Category Archives: Rhode Island

The Specktrum

The Specktrum Somethin' Groovy 45 ConfettiI can’t find out much about the Specktrum. The band may have been from Cranston, Rhode Island but I’ve also seen them listed as from Abington, Massachusetts, which is south of Boston and an hour away from Cranston.

In February, 1967 they put out a single on Somethin’ Groovy Records SG-500 featuring two originals by the band, “Confetti” by R. Moore, K. Jeremiah and “I Was A Fool” by R. Schmeisser, K. Jeremiah. Publishing was through Exciting Music BMI but I can’t find anything in BMI’s database on these two songs or the writers.

The Specktrum Somethin' Groovy 45 I Was A Fool

The Malibu’s and Bastille

The Malibus from left: Joe Brocolli, Peter Place, Pete Bulger and Jack Henehan
The Malibu’s, from left: Joe Brocolli (guitar), Peter Place (keyboards), Pete Bulger (drums) and Jack Henehan (guitar)

The Malibu's Planet 45 Cry (Over Her)The Malibu’s “Cry (Over Her)” is a garage classic that made it to the first volume of Back from the Grave in 1983. It was the Malibu’s first single, written by Jack Henehan and released in 1966 on the Planet label. Stock copies on the blue Planet label are rarer than the white label promo copies like the one I own.

“Leave Me Alone” is also credited to Henehan but it repeats the chorus tag “until I can think about her without feeling sorry for myself” from the Zombies’ “Leave Me Be”. In other respects the lyrics and arrangement are different from the Zombies song.

In 1968 or 1969 the band re-recorded “Cry” in a faster version without the rough edges and ferocity of the original. The flip was a very pop song with harp, “I Miss You”, co-written by Jack Henehan and Joe Broccoli.

The Malibu's Planet 45 Leave Me AloneThis 45 was issued with bumper sticker (see below), and also as a Pepsi flexi-disc.

There’s an oft-repeated rumor that the band was from Litchfield, Connecticut, but Ray Renzi, who joined Jack Henehan’s next band, Bastille, wrote to me:

None of the Malibus were from CT. All of them were from Rhode Island, most if not all, from Cranston. Three of them were fraternity brothers of mine at URI. The Malibus consisted of Jack Henehan, Joe Broccoli, Peter Place, and Pete Bulger.

They changed their name to Bastille with these same four members and played together under that name for a while. Joe left the band after he graduated from URI and left RI either for a job or for the military, and we formed the group that included Rick Nielsen, Sam Gingerella and myself with Jack, Peter and Pete.

Later Pete Bulger left the band and we hired Jim Szydlo, who played in my previous band “The Mirage” to play drums. This is when we recorded our 45 with “Music Ship” which showed up on a compilation CD (LeBeat Bespoke Vol 3) in England a few years ago. Later Peter Place went on active duty with the Navy and my brother Lou joined the band. There was one more version of the band after I left in 1973 or 1974.

I stay in touch with the guys that I played with and I have worked in some duos with my brother, Rick, or Jack. Rick and I are producing a CD (OLDZKOOL – The Ray Renzi Project) which should be done in about a month. My brother Lou from Bastille plays bass and sings on it. The other musicians are my brothers Len and Ken, my sister Dianne, Dave Maher on sax, George Correia on drums, Rick and myself on guitars.

Ray Renzi

Malibu's Bumper sticker included with the second release of "Cry"
Bumper sticker included with the second release of “Cry”

The Malibu's Malibu 45 Cry (Over Her)Original member Joseph Broccoli wrote to me in February, 2011:

I was an original member of the Band, the Malibu’s and can fill in some blanks from the early days of the band. The original incarnation of Broccoli, Henehan, Place and Bolger formed the band in 7th grade and continued playing throughout high school and then college. We were all from the Cranston/Edgewood areas of RI.

We played for multiple high school and frat parties, private parties, yacht club parties, WPRO appearances and for Cherry & Webb’s fashion shows. We were also involved in several “Battle of the Bands” competitions throughout the New England area. We were also managed by Ralph Stuart from the Biltmore downtown and we played for quite a few debutante balls and exclusive weddings and parties in the New England area alongside his formal big band. We also played in the RI Veterans Memorial auditorium, fronting headliners such as The Four Freshmen and The Byrds.

The first two singles, “Cry” and “Leave Me Alone” were recorded in Myron Fluff’s [Myron Arnold’s] studio in Providence. “Miss You” was recorded in Boston in the same studio that Patti Page recorded “Old Cape Cod”.

I left the band in August of 1971 to begin a graduate degree at the Univ. of Michigan. We changed the name to The Bastille because were continually played at The Bastille, a club in Newport, RI.

Joseph Broccoli

Bastille photo: Sam Gingerella, Pete Bulger, Rick Nielsen, Peter Place, Ray Renzi and Jack Henehan
Bastille, prior to recording the 45, from left: Sam Gingerella (sax), Pete Bulger (drums), Rick Nielsen (guitar), Peter Place (organ), Ray Renzi (guitar) and Jack Henehan (bass and lead vocals)

Bastille 45 Trying to Be FreeBastille gigged around Rhode Island and Vermont and cut “Trying to Be Free” / “The Music Ship” in 1973. I haven’t heard the A-side, but “Music Ship” has good freakbeat-style guitar work, hard drumming (with a cowbell) and heavy organ backing. Ray Renzi and Jack Henehan wrote both songs.

Thanks to Ray for info on Bastille and the photo of the group, to Mike Markesich for the scans and transfer of the second Malibu’s single, and to Yourek for the scan of the Malibu’s bumper sticker.

Note: These Malibu’s are not related to the ones who cut “I’m Cryin'” for the Quill label or the Macon, Georgia group who did “I Want You to Know” / I’ve Gotta Go” (both by David Luckie) for the PJ label, or the soul group who did “It’s All Over But the Shouting” / “A Broken Man” on White Whale. Or other Malibus like the ones who cut “Humpty Dumpty Was Making Out”, “Hey Hey Hey” or “La Da Da”.

Essex St. Journal

Essex St. Journal Planet 45 Progression 256The Essex St. Journal were from Walpole, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston but but this one 45 on the Planet label out of Providence, Rhode Island.

The A-side “Walk On” showcases a bleary vocal matched with the guitarist’s wah wah; it’s never been comped. I prefer the flip, “Progression 256” an adaption of “Money” with plenty of excellent sustained and occasionally out-of-tune lead guitar (not a bad thing in this case).

Both songs are by David Rediker and Dave Norton and published by Ramford Music. I’ve read this is from 1967, but I’d say they recorded this in 1968, after many listens to Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire.

Essex St. Journal Planet 45 Walk On

Satan’s Breed

Satan's Breed A-L-M 45 Laugh Myself to the GraveThis Rhode Island group cut the demented, organ-driven “Laugh Myself to the Grave” in 1966. The flip is the doo-wop like “Little Girl”. Both sides written by Albert Aubin, R. Lemme, D. Moretti, and thus the label name: ALM.

Satan’s Breed made another 45 as the Angids (or Angi-Ds), “I Like Girls” / “C’mere Woman”. This one is even cruder than “Laugh Myself to the Grave”. No organ this time, just guitars, drums and some bleating saxophone. There’s inane whistling on “I Like Girls”, while “C’mere Woman” has the vocalist delivering some unsavory lines in his a voice akin to the Novas’ “The Crusher”.

The Balladeers

The Balladeers were from Woonsockett, Rhode Island. In the summer of 1965 they traveled twenty miles north to Framingham, Massachusetts to record this 45 at Continental Recording Studios. It appears to have been the first record released on studio owner Tom Flynn’s Cori label.

“Words I Want to Hear” is an original by Robert Allen, who may have been in the group. The song starts with a subdued atmosphere of just acoustic guitar, percussion and solo voice. Bass and harmonies add momentum until the cathartic moment when the guitarist breaks into the chorded solo.

“High Flying Bird” is one of those songs that bridged the transition from folk to rock, like “House of the Rising Sun” and “Hey Joe”. Written by Billy Ed Wheeler and originally recorded by Judy Henske, it was covered by many groups, including We Five, the Jefferson Airplane and the Canadian band the Plague, who do a great psychedelicized version. The Balladeers take is as excellent as any of these.

Roland ‘Skip’ Boucher wrote to me about how he built Continental Recordings with Dan Flynn and his brother John Flynn. Skip also told me about a release I hadn’t known about – the Balladeers first 45 on the one-off E.P. Scroggs label, also recorded at Continental:

We built the studio in 1962. We were just out of high school and rented space on the second floor of a building in Framingham. We made the walls out of plywood and filled them with sand to soundproof them. In the picture you can see a door, which is also plywood and filled with sand and there is a small interlock and another plywood door leading to the control room.

Balladeers 45 Cape Cod Here We Come on EP Scroggs
The Balladeers first 45, also recorded at Continental

I met the Balladeers in the spring of 1964 and that’s when we recorded “Cape Cod Here We Come” and it was released in early summer of 1964.

They were a very good group. Really national level in their talent. “Cape Cod Here We Come” was not in their usual repertoire. They normally did pieces that were similar to the Kingston Trio. They were almost too polished for the ’60’s. If they had been a little rougher, I think they would have fit better with the times. Their style was more of a late ’50’s style.

They had a great sound though and it was great to work with them in the studio, because they were so good.

Dan, John and I worked at WBZ in the summer of 1963 and 1964. In the fall of 1964 I went to work full time for Channel 38 in Boston and that reduced the amount of time that I could spend at Continental. I signed up the Harvard Lampoon to do an album that parodied folk and rock groups. They arranged for musicians from the Berkley school of music and they funded the upgrade of an 8 track recorder for us [Continental].

I also worked on the electronics, building a power supply for the main mixer, because the original one had never worked properly and Dan had been running it from a pair of 12 volt batteries. I did a number of radio and television commercials at Continental with people I knew at Boston TV and radio stations.

I also designed and laid out several of the album covers, including the Rising Storm and others, but I was not involved in the recordings anymore and Dan brought in a new partner at some point in the late sixties. I think this partner’s focus was on bands, so he may have been involved with the groups you mentioned. Later, Dan became more involved with radio station jingle packages.

Dan still has what remains of Continental at his home. He has a small studio and recording equipment and has a large collection of old master tapes. However, I did go through them a couple of years ago and they didn’t seem to go back to the early days.

“Cape Cod Here We Come” was written by J. Martone. In March 1967, the Balladeers released one additional 45 on the Seven Seas label, “Used to Be” / “Goin’ Out of My Head”, which I haven’t heard, but is considered light vocal pop.

Thank you to Skip Boucher for his help.

The Cowsills – in memory of Barry Cowsill

Barry Cowsill, the group’s bassist, had been missing in New Orleans since the hurricane in September, but this week his body was identified.

I originally posted this record a while back – by odd coincidence I found this 45 in New Orleans last year. I’ll repeat it in his memory, especially as these are rare tracks never put on any Cowsills cd that I know of.

The first incarnation of the Cowsills consisted of four brothers, Bill, Bob, Barry and John, from Rhode Island, managed by their dad.

“All I Really Wanta Be Is Me” / “And the Next Day Too” was their first 45, very fine folky teen garage, released on Johnny Nash’s Joda label. Supposedly it was the only record on which they played the instruments instead of studio musicians until they recorded their “In Concert” lp in 1969.

When this 45 was recorded in 1965, Barry would have been only 10 or 11 years old. Within a couple of years the Cowsills went pop with their mom Barbara and sister Susan singing along.