The Pentagons cut one 45 at Audio Dynamics Studio, with the great rocker “About the Girl I Love” on the b-side. There’s a fine sense of urgency throughout the song starting from the opening bass line that immediately grabs the listener. I was surprised to learn it was played not on a bass but a Doric organ. Mistakenly listed as a Massachusetts band in the www.ugly-things.com database, the band was actually from Connecticut, as organist and song writer John Coggeshall informed me:
I was the founder and lead singer of The Pentagons; a four-man group (yes, I know, a pentagon has five sides) based in Montville, Connecticut between 1964 and 1969 (our high school years at Montville High School). We featured Steve Morse on Kent guitar, Gary Lamperelli on C-melody sax (until I, uh, accidently kicked it down the stairs so he had to go buy a tenor sax like the Dave Clark Five had), Dave Lemieux on drums and me on Doric portable organ (it had the most bass notes of all the portables and there were no bass guitar players at Montville High).
We originally recorded on acetate at Thomas Clancy Recording Studio in New Haven studio before Audio Dynamics; “Summer’s Over” and “The Walk”, a pretty good vocal rock tune with a good hook. It predates our Audio Dynamics effort by about a year.
(© 1974 by John Coggeshall, used with permission)
We cajoled my grandfather into springing for some studio time in Stafford Springs, CT. Audio Dynamics was the only close and easily accessible studio we could find (Stafford Springs up a country road or two from Uncasville, if I remember correctly. There were no recording studios in the Norwich/New London area at the time, ya know, there was next to nothing in the way of any professional music business in that area at the time).
We recorded two songs I wrote on the Audio Dynamics label: “About The Girl I Love” and “Summer’s Over.” “Summer’s Over” the “A” side of our record is pretty depressing and forgotten. “About the Girl I Love” is the tune that has legs. Who would have thought that song, a “B” side, done in a few hours one afternoon, would be remembered and currently on two limited release compilation CDs [Gravel vol. 3 and Quagmire vol. 5].
Audio Dynamics seemed somewhat fly-by-night to me (set up in an old theatre with obviously moved-in equipment, difficult to reach by telephone, vague publishing promises, very rough-cut 45 rpm records, etc.). I think the huge theatre is what gave us that reverb sound. Also, can’t complain about the heavy density bottom, since we never had a bass player except my left hand and, that early on, I didn’t have the best concept of how to imitate a real bass guitar player, (on “Summer’s Over”, which was supposed to be the “A” side, I was playing three-note chords for the bass part on some of the song—real dumb), but the studio made my left hand sound pretty bass guitar-ish on “About The Girl I Love”.
I also had ties to The Breakers out of New London, CT, who took a song I wrote, “She Left Me” through various Battle of the Band competitions, eventually landing an MGM Records contract, releasing a bubblegum tune, “Jack B. Nimble” that went nowhere and is barely mentioned on the Internet and un-findable. I have “She Left Me” and “An Always Time” written by me and performed by The Breakers on acetate, before they became The New York Thruway.
(© 1968 by John Coggeshall, used with permission)
Then there’s New London based Davy Jones and the Dolphins, who actually did a soundtrack to a “B” Hollywood movie, “Hellcats”, that barely survives mention, and who actually had Columbia Records release their song, “Shannon” a pretty good number, and that’s NOWHERE on the Internet. And yet, beyond all those major league labels, better recordings and “A” sides, “About the Girl I Love” is the one that survives for posterity.
We play New London’s meaner nights,
The “backdoor” clubs, the dance floor fights,
Rowdy Norwich Rooftop fans,
Who punch Steve out whilst in the can.
That high school gym was so fantastic,
Tossing chairs and making baskets,
Trashcans on the roof by Dave,
Who claimed we were “The Purple Sage”,
And after we had done all that,
How come they never asked us back?
(from My Garage Rock Band ‘65 – ‘73, © by John Coggeshall)
It was a backstreet New London club on the first floor of an old house, and people would walk by and throw lit firecrackers through open windows onto the dance floor while we played and people danced. Talk about a showstopper. My dad came to pick us up at the end of a gig one night, and a fight broke out on the hood of our family station wagon.
In regard to “Burnt Toast,” that’s The Pentagons minus our original drummer, Dave Lemieux, and with our original sax player, Gary Lamperelli, taking over on drums and us playing as a threesome. After we all graduated from high school in 1969, the group split up and three of us went to colleges in different states, and one went to air conditioning school (I think). After the end of our freshman years, we, for the first time in our teenage lives, had to get REAL summer jobs (during high school, our weekend Pentagon gigs made us enough money to keep our parents quiet regarding that “Get A Job!” syndrome). But now, it was GENUINE WORK time: me at the Thermos Factory on swing shift, Steve at McDonald’s, I think, and Gary sweeping up at his dad’s famous nightclub, “Lamperelli’s 7 Bros.” on Bank St. in New London.
About halfway through those backbreaking months, I met up with Gary and his dad and we hatched a brilliant scheme: for the following three years, his dad (and the other 6 brothers) would hire us for the summer, every night, at less than what the club was paying other bands, and for advertising purposes we would re-name the band every week and say we were from a different big city (“Burnt Toast from Miami”, “Direct from Las Vegas, ‘Fistful of Worms’, etc. etc.). We cut our personnel to three to make more money apiece, and the club always let us pick the band name and didn’t much care what it was, thus, “Running Sores” from Boston, “Prep H” from Detroit—I remember making posters: cardboard stock with a real slice of burnt toast nailed to it, to place outside the club. Actually, the scheme worked great for three summers, and none of us had to get anymore real jobs through college. I loved that New London club (pretty well-known, it turns out), and Gary’s dad and uncles.
At the end of our run (around 1973), I wrote a three-page epic poem about the beginning, middle and end of The Pentagons. It covers every highlight and lowlight we experienced. I have had a lengthy time in the entertainment field, the legal profession and even politics (the meeting place of law and entertainment) since then.
John “Cog” Coggeshall.
A special thank you to John for his help with this article, including all photos and the transfer of the acetate of “The Walk”.
Update, September 2010
John has a new CD, John Cog: Bay Blues available on CD Baby with previews of the songs. Proceeds go towards restoring Chesapeake Bay.
Update, January 2014
John announces the upcoming release of the second and third volumes of his Bay Blues trilogy, Bay Blues Fools and Bay Blues 3 Times The Legal Limit.