In various guises and line-ups, Goliath were around for the best part of fifteen years. THIS Goliath, for there have been / were several bands to have used this name, originated in Terre Haut, Indiana during 1964 as The Checkmates.
Instigated by Peters brothers Steve (drums) an Bill (bass) the band had some local success and recorded their first single on Bogan Records. However, inordinate delays in pressing the record resulted in the band having moved on, changed name and changed personnel before the single became available.
It was in fact released under the name, Sounds of Sound.
With the introduction of guitarist David Graham, the band moved to a more to a psychedelic / Hendrix influenced sound and once again changed their name a again, this time to Goliath. They began working with agent / manager Irving Azoff (who would later represent likes of Christine Aquilera, Eagles and Jon Bon Jovi among many others) and gigs were booked across Mid-West America.
Unfortunately, this early incarnation of the band fell apart when drug and substance abuse got the better of ‘star’ guitar player Graham. However, with contractual obligations remaining unfulfilled with Azoff’s company, Steve and Bill Peters put together a new line-up, comprising former members of recently disbanded local groups, Kicks and the XL’s.
One final change, with Paul, ‘Doug’ Mason replacing Ted Bennet on Hammond Organ, and the line-up that would record this particular Goliath album.
Unfortunately, and details are scarce, this eponymous album, recorded in 1970 at the Allen-Martin Studios in Louisville, Kentucky never saw the light of day until it was re-mixed and re-mastered in 2009 by Jay Petach.
A second (effective ‘first’) album was released however in 1975. By then, Phelps (guitar) Egy (vocals) and Mason (keyboards) had moved to Atlanta to form Raven, leaving the brothers Peters to start from scratch, yet again.
They were still signed with Triangle Talent who had been pushing the band hard to record jingles and songs so that the rights could be sold. They did however, eventually relent and allow the band to record an album on their own Bridges label.
With only a few weeks to prepare, and a ‘new’ band to boot, the album is described by the Peters brothers as being nothing more that a patchwork of previously unfinished songs. Probably not the strongest of recommendations!
Although Steve and Bill did manage to keep the band going in some form or other throughout the ’70s, no more recordings were forthcoming.
For readers lacking the patience to sit through the whole album as displayed at the start of this post, I can say this:
in all honesty, it’s nothing ‘spectacular.’ But while there’s no immediate impact moments, it is a really enjoyable listen. The feel is of pared-back, hard, bluesy rock, Some songs vary like, ‘I Feel Like I’m Gonna Die’ retains the blues sound, but with more a ‘lounge / club’ inflection; ‘Its Your Land’ is pretty much Gospel influenced, while ‘In The Summertime’ to me at least, seems to have rubbed off on DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – certainly on the arrival of the chorus!
On other tracks, I’m reminded of early Uriah Heep (that’s probably down to the organ sound as much as anything) and overall, yeah, a good addition to my collection.
George ‘Charlie’ Egy – Vocals Steve Peters – Drums Bill Peters – Bass Paul ‘Doug’ Mason – Hammond B3 Organ George Phelps – Guitar
For every ’70s rock band that became stadium headliners, there must be hundreds of ‘would-have-beens / should-have-beens.’ Sadly Goshen, Indiana band Magi are one of the latter.
It’s scant consolation that forty-eight years following the release of their only LP, ‘Win or Lose,‘ they are receiving the more geographically widespread plaudits their hard-rock debut merited.
As was / is so often the case, it was a matter of either not being in the right place at the right time, or as happened with Magi, the wrong place at the wrong time.
Formed in 1973 from the backbone of another ‘local’ band, Skull, the name was changed to Magi, and their first four-song emo was laid down on tape. (Two of these early compositions would, three years later, appear on the ‘Win or Lose’ album.)
They gigged extensively throughout Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, playing University campus shows and festivals as well as clubs and smaller venues.
Their sound was solid. Hard rock at its heaviest. To match this, they built their own oversized speakers and lugged them around to shows, blowing the ears and minds of audiences!
By this stage,the gigging was onerous and bass player Larry Hertzler left the band to take up at college. He was replaced by Tom Stevens – who would later play with The Long Ryders.
Seeking to capitalize on the success of the stage performances, Magi decided the time was right to record their first album, Further demos were put together, extending the length of the tracks on their earlier effort and now including three songs that would eventually appear on the album: ‘Win or Lose’, ‘Every Time I’m With You‘ and ‘I Didn’t Ask You.’
Although all the songs had been written prior to Tom joining the band, the demos were very much a team effort, with Tom and drummer Jerry Wiggins contributing to the arrangements of the tracks principally put together by the two guitarists, Larry Stuzman and Steve Vanlaningham. Lyrics in the main, were composed by vocalist / frontman, John Gaut.
Attracted by the ‘offer’ of 40 hours recording time, with 1,000 LPs and 1,000 singles for $1000 at Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Uncle Dirty’s Sound Machine Studios, the band got down to recording their debut album in the first week of August 1976.
Unfortunately, they did not really hit it off with ‘Uncle Dirty’ aka Bryce Roberson and cutting to the chase, Magi were left somewhat disappointed by the finished, pressed LP.
Fans acknowledged the LP didn’t capture the band as they appeared in a ‘live’ environment, but fortunately having built up a substantial local following, the initial run of albums was sold out over the ensuing months.
Buoyed by the sales, local TV appearances followed and gained them further recognition with some high profile support slots followed -like with Brownsville Station, for example.
By now, they had outgrown their local scene – the High School shows were presumably going to bands more of that age – and Magi were playing city centre bars and clubs.
Then came blow #1: the drinking age reverted from 18 to 21 in 1978, changing the gig landscape drastically. Additionally, winter in the mid-West is pretty unforgiving for touring bands.
So when the offer came from Larry Stuzman’s uncle Danny (one of the first Contemporary Christian Music – CCM – artists signed to a major label in the early ’70s) to move out to California – they jumped at the chance.
Then came blow #2: uncle Danny was tad out of touch with the rock scene. Punk had taken over L.A. big time. Magi‘s music was already ‘dated’ and although they changed their name to The Charge and hastily wrote a few New Wave style songs, they couldn’t even bring in enough money to cover their rent. Day jobs had to be sought and their hopes and aspirations were evaporating fast in the Californian dust and heat.
One by one, the members gravitated back to their home State
The dream was over.
But, boy! What a legacy!
John Gaut – Vocals Larry Stuzman – Guitar Tom Stevens – Bass / Vocals Steve Vanlaningham – Guitar Jerry Wiggins – 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,
Kent Cretors (Drums)
Music: Punk, Rock, Psych, 60s Garage, Blues, Reggae & Ska..