Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Baby, Part Two (This Time We're Celebrating Eleven Years of FORGOTTEN HITS!!!)

This weekend marks eleven years that we've been bringing you
Forgotten Hits ... so it was especially nice to receive this email the other day ...
Which provides me with the perfect segue to feature our

Wild in the Streets was a cool film that I haven't thought about in years!!!!
Yep, I viewed it on the butcher-the-editing-for-commercial-breaks "3:30 Movie," here in Chicago! (Remember that?)

Oh, and I was crushin' on Chris Jones and had the soundtrack, which wasn't too bad, and, of course, "The Shape of Things to Come" was amazing! I had to give it a listen on youtube just because you mentioned it in your column last week!
Loved the whole "generation gap" theme of the movie that featured that song, because the issue of the differences between the generation was so big in '68! I was in High School and I remember writing a lame play for Honors English that had a narrator, two old ladies, and two young girls. It was a hit just because nearly every kid felt so isolated from the adults back then!
(Crap! Now I am an old lady!)
What was the story on the whole Max Frost band thing?
Who were the real musicians?

As we mentioned a while back, "Shape Of Things To Come" by Max Frost and the Troopers was the very first song EVER featured in Forgotten Hits.

It was Thanksgiving Weekend, 1999, when we first launched our publication (via an email to 35 original readers, all people we had met in the AOL Oldies Chat and Trivia Room.) We've done Anniversary Tributes in the past (but probably not in the last six or seven years or so!) so it's nice to feature this one again ... and acknowledge our pretty modest roots! (I remember complaining, even way back then, about how many GREAT songs don't get played on the radio anymore ... and asking a few online friends, "If I put together a newsletter spotlighting and featuring some of these songs and artists, would anybody bother to read it?" ... to which, eleven years ... and some 600,000 web-hits later ... the overwhelming answer seems to be "YES"!!!

Forgotten Hits continued to be distributed strictly via email until the list simply became too large and unmanageable. That's why we started our two websites a couple of years ago ... the one you're reading now and, where many of our most popular series from the past have been archived. We've found that we're now able to reach many more oldies fans because odds are when they're searching for virtually ANY oldies topic, our name comes up! (We certainly have covered a lot of music these past several years!)

And, I truly believe that radio really HAS gotten better since 1999 ... and I'd like to think that in SOME small way, we've had a little bit of influence over that. We've been encouraging deejays to push the envelope just a little bit further for eleven years now ... and I really do believe that the playlists today, while still pretty tightly formatted and controlled, ARE significantly better than they were back in 1999.

Here's just a brief recap of some of our previous Max Frost coverage ... incredibly, the story has changed (and expanded) from time to time as more and more information becomes available.

Originally, back in 1999, based on research available at the time, we remarked that there already seemed to be a discrepancy as to just who exactly Max Frost was!

Joel Whitburn's early books said that Billy Elder was Max Frost (fronting a studio group produced by Harley Hatcher and Eddie Beram for Mike Curb Productions) at Tower Records. He also noted that Christopher Jones played Frost in the movie "Wild In The Streets." But a few years later, he cited Paul Wibier as the lead singer so we listed BOTH as possibilities in our 1999 newsletter because we really could find no definitive source to better clarify things. At other times, he credited Davie Allan and the Arrows as being the studio band that played on the hit record ... but Davie Allan told us several years ago:

I was getting the question about "Max Frost" and the song "Shape Of Things To Come" a lot so I saved an answer that I keep reusing (since February '05):
I wish I could say that we were "Max Frost & The Troopers" but unfortunately, it's just not true. I DID play on the "Wild In The Streets" soundtrack along with studio musicians known as the "Hollywood Wrecking Crew" (Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye and Larry Knechtel) but none of us played on "Shape Of Things To Come". A band was hired to do that one and it was kept a secret as to who the members were (actually "Mom's Boys" featuring Paul Wibier). The mix-up started when my instrumental version was released as the last "Arrows" single on the "Tower Records" label. All I did was play lead on that pre-recorded track so everyone assumed that we and "Max Frost" were one and the same. I'm on some of the "Max Frost" tracks which includes those that appeared on "The Glory Stompers" soundtrack.
-- Davie Allan

Davie told Ron Smith a similar story:
While proofing my upcoming WCFL chart book, I decided to research this track.
Here's what Davie himself had to say in an interview:
"Along with the 'Hollywood Wrecking Crew' (top studio musicians Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye and Larry Knechtel), I played on most of the 'Wild In the Streets' tracks. We did not play on 'Shape Of Things To Come'. That was 'Mom's Boys' (lead singer Paul Wibier). When I did the 'Arrows' version of the soundtrack, I overdubbed my leads but they decided that I should NOT use the 'fuzz' ... they felt it was passe!?!?!?
Even 38 years later, I still have to say aaaarrrrrgggggh!!!!!!!"

Good enough for me.
-- Ron Smith
Paul Wibier's name soon became Paul Wybier in most publications (including ours, since it seemed to be the most common spelling of his name) ... but very little was ever learned about the backing band providing the music on this cut.

Davie Allan has since cut "Shape Of Things To Come" about four times over the past 42 years ... it just seems to be one of those that he keeps coming back to (including another recent rejuvenation a year or two ago for his "Moving Right Along" CD.)

Max Frost and the Troopers were the names of the characters in the film "Wild In The Streets", which drove the point home about how NOBODY over 30 could be trusted ... and, as such, should probably even be executed!!!
(As much sense as this may have made to some of us way back when, I have to admit that it's kinda hard to look back fondly at this philosophy as many of us are closing in on 60! LOL)

But I DO remember seeing this film at the movie theater and thinking at the time that this is how MOST teenagers probably felt. (And I was hardly a juvenile delinquent!!!) I ALSO remember it being a pretty horrendous film, even by 1968 teen exploitation standards! (I also seem to remember a really hot chick in the movie who rarely wore a top ... but instead preferred to let her long hair cover her private parts ... pretty exciting stuff for a 14 year old boy at the time!!!)

While you rarely heard this song on the radio for a good number of years after it reached The Top 20 in 1968, it became VERY popular again a few years ago when Target began running it regularly in their television commercials. (In fact, I'll bet you that I've heard it more often on the radio these past five or six years than it had been played in the previous 30!)

Checking a number of websites prior to going to press today, I found that MOST of the story has remained the same since 1999 ... with one new twist ...

Instead of "Mom's Boys", the name of Wybier's band NOW seems to be "The 13th Power"! (NO idea where that came from ... but who knows ... with so many new readers on the list, maybe this will trigger a memory or two that will allow us to zero in a little deeper ... you know, in time for our 22nd Anniversary!!! lol)

Here is one posting that I found:

Max Frost and The Troopers was a fictional rock music group created for the teen
exploitation film Wild in the Streets, released in 1968. The film featured Christopher Jones as the highly influential singer Max Frost. The songs performed by Frost and his band, a group that was never formally named in the film, was credited to Max Frost and the Troopers in subsequent singles and album. The band name "Troopers" is based on the term "troops," the designation Frost used in the film to refer to his friends and followers.
A studio group appeared on the
soundtrack album for the film, along with incidental music penned by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and composed by Les Baxter, however the songs were not originally credited to Max Frost and the Troopers, but rather to The 13th Power.
Due to the success of the song "
Shape of Things To Come" as a single, an accompanying album by Max Frost and The Troopers, Shape of Things to Come, was issued on the Tower record label in 1968. Musicians playing on the album are believed to include members of Davie Allan and The Arrows (who also released the "Shapes of Things to Come" without lyrics), with lead vocals by Paul Wibier (who also wrote a majority of the songs on the album). The music is high-energy rock with some psychedelic touches.
The group was produced by
Harley Hatcher and Eddie Beram for Mike Curb Productions. Their first single was recorded with Curb's Tower subsidiary, Sidewalk Records. Subsequent singles were taken from their album.
Their final single, "Sittin' In Circles," was performed in the film
Three in the Attic, by Davie Allan and the Arrows. The B-side of that single, "Paxton Quigley's Had The Course," was a Chad & Jeremy composition.
The soundtrack album for the 1968 film
The Glory Stompers, starring Dennis Hopper, contains two additional songs credited to Max Frost and the Troopers: "There's A Party Going On" (which was released as their first single) and "You Might Want Me Baby."
The cultural historian
Greil Marcus borrowed the Troopers' song title for his 2006 book, "The Shape of Things To Come: Prophecy & The American Voice."

No real new information there ... in fact, if anything, there are a couple more errors that we've cleared up over the years published here again as "fact". (Thus our on-going commitment to "The Most Accurate Truth"!!!)

What we DID find that's worth sharing is this GREAT "Shape Of Things To Come" video.
Click here: Max Frost & the Troopers - Shape Of Things To Come Video

Now I can only assume that this is Paul Wybier handling the lead vocal here ...

or is that simply Christopher Jones LIP-SYNCING to the vocal?!?!?
Who knows!!! (And will we ever REALLY know for sure?!?!?)