Thursday

WELCOME TO BLITZ MAGAZINE'S WEB SITE!


PERFECT: Thinking outside of the proverbial box is an attribute that is by definition indigenous to the gifts of those who are visionaries. To that effect, after establishing a formidable legacy in film (most recently with a series of acclaimed Hallmark productions) and television (including her ongoing role as Theresa Donovan on NBC television's Days Of Our Lives), veteran actress and Roanoke, Virginia native Jen Lilley has returned to her first love - music - with a vengeance, via the release of her King Of Hearts single and her forthcoming album, scheduled for February 2019 release. In October 2018, Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell spoke at length in with Lilley about her various triumphs in film and television, as well as her musical vision and her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ (as well as its resultant altruism). (Click on the Jen Lilley Interview link under the Previous Posts heading at right for the full story). (Click on the above image to enlarge). 

WELCOME TO THE INTERNET HOME
FOR BLITZ MAGAZINE
SINCE 1975 -
THE ROCK AND ROLL MAGAZINE
FOR THINKING PEOPLE

Welcome to the official web site for Blitz, The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. Since 1975, Blitz has been the leading voice for the discerning music enthusiast. Blitz Magazine was also one of the first magazines of its kind to embrace the internet, having also been online since January 1996.

Here you will find news and updates about all of the key artists essential to the growth and development of rock and roll music and related genres, including rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and easy listening. For highlights from recent past editions of the Bits And Pieces and Shape Of Things To Come columns, click on the archival postings on the right hand side of this page. Be sure and check back frequently for regular updates.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com.


Michael McDowell
Editor/Publisher
Blitz Magazine
Since 1975 - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

E-Mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com for a list of available back issues.


Be sure to follow Blitz on Twitter:
@BlitzMagazine
and
on Facebook at:
Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

AUDREY'S MUSICAL JOURNEY:

Follow the fascinating and unfolding tale (through her favorite music) of the life and times of Blitz Magazine's late and beloved Photo Editor, Audrey McDowell, as told by her husband, Blitz Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell. A Facebook exclusive! "Like" us on Facebook at Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People, and watch for further installments.

IN THE BITS AND PIECES COLUMN:

For more than a half century, Randy And The Rainbows have been in the forefront of the vocal harmony experience. We salute dear friend, group co-founder and lead vocalist Dominick "Randy" Safuto, who succumbed to a lengthy battle with coronary disease on 16 October. 

Vocalist, actress and Days Of Our Lives vet Jen Lilley returns to her first love - music - with the 05 October release of her Adrian Gurvitz-produced single, King Of Hearts.

We salute the beloved rock and roll visionary, extraordinary session vocalist and dear friend Bernadette Carroll in a free standing article, Bernadette Carroll Memorial Tribute under the Previous Posts heading at right.

In a free standing article, we pay tribute to dear friend and CKLW The Big 8 alumnus Bill Gable, who passed away suddenly on 18 September at age 69. (Click on CKLW Bill Gable Memorial Tribute under Previous Posts heading at right).

Prayers in progress for (Young) Rascals guitarist and co-founder Gene Cornish, who is recovering after collapsing on stage in Billings, Montana on 07 September while performing with Rascals co-founder and keyboardsman Felix Cavaliere.

The world of music mourns the passing of the legendary Aretha Franklin, who lost her protracted battle with pancreatic cancer on 16 August. We take an in depth look at her extraordinary sixty-two year recording career, along with commentary from admirers and colleagues.

In a free standing article (see Jack Scott Concert Review link under Previous Posts at right) beloved rock and roll giant Jack Scott brought the house down in fine fashion during his headlining appearance at the annual Birthday Bash celebration for the city of Warren, Michigan in August.

She and her brother were among the world's most renowned guitarists. Lorrie and Larry Collins pooled their considerable talents for a long and productive run at Columbia Records as the Collins Kids, beginning in 1955. We look back at the extraordinary career of Lorrie Collins, who passed away suddenly at age 76.

The extraordinary six decade career of JIVE FIVE front man and  co-founder EUGENE PITT was one of the most inspiring in all of music. Blitz Magazine salutes this vocal group pioneer and fellow musicologist and record collector.

The back to back passings on 24 June of LEFT BANKE drummer and co-founder GEORGE CAMERON and WABC-AM veteran and radio pioneer DAN INGRAM brought to mind the enormity of the loss, as well as the fact that many of their target audience may not have appreciated their contributions to the degree that they should have. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes the masses to task accordingly.

Prayers in progress for Monkees co-founder and lead guitarist Michael Nesmith. The band was forced to postpone the final four dates of its current tour (billed as "The Mike and Micky Show" with Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz) due to illness.

With the passing on 13 June of Blue Moon Boys drummer D.J. Fontana, the transition of the band that helped launch the career of Elvis Presley is complete. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell reflects upon Fontana's extraordinary career.

Five Satins co-founder and lead vocalist Fred Parris and his wife Emma thankfully escaped injury when their Connecticut hone was damaged by a tornado on 25 May.

Prayers are in progress for Dominick "Randy" Safuto, co-founder and lead vocalist of vocal group pioneers Randy And The Rainbows, who has been hospitalized after suffering cardiac arrest.

Legendary vocal virtuoso Mel Carter has taken a giant leap forward by weighing in on the topic of gun violence in his most recent single, Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun. Exclusive commentary by Carter himself here. 

IN THE REISSUES / ANTHOLOGIES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

The prolific sibling duo, Paul And Barry Ryan at last gets their due in terms of a comprehensive anthology CD, thanks to Ash Wells' Teensville label.

The psych phase of the still very much active veteran rocker Marty Wilde's six decade career finally sees proper documentation with Abergavenny: The Philips Pop Years 1966 - 1971, an all new CD anthology, also on Ash Wells' Teensville label.

The younger brother of rhythm and blues legends Art and Aaron Neville, Cyril Neville finally gets his due with the release of a five CD retrospective box set, Endangered Species: The Complete Recordings. We take a look at the eleven track sampler disc from that collection.

Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes an in depth look at the eight volume WJBK Hits Various Artists anthology series, which chronicles a wealth of essential and obscure singles from the weekly charts published by that legendary Detroit radio station from 1956 to 1964. 

IN THE NEW RELEASES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

Pennsylvania cousins Sharon Lee and Karen Lynn comprise the Bookends, whose all new Far Away But Around album for the Otto Raw label is generating considerable enthusiasm among musicologists and record collectors, as well as enthusiasts of first and second generation garage rock.

Composer, vocalist, keyboardsman and Late Night show bandleader Jon Batiste embraces a wide variety of material (both original and from outside sources) on his Verve Records debut solo album, Hollywood Africans.

Also on Verve is Combo 66, the latest album of original material by acclaimed guitarist John Scofield, augmented by the remarkable keyboard stylings of Gerald Clayton.

The Nashville, Tennessee-based husband and wife duo, the Smoking Flowers are once again all over the musical map with a rich variety of inspirations in their latest Bandaloop Music vinyl LP release, Let's Die Together

Multi-instrumentalist and former Sunflower label recording artist Les Fradkin joins such thinking outside the box veterans as Jeremy Morris and Question Mark And The Mysterians lead guitarist Bobby Balderrama in taking an otherworldly musical journey with his latest Bongo Boy Records release, Escape From Earth.

Blues legend John Mayall continues in peak form with the release of his most recent live album (recorded in 2017), Three For The Road on the Forty Below label.

Moving Sidewalks co-founder and guitarist Billy F. Gibbons takes the blues to a much needed next level with this second solo release, The Big Bad Blues for Concord Records.

Tuesday

LISA MYCHOLS INTERVIEW


MOVE THE NEEDLE TO GROOVE: In an extraordinary career that began in the closing years of the twentieth century, the Long Beach, California-based vocalist and composer Lisa Mychols has consistently thought outside of the box to produce a rich and diverse body of work that is at once both familiar and challenging. With the release of her all new Sugar album for the Strataplastic label, Mychols has taken her vision a decisive step forward in that respect. Blitz Magazine recently spoke with Mychols about how that project came to fruition, as well as the various musical highlights that came about along the way (Click on above image to enlarge).


THINK A LITTLE SUGAR:
LISA MYCHOLS
SWEETENS HER LEGACY
WITH NEW ALBUM 
By Michael McDowell

In the process of conducting an interview and/or composing a review of a given release, it is more often than not likely that reference will be made to a given artist or track whose inspiration seems apparent within the work at hand.

Over the past half century, there have been very, very few releases which at once sound familiar yet unique. That is, one in which the artist in question draws from universally acclaimed inspirations, but in the process creates a work that defies comparison to others. 

One such album is legendary songwriter Lori Burton's 1967 Breakout! album for Mercury Records. In spite of the inclusion therein of her earlier Nightmare single as the Whyte Boots (which has long been regarded as a hallmark of the vocal group genre), Burton's work in that landmark release stands tall on its own merits. 

More than a half century later, another work has at last come along that at once suggests a variety of familiar inspirational sources, but which cannot be decisively affiliated with any of them. That album is Sugar, the latest Strataplastic label release by the veteran Long Beach, California-based vocalist, composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Lisa Mychols. 

With producer Steve Refling handling all instrumental responsibilities, Sugar was recorded at Lincoln Lounge in Venice, California. And while Refling and Mychols have taken decisive steps to present a richly diverse and unique cross section of material in their eleven collaborations therein, the sense of familiarity and solidarity is accomplished through the album's cover design. 

The brainchild of Now Sounds Records' founder and CEO, Steve Stanley, the cover of Sugar draws freely from the inspiration of classic Warner Brothers albums of the early to mid 1960s by such label front runners as Petula Clark, Joanie Sommers, Dick And Dee Dee, Connie Stevens, Freddy Cannon, Barbara McNair, Piccola Pupa and Peter, Paul And Mary. 

"I have always wanted to design a record for Lisa, and was thrilled when she asked me", said Stanley, whose recent projects also include serving as art director for ABKCO's long awaited CD and LP compilation of the 1966 - 1967 Hideout and Cameo label 45s by Bob Seger And The Last Heard.

"My only instruction for the design was to create something frosty and sugary. Lisa sent me a few photos that immediately echoed the vibe of some Petula Clark records in my collection. I like the way she looks simultaneously elegant, inviting and tough. Lisa gives off a similar attitude".

Sugar is the latest and possibly the most ambitious in a long line of Lisa Mychols releases. Like Jeremy Morris, Dana Countryman, Adam Marsland, Rob Martinez and Kyle Vincent, Mychols has been plying her trade prolifically since the closing years of the twentieth century. Yet only now is this informal cadre of like minded visionaries being recognized as the front running up and coming generation of influential singer/songwriters.

"When someone brings a lot to the table, it kick starts the process of defining what you have", said Steve Refling.

"It also allows you to pull things out of thin air".

Steve Stanley concurred with Refling's observations.

"Many of the musicians and artists I know now I met back in the 1990s", he said.

"I can now honestly say that out of all of them, the one I thought was the most robbed by not achieving mainstream success was Lisa. She was overqualified for the times and the scene in terms of charisma, writing, vocal ability, musicianship and overall talent. 

"But fortunately for all of us, whatever lack of commercial success didn't sway her from following her muse and pursuing her art. And we are all the richer for that."

In this recent exchange with Blitz Magazine Editor / Publisher Michael McDowell, Lisa Mychols discusses not only the impact of Sugar on her exponentially expanding base of hardcore devotees, but how her earlier work with the Wondermints, Nushu and the Masticators have helped ensure her commitment to stylistic diversity in a field where genre myopia has often taken its toll on the creative process. 

BLITZ: From the onset, you have adopted different personae in the studio, from your solo work to Nushu and most recently the Seven & Six. Yet the collective mission statements of each seem to have only minor variances in their respective goals. Is this done in part to accommodate any potential variations in vision of your respective collaborators? 

MYCHOLS: Well, my first collaborators were the Wondermints for Lost Winters Dream, which all started from a bunch of emotional turmoil I was going through, writing down and putting to music. Once I brought those songs to Darian Sahanaja of the Wondermints, he brought in Nick Walusko, also of the Wondermints.

From sadness came the magic of the Wondermints and the future of Lost Winters Dream. It was a lot of fun collaborating on that project. I never felt anything was being taken away, or that any song might be losing its message. It was more like the project was being continuously loved and nurtured. I will forever love those Wondermint boys!

The Masticators were a band I put together for some new songs I had written. Patrick McGrath on guitar and keys, Robbie Rist as drummer, producer and engineer, and Severo on bass helped create our sound by simply bringing in their own individual musical expressions instrumentally and vocally, making everything we did together a whole lot of fun! I feel that we all complemented each other. It really showed in every song we recorded.

After that band disbanded, I brought in a bunch of new songs to Tom Richards of the Waking Hours. He was able to work with me to release Sweet Sinsations and In This City. Tom knows the kind of music I love, and created a new kind of sound for us to play with.

Even with the limited recording space he had to work with, he made those albums happen! We also had some friends play on some songs, making those songs that much better. All which include members of the Waking Hours and the incredible Debbie Shair!

As for Nushu, working with Hillary Burton was a type of collaboration where we would bring in songs and have the other either add to it or just be players and singers on each other's songs. Steve Refling had lots of cool sounds in his studio, so there was a lot of freedom to create and/or just come up with ideas in mid air.

As far as our collective vision and goals, at least for me, I felt like our lives were taking on a ton of major changes in some parallel kind of way. We were loaded with inspiration and a bit of edgy mystery. Nushu was a great and timely unit to creatively express through!

The Seven & Six, the current project and band of Tom Richards and myself, have a collaborative sound and message more for the current age of the mass collective. Tom and I collaborate very closely in this band. We actually have conversations about the lyrics, because they are absolutely worth talking about!

Seriously, if Tom changes even one thing during recording, it will affect something in the lyrics. But it's so much fun creating this way, as I think it keeps us actively inspired.

BLITZ: You are based in Long Beach, California. The city is known in part for a collective image borne of seemingly disparate components, from the traditional beach community of Belmont Shore (which interestingly enough is a beach community without the key attribute of a beach, given that the Pacific Ocean's geographical particulars there are not conducive to surf because of their southern exposure) to the consistently changing face of the downtown area, from the demise of Buffums Department Store to the short lived Long Beach Mall to serving as the base for KNAC-FM in the 1980s. Not to mention the historical significance of the presence of the Queen Mary and the shipping industry in neighboring San Pedro.

Given that so much of your work draws from a sympathetic third person perspective if not consistently a first person one, has the atmosphere of the city been an asset or a liability in your creative process in that respect?

MYCHOLS: Long Beach for me has been less of an influence and more of an ongoing backdrop of my inner world. It's a very pleasant city, though. More of a place I go out to when I am not in creative mode. A place I never take with me, if that makes sense.

BLITZ: The cover graphics of your Sugar album were inspired by early to mid-1960s Warner Brothers label albums, including the stereo logo. The label's roster at the time included Petula Clark, Barbara McNair, Piccola Pupa, Freddy Cannon, Joanie Sommers, Joan Barton, Connie Stevens, Lynn Gold, Dick And Dee Dee, the Marketts, Dorothy Provine, and Peter, Paul And Mary. In light of the label's richly diverse cross section of artists, and given that your work differs from theirs as much as each of theirs differs from one another, was this as much a profession of solidarity with their individual mission statements as it was a proclamation of thinking outside of the box?

MYCHOLS: I love most of those artists you've just mentioned. The other names I just don't recognize! Musically and/or fashionably, they have influenced me in one way or another, and on a deep level. Steve Stanley, who created the artwork for Sugar, somehow captured all of that. Whether it was intended or not, the cover radiates that very essence. I cried when I first saw it!

BLITZ: One Revolution from your Sugar album cleverly invokes record collector terminology, including "move the needle to groove" and "you wanted to do a full revolution". To what degree does that perspective impact your writing process, as opposed to painting a lyrical portrait borne of experience for the sake of the art itself?

MYCHOLS: A journey that might appear to be going in circles. Yet it might not, at least not for long. The imagery is quick enough to think one knows where they are going. But it's all happening on an energetic level, really.

I suppose that sometimes I get lost in the writing itself. Or maybe it's that the writing is using me to write. So it's kind of hard to answer this one!

BLITZ: To that effect, is there an undercurrent at play of endeavoring to raise the bar on behalf of that demographic, some of whom profess regret with respect to their perceived cultural disenfranchisement?

MYCHOLS: "Journey through the soul with me, for there is where the answer will be".

BLITZ: He's Got Me Dreaming is interesting, in that it features a 4/4 march tempo not unlike that found in the Monkees' Birth Of An Accidental Hipster. Even more so, both pieces find unique lyrical routes to a common goal. Was that intentional?

MYCHOLS: Hmmm. I don't think so. I mean, when I wrote the song, it could have just been how I happened to be strumming at the time.

Although, Steve Refling had a big part in arranging the songs on this album. So it could have been something he just heard. So I would probably say not intentional.

BLITZ: Next To Impossible draws from the slow 6/8, high drama template of Lesley Gore's I Don't Wanna Be A Loser. But interestingly enough, Next To Impossible transforms its firm resolve and propensity towards independence into an atmosphere of both dependence and despondency. Given your trademark relentless optimism outside of a musical setting, could this be considered a scenario which was not borne of personal experience?

MYCHOLS: Wow, you certainly have a good sense! Steve Refling brought in this delightful gem for us to record. As far as the lyrics went, Steve started me off with the brilliant title, Next To Impossible and gave me complete freedom to write the rest. Although I did on occasion call on his help when I would get stuck.

It was a tricky song that needed to be absolutely right. And even though this song may not be drawn from a past physical experience, I feel that I have fully experienced it. So I connect with this one quite a bit!

BLITZ: However unintentionally, you have become an integral part of a burgeoning movement of prolific vocalists and composers that have been plying their trade since the closing years of the previous century, yet whom are suddenly finding common ground and growing acclaim commensurate with their current work. Their ranks would include Jeremy Morris, Dana Countryman, Kyle Vincent, Adam Marsland and Rob Martinez, some of whom you have worked with in various capacities. What do you envision as your own role in these developments? Do you see the potential for future collaborations with any of those colleagues?

MYCHOLS: Collaborations indeed, and "Hey!" to all of those wonderful friends.

I'm excited to report that I am currently working on a song written by the very talented lyricist and songwriter, Elizabeth Racz, along with another song by my amazing friend, Jordan Oaks, the writer of Yellow Pills

I will also be singing on a song with Kai Danzberg for his upcoming album. Have you heard his music yet? He's one of my absolute favorite current artists!

BERNADETTE CARROLL MEMORIAL TRIBUTE


PRETTY BERNADETTE: That 1964 Cleopatra label 45 is also a most apt description of the beloved musical visionary and dear friend, Bernadette Carroll, who succumbed to a lengthy illness on 05 October.  Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a both a personal look and an overview of her extraordinary career below. (Click on above image to enlarge).

MY HEART STOOD STILL:
REMEMBERING
BERNADETTE CARROLL
By Michael McDowell

One of the major blessings of publishing Blitz Magazine over the past 40+ years is that many who were once heroes and inspirations eventually became dear friends.

Never was that more apparent on this end than during the horrific nightmare of October 2014, when my beloved Princess Audrey suddenly succumbed to a major stroke and brain hemorrhage. In the early aftermath of that tragedy, there were several such musical colleagues who went way above and beyond the call of duty by offering prayers, condolences, and keeping in touch regularly to offer support and encouragement, and to inquire as to my well being.

One such dear friend was rock and roll legend and Readington, New Jersey native Bernadette Carroll. Notoriety came in short order for her as a member of the prototypical Angels group, the Starlets, whose haunting 1960 cover of the Hilltoppers/Rudy Vallee masterpiece, P.S. I Love You for Astro Records generated momentum that quickly grew exponentially.

Carroll later was an integral part of the supergroup Jessica James And The Outlaws (with the Angels' Peggy Santiglia and the Delicates' Denise Ferri, whom Carroll met in 1959). Jessica James And The Outlaws provided backing vocals on Patty Duke's 1965 Don't Just Stand There album for United Artists, and also put their distinctive touch on many of the classic Lou Christie sides during his tenure with MGM; most notably on his acclaimed Lightning Strikes and Painter Of Hits albums for the label. Jessica James And The Outlaws in turn made their mark on their own in 1966 with the enduring double entendre classic, We'll Be Makin' Out. Carroll eventually spent a season as the Angels' lead vocalist, during the group's affiliation with RCA Victor. It was a role that was also enjoyred for a time by the Pixies Three's Debra Swisher Horn.

But it was her most impressive string of solo singles that forever endeared Bernadete Carroll to hardcore musicologists and musicians. She first rose to prominence in that respect in 1962 with the release of the high drama masterpiece, My Heart Stood Still for the Julia label. Her Julia-era Laughing On The Outside also enjoyed renewed interest in the UK in 2017.

Ultimately, it was with her move to Laurie Records in 1964 that Bernadette Carroll reached her career zenith with the release of one of rock and roll's most beloved anthems. That single, Party Girl is a sublime example of the relentless optimism that was also indigenous to such like minded releases as the Pixies Three's 442 Glenwood Avenue and Johnny Caswell's At The Shore. Carroll followed that landmark release in rapid succession throughout 1964 and 1965 with such Laurie label gems as Homecoming Party, The Hero, Nicky (which was co-authored by the Four Seasons' Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi), Try Your Luck and Don't Hurt Me.

In her later years, Carroll relocated to West Palm Beach, Florida, where she devoted much of her attention to her family. However, she and Ferri remained in touch, and in the current decade brainstormed a number of potential musical collaborations. A regular presence on social media throughout much of the current decade, Carroll was plagued by health problems in recent months, finally losing her valiant battle on 05 October.

"Bernadette was beautiful inside and out", said Denise Ferri in an online statement.

"We had many years together and many belly laughs. A beautiful, gentle soul. I love you and will miss you".

So will those of us for whom that gentle soul reached out selflessly to provide immeasurable blessings in the face of adversity. Funeral arrangements are pending.




BOB SEGER HIDEOUT / CAMEO REISSUE



VERY FEW: People imagined that this collection would ever see the light of day. But thanks to the due diligence of ABKCO Records, the entire Cameo Records output of first generation garage rock visionaries Bob Seger And The Last Heard (pictured above in a 1966 Cameo promo photo) is at last available on both CD and vinyl LP. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell spoke with Project Producer Teri Landi, Art Director Steve Stanley and Michigan Music History CEO Mike Jackson about this landmark collection below.  (Click on above image to enlarge).

EAST SIDE STORY:
ABKCO'S MIRACULOUS REISSUE OF
BOB SEGER AND THE LAST HEARD'S
HIDEOUT AND CAMEO SINGLES
By Michael McDowell


It was the reissue that many people said would never happen.

For decades, the vaunted catalog of the legendary Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Cameo/Parkway Records (which also included such ambitious affiliate labels as Lucky Eleven, Sentar, Windy C, Wyncote, Fairmount and Vando) remained largely out of print and under the jurisdiction of ABKCO Records. But in recent years, ABKCO has begun addressing the situation in earnest, returning to print everything from Clint Eastwood's western-themed album and highlights from Bobby Rydell's vast contributions to the label to Dee Dee Sharp's Gospel collection and the two Lucky Eleven label albums by first generation garage rock legends Terry Knight And The Pack. Some of those projects were done in tandem with the UK-based Ace/Big Beat conglomerate, while others were part of a short lived agreement with the now defunct Collectors Choice label.

ABKCO has continued to make amends with the multitudes who have awaited the return to print of the work of so many of the label's vaunted alumni, whose numbers also included such greats as Chubby Checker, Charlie Gracie, the Storey Sisters, the Mike Pedicin Quintet, the Tymes, the Dovells, the Applejacks, John Paul Jones, the Orlons, the Kinks, Screaming Lord Sutch, Sounds Orchestral, Candy And The Kisses, the Ivy League, the Rationals, the Ohio Express, the Three And A Half, Bunny Sigler, Eddie Holman, Pete Best, the Rag Dolls, the Hep Stars, Jamie Coe And The Gigolos, Question Mark And The Mysterians, the Yellow Payges, Frankie Beverly, the Five Stairsteps, the Bossmen, the New Colony Six, Chris Bartley, Maynard Ferguson, Evie Sands, the Olympics, Bobby Marchan, Jimmy Velvet and Tony Orlando, to name but a few. 

There is one particular artist whose work for the label continues to be held in the highest regard by both his original audience and connoisseurs of first generation garage rock. However, that artist has been reported to have steadfastly taken exception to its ongoing availability.

The artist in question is vocalist, composer and Detroit, Michigan native Robert Clark "Bob" Seger. He both disillusioned and disenfranchised a significant percentile of his original audience by continuing to disavow not only his earliest singles for the Punch, Are You Kidding Me, Hideout and Cameo labels with the Omens, the Beach Bums and the Last Heard, but his late 1960s - early 1970s releases for Capitol with the Bob Seger System, as well. 

Bob Seger And The Last Heard have long been highly regarded as being in the upper echelons of the first generation garage rock movement developing in Southeastern Michigan at the time. The genre's ranks also boasted such giants of the idiom as the Rationals, Tidal Waves, Underdogs, Unrelated Segments, Shy Guys, Wanted, Human Beings, Capreez, Thyme, Bossmen, Terry Knight And The Pack, Tim Tam And The Turn-Ons, Question Mark And The Mysterians, Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels and the Lazy Eggs.

The reasoning behind this perspective varies from source to source. But the only other even remotely similar set of circumstances concerns the massive and essential catalog of the Dave Clark Five (originally issued in the United States on Rust, Jubilee, Congress and Epic), with band co-founder and drummer Dave Clark (one of two surviving members of the band, the other being guitarist Leonard Arthur "Lenny" Davidson) denying almost all overtures to maintain catalog availability.

Along the way, others have attempted to make amends with regards to the early Bob Seger material, with only minimal success. To wit, a contributor to one installment of the acclaimed All The Hits Various Artists collections on the CamPark label (which feature rare singles from the Cameo/Parkway vaults) even took the extraordinary step of mixing Parts One and Two of Bob Seger And The Last Heard's 1967 Heavy Music single into one continuous track with a cold ending, rather than the fade that appears on the original 45. In turn, ABKCO itself did its part to help rectify the situation by including the band's 1966 signature single, East Side Story and Heavy Music (Part One) on a four CD overview of the label's history, Cameo Parkway 1957-1967, released in May 2005. ABKCO had also kept several of the Bob Seger And The Last Heard 45s in print on their own label during the early 1970s.

But with the release of the ten track Heavy Music anthology, it appears as though ABKCO has finally succeeded where earlier attempts have failed. 

"We do our best with every release to reach out to an artist to see if there is enthusiasm on their part and (to see if they) want to be involved", said ABKCO's Teri Landi, who served as Reissue Producer for this project.

"We did so here. Punch Andrews was very eager for us to worth with mastering engineer Robert Vosgien at Capitol Studios, who has done a lot of mastering work on Seger's recordings, (both) vintage and more current".

While nothing on ABKCO's Heavy Music will be unfamiliar to Bob Seger And The Last Heard's original audience, all who have been clamoring for its ongoing availability will nonetheless have considerable reason to rejoice, including some recent converts to the cause.

"I was familiar with a couple of these early singles, and I have a copy of his first Capitol LP", said Now Sounds Records CEO Steve Stanley, who served as Art Director for this ABKCO project.

"But I must admit that I was unaware of exactly how revered this material is for diehard Seger fans. Heavy Music has been a great learning experience for me. I'm honored to have worked with the ABKCO crew on this historic project".

Prior to his affiliation with Cameo, Seger recorded for offshoot labels under the parent umbrella of the Birmingham, Michigan based Hideout label. Long regarded as one of the front runners in first generation garage rock, Hideout's artist roster included such visionaries as the Underdogs, the Pleasure Seekers, the Four Of Us, the Talismen, the Mama Cats and Ron Coden, and later the Brownsville Station, the Phantom and Jim Freeman. 

In 1965, Seger joined forces with Doug Brown And The Omens to record the acclaimed T.G.I.F., which saw release on Hideout's Punch subsidiary. The following year, in the wake of the release of Barry Sadler's enormously successful The Ballad Of The Green Berets single for RCA Victor, the Omens with Bob Seger recorded a parody of Sadler's single, entitled The Ballad Of The Yellow Beret. With composer credits listed on the label as "D. Dodger", Seger and the Omens replaced Sadler's opening lyric, "Fighting soldiers from the sky, fearless men who jump and die" with the decidedly different, "Fearless cowards of the USA, bravely here at home they stay". Seger's "You can't take me! I've got a bad back, I'm allergic to everything" vamp at the fade closed out the proceedings. 

Such variations on that particular theme were not uncommon at the time, in light of the Spokesmen's The Dawn Of Correction single for Decca and Jan Berry's solo The Universal Coward 45 for Liberty. Nonetheless, Seger and the Omens opted to bill themselves as the Beach Bums for this release, with the single issued on the yellow Hideout affiliate label, Are You Kidding Me? Records. 

On the flip side of that Beach Bums single was the inspiring and endearing Florida Time, a straight ahead rocker that takes its cue from the work of such bands as the Tigers, the Rip Chords, the Sunrays and the Four Speeds. Interestingly enough, Florida Time would see reissue in late 1966 on Cameo as the flip side of Sock It To Me Santa as Bob Seger And The Last Heard.

Given the circumstances in which this collection came to fruition, some sacrifices were in order. Not included are the Punch label T.G.I.F. single, nor the Beach Bums' The Ballad Of The Yellow Beret. And while it was reported at the time that the late Barry Sadler initially took umbrage with the Beach Bums' variation on his familiar theme, their lack of inclusion here could just as easily be attributed to the fact that neither track ever saw release or reissue on Cameo.

Such is not the case for the ten tracks that did make the cut, though. Foremost among them is the single that put Bob Seger And The Last Heard at center stage in Michigan's formidable first generation garage rock movement.  

That Bob Seger And The Last Heard single, East Side Story first saw release on Hideout. It had been out for several months until finally being added by the area's (and concurrently the nation's) premier radio station, Dearborn's WKNR Keener 13 on 19 September 1966. Appropriately enough, WXYZ in neighboring Southfield followed suit. East Side Story eventually peaked at #3 on WKNR's weekly music guide (behind Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels'' Devil With A Blue Dress On and the Surfaris' Wipe Out). 

Bob Seger And The Last Heard further endeared themselves to their rapidly growing audience via multiple appearances on Robin Seymour's Swingin' Time series in neighboring Windsor, Ontario. Thankfully a video clip has survived of that Swingin' Time performance, in which the song's stark lyrical account of gang violence set to one of the most perfect first generation garage rock backdrops in the genre overall resonated with all concerned. 

And while organist Brown and drummer Bob Evans participated in that landmark recording, both opted out of the band after the release of that single, leaving the Last Heard lineup to Seger (vocals/guitar), lead guitarist Carl Legassa, bassist Dan Honaker and drummer Pep Perrine (who also recorded a solo album for Hideout). East Side Story was picked up by Cameo in early October 1966, although both the Hideout and Cameo pressings remained readily available in most hometown record outlets for the remainder of the single's run.

With Cameo's Neil Bogart diligently seeking to expand the label's roster during that most productive period, Bob Seger And The Last Heard opted for a Cameo-only release with their late 1966 Christmas single, Sock It To Me Santa. A playful re-write of James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, Sock It To Me Santa has remained a staple each Christmas season over the past half century, despite its general lack of availability for much of that period.

However, in early 1967, Bob Seger And The Last Heard returned to form (and Hideout) with the powerhouse original, Persecution Smith. The track more than made its mark by its one-two punch delivery, coupled with a rapid fire lyrical name check of a variety of socio-political concerns that deftly straddles the fence in terms of editorial perspective. The flip side, Chain Smokin' is far less subtle, with Seger and the Last Heard lamenting the health concerns indigenous to tobacco usage. WKNR Keener 13 again rallied to the cause, with Persecution Smith peaking at #9 on the WKNR Music Guide on 20 February 1967 and Cameo once again reissuing the single for national availability. 

Bob Seger And The Last Heard issued two additional singles in 1967, both of which were exclusive to Cameo and both of which are included in this collection. A masterpiece of high drama with some world class guitar work, Vagrant Winter suggested changes in musical direction that would indeed manifest themselves the following year when the band became the Bob Seger System. The flip side, the compelling ballad Very Few was potent enough to inspire a cover version by fellow area veteran rocker George "Jamie Coe" Colovas on the Enterprise label. Curiously, it was Coe who premiered the song on Robin Seymour's Swingin' Time, although in one particular appearance on the program, Coe seemed curiously and uncharacteristically reticent in the process of doing so.

But by mid-1967, Bob Seger And The Last Heard would cut what would ultimately become their most successful and acclaimed single for Cameo. That track, Heavy Music celebrates the best of all that music had to offer during that most productive of eras, with Seger even demonstrating a bit of bravado in Part Two via his proclamation of, "NSU, SRC, Stevie Winwood got nothin' on me!". Heavy Music finished at a very respectable #2 on WKNR Keener 13 on 04 September 1967, behind the Box Tops' signature Mala label single, The Letter. 

Interestingly enough, in early 1969, WKNR conducted a listeners' poll and published a listing of what the station's faithful voted as the top 113 singles of all time. Heavy Music finished at a most impressive #2 on that list (behind the Association's Cherish at #1), although the single was erroneously credited on that commemorative chart to the Bob Seger System.

For that matter, after Heavy Music, Bob Seger And The Last Heard's affiliation with Cameo was no more. In early 1968, after most impressive showings with new releases by the Ohio Express, the Olympics and Evie Sands, Cameo/Parkway ceased operations. In the process, their extraordinary artist roster was scattered to the winds. Evie Sands headed for A&M, the Ohio Express and Chubby Checker followed Neil Bogart over to Buddah, Chris Bartley embarked upon a brief sabbatical before re-emerging with Musicor, and both the Pack and Terry Knight (each of whom were recording separately by that time), as well as the Rationals, Question Mark And The Mysterians and Bob Seger And The Last Heard all headed for Capitol. The Last Heard then became the Bob Seger System, and their remarkable streak continued unabated with such landmark singles as 2+2=?, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Ivory, Innervenus Eyes and Noah enabling them to finish out the 1960s in world class fashion.

Since that time, attempts by Capitol and other labels to keep such consistently in demand Bob Seger System and Bob Seger solo albums as Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Noah, Brand New Morning, Mongrel and the utterly stupendous Back In '72 (the title song of which is the most hard hitting and fitting assessment of all that went wrong in music and mainstream culture during that most unproductive of years) available have been thwarted, reportedly at least in part by the artist himself. 

Thankfully, for the time being, the situation has been partially rectified with this most welcome ABKCO collection, which is newly remastered and in mono, in keeping with the original 45 releases. In his accompanying essay, Jim Allen has provided what is certain to be a highly scrutinized account of the proceedings, although there is little in his observations with which even the most discerning purist can take exception. The bases are well covered, including rare label scans and photographs.

True to form, Steve Stanley (whose recent work also includes the Warner Brothers-inspired cover design for the great Lisa Mychols' Sugar album on the Strataplastic label) followed suit in his capacity as Art Director for the Heavy Music collection.

"Maintaining the aesthetic integrity of the era from which a project is borne is what I always strive for when working on archival releases", Stanley said.

"I've spent entire days working on disc labels! When working on a reissue, I like to study the original Art Director. Their font preferences, their color preferences. Anything I can gather. I'll investigate other releases they did during the era. If I can reach that 'feel' place with a design, where people aren't sure whether something is new or a period design, that's always the goal with a project like this".

Diligent research was also a key component of Landi's contributions in her capacity as Project Producer.

"Growing up in the 1970s, I was a big fan of Seger's Silver Bullet Band recordings", she said.

"Then I discovered Smokin' O.P.s and was completely blown away. After that, I worked my way back to the earlier Detroit nuggets with the Bob Seger System and finally the Last Heard. 

"So when I came to work for ABKCO and started archiving the Cameo-Parkway catalog of tapes, I was eager to find the Last Heard masters, just to hear them in all of their crunchy first generation glory. I've been prepping for this set for a while now".

Michigan Music History CEO Mike Jackson concurred.

"I'm just glad that we now have the ability to listen to first generation versions of Persecution Smith, Heavy Music and East Side Story", said Jackson, whose site has long championed the reissue of these Hideout and Cameo singles.

"It sure beats the battered condition 45s or the bootlegged CDs that were taken off of vinyl".

To be certain, the Heavy Music anthology is a triumph of diligent research, tempered with a modicum of artistic license without sacrificing the integrity of the project. 

"For Heavy Music, I was given some initial instruction, but had a lot of freedom to explore possibilities", said Stanley

"I'm really pleased with the way the album turned out. I'm equally thrilled that fans can finally hear this material in the best fidelity ever offered".

Even the most discerning and demanding of collectors and musicologist concurred.

"I never thought this would be available", said Jackson.

"But since the passing of Allen Klein, much of the material from the Cameo/Parkway catalog is seeing the light of day again".

While not specific at this juncture, Landi assured that there is more to come.

"I can't really comment on future Cameo-Parkway projects", she said.

"But there is definitely more is coming down the pike. Stay tuned!"

Meanwhile, with regards to the project at hand, although the artist himself may see the renewed availability of this material as (to invoke a cut from his 1970 Mongrel album) Leanin' On My Dream, for the many who have learned to separate the art from the artist out of necessity, this collection is the start of a Brand New Morning.