I can’t afford to keep all these 45s … and I’m always looking for new ones. I’ll be selling 45s of many genres – garage, surf, r&b, international, soul, etc at the Allentown, Pennsylvania 45 & 78 rpm record fair this Saturday, April 1, 2017. If you haven’t been, there are more 45s than you can look through in three days, let alone one. Not sure my table # yet but if you come ask for Chris Bishop’s table. Or contact me ahead of time, I’ll be in town from Wednesday afternoon on.
1901 S. 12th St. ( S.12th & Vultee Streets ), Allentown, PA 18103
London-based West Indian soul outfit, Joe E Young & The Toniks recorded a superb, ultra-rare, and highly collectable, LP called Soul Buster! for Vicki Wickham’s small Toast label during 1968 before splintering when singer Colin Young joined British chart toppers The Foundations, subsequently singing lead on the UK #2 hit, ‘Build Me Up A Buttercup” and UK #8 hit, “In The Bad Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)”.
The band’s career is shrouded in mystery and very little is known about its tangled history, not to mention its origins. What we do know, however, is that Colin Young was born in Barbados on 12 September 1944 and first came to London for a holiday with his father in the mid-Sixties (most likely during 1966). A former bookkeeper, Colin Young presumably gravitated to the Stoke Newington/Tottenham area of the city as that was where Antiguan-born bass player Calvin Samuel and drummer Conrad Isidore were both living after moving to London as kids.
Samuel’s first notable musical outfit appears to have been The Blue-Ace-Unit, formed sometime in late 1965/early 1966 with future Bob Marley sideman, Junior Marvin, who at the time used the name Junior Kerr and played keyboards rather than guitar. Apparently, it was Kerr who coined Samuel’s nickname ‘Fuzzy’ after the musician used a fuzz box on his bass.
When Kerr departed to join Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers, Samuel hooked up with another Antiguan immigrant, guitarist Wendell Richardson, who’d grown up in Tottenham after moving to the UK at the age of 11. This may (or may not) be the same band that Richardson refers to on his website as The Four Aces.
During the summer of 1966, school friends Calvin ‘Fuzzy’ Samuel and Conrad Isidore linked up with Richardson and three other musicians to form The Toniks. These were fellow West Indians, Richard London (organ) and Tony Bauman (sax), and a second sax player, Denis Overton, who is most likely the same South African-born musician who had previously played with John O’Hara & His New Playboys during 1965-1966 and then briefly worked with Liverpool band, The Roadrunners.
Incidentally, Richardson, Samuel and Isidore were also close friends with The Equals and apparently Eddy Grant used Calvin ‘Fuzzy’ Samuel as a session bass player on some of The Equals’ recordings. He would later produce and pen material for all three musicians in their post-Toniks band, The Sundae Times.
Billed as either The Toniks or The Tonicks, the sextet quickly found work gigging across the north London club scene in venues that catered for the city’s burgeoning West Indian population. British music magazine, Melody Maker, lists the following gigs for the band, which included a few forays into central London. The New All-Star Club near Liverpool Street railway station became a favourite haunt.
7 September 1966 – Tiles, Oxford Street, London
11 September 1966 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London with The Pilgrims
5 October 1966 – Zebra Club, W1, London
8 October 1966 – Club West Indies, Stonebridge Park, Middlesex
9 October 1966 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
17 November 1966 – Whisky A Go Go, London
3 December 1966 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
9 December 1966 – Beachcomber Club, Nottingham (Nottingham Evening Post)
17 December 1966 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
25 December 1966 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
26 December 1966 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London with The Sugar Simone Show
Judging by the gigs listed above and below, it appears that Colin Young may not have joined forces with The Toniks until early January 1967. Unless, that is, his billing as frontman didn’t start until this month. As the list below makes clear, some gigs continued to be attributed solely to The Toniks/Tonicks. The gigs below are all from Melody Maker unless otherwise stated.
As well as the New All-Star Club, Joe E Young & The Toniks also became regulars at Count Suckle’s Cue Club in Paddington and the Roaring 20’s in Carnaby Street, Soho. Joe E Young & The Toniks also started to venture further afield to play gigs nationally.
According to Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band guitarist Pete Gage, who would work with the band later in the year, it was Colin Young’s manager Ken Edwards, who owned the Cue Club who renamed the singer Joe E Young.
8 January 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
28 January 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
28 January 1967 – California Ballroom, Dunstable, Bedfordshire with Dave Berry & The Crusiers and The Crestas (website: www.california-ballroom.info/gigs/) (Billed as the band only but unlikely that Colin Young wasn’t fronting them)
28 January 1967 – Chalk Farm, London with The Vaudeville Band, The Soft Machine and The Hectic Poets (Billed as the band only)
4 February 1967 – Ricky Tick, Hounslow, Middlesex (Poster)(Billed as The Tonicks featuring Joey Young)
5 February 1967 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as Joey Young & The Tonicks Band)
11 February 1967 – Birdcage, Eastney, Hampshire (Dave Allen research)
11 February 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
17 February 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
17 February 1967 – Roaring 20’s, Carnaby Street, Soho, London
19 February 1967 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as Tonicks Band)
24 February 1967 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as Tonicks Band)
25 February 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
25 February 1967 – Roaring 20’s, Carnaby Street, Soho, London
17 June 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London (Billed as John Lee Hooker & The Tonicks)
24 June 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London with The Toys (Billed as the band only)
9 September 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
9 September 1967 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as Tonicks Band)
15 September 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
23 September 1967 – Royal Links Pavilion, Cromer, Norfolk with Soul Concern (North Norfolk News)
24 September 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
28 September 1967 – Klooks Kleek, West Hampstead, London
13 October 1967 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as The Tonicks Band)
From late October-mid-November 1967, Melody Maker reports that Joe E Young & The Toniks were resident band at the New All-Star Club but did not say if this was every night. In early November, Ruby James & The Stax were also residents.
21 October 1967 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as The Tonicks with Joey Young)
21 October 1967 – Ram Jam, Brixton, London
23 November 1967 – Klooks Kleek, West Hampstead, London
Sometime around October/November 1967, Joe E Young & The Toniks landed a recording deal with Vicki Wickham’s Toast label. Paired with former Ram Jam Band guitarist Pete Gage as an arranger, the band started to record material for an LP with producer Tommy Scott, which appears to have been cut over several sessions, starting in late 1967 and culminating with a final session in mid-1968.
According to Gage, it was Vicki Wickham (Dusty Springfield’s manager) who approached him via Rik Gunnell to arrange and produce Joe E Young & The Toniks. Gage believes that session players, which possibly included keyboard player Tim Hinkley and guitarist Ivan Zagni, who’d previously played with Mike Patto in The Chicago Blues Line and worked with his girlfriend Elkie Brooks in early 1968, may have been employed on some tracks. He also thinks that Colin Young’s friend Jimmy Chambers and American-born singer Ebony Keyes may have contributed vocals to the sessions.
Two of the earliest tracks to be recorded were two Pete Gage songs, co-written with Ebony Keyes (aka Kenrick Pitt), “Lifetime of Lovin’” c/w “Flower In My Hand”. Paired as a single, the tracks were issued on Toast in January 1968 but did not chart. Incidentally, the single also saw a South African release on the Continental label.
8 December 1967 – Burton Constable Stately Home, Hull, Humberside
9 December 1967 – Enfield Technical College, Enfield, Middlesex with Ten Years After (Poster)
9 December 1967 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
10 December 1967 – Ram Jam Club, Brixton, London
11 December 1967 – Hull University, Hull, Humberside
16 December 1967 – Royal Links Pavilion, Cromer, Norfolk with The Rubber Band (North Norfolk News)
23 December 1967 – Royal Lido, Central Beach, North Wales
25 December 1967 – Co-Op, Addlestone, Surrey
25 December 1967 – Cue Club, Paddington, London with Ronnie Jones, Owen Grey, The Youth and Herbie Goins
26 December 1967 – Shelimar Club, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
30 December 1967 – Israeli Student Association, West Hampstead, London
2 March 1968 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
30 March 1968 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
31 March 1968 – Cue Club, Paddington, London with Count Suckle Sound System (Billed as Tonicks Band)
12 April 1968 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
21 April 1968 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as Tonicks Band)
22-25 April 1968 – Cue Club, Paddington, London with Count Suckle Sound System
26 April 1968 – New All-Star Club, 9a Artillery Passage, E1, London
Sometime around April 1968, Wendell Richardson and Calvin ‘Fuzzy’ Samuel departed to form The Sundae Times, who landed a record deal with President Records thanks to their friendship with Eddy Grant. Conrad Isidore also participated but appears to have continued to play with Joe E Young & The Toniks simultaneously. It’s not clear why the two musicians quit the group they had helped to form but the fact that session musicians were employed on some of The Toniks’ studio recordings may have been a contributory factor.
Trinidad and Tobago-born siblings Kelvin Bullen (lead guitar) and Hugh Bullen (bass), who had started out with Reading, Berkshire band, The Soul Trinity, took Richardson and Samuel’s places.
Colin Young – lead vocals
Kelvin Bullen – lead guitar
Hugh Bullen – bass
Richard London – keyboards
Tony Bauman – saxophone
Denis Overton – saxophone
Conrad Isidore – drums
One of the first series of gigs that the new members appeared on was a short tour that Joe E Young & The Toniks participated in supporting American soul legend Aretha Franklin. Also on the bill was Johnnie Walker, Robert Knight and Lucas with The Mike Cotton Sound. One of the highlights was a show at what later became the Hammersmith Odeon in May 1968.
4 May 1968 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as Tonicks Band)
17 June 1968 – Barn Club, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts (Steve Ingless book: The Day Before Yesterday)
27 July 1968 – Cue Club, Paddington, London (Billed as Joey Young & The Tonicks Band)
18 August 1968 – Railway Hotel, Wealdstone, Middlesex
Melody Maker lists some gigs under the name The New Toniks, which may or may not be the same band. The ‘new’ prefix suggests that a new formation was put together and this writer would welcome any further information.
Selected gigs (New Toniks):
22 August 1968 – White Hart, London
23-25 August 1968 – Scotland
25-26 August 1968 – Manchester
27-28 August 1968 – Recording
According to Melody Maker, Colin Young joined The Foundations in late September and made his debut at Aberdeen University on 4 October 1968. By this point, Conrad Isidore had already jumped ship to commit to The Sundae Times full-time. With the band splitting, the Bullen siblings ended up joining Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers.
With the album ready to release, Toast quickly shipped a second single in November 1968, pairing the soul classic, “Sixty Minutes of Your Love” with Lennon & McCartney’s “Good Day Sunshine”.
Around the same time, the label also belatedly issued the Soul Buster! LP, highlights of which include one of the best covers of Darrell Banks’ “Open The Door To Your Heart”. Sadly, it was all too little, too late. With few copies pressed and scant promotion, the LP slipped out unnoticed. In subsequent years, however, it became a highly prized collector’s item, not least due to the band’s personnel and individual members’ post-Toniks career.
In a final, last gasp, Toast paired “Good Day Sunshine” with the year old “Lifetime of Lovin’” for a final single, issued on 31 January 1969, but it also failed to dent the charts.
Besides Colin Young’s chart success with The Foundations, original members Wendell Richardson, Calvin ‘Fuzzy’ Samuel and Conrad Isidore all went on to greater things.
Richardson was a founding member of Osibisa and subsequently worked briefly with Free. The guitarist also released a solo LP, Pieces of a Jigsaw in 1972.
During his time with The Sundae Times, Isidore also played and recorded with Alan Marshall’s band One, who released a rare eponymous LP for Fontana. After a stint with Manfred Mann Chapter 3 during 1970, he became a noted session player, working with the likes of Joe Cocker, Linda Lewis, Terry Reid, Vinegar Joe and Eddy Grant to name a few. He also later played with Junior Marvin in his band Hanson and with Hummingbird.
Isidore appeared on Stephen Stills’ first two solo albums, thanks to his connections with Calvin ‘Fuzzy’ Samuel, who landed the gig after Stephen Stills reportedly caught Samuel playing at the Bag O’Nails in March 1970 (possibly in PP Arnold’s backing band).
The bass player was hired for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, appearing on the single, “Ohio” and subsequently worked in Stephen Stills’s Manassas before also finding work as a session player, including with Graham Nash, Rita Coolidge and Taj Mahal. Samuel later wrote and recorded songs with Marianne Faithfull and Stevie Winwood and worked with The Alvin Lee Band and Tumbling Dice with Mick Taylor and Nicky Hopkins. In 1999, he self-released two CDs, This Train Still Runs and Love Don’t Taste Like Chicken.
Latter day member Kelvin Bullen went on to work with Swiss rock band, Toad, while his brother Hugh found success with the highly revered British funk band, Gonzalez after a spell in Italy with Herbie Goins. Hugh Bullen also cut an Italian solo LP, Feeling, in 1978.
Colin Young meanwhile went solo and recorded for Pye Records. He later joined UK group Mercy, Mercy who had a hit with “It Must Be Heaven” in the 1980s. Since then he has participated in various Foundations reunions.
Many thanks to Pete Gage for his recollections. I would be particularly interested to hear from anyone who can add or correct any of the information here.
A noted yet relatively obscure late 1960s rock/soul outfit formed by three former members of Joe E Young & The Toniks around April 1968, who cut a great lone LP, Us Coloured Kids, and a handful of singles for President Records.
Born in Antigua, guitarist Wendell Richardson had moved to London at the age of 11 and grown up in Tottenham. During 1966, he befriended fellow Antiguan-born musicians Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuel and Conrad Isidore, who were living around Stoke Newington, and the trio formed The Toniks (later joined by singer Colin Young aka Joe E Young). Through the local West Indian population, the trio got to know Eddy Grant and his band The Equals and became firm friends.
Having lost interest in The Toniks, Richardson and Samuel jumped ship in April 1968 shortly after the band’s debut single on Toast, “Lifetime of Lovin’” c/w “Flower In My Hand” had been released. Isidore, however, remained with The Toniks but agreed to help out on the pair’s next project, The Sundae Times, who landed a deal with President Records thanks to their connection with The Equals (Ed: Samuel reportedly played bass on some of their recordings).
With Eddy Grant producing and penning the trio’s first release, “Baby Don’t Cry” c/w “Aba-Aba”, The Sundae Times’ debut was issued by President on 7 June 1968 but failed to chart in the UK. In the US, the single appeared on the small Seville imprint the following month. German and Spanish releases also followed but somewhat bizarrely it was in Israel where The Sundae Times made the biggest impact. Released as the A-side, “Aba-Aba” broke into the top 10.
With The Sundae Times starting to pick up gigs and with further hits potentially in the pipeline, Conrad Isidore left The Toniks around September 1968 to commit to the project full-time. In retrospect, it was a sensible move as singer Colin Young quit The Toniks soon after to join British hit-makers, The Foundations.
With Isidore fully committed, The Sundae Times began work on an LP for President Records’ subsidiary Joy during the autumn of 1968 with Eddy Grant producing. Richardson dominated the song-writing, penning the tracks, “Angels In The Sky”, “Adam and Eve”, “Electric Tree” and “Jack Boy”, which graced the A-side of The Sundae Times’ second single, issued on President on 22 November 1968. Coupled with “I Don’t Want Nobody”, a Richardson co-write with Isidore and Samuel, the single failed to chart.
The three musicians also collaborated on three other tracks on the LP, “Take Me Back Again”, “Psychedelic Dream” and “Do You Know What Love Is”. Samuel meanwhile penned two tracks, “On The Run” and “Live Today”, which belatedly headed up The Sundae Times’ final single outing (issued on 13 March 1970), and was coupled with Eddy Grant’s “Take Me Higher Baby”.
By then, Samuel and Isidore had been snapped up by Stephen Stills for sessions for his debut solo LP. Samuel was working with PP Arnold at the time and Isidore was working with Alan Marshall’s band One, who’d cut a lone LP for Fontana during 1969.
While Samuel subsequently landed a gig with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (replacing Greg Reeves), Richardson formed Osibisa and Isidore joined Manfred Mann Chapter 3.
The Sundae Times’ own LP, Us Coloured Kids, had slipped out on Joy Records during 1969 and has since become an extremely rare, yet highly collectable item thanks in part to the Eddy Grant connection.
6 October 1968 – Mistrale Club, Beckenham Junction, Kent (Poster)
2 November 1968 – Weymouth Pavilion Ballroom, Weymouth, Dorset with The Firestones (Dorset Evening Echo)
13 December 1968 – Fishmongers Hall, Wood Green, Middlesex with The Action (Melody Maker)
For more on the band members’ post career, see the Joe E Young & The Toniks entry on Garage Hangover. I’d be interested if anyone can add or correct any information below.
Born in Jamaica in 1949, Donald Hanson Marvin Kerr Richards Jr, moved to London as a young teenager and at the age of 16 appeared in The Beatles’ movie, Help!
Based around the Stoke Newington area in North London, Kerr was inspired to learn the Hammond organ after hearing Booker T & The MG’s “Green Onions” and soon befriended local musicians, Calvin Samuel (bass) and Conrad Isidore (drums).
Together with Samuel, who he allegedly nicknamed “Fuzzy” because the musician played his bass through a “fuzz box”, the pair formed the short-lived Blue-Ace-Unit in late 1965/early 1966. The outfit played clubs around North London for about a year before Kerr moved on.
Around October 1966, he joined Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers (where he met guest singer Linda Lewis) and it was during this period that Kerr saw Jimi Hendrix playing at the Bag O’Nails in Soho. Inspired by his incendiary guitar work, Kerr started to practise guitar in his free time.
During September 1967, Kerr left Herbie Goins to form The Junior (Pretty Boy Kerr) Group. The Aldershot News lists the band playing at the “Big C”, a popular club on 1 Camp Road, Farnborough in Hampshire on 4 November. It’s not clear who else was involved in this band and whether it was the same line-up of musicians that became White Rabbit but Linda Lewis was featured as singer.
In July 1967, Polydor Records had issued Linda Lewis’ debut solo single, “You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet” but it had not been a chart success.
Towards the end of the year, Kerr and Lewis put together White Rabbit, which comprised lead guitarist Andy Rickell from Calne, Wiltshire groups, The Pack and J P Sunshine, and his friend (and former Pack member) drummer Terry Stannard, who’d recently been working with Freddie Mack & The Mack Sound. A photo of the group reveals that the group was a sextet and this author would be interested to hear from anyone who can add any further details about this short-lived band.
During the early months of 1968, White Rabbit toured France and Italy but after their return from the latter in April, Kerr decided to leave and briefly re-joined Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers for a few months.
In the late summer of 1968, Kerr ran into guitarist Mike Piggott, who had just left The System Soul Band, led by singer Ivan Sinclair. The pair formed a new outfit, Junior’s Conquest, who landed a regular gig at the Pheasantry on the King’s Road in Chelsea.
With drummer Pete Dobson and a bass player, who was replaced by John Best, Junior’s Conquest played together for about six months, including a show at the Broken Wheel in Retford, Nottinghamshire on 5 October 1968 and the popular West End club, Hatchettes in Piccadilly on 22-23 November 1968. However, according to Piggott, Kerr increasingly started to play guitar and after a short tour of Sweden in late 1968/early 1969, the group splintered.
While he was fronting Junior’s Conquest, Kerr had also participated in the London production of Hair on Shaftsbury Avenue, which debuted on 27 September. It was here that he met singer Marsha Hunt whose band he briefly worked with in 1969. The following year, Kerr would work with Keef Hartley and then move to the US before subsequently changing his name to Junior Marvin and finding fame with Bob Marley during the late 1970s.
I would be interested to hear from anyone who can add any further details to Kerr’s 1960s career.
A fascinating, yet short-lived band that included a number of notable musicians who went on to greater things.
The original White Rabbit line-up came together in December 1967 around singer/Hammond organist Junior Kerr and singer Linda Lewis, who’d met earlier that year as members of Herbie Goins & The Night Timers. Junior Kerr, incidentally, had started out with The Blue-Ace-Unit while Lewis had performed with John Lee Hooker in 1964 and sung with The Q-Set before they backed Maxine Brown and then Ronnie Jones.
The band’s guitarist Andy Rickell and drummer Terry Stannard had both previously worked together in Calne, Wiltshire band, The Pack during 1966 with future White Rabbit singer Rod Goodway. The trio had also played with another, albeit short-lived, Wiltshire group, Flower of Wisdom between February-June 1967.
When Flower of Wisdom broke up, Terry Stannard moved to London where he joined Freddie Mack & The Mack Sound, which is probably how he ran into Junior Kerr, who’d formed his own band, The Junior ‘Pretty Boy’ Kerr Group around October 1967. In fact, Stannard may well have been a member of this band after working with Freddie Mack.
Meanwhile, Rickell and Goodway began working with the studio project J P Sunshine, which they kept together after Rickell joined White Rabbit and Goodway was invited to replace Art Wood in the post-Artwoods band, St Valentine’s Day Massacre between January-April 1968.
The original version of White Rabbit was completed with two additional musicians, a bass player and possibly an organist, who may well have been Mick Aron. This author would be interested to hear from anyone who can throw any further light on the band’s formation.
On 24 February 1968, and billed as Junior Kerr, Linda Lewis and White Rabbit, they performed at the “Big C” club in Farnborough before travelling to France and Italy to perform.
On their return, Junior Kerr departed to re-join Herbie Goins and subsequently form his own band, Junior’s Conquest. In later years, he would change his name to Junior Marvin and work alongside Bob Marley. Terry Stannard also departed, later working with Alan Marshall’s band One and Kokomo among others.
Linda Lewis and Andy Rickell meanwhile pieced together a new version of White Rabbit during late April 1968. Rickell recruited his former Pack and J P Sunshine colleague, singer Rod Goodway, who’d left St Valentine’s Day Massacre, to replace Junior Kerr.
The pair also recruited drummer Ron Berg, who interestingly had also played with Freddie Mack & The Mack Sound during 1967. To complete the new version, they added Cyprus-born bass player Pete Pavli and organist Mick Aron, who may well have been in the original formation.
Almost immediately, the new White Rabbit left the UK for the south of France and performed at the Papagayo Club in St Tropez for three weeks, starting in the first week of May. The musicians were back in London for a notable gig at the Middle Earth club in Covent Garden, opening for Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band on 25 May. The group also opened for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in the following months.
In September 1968, however, Rod Goodway and Linda Lewis both left, the latter to embark on a successful solo career after fronting Ferris Wheel where she played alongside future Foreigner drummer Dennis Elliott. Pete Pavli also left to join High Tide while Mick Aron went on to work with Pete Brown.
Andy Rickell and Ron Berg kept the band going until November of that year, bringing in a number of musicians, including guitarist/singer Peter Jennings, who subsequently joined the group that became Cressida. On the band’s demise, Ron Berg joined Mick Abrahams’ post-Jethro Tull group, Blodwyn Pig while Rickell later joined The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
This author would be interested to hear from anyone who can add any further information. Huge thanks to Rod Goodway for photos and background information.
Samron Records had a great run, only three singles but all of them top-notch rock ’n roll, including this one, Thee Avantis’ “I Want to Understand” / “Nancy” on Samron S-103, recorded in late 1965.
“I Want to Understand” is the kind of single I never get tired of, featuring a neat guitar hook, solid bass and drum playing, the right amount of organ and great vocals. There are fine guitar and organ breaks, the entire song clocking in at 2:27.
The other two singles on Samron are Ognir & the Night People’s “I Found a New Love” (Nehring, Marusak) / “All My Heart” (Nehring, Molinaro), released on Samron S-102 in October 1965 and the Five Flys “Livin’ for Love” / “Dance Her By Me” on Samron S-104.
Samron was run by Ronald Magazzu, and I suppose someone named Sam was also involved. The first two singles listed Magazzu Productions in Hazleton, PA, while the label for the Five Flys changes the town to Coaldale, PA.
I’ve read Thee Avantis were from Scranton, but I found a notice in the Hazleton Standard-Speaker from March 5, 1966 listing the band for a Sunday Dance at the Fiesta Room in Hazleton, about an hour’s drive southwest of Scranton.
I only know the names of two members of Thee Avanti, Nick Fata on bass and Robert Schnessel who wrote both songs. Magazzu Music Co. published both songs.
The Conductors came from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, cutting the great “She Said So” as the b-side to their June 1966 single. Members were:
Larry Borgess – lead vocals Chad Fenstemaker – lead guitar Skip Kreitz – rhythm guitar Regan Meyer – bass Barry Hirsh – organ Danny Brungard – drums
Barry Hirsh and Larry Borgess left to join Prince Charles & the Royaltones. Mike Ranck replaced Larry until the Conductors split.
“She Said So” is a stomping fuzz and organ rocker written by Barry Hirsh, with taunting lines:
You gotta stay home and watch the kids tonight, Because she said so, But I wanna tell ya, Better sit up and say that everything’s not right, Because you said so.
You gotta break free, Stand on your own two feet, Stop doing things that you don’t want to do, Just because she said so!
The original A-side “Whatever’s In Your Smile” is light pop, but worth a listen, it too was written by Barry Hirsh, and features harmonies, piano and a lighter touch on the guitar.
Publishing was through Hi-Mar Music and Ronbeth Music BMI, both of which had other copyrights, most notably Ronbeth with the 7th Avenue Aviators “You Should ‘O Held On”.
The Conductors single came out on Dater DT-1303/4 in June, 1967. Dater was owned by Dave Chackler, and had one other single that I know of, the Soul Generation “I Can’t See You” / “Big Boss Man” on Dater DT-1301. The A-side has the Starlites doing a drier, stripped-down version of their classic on Bar-Clay, “I Can’t See You”. The label notes produced by Dave Chackler for Peter Warren Enterprises. The Starlites came from Reading, PA, 100 miles southeast of Williamsport, so I wonder how the Conductors connected with Dave Chackler.
Something Obviously Borrowed are another mystery to me. Their only single is a good two-sider, released on the same J.R.P. label as the Shadow Casters.
“Tell the People” is upbeat, with typical lyrics of the time (“Now is the time to tell the people, all about love”). D. Geinosky and L. Carr wrote the song; they were probably members of the band.
“Joan” is laid-back rock, with a feel something like Loaded-era Velvet Underground, the singer intoning “please come on home, Joan”. Writer credit is to the producer, James Ruff, but members of the Shadow Casters noted he put his name on one of their compositions, “Going to the Moon”.
James Ruff Productions probably paid for recording time and pressing of the single on J.R.P. 004, sometime after April 1968. J.R.P. labels list an address in Aurora, Illinois. Sandpiper BMI published both songs but I don’t see a copyright listing for either. The code TM 2665/6 indicates Chess Records’ Ter-Mar studio in Chicago.
Something Obviously Borrowed seems to be the only other release on JRP besides the Shadow Casters, and also seems to be rarer than their singles.