60's Connecticut Rock: Don't Press Your Luck! [Sundazed] and Article

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  1. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Avon, CT
    I'm excited and proud to share these links:righton: :


    Title: Don't Press Your Luck! The IN Sound of 60's Connecticut
    Format: 2xLP Set (ALSO ON CD, BUT LP HAS 5 EXTRA CUTS]
    Cat #: LP 5219


    The pounding garage-rock din emanating from the jungles of deepest Connecticut could overwhelm the senses, causing the weary NY commuter to become disoriented! Who knew that the most deranged ‘66-‘68 teenage mayhem imaginable would come from Wallingford’s Trod Nossel Studios, whose owner/producer Thomas “Doc” Cavalier (a former dentist) recorded top-flight acts as diverse as the tough ‘n’ melodic Shags (“Don’t Press Your Luck”), the R&B-consumed Wildweeds (“No Good to Cry,” featuring a Pre-NRBQ Al Anderson on vocals) and fuzzed-out punks the Bram Rigg Set (“I Can Only Give You Everything”). SUNDAZED presents, on double-LP vinyl and compact disc, the high-impact, garage-rock havoc—at least two-thirds of it totally unreleased—that finally tears the lid off Connecticut’s best-kept rock ‘n’ roll secret!

    1. I Can Only Give You Everything: Bram Rigg Set
    2. Don't Press Your Luck: The Shags
    3. Help Me: George's Boys*
    4. Too Many Lies: The Lively Ones*
    5. Take the Time Be Yourself: Bram Rigg Set
    6. Hide Away: The Shags
    7. ‘SSS’ Happenin’ Here: Uranus and the Five Moons*
    8. Sleepless Nights: Bram Rigg Set*
    9. You're Cutting Out: Fourth Ryke*
    10. I Paid My Dues: The Bearies*
    11. Radio Spot: WAVZ Radio Jingle: The Shags
    12. No Good to Cry: The Wildweeds
    13. Think: The Lively Ones*
    14. I Can't Explain: Bram Rigg Set*
    15. Breathe in My Ear: The Shags
    16. Please Leave: Fourth Ryke*
    17. Radio Spot: Specter's Radio Ad: The Shags
    18. Nothing Remains: Uranus and the Five Moons*
    19. You Don't Love Me: Bram Rigg Set*
    20. Come Back to Me: The Shags*
    21. I Love the Way You Love Me: Bram Rigg Set*
    22. I’m Dreaming: The Wildweeds LP Bonus Track
    23. Your Groove: Uranus and the Five Moons LP Bonus Track
    24. Hey, Little Girl: The Shags LP Bonus Track
    25. Sticks and Stones: George’s Boys* LP Bonus Track
    26. Bad News for Me: The Bearies* LP Bonus Track
    27. Make a Record with the Shags: The Shags*
    *previously unissued


    Thursday, February 21, 2008
    The Shags

    Connecticut's biggest band of the 60's is featured on a new anthology from Trod Nossel Studios
    By Alan Bisbort

    To hear Tom Violante tell it, the Nutmeg State got its rocks off in the late 1960s. Violante was a vocalist and guitarist in the Shags, one of the state's most popular bands. They were so popular, in fact, that some members of the band took stage names (Violante's was Tommy Roberts).

    "We all had stage names then, to prevent people from finding out where we lived," he said. "We were popular, sort of like the state's homegrown Beatles. If people knew where we were rehearsing, every kid on the block and for miles around would be snooping in the windows. Our parents thought it was cute, but it could really be tough."

    The Shags shared stages, fans and a recording studio — Trod Nossel in Wallingford — with the likes of Bram Rigg Set, Uranus and the Five Moons, Fourth Ryke, the Wildweeds, the Bearies, the Lively Ones and the mysterious George's Boys, all of whom left behind some righteously raw singles as well as a vault of previously unreleased material.

    Happily, some of this neglected music, and its fascinating back-story, is now available on Don't Press Your Luck!: The In Sound of 60's Connecticut (Sundazed), a new anthology of "garage and psych howlers from the vaults of Trod Nossel Studios." The title track is, fittingly, by the Shags, at their most menacing. The album should come with this warning: "This music could be harmful to small children and animals if played too loud." That's intended as a compliment.

    The one name around which all this musical history revolves is Thomas Cavalier, D.M.D., arguably the only dentist to ever give Phil Spector a serious run for his money. In 1966, the 34-year-old "Doc" Cavalier had a thriving oral surgery practice on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden when he contracted a bad and ultimately incurable case of rock 'n' roll fever. After seeing the Shags perform at West Haven's House of Zodiac, Cavalier was smitten. He volunteered to help the band. As Violante remembers it, "He said he didn't know anything about the business but was certain he could help us."

    Since the Shags were in thrall to the Beatles, the band members wondered if this "slick business man" with the $400 Petrocelli suits might be their Brian Epstein. "We knew he had deep pockets because he was a dentist, so maybe he could sign our loans we were going to get our equipment with," said Violante.

    Cavalier not only became the Shags' manager, he was an inseparable member of the pack, as well as a surrogate father to his musicians. He arranged gigs and transportation, allowed bands to rehearse in his basement and eat meals with his family. He also booked time at Syncron Studio, a manufacturing and testing site for microphones that also doubled as a four-track recording venue. When Syncron ran into financial troubles the following year, Cavalier plunked down $75,000 to buy the studio, rechristening it Trod Nossel, a MAD magazine-like name the origin of which is shrouded in the mists of time.

    "He's really one of the most unusual guys I've ever met," said Violante. "He gave up dentistry to manage Bram Rigg Set and the Shags ... How crazy is that?"

    Until that time, Cavalier had never been inside a studio, but he turned out to be a quick study behind a control booth console. Indeed, over the next 35 years, he became proficient enough to oversee recording sessions by the likes of Steppenwolf, Fleetwood Mac, Donovan, the Raspberries, Joe Cocker, Taj Mahal, Chick Corea, proto-punker Mick Farren, and (yes) Michael Bolton. But the real treasures in Cavalier's archive date from these raw, righteous early sessions. That's when recording was a passion and not an attempt to polish marketable goods — though Cavalier had some success there too, especially with the Wildweeds's single, "No Good to Cry," a tour de force for an impossibly-young Al Anderson, and "I Call Your Name" by the Shags.

    Before his untimely death in 2005, Cavalier told this reporter, "I was producing Bram Rigg Set, a rock band that took their names off two gravestones in Cheshire. [Jeff Jerema's Sundazed liner notes say the name was a combination of Bram Stoker and Diana Rigg, chosen because it sounded British]. The band's drummer was Bennett Segel, whose father owned Oakdale Theatre and the lead singer was a guy from Hamden who went by the stage name Damon Roby [real name: Bob Schlosser]."

    Cavalier was fond of the pronoun "we." Of Bram Rigg Set — six cuts by whom are included on Don't Press Your Luck! — he said, "Musically we arrived on the same bus as the Who's My Generation but, you might say, we were no longer on the bus, but were walking on our own. We were alternative before there was that term. It's difficult to describe that time, because good music was everywhere. The Shack in Watertown, the Sherry Shack on Route 1 in Branford, the Camaro Club in Westbrook."

    The Shags regularly played these clubs as well as larger venues like the Bushnell, Woolsey Hall at Yale, and the Oakdale, often opening for national acts like the Byrds, Lovin' Spoonful, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Chad & Jeremy, Peter & Gordon, the Rascals and the Animals. And then there was one memorable show at Kennedy Stadium when, opening for the Righteous Brothers, they were hit by lightning.

    "I don't remember anything after getting zapped," said Violante.

    Rob DeRosa remembers the Shags mania well. As a teenager, too young to vote or drink but not too young to rock, DeRosa used to follow bands like the Shags, Bram Rigg Set and the Wildweeds around. That is to say, he and his friends would be driven by their parents to places where these shaggy-haired bands were playing.

    "It was exciting because they were the first bands in the area who had their own thing," said DeRosa, who now hosts a weekly radio show called "Homegrown," dedicated to musical artists from Connecticut (Thursdays, 5:05 p.m., 88.1 FM, www.wesufm.org). "They weren't just playing teen centers; they had publicity photos and managers and they released singles. I still have some of the records that I bought back then."

    The first bona fide rock concert DeRosa ever attended was at the Oakdale Theater, where the Shags and the Bluebeats opened for the Byrds.

    "The Shags really had the image down," said DeRosa. "They were like the British beat bands of the time, all wearing the same suits and arriving at concerts in a giant hearse. It was a bit contrived but it was part of that image and the fun."

    DeRosa was Cheshire Academy classmates with the Bram Rigg Set's drummer, Bennett Segal, whose father owned the Oakdale.

    "Bram Rigg was more polished and heavy sounding, not garage music at all," said DeRosa, who worked as Trod Nossel's publicity manager for a year. "Segal was a real pretty boy, too. It's a shame they didn't go anywhere with their music, but I guess they got married and moved away." (Indeed, Beau Segal now lives in the Netherlands and Damon Roby, the heartthrob singer, now lives in the DC area under his real name.)

    True, most of the bands featured on the Sundazed disc had only these cuts as evidence of their moments of glory. For example, the Lively Ones, from Waterbury, were together only six months, long enough for Cavalier to get "Too Many Lies" and "Think" on tape (but never released as recordings). The band broke up when Ralph Calabrese, its lead singer, was drafted, though Calabrese later joined the Blues Menagerie, which put out one album on Buddah. The Wildweeds hung on for a few more years and had some regional hit singles. An exceptionally good compilation and history of the Wildwoods was released in 2002 by Confidential Records, No Good To Cry: The Best of the Wildweeds, compiled largely of Trod Nossel-recorded tracks.

    Briefly, the Shags and Bram Rigg Set joined forces under the name Pulse, which cut an album that occasionally shows up fetching top dollar on Internet auction sites. Violante kept a version of the Shags going into the 1990s but found that getting bookings for a five-piece band was increasingly difficult. He now fronts two smaller bands — Key West Trio and Kokomo — that stay busy working the summer concerts from Maine to New Jersey.

    When Doc Cavalier's daughter, Darlene, who now manages Trod Nossel, called Violante to tell him Sundazed was interested in releasing some of the Shags' old singles as well as unreleased material in the studio's archive, he was pleased but a bit wary. The sound quality of some of the old material was raw, to say the least.

    "Sundazed did a terrific job of remastering the tapes," he said. "They sound 10 times better than they did before."

    He is particularly fond of the track "Breathe in my Ear" because "we [he, Carl Donnell and Johnny Stanton] wrote the song and recorded it in one sitting, then began performing it on stage that night." He also likes the fact that it was "banned in the South" for what was thought to be sex-themed lyrics.

    Violante good-naturedly feigns worry over all those old Shags fans coming out of the woodwork.

    "This is 40 years too late," he said, laughing. "I can't be a rock star at 61."

    What’s Up, Doc: The Sundazed disc, broken down
    Though Sundazed labels the songs on Don’t Press Your Luck! “garage and psych howlers,” you can hear just every pop trend of the late 1960s echoing through the tracks. The title track by the Shags was obviously written and recorded under the influence of an understandable passion for the Zombies, and “SSS Happening Here’ by Uranus and the Five Moons sounds like an outtake from Donovan’s electric banana days, though it ends with a nice little James Brown yelp. Standing apart, as polished and professional is “No Good to Cry” by Wildweeds, sung by the inimitable Al Anderson. This is blue-eyed soul at its absolute best, but certainly not “garage” or “psych.” It just happened to have been recorded at Trod Nossel Studios and perhaps will serve as a hook for wavering buyers. Bram Rigg Set were a gifted group of musicians who were clearly enamored of the Who, shown to nice effect on “Take the Time Be Yourself” (written for them by Cavalier); also included here are competent cover versions of Them’s “I Can Only Give You Everything” and the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” included here. Radio spots by the Shags for WAVZ radio station and Specter’s Gift Shop in New Haven give the disc the feel of the Who’s Sell Out. The most curious of these documentary cuts is “Make a Record with the Shags,” on which the band demonstrates Syncron Studios’ overdubbing capabilities. At one point, a profoundly un-hip announcer says, “Reverberation may be added, if desired.” Yes, it is, the Shags seem to say!
    The most garage-like and howling of all the tracks belong to three bands given short shrift by Jeff Jerema in his otherwise engaging liner notes: George’s Boys, Fourth Ryke and the Bearies. In all fairness, little or nothing is known about these bands now, but they each have a unique, non-derivative sound. George’s Boys, according to Jerema, were purportedly an earlier incarnation of Bram Rigg Set with which the surviving members now “politely disclaim any involvement.” One has to wonder why they’d not want to be associated with a monster track like “Help Me,” which overshadows the Shadows of Knight and is seedier than the Seeds. Ditto, Fourth Ryke’s “You’re Cutting Out,” which opens with the deservedly immortal lines, “1950 was the year your mother brought you forth/ And since that time you’ve made me feel I’m better off a corpse” and ends with a blood-curdling scream, presumably the final words of the singer before he kills himself. And then there are the Bearies, whose “I Paid My Dues” had hit potential. Tragically, all of these tracks are listed as “previously unissued.” Indeed, the biggest mystery to Don’t Press Your Luck! may be that Cavalier sat on this treasure trove for more than 40 years. And the obvious question is: What other treasures are we likely to find in Trod Nossel’s archives, just begging for a Volume 2?

    Final recommendation: If you have a turntable, the vinyl release of this platter has five more bonus tracks than the CD, including one by the Bearies (“Bad News for Me”) and another by George’s Boys (“Sticks and Stones”).
  2. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    The samples Sundazed posted sound great - there's a lot of unissued material, and what was released hasn't been reissued to death.
  3. action pact

    action pact Forum Resident

    I can't imagine that a band with a name like Uranus and the Five Moons expected national success. LOL!

    Connecticut's greatest band was the Rogues aka the Squires ("Going All the Way"), but they recorded in NYC, and weren't a part of the Trod Nossel scene.
  4. audiodrome

    audiodrome Forum Resident

    North Of Boston
    The tracklisting looks good, but I wish it had "Don't Press Your Luck" by The Primates. I've been looking for a good copy of that for a long time!
  5. Mike Dow

    Mike Dow I kind of like the music

    Bangor, Maine
    This is excellent news. Thanks for posting the links and the article, Christopher! I'm famililar with some of this material (Wildweeds, Shags) but most of it will be new to me.
  6. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Avon, CT
    Just got back from the record store, and can happily report that though the LP has been pushed back to March 18, the CD is available. I was told by my local shop owner however, that the CD has been pulled due to a legal matter. I'm thrilled I was able to get a copy. It is a wonderful, lovingly compiled disc, with nice liners. The tracks sound far better than I expected, in glorious mono. Well engineered, and played with lots of energy and earnestness. The Bob Irwin mastering sounds good; loud but not painful. The music has little dynamic range to begin with, so there's no loss. Lots of nice mid-60s fuzz guitar.

    I love that a few other Connecticut bands were mentioned in this thread. If you known any other groups, or have any memories of the era, please share! This release is so exciting to me, because CT. has offered so very little to the music world. I missed the 60s era in-person, and was too young to go to the Shaboo, and only caught one show at The Agora.
  7. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    Another pulled Sundazed release - I best go order a copy before they disappear. :cry:
  8. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Avon, CT
    Apparently both the CD and LP have been pushed back to March 18th. Not sure why the CD hit the stores and then got pulled back.:confused:
  9. Eric

    Eric Member

    crownsville md
  10. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Avon, CT
    That was amazing! Thanks!

    Has "The Film with a very Long Name" ever been available? Any more info?

    The Wildweeds - I'm Dreaming
  11. Mike Dow

    Mike Dow I kind of like the music

    Bangor, Maine
    My indie store is holding this for me (CD) and I'll pick it up today or tomorrow. Thanks again for the 'heads up' on this one.
  12. Eric

    Eric Member

    crownsville md
    I have only seen a washed out version, i saw it years go at Brass City records in Waterbury, a VHS copy was playing. It was filmed before the Monkees show was created, and shown, I think on channel 8.
  13. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Avon, CT
    Thanks for the info. as y'all can tell, i've been yearning for a record like this for a long, long time. I can have some CT pride now!
  14. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Avon, CT
    of course, Mike. I'm glad your interested. Please let us know what ya think when you hear it.

    might as well throw in a recomendation for this gem while we're at it:
    No Good To Cry: The Best of The Wildweeds [Label: Confidential Recordings]

    A lovingly compiled reissue of Connecticut's legendary Wildweeds. The finest sounding Wildweeds compilation yet, with new mixes and a nice booklet and presentation. This release is missing several songs on previous reissues, such as Excuse Me Baby, No Good To Cry (live); John King's Fair, Fantasy Child, There You Go, and Belle. An important release for fans of NRBQ/Al Anderson/CT Music. While the sound quality is excellent, this release gets only gets 4 out of 5 stars because it is not a complete document. That's nitpicking really, though.
  15. Jerry

    Jerry Grateful Gort Staff

    New England
    From today's NY Times:

    In an Era of the Beatles, the Shags Ruled, Too


    PUT the words “Connecticut” and “garage” together, and most people see visions of weed whackers and garden hoses, not long-haired guys with guitars.

    But chances are that’s about to change.

    On Feb. 19, the much fetishized reissue label Sundazed Music released “Don’t Press Your Luck! The In Sounds of 60’s Connecticut,” an album that reaches back to a time not everybody remembers, but that anyone with a fondness for fuzzed-up guitar and suburban psychedelia will want to get to know.

    “Back in the 60s, each geographical area had its own sound — like in Los Angeles, it was the sound of the Byrds,” said Bob Irwin, the album producer and owner of Sundazed, based in Coxsackie, N.Y. “What came out of Connecticut were these super-great garagey cuts with killer guitar. You can hear the influence of blue-eyed soul from Long Island, threads of the Rascals and the Vagrants. But what’s in the water in a specific place comes out on a record when you do an excavation like this. It makes my heart pound.”

    Music — freewheeling rock ’n’ roll represented by long-forgotten New Haven-area bands like the Shags, the Bram Rigg Set and the Wildweeds — is what got the hearts of the teenagers featured on “Don’t Press Your Luck!” pounding; something the CD, available at www.sundazed.com, puts across within the first few speaker-thumping tracks.

    But corralling and guiding those heavy heartbeats, Mr. Irwin said, was a single player: Thomas “Doc” Cavalier, founder of the still-running Trod Nossel Studios in Wallingford. Before Mr. Cavalier died of pancreatic cancer in 2005, Mr. Irwin made a deal with him to secure the masters for hundreds of songs, including the 22 that landed on the CD.

    Mr. Cavalier’s daughter, Darlene Cavalier, now runs Trod Nossel, which means “tree of many branches” in Scandinavian, with two of her three siblings, Tom and Rob Cavalier. “My dad was a dentist in Hamden,” she said. “That’s how we grew up, living above the dentist’s office. That’s why people called him Doc. He started the studio in 1965, while he was still doing dentistry.”

    “Not to brag about him, but Dad was so smart, such a passionate person,” she said. “He got bored with being a dentist. He wanted to put out a record.”

    Enter the Shags, a four-piece band formed in 1963 at Notre Dame High School in West Haven that developed a following through wedding gigs and show openers at the Oakdale Theater, now the Chevrolet Theater, in Wallingford.

    “We wore three-piece suits with vests, pointed boots. Our hair was long,” said Tom Violante, the onetime front man, now a part-time musician and part-time marketing consultant in New Haven. “People referred to us as the Beatles of Connecticut. But back then everybody sounded the same, because we all wanted to sound like the Beatles.

    “Among Connecticut bands we had no equal, though, and that was thanks to Doc. He pushed us in the studio to do better. He worked with us on our stage presence. He took us to New York to have designer outfits made for us.”

    By 1966, The Shags were radio staples on WAVZ in New Haven and WDRC in Hartford courtesy of songs like “Don’t Press Your Luck” and “Breathe in My Ear,” included on the new CD (which is also available as an LP).

    Mr. Violante remembers hanging around the Cavaliers’ home with his bandmates for spaghetti dinners: “We practically grew up there,” he said. And Ms. Cavalier remembers a pattern forming once the Shags entered her family’s life.

    “Everyone who had a project in this area Dad got involved with. He didn’t just manage bands or produce bands, he helped them with their finances, he helped them with their divorces. He really cared. Trod Nossel was a catalyst for all the music that happened around here.”

    Names like Fourth Ryke, a band whose origins Mr. Irwin and Sundazed were unable to distill, may not resonate the way names like the Animals and the Righteous Brothers do, but not every act represented on “Don’t Press Your Luck!” is steeped in obscurity. Al Anderson, leader of the R&B-leaning, Windsor-based Wildweeds, for example, went on to form the popular alt-country band NRBQ.

    “Even at 17 or 18, Al Anderson was writing material that gives you goose bumps,” Mr. Irwin said. “He was just plugged into the cosmos, even as a teenager.”

    Together with Mr. Cavalier, Mr. Violante and a few others, he spawned something like a musical cyclone, Mr. Irwin said.

    “What happened was, once you have a band in a locality hit pay dirt, it makes every other person in a band in that area want to make a hit,” he said. “All the pieces were in place, and Connecticut just zoomed.”

    Mr. Violante, who now plays in a Jimmy Buffett cover band called Key West Trio, regrets that it died down: “I’ve always felt that we should have been more recognized. I’m amazed it took 42 years to get a CD of what was going on here out there. But I’m also very flattered. It’s tremendous what they’ve done with this record.”
  16. Mike Dow

    Mike Dow I kind of like the music

    Bangor, Maine
    Just wanted to get this thread activated again. This is a fantastic compilation (great sound, too!). Is this comp still set for official release on March 18th? Thanks to this thread, I was able to pick it up just before (or after) it was recalled and I'm very glad I did. Some of these songs are wonderful and should have been big hits.

    I also second Christopher's recommendation of that Wildweeds disc. I knew Connecticut had some great talent but had no idea that most of the material on "Don't Press Your Luck" existed. Highly recommended. I need to track down the vinyl version for those extra tracks. :agree:
  17. rene smalldridge

    rene smalldridge Senior Member

    Yep it is still listed as coming out this month on the Sundazed site and I also got an email confirming my vinyl preorder.
  18. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    Some copies of the cd were in the distribution channels and didn't make it back to Sundazed. There's additional information that Sundazed found that is going into the insert. Pick this one up - there's some great garage action on that set...
  19. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    Fourth Ryke? Hmmmm, the garage band answer to The Third Reich? :eek:
  20. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll Thread Starter

    Avon, CT

    It's the stuff of pop music legend: in the late 60s, a young band with a scorching style and a regional number-one song drifted into obscurity. Meanwhile the band's frontman, then-teenage Al Anderson, went on to a highly visible career that includes a decades-long stint with the hugely popular band NRBQ. Anderson moved on to become one of the most sought after songwriters in Nashville, and he's still going strong after 40 years of musical adventures.

    This is the tale of The Wildweeds, a band that by all accounts was always slightly out of step with prevailing musical fashions. In retrospect, the band seemed to exist to set the stage for Al Anderson's future. But, as this new collection from Confidential Recordings, "No Good To Cry: The Best of The Wildweeds," reveals and affirms, the music that the group produced stands on its merits as an important contribution to the pop lexicon.

    The influences which made the band seem in the minority musically are today acknowledged as masters of soul. True the Beatles and the Stones popularized and emulated crossover rock and roll artists like Chuck Berry. But The Wildweeds worshipped the likes of Ray Charles, The Impressions and Billy Stewart. Perhaps The Weeds were ahead of their time. Listening to "No Good To Cry: The Best of The Wildweeds," a compilation of the band's singles and unreleased material, shows just how fresh that take is today.

    By the late 50s/early 60s, rock and roll had moved out of the south, and was not strictly the domain of the big cities any more, so this group of Windsor, CT boys was able to follow their musical ideals with impunity.

    The Hartford area had a strong music scene. The young players typically shifted in and out of various combos. Bands with names like The Blues Messengers, The Altones, The Six Packs and The Futuras shaped them. The Weeds finally gelled in late 1966. Shortly thereafter, the name was expanded to The Wildweeds. The musicians included Al Anderson, of course, on guitar and vocals. Andy Lepak (drums), Ray Zeiner (keyboards), Bob Dudek (bass) and Martin "Skip" Yakaitis (percussion) rounded out the group in its definitive lineup.

    While the band was still in its early stages, Andy Lepak's father, Alex Lepak Sr., a professional musician and teacher, started managing them. He provided a stabilizing influence, paying them a salary and instilling in them strong ideals about their music.

    According to the fairytale trajectory, the band's popularity grew locally through enthusiastic fans at numerous live gigs. Al Anderson continued to hone his songwriting skill. (Thirty-four years later, in 2000, Al Anderson was named BMI Songwriter of the Year, but that's getting too far ahead. Back to 1966.) The Weeds went into Syncron Sound Studios on their own and cut some tracks, including "No Good to Cry."

    The next chapter of the story finds record producer Thomas "Doc" Cavalier purchasing Syncron. Reviewing the archived assets of his new property, Doc was drawn to the energy and raw talent he heard from the Weeds rough recordings. He sought the boys out. He soon went further, refocusing and renaming the single, "No Good to Cry," and used his experience and influence to get them some industry notice. It worked. DJs around the northeast began to play "No Good to Cry." It was an unqualified regional hit.

    Doc got them a deal with one of Chess Label's subsidiaries, Cadet. "No Good to Cry" proceeded to get wider airplay, but never received the huge national attention that it deserved.

    Still more classic ups and downs followed. In an attempt to keep up with the evolving rock music of the late 60s, they tried a different musical direction, which culminated in the single "I'm Dreaming," released on Cadet Concept, another Chess offshoot. Again, good local response encouraged the band, but it seems the writing was on the wall. The band broke ranks with Doc Cavalier, changed personnel, and shifted their musical direction. This lineup of The Wildweeds released a self-titled country-influenced outing in 1970 on Vanguard that got little notice.

    Sometime in 1969 Skip Yakaitis urged Al Anderson to come with him to hear NRBQ, a new band. Within two years, history began anew when Al signed on with the "Q." Twenty-two years later, that chapter came to a close.

    Skip Yakaitis died in 1988. The Lepak family still lives in the Hartford area, and is still involved in music. Ray Zeiner now repairs pianos and still performs in Connecticut. Bob Dudek lived in Connecticut, and spent his years caring for the wildlife there. He died in June 2002 after a long battle with cancer. Thomas "Doc" Cavalier runs Trod Nossel Productions out of the same studio location that that he bought in 1967.

    Fans of NRBQ have been assured of Al Anderson's talents for decades. Legions of them treasure, trade and discuss everything that the band has ever done. With the release of "No Good to Cry: The Best of The Wildweeds," Confidential Recordings is proud to contribute some long-lost, ever-so-deserving material, including rare and vintage photos and documents, to update and add to the legend.


    An Appreciation
    by Christine Ohlman

    It was the mid-sixties, and America was mad for the sounds of the British invasion. Every garage band, it seemed, dreamed of becoming the next Beatles, the new Stones. But for five white kids out of Windsor, Connecticut, the dream lay closer to home. Calling themselves first The Six Packs and later, The Wildweeds, these guys walked the walk and talked the talk of a style, owing as much to jazz as to pure fifties-era R & B, that might have seemed a throwback had their pure musicianship not been so stellar.

    Windsor is just north of Hartford, a city possessing, then and now, a lively and racially mixed community of jazz and classical players that gave it an edge in musical sophistication. The members of the Wildweeds grew up around jazz and were already on the road to becoming accomplished members of that scene when they were caught up by the deep sounds of Southern soul music that percolated throughout sixties radio playlists. It seemed the natural thing, and it seasoned them. Compared to the teen bands of the day from which they might only have been removed by a few years (the oldest being in his early twenties when they hit), these guys were Midnight Movers ... the real deal.

    Let me hip you to something that Wildweeds fans already know. All of the Weeds could sing, but three of them-Al Anderson, Ray Zeiner, and Bobby Dudek-could WAIL. Anderson, the lead guitarist and chief songwriter, idolized Ray Charles and evolved a style mixing full-throated gospel shouting with a sometimes smoother approach, a la Percy Mayfield. Zeiner's vocals were rougher, tortured and more urgent-the perfect foil for his Hammond B-3; think Otis Redding on "These Arms Of Mine." Bassist Dudek, blinded at an early age, was a pop evangelist--always ON, always pleading, like Jackie Wilson at fever pitch. The group was completed by Martin "Skip" Yakaitis, the onstage MC/percussionist who lent wry humor to the proceedings, and drummer Andy Lepak, with a sweet. high voice.

    Clearly, all this was miles away from Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger, the reigning "tastes" of the day, and even the Weeds couldn't ignore the prevailing pop sensibility entirely. They mixed masterfully-played Hendrix and Beatles covers into live sets that were often mind-bendingly eclectic. But in the studio, when the group joined forces with producer Doc Cavalier (after he inked them to Chicago's Chess label under its Cadet subsidiary), it was a different story, When "No Good To Cry", a searing mix of jazz-inverted guitar chords, thumping bass and swirling Hammond organ topped off by Anderson's white-hot vocal, hit the airwaves in 1967--the year of the Summer Of Love-it was clear that, like Memphians Alex Chilton and Chips Moman with "The Letter" and Detroit's Mitch Ryder with "Sock It To Me, Baby". The Wildweeds and Cavalier had conjured a performance so soulful it transcended genre and race, in the process giving the Eastern U.S. an AM radio smash for the ages.

    More glory days were to come. Hartford was a major radio market in the sixties, and The Weeds were its undisputed kings. With strong support from Bertha Porter, the legendary program director of Hartford's WDRC, "Someday Morning" hit later in 1967, followed by "It Was Fun While It Lasted" in 1968 and "I'm Dreaming" (on the Cadet Concept label) in 1969-all are included here, along with their Bsides. Then rifts opened and trouble set in, as it often does when multi-talented individuals attempt to meld. The group reconfigured (with Alex Lepak on bass, Dudek on drums, and Zeiner gone) and jumped to the Vanguard label for one country-flavored LP in 1970 before splitting. Dudek and Zeiner went solo (check out Zeiner's beautiful ballad, "I Had A Girl," a Wildweeds track later remixed and issued on the Poison Ring label); Yakaitis passed away too young; and Anderson joined NRBQ, eventually settling into a longtime stint as a successful Nashville songwriter.

    But the glory days live on in these soulful tracks, full of the kind of raw energy and refined musical chops that define them as truly great. Dig it.

    Christine Ohlman (The Beehive Queen)
  21. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    The recalled cd had liner notes that needed some band information corrected...
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