Monday, June 17, 2013

A Monday Morning Quickie

Here is a quick follow-up on a couple of things that came up last week ...
And a little bit of "new news" too!   

>>>Wadsworth Mansion was a one hit wonder band out of Los Angeles, CA, consisting of brothers Mike (drums) and Steve (keyboards, guitar and lead vocals) Jablecki along with Wayne Gagnon (lead guitar) and John Poole (bass).  "Sweet Mary" climbed all the way to #7 in Billboard Magazine right as winter was turning into spring in 1971 ... and they pretty much disappeared after that.  (It performed even better in Cash Box and Record World, peaking at #5 in both publications ... yet, despite its Top Ten status, you rarely hear "Sweet Mary" anymore ... and that's a shame because this is a REAL catchy tune.)  Here in Chicago it went all the way to #2.  (Here's hoping we've inspired a jock or two on the list to feature this one today ... a GREAT Forgotten Hit!)  kk     
From LA? Or Providence?  
David Lewis    
Glad you were able to work Wadsworth Mansion's "Sweet Mary" into Forgotten Hits -- and you used the version which ends cold.   For some reason, some pressings of the original single fade out instead -- and the cold ending version is the most satisfying.  The LP and single versions are also different.   Aside from being a band, Wadsworth Mansion is also a real 19th century country estate in Middletown, CT.   The band, on the other hand, was from Providence, RI.   They performed their hit at least once on TV -- on "The Dating Game"!   
Gary Theroux 
I got my Hollywood / LA information from two source ... Wayne Jancik's "Billboard Book of One Hit Wonders" and Joel Whitburn's "Top Pop Singles".  Jancik's book admits that Wadsworth Mansion was probably the one artist with the LEAST amount of information available ... but states that "Sweet Mary" was cut at the legendary Hollywood Recorders.  Whitburn's book typically references information found on an artist's LP or bios released by the PR Department of any given record label, often cited in Billboard when announcing new music ... so the Providence, RI comments were a surprise to me.  Doing a quick Google search of my own, I see that they're listed that way on Wikipedia (but have learned hundreds of times over the years not to trust this information as gospel) ... so I dug a little deeper.  I found another website that showed that Lead Singer (and songwriter of "Sweet Mary") Steve Jablecki died in 2005 and listed him as being from Pawtucket, RI.  I also found a Facebook listing for his brother Michael based out of Rhode Island ... so I appear to stand corrected on this one.  
While Wadsworth Mansion's biggest hit was "Sweet Mary" (#5, 1971), a second single titled "Michigan Harry Slaughter" did reach #99 on The Cash Box Chart later that same year.  (Still makes them a One Hit Wonder in MY book!!!  But a really GOOD one at that!)  kk  

>>> I have a question regarding Sonny Geraci.  Is he still in coma or out of it or what?  I have not seen anything on the Internet and I was just wondering have you heard anything.  (Stephanie Campbell) 
>>>We haven't had an update in awhile now ... but last we heard, Sonny was doing great!  Making a REMARKABLE recovery after a couple of major brain surgeries.  His daughter shared the news with us by way of Dennis Tufano ... but you're right, we haven't heard any news in quite a while ... so I guess we'll have to ask for an update ourselves!  (kk)

I ran this inquiry by Dennis Tufano but didn't hear anything back ... so I also asked guitarist Dave Zane, a one-time member of Sonny's touring band (and currently playing lead guitar for The Buckinghams.)  Dave has also shared the stage with The Cryan' Shames and Jim Pilster's Chicago Gold Series ... and also plays regularly with a couple of other bands here in the area.  He and Sonny are pretty close ... so I was hoping that maybe HE could bring us up to speed on Sonny's condition.  And while he hasn't talked to Geraci since Super Bowl Sunday, the news at that time was exceptionally good ...   
Hi Kent,  
The last time I spoke to Sonny was Super Bowl Sunday. It was just on a whim. Every time I'd call before I either got a message telling me the the number was disconnected or I just got a voicemail. So I decided to try again and was totally blown away when Sonny actually answered it himself. I did not expect it, but it was great. I asked him if he remembered me and he said DAVE ZANE!!!!! How are ya? I told him I'm still playing with The Buckinghams, to which he said that's great and wanted me to tell Carl and Nick that he said hi. I kept our talk pretty generic. I didn't want to stress him in any way after what he had been through. It was so good to talk to him. I actually was in shock. I really didn't expect him to answer. But he did. I can tell you that someone told me about a week ago that Sonny is starting to sing! That's Great News! I keep hearing that his recovery is going to take awhile so anything like hearing he's starting to sing is so inspiring. I am planning on calling him again soon as I have messages from Burton Cummings, Mitch Ryder, and a bunch more. I have also been in contact with Mert Madsen, the original bass player for the Outsiders. He has been living in his homeland Denmark since 1971.  
The Buckinghams are off to do a gig in Wyoming Thursday. We've got 25+ dates this year and they're still coming in! We've got some in the Chicago area this year, too ... Des Plaines, Northbrook, Navy Pier and Beverly. (For the actual dates, you'll have to go to our website.)  
As far as me doing other gigs in between The Bucks, I have two bands of my own ... Zanesway and The Bigger Picture. Most of the time you can catch either band at The Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Indiana.  Zanesway is more oldies based and The Bigger Picture is more classic. It gives me more room to stretch. I think your readers would love both bands so people if you feel like a little get away to Indiana, please come out and see us. 
I do love playing with The Buckinghams as they are letting me do my thing.  Heck, they've even got me playing harmonica ... and actually feature me on the Beatles classic, This Boy. Great bunch of guys! 
I will fill you in on Sonny as soon as I call him.  Thanks, Kent, for reaching out! 
Dave Zane 
The Buckinghams

Thanks, Dave ... that is SUCH good news.  Please let Sonny know that his fans love him and pray for him everyday.  Nothing would please us more than to see Sonny back up on that stage again ... but first and foremost he's got to take care of himself.  Please pass along our best.  (kk) 

Meanwhile, here's a list of upcoming Buckinghams dates ...
July 21st - The Acorn Theater / Three Oaks,  MI
August 3rd - Northbrook Days
August 17th - Oaklawn Racetrack / Hot Springs, AR
August 24th - Downtown Deadwood / Deadwood, SD
August 30th - Downtown Clarksburg / Clarksburg, WV
September 21st and 22nd - The Suncoast Hotel and Casiono / Las Vegas, NV
September 26th - Victory Theatre / Evansville, IN
October 19th - NYCBTheatre at Westbury / Westbury, NY
November 30th - Beverly Arts Center / Chicago, IL
December 20th - Holly Springs Cultural Center / Holly Springs, NC
And you can catch Zanesway at The Blue Chip Casino on July 12th ... and The Bigger Picture on July 26th.

re:  CHECK IT OUT:  
Beatles Historian (and Mega-Fan) Bruce Spizer has started a series of 50th Anniversary postings about The Fab Four.  You can check 'em out here:   
Click here: 50 Years Ago «  
Sign up for weekly 50th Anniversary updates, too!  (kk)

re:  ZZ TOP:
Original Mixes Of The Band’s First 10 Albums Available Now On iTunes Store 
And As 10-CD Boxed Set  
Classic ZZ TOP Videos Available On YouTube For The First Time   
At long last, original mixes of the band’s first 10 studio albums are available, mastered specifically for iTunes. These include ZZ Tops’ First Album (1971), Rio Grande Mud (1972), Tres Hombres (1973),  Fandango! (1975)*Tejas (1976), Degüello (1979), El Loco (1981),  Eliminator (1983), Afterburner (1985) and Recycler (1990). The albums are available for individual download or bundled together in ZZ TOP: THE COMPLETE STUDIO ALBUMS (1970-1990). All 10 albums are also available on CD in a boxed set of the same name, with each album presented in a wallet sleeve that faithfully reproduces the original artwork, including the gatefold designs used for Tres Hombres and Tejas. This marks the first time that the original mixes for ZZ Tops’ First AlbumRio Grande Mud and Tejas are available on CD and as digital download.
Additionally, a dozen of ZZ TOP’s iconic videos are now available for the first time on YouTube. The band’s classic videos are some of the most legendary of all time including “The Eliminator Trilogy,” the videos for “Legs,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Sharp Dressed Man” starring the ’33 Ford three window coupe with the ZZ striping along its flanks and a cadre of leggy beauties. A full list of ZZ TOP videos now available on YouTube is listed below or follow this link for a full playlist:    
Today, Gibbons, Hill and Beard remain together performing and recording as, they often say, “the same three guys playing the same three chords.” The trio offered a statement regarding the release of ZZ TOP: THE COMPLETE STUDIO ALBUMS (1970-1990): “We're gratified that the albums from the first 20 years of the band are going to be made available in this set. We're especially delighted to note the restoration of ZZ Top's First AlbumRio Grande Mud and Tejas has been incorporated; it's good to have been made whole again on a certain level.”  
-- submitted by Bob Merlis 

And, speaking of ZZ Top, Bob also tells us that they totally rocked at their recent Bonnaroo performance with a two-hour, career-spanning set.  Here are ten good reasons why ZZ Top is STILL one of music's most interesting and entertaining acts:  
Texas blues-rock legends ZZ Top celebrated their 44th (?!) year as a band with a two-hour, career-spanning set at Bonnaroo 2013. The trio included tracks ranging from their 1971 debut to last year's La Futura, playing all the major MTV staples ("Legs," "Sharp Dressed Man," "Gimme All Your Lovin'"), early blues tracks ("La Grange," "Certified Blues") and covers (Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady.") Despite their inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to many, they're just "those guys with beards who made a few videos in the 80s." To familiarize (or re-famiiarize) yourself with the iconic band, here are 10 reasons why their set was one of Friday's best.
1. Their Suits Rival Kanye West and Lady Gaga's Wardrobe
Guitarist Billy Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill's symmetrical appearance have caused countless crowd variants of, "So wait, they're brothers, right?" (They're not.) Besides the obvious perfection that is their iconic beards, the duo's extravagant, Mariachi-inspired suits is equal parts regional pride and show business kitsch. See above for Exhibit A.  

2. Drummer Frank Beard's Kit Is the Size of a Small Country
Seriously. Look at this.

There are more parts on Beard's drum kit than people at some Bonnaroo acts. The 25+-piece set includes 10 cymbals, two bass drums with skulls on them and, for some shows (sadly not this one), a gong. A gong. Do you know who uses gongs besides servants for kings in movies? Scary ass Texans who are happy to split your skull in two and use it as a coaster for their Shiner Bock.
3. They Wrote a Song Based off of a '90s Houston Crack-Rap Track
"I Gotsta Get Paid," the lead single from La Futura, is a reworked cover of "25 Lighters" by Texas rappers DJ DMD, Lil Keke and MC Fat Pat. "I became fixated with this ‘hypnotic chronicle of the toil of a ghetto hustler'," Gibbons has said, "and I was determined to use it as the basis for something ZZ Top could record." It's doubtful many in the Bonnaroo audience spotted the inspiration, but it's a testament to the group's fearlessness.

Video link to ZZ Top's "I Gotsta Get Paid"  
Video link "25 Lighters" by DJ DMD, Lil Keke and MC Fat Pat 
4. They Brought Texas Pride to Tennessee  
While McCartney was dragging out the Tennessee flag at the end of his set an hour earlier, some in the crowd were quick to show their Texas pride. One man waved a giant Texas flag (because why would anyone behind you want to see the show?), while numerous Stetsons and cowboy hats could be seen throughout the crowd. More than one "Yee Haw" was shouted to both the delight and chagrin of others.
5. Their Visuals Are Surreally Perfect
A rattlesnake slithering through sagebrush. An interminable, empty Texas highway. An isolated oil rig pumping furiously. ZZ Top's visuals are fiercely Texas; snapshots of an expansive, lonely place. Oh, and they played the original 1983 video for "Legs," about a girl who lives in a town solely populated by assh-les while ZZ Top act as leering voyeurs.

6. Their Extended Guitar Jams Are Still the Blues-Rock Standard
The studio version of "La Grange," their 1973 song off the essential Tres Hombres, is under four minutes, but at Bonnaroo, the trio stretched it out to 12, riding a classic blues-groove made famous by Slim Harpo while augmenting it with dirty guitar and bass solos.

7. They Put Their Own Style on Classic Rock Songs
Paul McCartney teased Jimi Hendrix's "Foxey Lady" during his headlining set earlier that night, but ZZ Top performed the full song—a longtime concert staple—with a renewed vigor and fury Friday night. A middle-aged man behind me told his friend, "Man, I used to clean up with this song." I refrained from asking him to elaborate. 

Video link to ZZ Top  "Foxey Lady" performance

8. Their Fanbase Had the Widest Age Range
You could make an argument for McCartney, but walking around the tent, children as young as four danced with AARP members, while middle-aged, classic rock fans nodded alongside Gen Xers nostalgic for the band's MTV staples.
9. They're Still Not Afraid to Rock White Fur Guitars 
This. Forever.

10. Their Style Hasn't Changed in 40 Years and That's Okay
ZZ Top's first album, appropriately titled ZZ Top's First Album, was released in 1971, and while they briefly embraced New Wave in the mid-80s, their rootsy love of boogie woogie, hard rock and blues have been the cornerstones of their sound for more than 40 years. There's a reason why their stage was one of the few at capacity.