Sunday, February 27, 2011

In Dan’s Garage…#54

Upstate N.Y Vol. 5

Check these babies out!!! I could have put a cool pic of The Groop Ltd. or The Young Tyrants on the front of this, but I went with this photo of The Genesee Breweries’ three gigantic holding tanks dressed up like cans o’ suds! I usually don’t drive by the brewery too often, but I was heading downtown via St. Paul St., caught a glimpse of these and said to myself, “self, you gotta use this pic for the next post!”! Genesee has been around for as long as I can remember, and has been the beer of choice among Rochestarians for decades. Is it the best??? Not really, but it’s a decent “cold” beer that’s very refreshing, and it’s a hell of a lot better and cheaper than Budweiser, the worst beer on the planet. Stay away from the Cream Ale stuff though. It’s pretty raunchy. Apparently folks outside of Rochester love that stuff. I guess there’s no accounting for taste. There used to be a Genny “Red” that my best buddy Marty O’Keefe swore by, but they stopped making that a while back. That used to be pretty damn good beer. Every year around this time they brew a “special edition” Bock Beer which I must say is rather tasty and a 12 pack runs well under $10.
bock beer1
I love the cheesy old style can too!
bock beer2
That reminds me, I really should go out and get some before it’s all gone ‘cause when they’re out, there’ll be no more till next year!!! A while back a company called “High Falls” bought out what was formally known as The Genesee Brewery. This was a good move because quality was not very consistent, and these guys took care of that. They also contracted the brewery to guys like Sam Adams (yes they brew Sam Adams in Rochester for this market), some stuff called Dundee’s Honey Brown, Smirnoff Ice Malt Beverages, and good old “Genny”. Here’s a pic of the brewery from a distance….
In 2009 a capital investment firm called KPS Capital bought the brewery and it went back to Genesee Brewing Company under North American Breweries which also handles Labatts Beer from Canada, another very tasty product.
I really didn’t want to make this a history lesson on Rochester Breweries, but I love beer and since this is a post on Rochester and upstate NY I figured what the heck. There used to be some stuff way back when called Standard Dry Ale and Topper, but they closed up in 1970 and the building suffered a gigantic fire shortly afterward. I remember that happening when I was a kid because the brewery was practically around the block from where I lived.
And so goes the story (in brief) of Rochester’s rich brewing history. We also had quite a few rock and roll bands who were probably drinking up gobs of these suds at one time or another, myself included. This will be the last in this series of Upstate NY posts (for now) and is slightly thinner in content than the previous, but let’s emphasize quality not quantity on this one OK? Kind of like a 6 pack of Double Dog IPA in a sense. There are a couple from downstate also but since they’re good old New Yorkers, we’ll let ‘em pass. So without further adieu….NUMBER 54!!!!!!
Groop LTD. – As Time Goes Bye / Tomorrow (1964)groop ltd2
groop ltd
A real popular group from Irondequoit who were a big Beatles cover band. They travelled to Buffalo to record this Beatlesque gem, and is one of the finest rock and roll 45s to come out of Rochester.  Featured Kim Kapli who would later show up in The Heard. Read more about them HERE.
Shandels – No Way Out / Treat Me Like A Man (1965)shandels
Okay, this isn’t an “Upstate” group, in fact, I think they’re from Long Island, but it’s one of the coolest 45s I’ve ever heard and somewhat unique in that it has no guitars. What they do use for a lead instrument is a thing called a Cordovox, essentially a keyboard that sounds like an accordion (although Cordovox did indeed make accordions so the jury is out on this one) and they use it to great effect too. Excellent, moody folk rockish garage!
Invictas – Stuff / I’m Alright / Long Tall Shortie / Opp Poop Pa Do (1964)invictas reissue1
invictas reissue2
invictas reissueA
”Music so raw and wild, it was frightening”. Those were a sample of words from the liner notes on the back of this E.P. released in 1980 to coincide with the return of the Invictas who had gotten back together at the time to wreak havoc on bars in the Rochester area. Four unreleased cuts left in the can from what I would presume to be a Fine Recording studio session. Different takes, or versions of Stuff, I’m Alright, Long Tall Shortie, and the unreleased Opp Poop Pa Do . I’m not sure if if these were the original versions or remakes of the singles, but I think they’re superior to the “official” releases nonetheless.
Druids – Doctor Friend / She’s Got A Secret (To Hide) (196?)druids
Superb moody garage from the Buffalo area, whose lyrics make some outside references to drugs ala “Doctor Roberts” or “Mr. Pharmacist”. The flip is a cool Zombies type number.
Little Peppy with The Bare Existence – It Can Happen! / Since You’ve Gone Away (1966)little peppy
Little Peppy was Marlene Torre, a local Rochestarian who gave it her best shot on this groovy 45 backed by The Bare Existence, a group that I wish I knew more about. Real typical Fine Recording production on this one….
Young Tyrants – I Try! / She Don’t Got The Right! (1967)ytyrants1
If ever there was a bona fide garage classic from Rochester, this would have to be it (OK The Heard is a classic too, but who’s counting???). The Tyrants, “Those Rocking Rulers” as it read on their business card, were guys that went to East High School here in the city and modeled their name after the Young Rascals, although they certainly didn’t sound much like them. I Try, is one of the greatest garage punkers ever, and the flip “She Don’t Got The Right” is a slow moody number that builds up near the end with some blood curdling screams. There’s a great story about this 45 too. At one time this was regarded as one of THEE rarest local garage 45s until guitarist Carl Lundquist caught wind of the fact that it was becoming a treasured garage classic. Well, he apparently had an entire unopened box of these stashed away, and was actually selling them at a Chesterfield Kings show. He even signed one for me….
Not to be outdone Carl also made an appearance on “The Boss Beat” around 1986 (I was there) with good friends Mick & Mike, and you can hear that interview HERE. I’ve included this cool pic too…
For a more detailed interview check out this one that Greg Prevost of the Chesterfield Kings did a while back with singer Louie Grillo.
Stingrays Of Newburgh – Fool / If I Needed Someone (1966)sting-ays of newburgh
Let’s travel downstate a bit to Newburgh, NY in the Hudson Valley where these guys put out this great 45 with some nice blistering guitar work.
Monterays – Conquistador / If Wishes Were Horses (1968)monterays2
We heard The Monterays from Syracuse in Vol. 2 of our Upstate series doing a straight up garage tune reminiscent of the era. Fast forward three years and we see how “progressive” rock and psychedelia took over. The flip of this one apparently made it to #88 on the Cashbox charts. This is a decent version of Procol Harum’s classic hit, and these guys claim to have done this first before the Procols had a hit with it, but I’m not too sure of that…
Terry Pillittere – It’s Not That Way / You Wouldn’t Believe Me (1967)terry pilittere
Terry Pilittere was the guitarist and singer in Brighton’s Wee Four who’s ”Weird” is another bona fide (what again???) Rochester classic. This is a solo effort from Terry that was recorded and released on Nu-Sound in ‘67. Although this isn’t a “killer” by garage standards, it’s still a cool moody 45, and I’m pretty lucky to have scored a metal acetate of it much less a stock copy.
Weird Street Carnival – Subterranean Edible Fungus / The Inner Truth (1967)weird street carnival
A group from Mt. Kisco, NY which is a bit closer to NYC but considered “upstate” nonetheless, gave us this very cool 45 which is a great parody of Dylanisms and other stream of consciousness style lyrics. The Inner Truth on the flip is even better. If you want a real in depth look at this group, check it out HERE.
Trillium – Queen Alice / News (1968)trillium
Sometimes you hear a song and say ”that’s near perfect”. I’m very much an aficionado of 60's garage bands, and I love great punkers and crude garage rockers and the like, but I really have a soft spot in my heart for finely crafted psych songs that kinda get you “right here”, you know what I mean??? If you don’t, then one listen to “Queen Alice” will answer all of your questions. A superb arrangement of 12 string guitars, farfisa organs, cool bass lines., and to add icing on to the cake, it’s in stereo. Terry Davis was the genius behind all of this and ironically, he did a short stint with my former band The Riviera Playboys back in 2005.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Dan’s Garage…#53

Upstate N.Y. Vol. 4

Happy Sunday everyone! We had a nice little thaw here in Rochester this last week, which shaved down these gigantic hills of snow that were covering the landscape, but unfortunately we went back to snow wind and cold yesterday. Well….It was a nice break while it lasted. I was working on the “artwork” for this post, and I couldn’t for the life of me find a suitable band pic, you know, an act that's featured in this volume. So with baseball’s spring training commencing, I decided to put this picture of the front gate of the old Red Wing Stadium on Norton St. where our AAA team The Red Wings (natch) used to swing the bats. This pic is from a 1962 game where they were playing the Atlanta Crackers!!!! Note how many old folks are going through the gate. I guess it must’ve been an AARP day! This was a real old timey type place that had an open outfield with no seats as you can in this pic from 1958 where they’re playing the Miami Marlins…
They closed the old stadium in ‘96 and moved the team downtown to Frontier Field, a real nice place to go see a ballgame. Here’s another cool pic, this time it’s one of the ‘81 team…
Great! OK, let’s get back to some Rock & Roll shall we? I have about 50 tunes left to post so these next two volumes wont have quite as many songs on them, but you’ll enjoy it just the same. If I run into the same problem with the next post’s cover, I may just do a tribute to Genesee beer! Cheers!
Frank Sandy with The Mel Thomas Trio – Tarrantela Rock (1958)frank sandy
Hilarious attempt at taking the Italian equivalent of Hava Nagila, and trying to make a Rock ‘n Roll tune out of it. I guess ol’ Frank did pretty well, because this was picked up for national distribution by MGM.
Gene Cornish – Let’s Do The Capri / Lonely I Will Stay (1963)gene cornish1
As we all know, Gene was the guitarist in The Young Rascals, but before he hit the big time he was a local hero and scored several local hits including this teen number from around 1963.
Invictas – Stuff / I’m Alright (1964)invictasstuff
Here’s the 1st 45 from these hometown legends, and it’s a great example of how wild their shows were.
Madisons – Stagger / Only A Fool (196?)madisons2
Here’s another 45 from Syracuse’s Madisons, again, done in do-wop greaser style with backing vocal group. I can’t pinpoint a date on it, but the wah-wah guitar on the intro suggests it’s post 1966. Very interesting to see do-woppers still going at it at that point, however, The 4 Seasons were still churning out hits at the same time, so what do I know????
Blades Of Grass – It Isn’t Easy / My Someone (1970)blades of grass
Here’s a stumper. Let’s fast forward to 1970 shall we? This is where we find a group that I would assume is from Rochester, releasing a 45 on Fine Records, and it’s pretty decent too, kind of like “Pushin’ Too Hard” by The Seeds, but wasn’t there already a group called The Blades Of Grass who released an album of lightweight sunshine pop on Jubilee Records???? Someone once told me these were the same guys, but I can’t find any references anywhere that would indicate such a thing. Does anyone out there know for sure who these Blades Of Grass were??????
Coachmen – Drambuie / Land Of Olden (1966)coachmen
A real crude, moody two sider from Rochester. The Coachmen were led by a guy named Dick Leschorn who was the guitarist on these tracks and wrote the classic “Drambuie”. Dick also played with Rochester legends The Quirks who unfortunately had no official releases (BUT there are 3 or 4 songs from the Fine Records archives floating around!), and later formed a local group called Old Salt who were an extremely popular and successful act in the 70’s. Dick is now a solo artist.
Declaration Of Independence – House / Next Stop Dead End Street (1967)declaration of independence
A group from Morrisville, NY which is somewhere between Syracuse and Utica, although they are considered a Syracuse area act. They relocated to NYC where they recorded two fine 45s, this one being the second. Both records show two different sides of the group. On the one hand they had a great pop sensibility, and on the other they did some great garagey folk-rock.
Rogues – Train Kept A Rollin’ / You Better Look Now (1966)rogues2
Another heavy hitter from Audition Records. This time we get The Rogues who were one of Buffalo’s top bands in the ‘60s. This one’s about as solid as a two sider gets with an ace rendition of “Train Kept A Rollin” backed with one of the finest folk rock janglers ever “You Better Look Now”. I can see why The Chesterfield Kings chose to include a fantastic cover of the latter on their debut LP.
Sure Cure – Anything You Want / I Wanna Do It (1966)sure cure
Ed Wool and The Nomads were one of the most popular acts in Watertown, NY which is in a relatively remote area of the state called “Tug Hill’ at the east end of Lake Ontario near 1000 Islands where it becomes the St. Lawrence river. I swear they must get about 100 feet of snow a year in that area. Anyway, Ed Wool had a great 45 on RCA Victor called “I Need Somebody” and then followed it up with this single as “The Sure Cure” on Parkway. He later did one as The Pineapple Heard and an LP and several 45 as “Wool” who we’ll get to later in this post.
The Charles – Motorcycle / Down By The Riverside (19??)charles
This one here is one of my favorites. I don’t know much about The Charles except that this was released on a Buffalo, NY label, and that the infamous “Dr. Dirty”, John Valby was the keyboard player on these cuts. I can’t say for sure if this is a late 60s or early 70s cut, all I know is tat both sides are great, especially “Motorcycle”, a classic biker anthem if I’ve ever heard one.
Tweeds – We Got Time / I Want Her To Know (1967)tweeds2
The second 45 by this great Buffalo group. Check out their first in IDG #52.
Utica Club Natural Carbonation Band – The Utica Club Natural Carbonation Song (1968)utica club2
utica club3
utica club1
There aren’t too many breweries in New York State, in fact aside from Genesee (or High Falls Brewing Corp.) , Saranac, and Brooklyn Lager, I can’t off hand think of any others. Oh, there's plenty of micro brewers, but not too many that do it on a large scale like Genesee. I do recommend Southern Tier IPA. It’s freakin’ awesome. An explosion of flavor in every sip. Utica, NY. Now there's New York’s Mecca for brewing! Utica Club was a very popular brand back in the 40s through the 70s, and then they fell off the face of the earth. They recently have made a comeback and are one of my top 10 cheap beer choices! Utica is also the home of Saranac Brewing, a mass producer of high quality brews that are a tremendous value. Every year they do a “12 Beers Of Winter” and a “12 Beers Of Summer” package, and they are both great! Oh, I forgot to mention this 45 which was part of a “hip” ad campaign by Utica Club Beer in 1968. It’s not all that bad and has a “Green Tambourine” style echo break in the middle!
Livin’ End – La La / Round, Round (I’m Your Clown) (1969)livin' end
Don’t know much about this late 60’s effort, except that it was recorded here in Rochester at “Up Tight Sounds” in my old zip code (which means this was recorded right in my old neighborhood!), but was released on a Syracuse label. Great fuzz guitar workout on the A side. (Actually I did find some valuable info on these guys. This band evolved from Sam & The Twisters one of Syracuse's most popular groups in the 60s. The Twisters backed Baron Demon on "Transylvania Twist" and released a 45 as The Original Soundtracks on Lawn records.)
Wool – Combination Of The Two / The Boy With The Green Eyes (1969)wool
Here we see Ed Wool again, doing a Big Brother & The Holding Co. thing. They got to release this one fairly decent LP and then had a few 45s that were kind of progressive on Columbia records. Ed Wool is still at it entertaining folks with a band that features a horn section. Thanks Ed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In Dan's Garage…#52

Upstate New York Vol. 3

Welcome back to another volume of our “exploration” of Upstate NY bands. In the last volume we heard a bunch of Rochester, NY groups. On this one I’m back to mixing it up in and around the state, so buckle up and take another spin around “The Empire State”.

Humans – Warning / Take A Taxi (1966)
Probably the second best garage 45 ever (IMHO), this one is equally as vicious as The Heard 45 only these guys had an organist!!!! Seriously though, if you don’t agree with my assessment, you gotta admit it’s ranked pretty high on the coolness level. The Humans were from Albion, NY a canal town about 30 min. west of Rochester. As you can see, this was another 45 released on Audition which also had The Heard, The Vaqueros, and The Rogues (they'll be featured in an upcoming volume) a literal grand slam of great records if you ask me.
Angry Men – Come With Me / Love Is Gone (1966)
angry men
These guys shouldn’t be confused with another local group called The Angry Young Men who were from Henrietta.  I can't find any solid info on this moody garage ballad except that 986 Joseph Ave. is now a church.
Tweeds – What’s Your Name / A Thing Of The Past (1967)
The Tweeds were from Buffalo and apperently were quite popular from 67 to 69. The band acquired bassist Billy Sheehan in 1969 and then changed their name to Talas in 1970 and became one of western NY’s most popular hard rock acts in the 70s. I remember them playing at the Penny Arcade, Rochester's #1 rock club of that era many times. Billy Sheehan went on to become one of Rock's premier bassists and played in David Lee Roth’s band and Mr. Big. Guitarist Dave Consatntino and drummer Paul Vargo reformed The Tweeds and continue playing to this day.
Invictas – The Hook / Do It (1966)
As you’ve probably already noticed, The Invictas were one of the more prolific local groups in terms of vinyl produced. They even had a full length LP at the time which as we all know was a really big deal back in those days. For some reason the guys re-did The Hump and called it “The Hook”. This isn’t just a voice over, but a completely different take, and a much faster and ballsier one than the original Hump. The flip “Do It” is also great and I remember The Projectiles covering both of these back in the 80s.
Edge Of Darkness – Mean Town / So Many Years (1967)
edge of darkness
One of the coolest upstate 45s ever. Cool ambiance, and wicked organ and fuzz guitars. These guys were from Oswego, NY, a college town situated on Lake Ontario about 45 min. east of Rochester They were led by bassist Sam Domicolo who now does a solo gig down in Florida.
Wee Four – Weird / Give Me A Try (1966)

wee four
Another popular local group from Brighton, a suburb southeast of Roch., who left us with this garage/punk masterpiece. Guitarist Terry Pilittere would leave the band in ‘67 and release a solo 45 on the same label. Aside from recording these two songs, there is a test pressing floating around with an extra track!
Endless Knights – Don’t Shoot Me Down / I Love You (1966)endless knights
These guys were from Syracuse and do a great cover of The Zombie’s “I Love You” (actually the A side) on the flip. They once opened a show for the Rolling Stones, McCoys, Standells, and Syndicate Of Sound. Screw Woodstock, there's a concert! This was co-produced by Warren Schatz and was released on a label out of Levittown which is on Long Island. Go figure….
Monterays – I’ll Be Around (1965)monterays1\
The Monterays were another bunch out of Syracuse and are still together today claiming to be the longest running musical act in western NY. They released this, their second 45 with The Madisons on the flip. Dig their backline and matching guitars. Way cool!
Madisons – Valerie (1965)madisons
As you can see, this is the flip of the aforementioned Monterays 45. Apparently 500 of these were pressed which would make this one pretty scarce. Although they were featured on the ”History Of Syracuse Music”, I've seen references to them being from Utica. In any case, this tune has a real teen do-wop thing going, but they're backed by a garage combo. About midway through the singer kind of freaks out and breaks down cause he can't live without this chick and at the end he totally loses it. Awesome.
Saints & Sinners – Ooh Pooh Pah Doo / Mercy Mercy (1966)saints and sinners
I’ve included this this one because Long Island & “city” residents consider New Rochelle “upstate”. This was recorded “live” at The Glen Island Casino, a real ritzy joint which was once Glenn Miller’s stomping grounds.  Both sides of this 45 are raunchy sounding frat rockers.
Show Stoppers – If You Want To, Why Don’t You / Once More With Love (1966)showstoppers2
Going back to Rochester, we have the second 45 by the fantastic Show Stoppers. I was just a young lad of 6 or 7 when these guys were doing their thing, but nearly EVERYONE I talk to that was around during ‘66 and ‘67 remembers these guys and how great they were. This one here is my favorite and a local classic.
Other Half – I Won’t Be Back / It’s Been A Good Bay (1966)other half
The Other Half were formed at Hartwick College which is in Oneonta, smack dab in the middle of New York State. This one’s a great two sider, both moody folk rockers.
Ron Wray Light Show – Speed (196?)ron wray
Ron Wray was a Syracuse DJ and the driving force behind the “History Of Syracuse Music” compilations. I also suspect Eciep was his label too. This one here is a crazed, fuzzed out “instrumental” with what I gather is Ron belting out “speeeeeeed baby……ohhh…..I need some speeeeeeeeed”.
Don Bombard & Headstone II – Satisfaction Is Guaranteed (196?)donbombard
The flip of “Speed” and look…It’s autographed by Don himself!!!! He was another big Syracuse DJ who moved to Pittsburgh in the 70s and the hit NYC and became an important radio guy there working for WCBS. Headstone II backs him on this track also, doing a decent job of Van Trevor’s “Satisfaction Is Guaranteed”, but I’m not exactly sure who that group was as this is the only 45 they appear on, or that I know of anyway…..
Unsettled Society – 17 Diamond Studded Cadillacs / Passion Seeds (196?)unsettled society
Wow, this 45 has such a creepy feel to it. It’s definitely a late 60s release with the wah wah guitars, but it’s so lo-fi, it sounds like it was recorded in a rubber room with one microphone in the corner. This group might be from Baldwinsville, which is north of Syracuse, but I can't say for sure. This one's real obscure.
Al Peluso – You Ain’t Going Nowhere / Blue Teardrops (19??)al peluso
Al Peluso was originally from Utica and moved down to North Carolina where he was in the Counts IV which released a few 45s, most notably “Spoonful” on Date records. He eventually moved back to New York where he did a solo thing and released this great folksy cover of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere”. Certainly not garage, but I like it!