five of the songs on the debut album having already been recorded by the Englishman.
Three songs, however, all on side one, were written by band members Murray Grindlay (vocalist) and Louie Rawnsley (guitar) who according to the album’s sleeve notes, were both only seventeen at the time. Bass guitarist Neil Edwards was also only seventeen at the time of recording, while drummer Tony Walton was a mere eighteen.
Given their youth, the late 1967 Underdogs produced an amazing maturity of sound. However, all was not well within the band, even during the album’s recording.
Unwilling to follow the heavier, rock infused version of Blues, by now popularised by likes of Cream and Hendrix, and promoted by fellow band members, Grindlay and Rawnsley, bassist Neil Edwards was asked to leave.
The Underdogs briefly disbanded early in 1968 after the album release. However, they reformed a few months later and remained together, albeit with another couple of changes, long enough to release another single, ‘There Will Come A Time.’
Again though, they split not long after the release, and all was quiet for a while.
In 1970, original band leader / guitarist Harvey Mann, who had left to join The Brew shortly after the band’s debut single in 1967, got together with bassist Neil Edwards and recruited drummer Glen ‘Pig’ Absolum and reformed the band. This time though, they’d be a ‘power trio, producing that harder edged bluesy rock … that Edwards reportedly didn’t want to play several ears earlier!
This version of the band went on to perform as ‘Pig, Mann & Edwards,’ and recorded on excellent album, ‘Wasting Our Time‘ on Pye Records, late in 1970. Originals of this LP have also become much sought after with copies exchanging hands for up to £190.
Sadly though, this would be just about the last thing The Underdogs would do, and not long into 1971, they split up for good.
(Reissues of both albums were released, albeit on Limited runs of 500 copies, by Wah Wah Records in 2020)
THE UNDERDOGS (BLUES BAND) Murray Grindlay – Vocals Lou Rawnsley – Guitars Neil Edwards – Bass Tony Walton – Drums
PIG, MANN & EDWARDS Harvey Mann – Guitar / Vocals Neil Edwards – Bass Glen ‘Pig’ Absolum – Drums
Every day’s a school day here at Loud Horizon. Well, it is for me, at least.
From that, you’ll deduce I have no Captain Beyond records in my collection … and cannot profess to being a big fan of Deep Purple either. (Yes, I like them fine – just not as much as millions of others do.)
If you’re wondering why I have linked the two bands above, then I guess we’re pretty much in the same boat.
Let’s check back a little.
Captain Beyond were formed when psychedelic rock band Iron Butterfly suddenly broke up in 1971. Guitarist Larry Reinhardt and bass player Lee Dorman called on Drummer Bobby Caldwell ( who would later go on to play with both The Allman Brothers Band and that of Johnny Winter) and a certain Rod Evans.
(Rod was a founder member, and original vocalist of Deep Purple. He sang on the band’s first single ‘Hush‘ but had been asked to leave the band in 1969 when they decided to go with a heavier sound, being replaced with Ian Gillan.)
The band were initially signed to Capricorn Records, which I found strange when I read this fact. That label, throughout the Seventies had a reputation for producing records by ‘southern rock’ bands. Bands like Grinderswitch (whose ‘Pickin’ The Blues’ track was used as theme music to the iconic John Peel radio shows in UK,)Marshall Tucker Band and of course, The Allman Brothers Band.
Captain Beyond would soon find the decision strange too. Their debut album sold well. It was heavy rock in its primitive form; it was ‘stoner’ rock at its finest, incorporating ‘space’ rock influences, and included the track that opens this post and this, probably my favourite from that album.
Sales however, I assume, did not match those of label mates, The AllmanBrothers, for by the time Captain Beyond came to record their follow-up album, Capricorn Records seemed to have had a change of heart. They pressed for the band to adopt a more Southern Rock image and feel, which of course was an impossible ask.
It ‘s no coincidence then, that the band’s fortunes, if not their sound, headed south after that. The label, it seems, did all the could to obstruct the band, signing for them to support slots with headlining bands whose music was far, far removed from that of Captain Beyond.
(Paying gig fans don’t take kindly to this – Greenslade supporting Rory Gallagher, anyone?)
They soldiered on however, and in 1973, still signed to Capricorn, they released their second album, ‘Sufficiently Breathless.‘ By this time, drummer Bobby Caldwell had left as relationships within the band became fractious. He had not been keen on the direction the band were headed, or the music they were making.
From the tracks I’ve heard, I totally concur. I don’t mean to upset anyone, but tracks such as this, while still build on a decent riff, do not match the rawness and energy of the first.
The album bombed, though over time, and perhaps because of the band’s now almost cult-like status, it is now regarded with a certain reverence.
It wouldn’t be long though, before vocalist Rod Evans would leave the band. He had done this before, but this time it was for good – and none of the band knew why. He broke off all contact with the remaining band members, and to this day, his whereabouts are unknown.
(I do believe that in the early Eighties there were legal implications of his touring with a band and using the Deep Purple name)
Auditions were held to find a replacement for Rod, and eventually, Willie Daffern was offered the gig.
In 1977, now signed with Warner Bros, and the backing of an almost cult-like following, the band released their third album, ‘Dawn Explosion.’
Unfortunately, not long after the album release, ‘new’ vocalist Daffren decided to go solo, and in 1978, the band just kind of dissolved as they were on the verge of gaining wider acceptance.
Over the years there have been various reincarnations of the band that have lasted for short periods. There have also been re-pressings of the original three albums, together with some ‘live’ recordings and compilations.
Unfortunately, none in my opinion, can match the excitement and menace of their debut offering.
(Original line-up) Rod Evans – Vocals Larry ‘Rhino’ Reinhardt – Guitar Lee Dorman – Bass Bobby Caldwell – Drums
(Submitted by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia, August 2021)
It was the early 70s and I must have been about 15 and already a hardened Progressive Rock devotee. My Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and JethroTull albums were already crowding out my brother’s collection of Beatles and Fleetwood Mac LPs and the half dozen classical and British comedy recordings of my parents. Bernard Cribbins’ “Right Said Fred” would not make an appearance again for a few decades until wearing shirts became too sexy !
For reasons that are lost in the sylvan forests of that dingily dell of prog rock/adolescent halcyon, time, I thought my collection lacked a Scandinavian slant. ABBA hadn’t had their Waterloo moment yet !
How or where I first discovered Tasavallan Presidentii (President of the Republic) is a complete mystery or major mental blackout. Maybe because my surname was included in the band’s name. I can only speculate.
Lambertland was a proud addition to my ever expanding sonic library.
The cover was like a water colour Roger Dean. All trees and mountains and suns with a splash of pseudo religious symbols floating about. I thought they might throw in a free yoga lesson or a weekend mountain retreat to straighten out your Shakra with every album sold.
As for the music, it had all the ingredients of the genre – rock, folk, ambient, jazz, and the obligatory blues jam in an odd time signature. There was quite a smattering of flute and sax which appealed to me. Clever guitar work and sympathetic bass and drums.
The vocalist was a required taste with a very thick Scandinavian accent and would have been better singing in his native tongue going by some of the lyrics. No keyboard player was credited but I definitely heard the tasteful tinkling of electric piano and perhaps a sparse string synthesizer. The music certainly didn’t require any of the usual heavy handed Hammond, muddying Mellotron or meddling Moog.
6 tracks over 2 sides is probably prog de riguer. My favourite being the title track though where this mystical place may be – whether the far forests of Finland or a walk in a London suburb (sorry that’s Lambeth) is not clear. It has echoes of folksy Tull, jazzy Soft Machine and zippy Zappa. Not so much in a lumpy porridge sort of way, more a light, healthy, if not hunger abating, muesli.
Where that album ended up I’ll never know – probably an ashtray now at my nieces flat.
Does it stand the test of time ? Not really. Like most prog rock, it sounds dated on the naive side of edgy but it’s all space and time, innit or eikӧ olekin as they say south of Lappland !
Tracks: 1. Lounge 2. Lambertland 3. Celebration of the Saved Nine 4. The Bargain 5. Dance 6. Last Quarters
Recorded: April-May 1972 at Finnvox Helsinki, Finland and at Europafilm Stockholm, Sweden.
(Line-up relates to this particular album.)
Jukka Tolonen – Guitar Eero Raittinen – Vocals Pekka Pӧyry – Saxophone / Flute Måns Groundstroem – Bass Vesa Aӓltonen – Drums
Formed in 1964 while still at school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, The Serfmen would quickly change direction from their surf- sound roots and build a strong local following, with gigs booked every weekend. They would be asked to open for more established local bands and some nationally famous groups.
On the strength of this interest, Al Russel, a local DeeJay of the time invited the band into his studio to record a couple of tracks. The result was this, ‘A Man Can’t Live Without Love.’ (A copy of this was sold through Discogs in June 2020 for £72)
Another single followed a few months later, ‘Chills & Fever.‘ The band were by now playing all the top venues in northern Indiana and northwest Ohio, and with both singles having received extensive airplay, they attracted the attention of Indiana based agency, Dino Enterprises.
With the ‘British Invasion’ of America now in full swing, the agency suggested the lads followed in that direction. Vocalist and lead guitarist explained the transformation from The Serfmen to The Olivers:
“On the south side of Ft. Wayne was Oliver Street. Oliver. Oliver Twist. It sounded old and British. Bang. That was it. The kids seemed to like it better also. We grew our hair, had old fashioned outfits made and wrote songs we thought sounded British.”
With their increased popularity, and working with an agency, touring further afield and a whole-hearted dedication to the band became essential. Bass player Greg Church couldn’t make that commitment so left, leaving a space to be filled by a fan of The Serfmen, Billy Franze. And so late in 1965, the first line-up of The Olivers was complete – see below.
Early in 1966, DJ Al Russell arranged a recording session in Portage, Michigan. Two songs were recorded, neither taking more than fifteen minutes!
The result was the following, frantic an exciting ‘Beeker Street’ / ‘I Saw What You Did‘ which was released initially through Phalanx Records, and shortly after picked up by RCA Victor who took on the distribution.
This new, settled line-up however wouldn’t last long, for in September 1966, less than a year after their formal inception, vocalist / lead guitarist, Jay Penndorf, was drafted into the U.S. military, and replaced with Mike Mankey.
When Mike and Billy joined, they were only eighteen years old. The other members, Carl Aldrich (vocals / organ) and Chuck Hamrick (drums) were both just twenty.
For such a young band, they landed some some pretty big bookings in 1967, touring extensively and opening shows for likes of The Rolling Stones; The Hollies; The Yarbirds; The Byrds; The Standells; Bob Seger, and The Who.
Moving with the times, The Olivers found themselves changing musical direction again, as the British Invasion influences had run their course. Now, they looked to Hendrix, Cream and other heavier acts as well as James Brown and lots of R&B.
Organ player Carl Aldrich was not so keen on the heavier scene. In late ’67 he moved on, Rick Durrett the keyboard player from local Indianapolis band The Cardboard Bachs, taking his place.
Their sound developed a more psychedelic edge and fans would now be standing and watching rather than dancing. They became an established name and top draw in Indiana and surrounding states, so much so the constant gigging left no time for hitting the studio to record.
Something had to be done, and through bass player Billy’s contact with Pete Steinberg of Candy Floss Productions, an invite was secured to record at the Dove Studios in Minneapolis.
By now, early 1969, Jay Penndorf had completed his draft obligations, and joined the band for the sessions. Seven songs were recorded, all written by the band members, principally Mike Mankey and Billy Franze.
Dove Records contacted major label Sire with a view to a wider release, and it seems they were indeed interested. But for whatever reason the deal was never secured and in 1970, Dove Studios closed their doors and sold all the equipment.
The resultant disappointment felt by the band turned to disillusionment. Jay, who’d by now formally rejoined, was not really into the new music the band were performing, and when his equipment was stolen, he opted to forsake the music business for a career in the army.
The Olivers were no more.
Mike and Billy subsequently teamed up with Kent Cretors on drums and recorded one 7″ single as Triad. But again, distribution was poor and sales subsequently disappointing. They stuck around til 1971, but then called it quits.
And that, it seemed was that. One of Indiana’s finest had been let down, for what reason, nobody really knows, and they were to disappear without much more than local acknowledgement.
Until, that is, 2011, when a reference acetate of the album recording session was offered in an internet auction in California. Mike Dugo and Tim Cox, both of whom are avid collectors and run much respected ’60s based music sites, had their interest piqued, tracked down band member Mike Mankey and conducted their ‘due diligence’ to authenticate the find.
The result is that now the album has been given a full release by garage and psych label Break – A – Way Records.
Check out the immense, trippy guitar work on the two tracks posted here. I’d go so far as to say this album defines the ‘true unknown classic’ description and is well worth checking out in full.
THE OLIVERS Mike Mankey – Guitar / Vocals Chuck Hamrick – Drums Rick Durrett – Keyboards Billy Franze – Bass / Lead Vocals Jay Pendoorf – Guitar / Vocals
*** Much of the information contained within this post has been gleanedfrom the sleeve notes of the Break-A-Way Records release of ‘Lost Dove sessions. ***
ADDENDUM – JANUARY 2022
It’s lovely to know people actually read this blog – even more so when they take time out to write in response to the post. I was pleasantly surprised in early January 2022 to receive the following e-mail fromKent Cretors who drummed for The Olivers (subsequently re-named ‘Triad’) 1969 through 1971. Though he did have some sad news to impart:
Hello CeeJay, Thank you for the great article that you published regarding The Olivers and Triad. They were fantastic bands live. I joined them when I was 19 years old. Lol way back in the day. They rocked big time. They had connections and signed with major labels but there was no astute and proficient management. I remember going to Winnipeg Canada and recording with Randy Bachmann’s producer back in the day, but I didn’t know him or any of the business then ( Franklin Records). The manager was worthless as a manager as I recall. Anyway, I wanted to mention that my good friend and band mate Billy Franze passed away. I have so many memories with those guys. The band could have been a big-time national act because the sound was there as well as the writing. If you care to know more I would be happy to inform you. Again, thank you for your attention to a great band that should have been a national success! Sincerely,
Unfortunately, there is not much information to be had about this five-piece from Southampton.
They recorded three singles for the Decca subsidiary label, Deram, all in 1967.Their sound fell very much into the Mod / Freakbeat / Soul mould, and label hopes were high that they’d prove competition for the established R&B acts of the mid-Sixties.
But taking on the likes of The Rolling Stones was always going to be an ambitious target.
None of the three singles achieved chart success, although ‘Bert’s Apple Crumble,’ the B-side to their initial release, ‘Love Is A Beautiful Thing’ ( a cover of the Young Rascals song) proved very popular in the Mod club scene.
Each single is now well sought after by collectors, with copies of the aforementioned exchanging hands on Discogs for £230, £150 & £125 in May 2021.
All three singles an now be found on various CD compliations … and of course, your favourite streaming platform, if you’re that way inclined.
THE QUIK (Names of members remain shrouded in mystery!)
As a seventeen year old, I’d avidly read the sleeve notes of all my LPs. I still do. The difference is, some forty-six years later, that I now quickly forget even reading the album cover, never mind the detail it imparted.
However, when I read that Wynder K. Frog was actually the name adopted by and accredited to the band of keyboard player Mick Weaver, I immediately associated him as an integral part of The Frankie MillerBand that produced the brilliant 1975 album, ‘The Rock.‘
Mick formed the jazz / blues influenced band in 1967 and initially played mainly on the London circuit. An early gig saw the band, support the newly formed Traffic. Their paths would cross again a couple of years later, when Steve Winwood left Traffic to form the short-lived Blind Faith and Mick Weaver joined the remaining members to form the laboriously named Mason – Capaldi – Wood – Frog (aka Wooden Frog).
This association lasted all of three months, with no recorded output and only a handful of live shows to show fro their efforts. Mick then reverted to session work with some high profile artists, such as Buddy Guy; Steve Marriott; Roger Chapman; Joe Cocker …. and Frankie Miller, amongst others.
Which is where we came in.
Wynder K. Frog released two albums in the UK, both of which are mainly instrumental covers of established hits. The debut album, ‘Sunshine Superfrog,’ released in 1967, was recorded with Mick surrounding himself with (uncredited) New York session musicians, beefing up his distinctive Hammond organ sound with soulful horns.
The one ‘original’ on the album, is the swirling and ever so funky, ‘I Feel So Bad,’ featured at the top of this post.
The sound was well received in mod / soul / Northern Soul / jazz circles, especially around the London area, where the latter genre was having something of a renaissance.
The follow up album, ‘Out of the Frying Pan‘ was released a year later. Again, it features an eclectic mix of covers, ranging from a stonking version of ‘Green Door,’ which garnered decent airplay at the time of its release, to ‘Willie & The Hand Jive‘ and ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’
Mick wrote two of the tracks on this one, ‘Gasoline Alley,’ and this, the wonderfully quintessentially Sixties, ‘Harpsichord Shuffle.’
Shortly after the band broke up, their U.S. label, United Artists, released the ‘Into The Fire’ album featuring six original tracks.
Five 7″ singles were also released in the UK, including this cover of The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘I’m a Man.’
WYNDER K. FROG Mick Weaver – Keyboards Neil Hubbard / Mike Liber – Guitar Chris Mercer – Sax Bruce Rowland – Drums Alan Spenner – Bass Rebop Anthony Kwabaku – Congas
RELEASES BY WYNDER K. FROG
Turn On Your Lovelight / Zooming
Sunshine Superman / Blues From A Frog
Green Door / Dancing Frog
I Am a Man / Shook Shimmy And Shake
Jumpin’ Jack Flash / Baldy
Out Of The Frying Pan
Into The Fire
Released only in USA
Reviews & Comment: Punk,, Psychedelic, Psych, Rock, Reggae, 60s Garage, Mod, Blues & Freakbeat.