Saturday, March 21, 2009
One of the HOTTEST acts of the '70's was The Carpenters. Brother and Sister Richard and Karen Carpenter ran up a string of twenty Top 40 Hits between 1970 and 1981 ... and they found their music virtually EVERYWHERE!!!
Their first A & M single was a slowed-down remake of The Beatles' classic "Ticket To Ride". (It hit #54 in 1970). Next came "Close To You", a rare Hal David - Burt Bacharach composition that bombed for virtually EVERYBODY else who recorded it until Karen lent her perfect vocals to the tune. (We discussed several years back how TV's Dr. Kildare, Richard Chamberlain, was the FIRST artist to record this song. It wound up on the B-Side of his 1963 Hit "Blue Guitar". Even Bacharach - David muse Dionne Warwick failed to have a hit with this song!) "Close To You" topped the pop charts for The Carpenters in the Summer of 1970 ... and was followed by ANOTHER #1 Record, "We've Only Just Begun", which was a song originally featured as part of an Insurance Company television jingle!!! Next came "For All We Know", from the film "Lovers And Other Strangers" (which was anonymously written by Bread members James Griffin and Robb Royer, who won an Academy Award for their efforts!) The beautiful ballad "Superstar" (#2, 1971) came from the pen of rocker Leon Russell ... and "It's Going To Take Some Time" (#12, 1972) was written by songstress Carole King, who included it on her "Music" LP. "Sing" (one of those annoying songs that made our "Guaranteed Gaggers" list) was first done on the children's television series "Sesame Street"! "I Won't Last A Day Without You" bombed for its songwriter Paul Williams the year before ... but when The Carpenters did it, it soared to #9 on The Cash Box Chart. They scored a #15 Hit when they redid Neil Sedaka's song "Solitaire" in 1975, and today that song is considered an American classic. In early 1975, The Carpenters hit #1 again when they did an updated remake of The Marvelettes' tune "Please Mr. Postman" and the following year they hit #12 when they revived Herman's Hermits' "There's A Kind Of Hush." 1976 found them revamping a song from the 1930's when "Goofus" went to #56 and the following year they took "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft" by Klaatu, a group rumored at the time to REALLY be The Beatles, all the way to #24. As we said, the source of their material was really QUITE outstanding ... yet they made everything from Sesame Street to Motown to Album Rock work with their soft-rock arrangements.
One of the songs mentioned as a remake by both Scott Shannon on The True Oldies Channel and Joel Whitburn in his Billboard "Top Pop Singles" Book is the #2, 1972 Hit "Hurting Each Other." Both sources credit Jimmy Clanton as the first to record the song ... and he did, in fact, release it as a failed single in 1965.
But while working on another project, we received this email from Forgotten Hits Regular Tom Diehl, who told us:
I tend to think the Ruth Lewis version may actually be the true original version (in spite of it not being released until the following year) given that the guys who wrote the song (Geld & Udell) also wrote the flipside of hers and produced both sides as well.
Hmmm ... interesting ... kind of goes to the whole "Gimme Some Lovin'" discussion we had last week ... can the originator of the song actually record and release the "cover version" of that song???
We won't solve THAT debate anytime soon ... but what we WILL do is feature all three versions of "Hurting Each Other" ... 'cause THAT's what Forgotten Hits is ALL about!!!
The big hit version by The Carpenters
The recognized "original" version by Jimmy Clanton
The REAL Original Version (???) by Ruth Lewis
(a pretty soulful version actually!)
Friday, March 20, 2009
Another well-known Grass Roots Hit is "Midnight Confessions" ... which was first recorded by The Evergreen Blues Band. "The River Is Wide" (truly a GREAT Forgotten Hit) was first a semi-hit for The Forum ... and Marmalade (the group who scored here with "Reflections Of My Life" in 1970) had the big British hit with "Lovin' Things". On the other side of the coin, Rob Grill regularly tells his audience that The Grass Roots originally passed on the song "Don't Pull Your Love", which went on to become a HUGE Hit for Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds.
But we've found that the song that has the most UNIQUE set of circumstances surrounding it has to be their first Top Ten Single, "Let's Live For Today".
Check out the story behind THIS song!!!
(NOTE: You MIGHT want to grab a scorecard first!)
Then a group called The Skope heard the song and attempted to do a literal English translation of the lyrics ... all of a sudden "Piangi Con Me" became "Be Mine Again". They released THAT as a single ... and it quickly proceeded to bomb.
Next, a New York group called The Living Daylights liked the melody enough to re-write the lyrics and, for the very first time, "Piangi Con Me" and "Be Mine Again" became "Let's Live For Today". Although The Living Daylights record got a little bit of airplay in New York City ... enough to make it a Top Ten Hit on the WOR Survey, it STILL wasn't a hit nationally, as most people outside the New York market never had a chance to hear the song.
Incredibly, next The Rokes ... you remember The Rokes, right??? The Italian group who FIRST recorded this song as "Piangi Con Me"??? ... Well, after The Rokes heard that their song was getting played on the radio in The United States as "Let's Live For Today", THEY decided to record it again ... only in English this time ... and released THEIR version of "Let's Live For Today"!!! Unfortunately, this version bombed, too!
Then, in 1967, the song FINALLY made its way to California and into the hands of The Grass Roots, who recorded it ... in English ... using the "Let's Live For Today" lyrics ... and went on to have the first of their three Top Ten Hits. It's gone on to become both an oldies radio and classic rock staple. (Famed Chicagoland sportscaster even shared with us the fact that he lost his virginity to this tune!!! I know, I know ... WAY too much information!!!)
But wait!!! Believe it or not, there's MORE to the story!!!
Way back in 1961 The Drifters recorded a song called "I Count The Tears" ... give a listen to THIS tune and see if the chorus doesn't sound just a little vaguely familiar.
According to Carl Wiser's Songfacts website (http://www.songfacts.com/), who interviewed Geoffrey J. Felder, son of legendary songwriter Doc Pomus (who WROTE "I Count The Tears" for The Drifters), his father never pursued any type of legal action against any of the parties involved with the various recorded versions of the song we all know and love as "Let's Live For Today". Here's what he had to say about it on the Songfacts site:
The "Sha-la-la" chorus is very similar to The Drifters' hit "I Count the Tears," which Pomus and Shuman wrote. Pomus was upset about the obvious similarity, and even though lawyers called him to suggest that he should sue, he did not. The main reason was because he was not that kind of person. If you were a thief and stole from him, as long as he could still support himself and his family (and no one was physically injured of course) he would let it go. He felt that you'd get what you deserved in the end. The other reason was that at the time the song was released he was under contract with Hill & Range (later to become Warner / Chappell) and they would have had the authority to sue and not him.
-- Geoffrey J. Felder, son of Doc Pomus
Oh yeah, one more thing ... as if all of this isn't already complicated enough, did you know that there are actually TWO sets of lyrics sung on The Grass Roots' hit version? A different vocal mixed was used for the mono and stereo versions ... because of this, one says "I need to feel you ..." "inside me" / "deep inside of me" and the OTHER one says "beside me"!!!
Listen for THIS incredible story when Scott Shannon does his next "Remakes Weekend" on The True Oldies Channel! Meanwhile, now you know the story behind the song!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
"Georgianna" by The Princetons went all the way to #10 on both the WLS and the WCFL Charts back in 1966.
When you're putting together that list of songs that ABSOLUTELY should have been a hit, THIS one belongs right near the top. (In fact, they scored an earlier local hit with a remake of "Roll Over Beethoven" as The Princeton Five in 1964, right around the time that The Beatles' version was being played all over the radio. The Princeton Five version peaked at #38 on the WLS Chart. Their version of the rock classic "Summertime Blues" showed up as an "Extra" on The "Top Tunes Of Greater Chicago" Chart a few months later.)
The Princetons (a group of guys who got together at Princeton University, natch!) did a VERY credible remake of "Georgianna", a song first recorded by The Critters of "Mr. Diengly Sad" / "Younger Girl" fame. (In fact, the song was written by Critters' Lead Singer Don Ciccone, who would later go on to join The Four Seasons.)
If you were listening to our Chicago AM Giants on your transistor radio under your pillow late at night back in 1966, odds are you'll remember hearing this song. (And odds are you haven't heard it on the radio since!!!)
Click here: Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58
Monday, March 16, 2009
In the film, Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac play former members of an R & B group called The Real Deal, a group fronted by John Legend, who left the trio to pursue a solo career and has recently passed away. The remaining back-up singers decide ... somewhat hesitantly ... to reunite to perform at his farewell memorial service.
It's hardly a classic film comedy (although it DOES have its moments) ... and Jackson and Mac do pretty much exactly what you expect them to do in any of their film roles. (Jackson is an over-the-top, foul-mouthed maniac and Mac does his usual schizophrenic teetering between being the voice of reason and just a little bit crazier than Jackson.) The film is probably MOST notable for the fact that co-stars Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes died within a day of each other just before the movie was originally released in theaters.
It also, however, has an OUTSTANDING '60's Soul Soundtrack and, if you can get past the language, it's a pretty entertaining film to watch. (We watched it with our thirteen year old daughter, who laughed at all the right parts, but had to be constantly reminded that this is NOT the way to talk ... in fact, we probably apologized every minute and a half or so for what was being said and / or shown on screen!!! lol) Jennifer (Yo Stink Bitch) Coolidge has a HILARIOUS bit part, too, as one of the groupies who goes back to their hotel room.
Legend does a fine job of covering "I'm Your Puppet", first a hit for James and Bobby Purify back in 1966. (It hit #6 on the national pop charts and notched a point higher on Billboard's R & B Chart.) You will hear this one from time to time on the oldies stations but the duo's other Top 40 Hits (Wish You Didn't Have To Go, #35, 1967; Shake A Tail Feather, #25, 1967 and Let Love Come Between Us, #23, 1967) have all long since disappeared down the oldies radio sewer.
James and Bobby Purify were actually cousins James Purify and Robert Lee Dickey. (In fact, when Bobby decided to leave the act in the late '60's, James attempted an unsuccessful solo career. In 1974, he teamed with Ben Moore, who became the new "Bobby" in the stage act.)
The Box Tops also did a nice version of this song on their first album, "The Letter / Neon Rainbow".
Today we've got all THREE for you. (Join us in the madness ... let's see who quickly you can get this tune out of YOUR heads!!!)
James And Bobby Purify
The Box Tops
(NOT the kind of song you expect to hear this guy sing ... but he does a VERY credible job with it!)
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Even with some of the members of these bands on our mailing list ... and local contacts who are regularly in touch with former members of "The Union", we've had a difficult time assembling enough information to put together an "interesting" piece ... but this year ... thanks to a little help from our friends ... (Marlene O'Malley and Guy Arnston in particular!) ... we've FINALLY got something VERY nice to share with you!
Now, in all fairness, we've certainly given ample time to BOTH of these artists in the past ... in fact, we kicked off this special weekend series with a salute to each of them! As I just mentioned, we have typically saluted The Ides Of March every year on The Ides of March ... and The Cryan' Shames have ALWAYS been one of our favorite local bands ... so we've given them ample space in our Forgotten Hits pages over the years, too. But, quite honestly, I don't EVER recall seeing a significant piece written on the joined forces of these two artists ... so I figured that I may as well just do it myself!!!
For starters, thanks to Guy Arnston, who published "The Illinois Entertainer" back in its hey-day ... and Jeff Lind, who wrote that OUTSTANDING series on "The History Of Chicago Rock" ... ... we were able to put together a little something from that great series to share with you here today. (Sadly, Jeff passed away last year, so he won't even get to see it ... but his series has become the definitive source for the Chicagoland Rock Scene of the '60's and '70's. Guy Arnston is in the process right now of assembling and updating ALL of those pieces to be published in "coffee table" book form as a fitting tribute to the artists and music of this very special era.)
Along with Guy, we've got to tip our hat to Marlene O'Malley (aka "Rock On Chicago") ... and one of "The Shameless Babes" ... who helped put us in contact with some of the principle members of this late '70's version of The Cryan' Shames, lending this whole piece a "We Were There" perspective that we could have otherwise never achieved. (Sadly, we were NOT able to gather ANY perspective from The Ides Of March camp in time for this piece ... hopefully, after they see this posted on the web page, we'll be able to offer follow up comments from the likes of Chuck Soumar and Larry Millas, who were ALSO there at the time!) Hearing from a few of the band members who participated in The Ides - Shames Union REALLY helps to top things off this year ... and, as such, we're able to fill in a few more gaps in the story.
Here Goes ... our Forgotten Hits Tribute to The Ides - Shames Union!!!
(P.S. Efforts to track down ANY recorded material ... live or otherwise ... have failed miserably!!! When all was said and done, we've got exactly ONE track to share with you today ... but even that can be considered a World-Wide Exclusive Premier!!! If ANYONE on the list happens to have access to any other recordings by this version of the band, we'd LOVE to hear them ... perhaps we can do some type of follow-up feature somewhere down the road. In talking with the guys involved in this brief venture, THEY'D like to hear them, too!!! Likewise with photos and memorabilia ... virtually everything you'll see here today comes from The Cryan' Shames' website ... we'd love to share some MORE photos from back in the day if you've got them!)
First up, here's the bulk of Jeff Lind's original History Of Chicago Rock piece (with some current updating by Guy Arnston):
I seem to remember you were looking for more info on the Ides-Shames Union, a Seventies band that rose from the ashes of two of Chicago's most beloved groups, the Ides of March and the Cryan' Shames. I found mention of the Union in one of Jeff Lind's original History of Chicago Rock chapters. Here is what he had to say back in August of 1980, with a few alterations:
The Cryan' Shames farewell concert was held at the Cellar in December of 1969 ... Less than six months later, in the summer of 1970, the band got back together for a one-week series of concerts at the urging of WLS Disc Jockey Dex Card, who wanted the band to play at his Wild Goose Productions. It was a memorable week, full of surprises from the group, including a guest appearance from Jim Fairs. After the one week, the Cryan' Shames all went their separate ways. Jim Fairs went back to performing with a band called Cross (aka Hezikiah), who also had J. C.Hooke for awhile. Lenny Kerley and Dennis Conroy were back in their new country band, Possum River. Al Dawson also got into country rock. Toad (Tom Doody) gave up on music completely: "I didn't even listen to the radio." And so it remained for a period of almost four years. Hooke ended up as percussionist in a band called Jotto, while Kerley fronted Goodfoot. Fairs had done session work with Pearls Before Swine and was also a member of a Champaign-based band named Afterbirth. Toad was living in Minnesota when he heard about the breakup of the Ides of March (in November of 1973, leaving a third RCA album unreleased). He relates, "My friend Larry Millas, who was their bass player, gave me a call and we kicked around the idea of putting a band back together. I really felt like I still had talent, and I missed the music scene. We chose the name The Ides - Shames Union because we knew it would get us some better gigs, even though it sounded hokey." Besides Doody and Millas, the group included Chuck Soumar (from the Ides) on drums and trumpet, Don Melton on keyboards (he later played with Steve Dahl in Teenage Radiation), and John Pavletich (formerly with Orphanage) on lead guitar. Besides playing the hits of both bands, the group got into a newer sound that today would be called power pop. After about a year as the Ides - Shames Union, J. C.Hooke was lured away from Jotto, and Fairs from Afterbirth, and the band became the Cryan' Shames. When Chuck Soumar left, Ron Kaplan came in to play drums and Randy Ponetowski was added on keyboards to complete the group. Press coverage of the new group was prolific, but they lived up to their expectations in concert ... For two years, the group played at local clubs and bars, but they broke up for good in 1977. Of course, everybody knows that the Cryan' Shames were revived by Jim (Hooke) Pilster, and are still playing these days. And the Ides also got back together, and are leader Jim Peterik's outlet for songs he's written for the Ides, Survivor, 38 Special, and others.
Guy Arnston in Algonquin
I think Dex Card was more upset about the break-up of the band than WE were! We agreed to do a series of appearances at his Wild Goose clubs as a way of saying goodbye to the fans. He actually cried the last time we performed.
-- Jim Pilster (Hooke) / The Cryan' Shames
Dex Card was the popular WLS afternoon jock who used to countdown the WLS Silver Dollar Survey every afternoon ... he opened up a string of nightclubs where he hosted any number of local talent acts on any given night ... and clearly, The Cryan' Shames were amongst his favorites. (kk)
I was fortunate enough to see The Ides - Shames Union perform at a downtown bar called Rush Up ... the band performed up in the loft for the patrons below. Sadly this was the beginning of The Disco Era ... and fewer and fewer rock bands were getting live performance gigs, having been replaced by deejays and light-up floors!!! Another big peformance for the band took place at B'Ginnings, a club owned at the time by Chicago (as in the BAND Chicago ... get it ... Beginnings?!?!?) Drummer Danny Seraphine. I found these pictures on The Cryan' Shames' website ... ironically from a concert that took place on my birthday back in 1975!!! (kk)
This was us ... musical, vocal and all original material rock and roll. We came at a time when glam rock and disco were king. Our musical inspiration was from a different generation. We wanted to let people know from where we came. That's why we called ourselves the Ides - Shames Union. We tried to seek a different personality, but this is a hard thing to do when you had success being who you were.
All this said, the band sounded great live. About 10 yrs ago a fan let me hear a recording of the Ides - Shames at a local club ... and I was blown away at how good it sounded.
We added new members. Jim Pilster ... I was always most comfortable with him on stage with me. Chuck left (he needed more stability in his life) and we added Ted Kalamatas, another great jazz style drummer. At this time we added another lead instrument to our group ... Randy Poiniatowski on Hammond Organ. He could really play and the sound of two keyboards was super. John Pavletec took his leave ... too many smokey clubs and not enough recognition. He was replaced by Jim Fairs. I don't have to tell you about Jim's chops. I think at this time we replaced Ted with Ronnie Kaplan. He was the last drummer we had with the Shames. After all these changes we were still sounding great live, but not attracting an audience ... so we disbanded.
Looking back, I am sorry that Don and John did not get the recognition they deserved as song writers ... also that a larger audience was not able to hear the group live. It is hard to catch magic twice. Also, as a lead singer fortunate to have hit records, you are always going to be recognized for that work. I was still able to sing ... I thought pretty good, by the way ... but it was not new or different enough to carry the day. This (and perhaps our lack of real vision) sealed our destiny.
I still like the band ... it sounded great and it had some of the best people I have ever worked with. Hope this helps.
Guy Arnston put me in contact with Ron Kaplan for this series ... little did I know at the time that he was already a Forgotten Hits List Member!!! (lol) Ironically, he now calls HIMSELF "Rent-A-Drummer" and even has his own website. He's still playing music and recording and, thanks to this series, has been back in touch with both Jim Pilster and Tom Doody! (kk)
There was a period 'after the fall' of the 60's scene, when a number of fine musicians and writers simply could not find a 'fit' for there ideas and talents. The private studio scene had yet to truly emerge, there were no niche' labels, no niche' marketing endeavors, etc., ... and the clubs were playing disco, which (in all fairness) eventually paved the way for Dance, House, Dub, Scratch, Rap...and more.
I was asked to join the 'Ides-Shames Union', which consisted of Don Melton, Randy Poniotowsky, Ron Kaplan, Tom Doody, Larry Millas, and Jim Pilster. I would be replacing John Pavletic, who was branching out into the high-end audio installation market.
The group had no real "raison d'etre" ... reason for existence ... but acted as a means for the participants to find their way to the next steps in their lives. There was no real fan base, etc. ... yet high points for me included the groups' performances of my songs "Now You Can Fly", "In This Dream", and "This Life-These Times". I also enjoyed watching Tom Doody re-invent his vocal style to suit the circumstances.
Tom went on to work with Ditech in California ... and to learn the bass!!!
Larry Millas started a number of exceptional recording studios, resumed playing with the (re-formed) Ides of March ... and joined with me in founding IMI Innovations, Inc.
Randy still plays the organ, I believe ... and Larry's in touch with him
Ron Kaplan is still, no doubt, a fine drummer, and lives in Texas
Don Melton (a great guy) is, I'm sure, still writing music
Jim Pilster (always up for a jam session!) went on to form a long-term 'oldies' - based version of the Cryan' Shames.
... and time continues to come down; you've got to take it on yourself.
all the best
I felt that with The Ides - Shames Union it seemed as if the band became more of a vehicle, (no pun intended), for Jim Fairs. He sang lead on most of the songs, and it became a night of guitar solos. That's not to say that the solos weren't good, but that's not why people came to see the band. --Ron Kaplan
Prior to sending you that Illinois Entertainer piece, I talked to Jeff Lind and he told me that he saw the Ides - Shames Union in early 1974 at Papa Joe's, the former Deep End, in downtown Park Ridge. Tom Doody from the Shames was lead vocalist,with fellow former Shame John Pavletich on lead guitar. Larry Millas (bass) and Chuck Soumar (horns) from the Ides of March were also in the Union. Doody returned to music for this project from his gig as an accountant; Jim Peterik had just broken up the Ides. Jeff didn't remember the other musicians. They played out for a year or so, then the New Cryan' Shames came out. Songs included the usual suspects, like Vehicle, L.A. Goodbye, Sugar and Spice, Up on the Roof, It Could Be We're in Love. That's about it from this end. Can't wait to see what else you come up with. -- Guy in Algonquin
Waiting For You
Take That Ride
It Could Be We're In Love
We All Need Someone To Love (Toad sang this one)
Natures.... (Can't figure out what song this is, but Toad's singing it as well)
--- BREAK ---
In This Dream (For the second time, so I'm not sure where we are in the evening at this point)
Some Jazzy sounding song that I don't recall, but Toad sounds great on it
A pseudo funk latin version of Sugar and Spice (I kid you not!)
Love Song (A really great song, which as fate would have it, I got to play drums on when I was asked to replace a track on a demo version)
Tobacco Road (drat, a drum solo)
Let It Roll
Obviously, It Could Be We're in Love and Sugar and Spice are Shames tunes, and Hot Water is a single from the Ides album Midnight Oil. None of the other songs are on the Shames albums. Maybe Toad remembers where they came from.
I showed this set list to Toad (Tom Doody) to see what HE remembered ... and this is what he had to say. (Personally, I thought that there was a surprising lack of well-known Cryan' Shames and Ides of March songs on the list ... material that the audience most certainly would have identified with. Perhaps this was intentional and the band was trying to forge a new identity, circa 1977??? Earlier comments indicate that they went with the "Ides - Shames" name to capitalize on familiarity and have a greater ease in securing bookings ... and Tom tells me that the band's 1975-1977 line-up excelled in song-writing. The mention of a "demo" session prompts me again to ask, "Is there ANY recorded material floating around out there by this version of the band???" Ron Kaplan has a VERY poor quality cassette recording of the above show ... and Toad mentioned hearing a tape shared by a fan ten years ago that impressed him as to just how good the band sounded live on stage. Surely SOMEONE out there must have SOMETHING to share???)
This was a set list towards the end of the group. We had really changed things by then. I believe when we started we did L.A. Goodbye, Hot Water and Vehicle by the Ides and we did Sugar and Spice, Up on the Roof, and It Could Be We're in Love by the Shames. The rest of the early group set were songs written by John Pavletic, and Don Melton. Dancing Shoes, California Triptic and a bunch of others, the names of which I can't remember by John. 76 and again a bunch of others whose names escape me by Don. It is interesting ... I still remember the melodies of all of there songs. They really were quite good.
When I saw The Ides - Shames Union perform at Rush Up, "Vehicle" and "Up On The Roof" were concert highlights ... incredibly, I still remember that night! (kk)
Meanwhile, Drummer Ron Kaplan had a few OTHER memories to share with us:
This is what I remember of the Ides / Shames Union.
I was playing with Redwood Landing and came home late one night to find a message from Jim Fairs. He said to call him no matter how late it was, which I did — at about 2 am, probably lunch time for Jim — and he asked me if I would be interested in joining the Ides / Shames Union. I had seen the band a few times, and thought this might be a good fit for me musically. While Redwood was a great band, and I had reservations about abandoning my good friend, and Redwood guitarist, Bobby Diamond, not everyone was putting the best interests of the band first, and it seemed like the right time to find something else to do. I rehearsed with the I / S Union for a couple of weeks in the basement of a house in Hinsdale, which could have been Hooke's, and my first gig with the band was at the Thirsty Whale on May 7, 1977. I have a live recording from this night, which has the date on the cassette case. The band members included Hooke and Jim Fairs from the Shames, Larry Millas from the Ides of March, keyboard player Don Melton, guitarist John Pavletic (I think), and, of course, Toad, who, for some reason, at first I couldn't recall being in the band. I recently listened to the tape to see if it would bring back any memories. I could hear Toad's distinctive voice singing harmony in the very first song, so I guess he was in the band after all. Too bad it wasn't until the fifth song of the first set, "It Could Be We're In Love", where he finally sang lead. I listened to the entire tape and out of 15 songs, Toad sang lead on only five of them. And only two of these were Cryan Shames originals. Is it any wonder that I didn't remember him being in the band? To me, that was the main problem with the Ides / Shames concept. I think that most people would assume it was not only a combination of players from both bands, but the songs from each group as well. The tape I have may be missing a song or two from that evening's performance, and while I vaguely remember that we did learn an Ides song, or possibly two, it seemed as if the band became a vehicle, (no pun intended), for Jim Fairs. He sang lead on most of the songs, and it became a night of guitar solos. That's not to say that the solos weren't good, but that's not why people — and in the case of that particular evening it sounded like there were all of five of them in the audience — came to see the band. What amazes me about that night's performance is how tight the band played, especially since it was my first gig with them. And while I was certain that I had escaped having to play the obligatory drum solo, as luck would have it, there it was during a completely unrecognizable version of "Tobacco Road." Oh, well. As for the harmonies, let's just say it was probably an off night and leave it at that. (NOTE: A list of songs, in the order they appear on the tape, appears earlier in this article.)
There's very little talking between songs, or whomever was running the tape was stopping and starting it, but at one point Hooke mentions that there would be three sets. I think it's the first and second sets that were recorded.
The only other job that comes to mind is a night that we played at a club in Aurora, and the PA system didn't show up. Luckily Redwood Landing used to rehearse at Pan PA, so I knew someone who might be able to help us. We contacted Ken Gorz, the owner of Pan, and he brought his system to the club as a last minute replacement. It's been such a long time that I don't really remember the reason I stopped playing with the band. It's possible that Toad left at some point, but considering the fact that I couldn't even remember him being in the band in the first place, I'm not sure if that means much. :-)
Ron DID send me a copy of one of the songs from that live Thirsty Whale tape. It's a VERY interesting cut called "Long Goodbye" ... which sounds like absolutely NOTHING either of these bands did on their own. Perhaps we're right ... using the familiar names got them their initial bookings ... but then they tried to forge their own musical identity. All I know is that this one sounds pretty good to me ... especially for a live cut ... and they don't come much rarer than this!!! (Thanks to ALL the guys for letting us "World Premier" this cut here in Forgotten Hits!!!)
Jim Pilster of The Cryan' Shames told us another interesting story:
Ask Tom if he remembers the time we performed as "Lemlow Phrultzb"!!! We were supposed to do a gig at The Aragon Ballroom with Gary Wright and Peter Frampton ... this was right around the time that "Frampton Comes Alive" hit the charts ... and it was a monster!!! ... and The Cryan' Shames were booked as the opening act. We're backstage and we're thinking that we're never going to go over with this crowd ... they weren't here to hear OUR music ... so we came up with the idea to go on as Lemlow Phrultzb ... that way if we died, nobody would know it was us ... and, if the audience didn't know it was us, they'd have no pre-conceived notion of what we were supposed to sound like and judge us for what we actually played instead. It was the one and only appearance of Lemlow Phrultzb!
-- Jim Pilster (Hooke) / The Cryan' Shames
The general feeling I got from all the guys I talked to is that the timing just wasn't right for this venture to succeed ... disco was at its peak and live bands in clubs were being replaced by disc jockeys and light-up floors. The punk scene was in its infancy ... and not enough time had passed yet for Chicagoland heroes like The Cryan' Shames and The Ides Of March to make us wax nostalgic about the good old days and the feel-good music they brought us. Yet every single one of them to a man wishes that there was more of a committment and focus to see things through. Unfortunately, when bookings fell off, they became discouraged and slowly started to fall apart. Fortunately, today we're often treated to ALL of the Chicago bands performing on the Summer Suburb Circuit ... and quite honestly The Ides Of March and The Cryan' Shames sound just as good ... or even better ... then they did back in the '60's and '70's.
We're STILL hoping to hear at least SOMETHING from Ides members Larry Millas and/or Chuck Soumar to give The Ides' perspective on this brief incarnation of the band. (Maybe once they see this, they'll feel inspired to get in touch ... stay tuned for more developments, IF they respond!!!)
Meanwhile, thanks to all of you for all your help in putting this piece together ... I really appreciate it. After three years' research, I'm giving you everything I've got!!! (lol) Well, at least I'm persistant!!!
REMINDER: Guy Arnston is still in the process of putting together the ULTIMATE Coffee Table Book spotlighting The History Of Chicago Rock ... if ANYBODY on the list would like to talk to him about this project ... was a member of these bands ... or knows where we might find some of the members of these bands ... please contact Guy Arnston at: firstname.lastname@example.org