The Contents Are (after the LP) from left: Paul Staack, Mick Orton, Dave Neumann and Craig Hute)
|Dave Neumann – lead guitar and vocals
Craig Hute – 2nd lead guitar and vocals
Larry Smith – bass and vocals, replaced by Mick Orton – bass, keyboards, vocals
Paul Staack – drums and vocals
The Contents Are came from the Quad Cities area by Davenport, Iowa. High school students Dave Neumann and Craig Hute were in the Blazers when they decided to form a new group to pursue a more original and harmonic direction. Adding Larry Smith and Paul Staack, they started playing live shows in the area, including Cedar Rapids, IA and Rock Island, Illinois.
In April of 1967 they entered the Fredlo studio in Davenport and recorded “I Don’t Know” and “Direction of Mind”. Craig Hute wrote both songs, with arrangements by Dave Neumann. The 45 did well locally, selling as many as 1,000 copies, though it’s pretty scarce nowadays. It’s one of my favorite 45s, I don’t think there’s anything else quite like this band in the ’60s. They have a calm, melancholy sound and their lyrics really stay with me.Once the band was out of high school and mostly attending college, they played shows as far away as Champaign, Illinois and Minneapolis.
Later in 1967 or early ’68 they returned to Fredlo to cut an album of originals by Craig Hute. These are just as good as the single, my favorite being “If You’re Relaxing”. Marianne Dean played piano, oboe and sang on the album.
The band pressed 100 copies and gave them away, and it is now incredibly rare. This record was mostly a rumor until a demo copy surfaced in 2005. Shadoks reissued the album, adding a little color to the line drawing that was the front cover. The original back cover was bland, but the Shadoks release has a photo of the band and and info on who sang or played on each song. There’s also an insert with entertaining notes by Craig, but he doesn’t mention many details of the recording sessions. He does say Mercury bought the Rok 45 for national release which never came about.
The Contents Are had one last single release, “Future Days” / “New Mexico” on Rok Records 6907, which has the same harmony qualities even though the guitars are heavier.
The Contents Are, later promotional photo
The group stayed together for four years then split amicably as members went in various directions. Larry Smith and the band’s road manager Christy Peake moved to Portland, Oregon to work on acoustic guitars. Mike Orton (Mick) of the Todd Beat Group replaced Larry Smith, and in the early ’70s the band moved to the Denver and Boulder Colorado area where they changed the band’s name to Tabernash.
Their second bassist Mick Orton sent in the later promotional photos seen here and wrote to me about the group:
Paul Staack would also join Silver Laughter after their first drummer departed. Craig Hute continued writing music and recording on two-track and, more recently, digitally.
The Contents Are have little presence on the internet, other than some reviews of their album and the titles of their songs. The album has one photo of the band, are there others out there?
Information on Silver Laughter from Mick Orton’s website. On that site you can also hear a couple of the demos the band recorded in Chicago, including Craig Hute’s excellent, rocking “Head Collect”, and a live version of Mick’s “All Around”.