The Stairway to the Stars came from the Pittsburgh area, but cut this 45 for the Brite-Star label out of Newberry, Ohio, near Cleveland. Newberry is only a couple hours from Pittsburgh, but the labels indicate a Nashville base.
One side has a moody, echoing vocal, “Cry”, written by Tom Sellosi and Dave Benard. The intensity grows for the short recitation at the end.
On the flip is “Dry Run” a great instrumental featuring a lot of tremolo on the guitar, a strong three note riff that sounds like a keyboard more than guitar, and a long and dissonant middle section for the lead break. Phil Dirt pointed out the similarity of the opening melody to the Vistas “No Return” on Tuff, but the Stairway to the Stars really expand on that theme in the rest of the song.
John Barbero produced the 45. The Rite account number is 728 and the release numbers are 17909 (“Dry Run”) / 17910 (“Cry”), released in September or October 1966.
The Library of Congress has a registration for “Cry” from September 12, 1966, to David Benard and Thomas Sollosi. The “Dry Run” label lists T.R. Sollosi, but this song wasn’t registered.
Teen Beat Mayhem indicates this came with a picture sleeve, which I’ve never seen. Anyone have a scan of it?!
On 45 cat, DeadWax suggest the band could have been from Monongahela, outside of Pittsburgh.
The Secrets’ “Somethin Good For Me” / “Love” has as obscure an origin as any single out there. The band may have been from southern Illinois or eastern Missouri, but I don’t know anything definite yet. The only name I can associate with the group is Ivan White who wrote both songs.
“Somethin Good For Me” is lo-fi perfection, offering plenty of atmosphere over a chunky rhythm, a pleading vocal and a simple but apt lead guitar break.
“Love” slows it all down and substitutes accordion for the rhythm guitar. I’d put up a clip but my copy gets scratchy sounding on this side.
Released around 1967 on Raven 18569/70, with production credited to “Div – JLJ Enterprise”. This is a Rite release, as was the other Raven release I know of, Johnny Apollo “You’re Sixteen” / “Shake the Hand of a Fool” on Raven 17829/30 from a year or two earlier, with J. Hutcheson credited as director.
Rite 286 is found in the deadwax, an early Rite account number dating back to 1960. 286 was used for at least two other singles: the Harmony Echoes single “Wonderful Guest” / “Gospels Singers Heaven” on Echo CP-6759/60 from 1961, out of WFRX 1300 AM, West Frankfort, Illinois, featuring Joe Williams, Phyllis Williams, Rolla Martin and Don McCool.
Also for Amateur 11421/2, the Coachmen “Lonely Rider” / These Memories of You”, folk & pop from 1963 out of Maplewood, Missouri with J. Buchman credited on the label.
Maplewood is just west of St. Louis, and 115 miles northwest of West Frankfort. It seems possible the Secrets come from this area of southern Illinois or eastern Missouri.
The Classics came from Chatham, New York, a town about 30 miles southeast of Albany. I live not far from the village and my daughter goes to the local public school, so I’ve been very interested in learning more about this band. Donnie Mettauer is the only member’s name I know of; I hear he is deceased.
In March of 1966 the band released four songs on a Rite-pressed 7″ EP with the Ram Records label. I’ve heard all four songs and can attest to the veracity of the old G45 description:
The four songs cover a lot of ground stylistically from the cute pop-fantasy (not psych) of “Pink Cats” through sweet harmony pop (“I Don’t Wanna Be Around”), and a restrained, double-speed rendition of the “Bo Diddley” classic. However, it’s “Mean Woman” that we’re here to talk about…a chunky, chugging riff-driven garage mover further propelled by clean stuttering electric lead lines, rumbling toms and call-and-answer vocals. A stunning release, rare as hen’s teeth.
In June of 1966 the band traveled to Nola Recording Studios at 111 West 57th St. in Manhattan. Also known as Nola’s Penthouse Studio or “The Penthouse Sound Studios of V.J. Nola” on the early acetate labels, the studio was a capacious room that opened circa 1940 on the 17th floor of Steinway Hall. The studio was owned by Vincent Nola and his son Tommy Nola. It closed in February 2014 due to construction to extend the building’s height.
Almost no one has heard any of the four songs the Classics cut on two unreleased demos recorded at Nola. I’ve been fortunate to hear one, “The World Can’t Take Time” which was backed by a song called “Bright Orange Clown” on one of the discs. The second demo has “Little Bo Peep” / “Baby Baby”.
There has been talk of a re-release of all eight songs, but so far nothing has come through.
There weren’t many bands in the Columbia County area in the 1960s. There were the Fownds (or the Founds) from Hudson who had two releases on Reeb. Another notable single is by the Kynds, also from Hudson. The Kynds recorded at a studio in Kinderhook run by Earl Kennett, but I have yet to find any other recordings from that studio.
I’d appreciate any more information about the Classics.
The Malcontents (or Mal-Contents) cut an excellent single in early 1967, “(I’m a) Roustabout” b/w “Motivated Action”.
Members were all Norwood High School students:
Larry Groves – lead vocals, rhythm guitar Bob Mathis – lead guitar, harmony vocals David White – bass guitar Jan Elstun – drums
Bob Mathis wrote “(I’m a) Roustabout”, and lead singer Larry Groves wrote the great guitar instrumental, “Motivated Action”. With one side appealing to garage rock fans and the other a winner with the surf and rockin’ instrumental set, this record is in high demand these days.
Issued on the band’s own GEMS Records label and pressed by Rite Record Productions, which was based in Cincinnati. The release number 18347/18348 would date it to late 1966, but early 1967 seems more likely – fellow Norwood High student Joe Morgenroth wrote a letter to the Enquirer published March 4, 1967 about the Malcontents upcoming record.
Notices show bookings at Granny’s on Lytle Ave in Elsmere, Kentucky for a show on Friday, October 28, 1966 opening for the Denems, and a show on Sunday April 2, 1967 at the Lakeridge with Ivan & the Sabres and the Missing Links.
The Enquirer’s Teen-Ager supplement featured Jan Elstun on its August 20, 1966 cover, with a short article inside noting the band played regularly at the Millstone in the basement of the Zion United Church of Christ and the Footprint, a teen club on Montgomery Road.
The only info I could find on Goodly Rubenson was an article from September 6, 1968 that mentioned they would be playing the second dance at the Hillsdale Teen Club on 77 N. Broad St. in Hillsdale, Michigan the next day. I suppose they were local to the south-central area of Michigan around Hillsdale.
This 45 comes from the same month as that show, released on a Rite Press, Stonehenge 22889/22900. It is a low-fidelity recording, but has a lot of appeal, especially the top side, “Inside Outside”. That song and the flip “Crystal Love” were both written by Gaulin, no publishing info listed. Ray Lantz produced the 45.