“Phantom Lover”: Halloween Hit?

This song sounds to me like an obvious – and instantaneous – hit:

“Phantom Lover”     Marv Lockard     1967

And yet so little information exists about this classic 1967 production from Shad O’Shea‘s Counterpart Records, with its deep bass grooves and warm reverb.

Three years prior, Marv Lockard – as part of The Dolphins – would record a song at King Records (“Hey-Da-Da-Dow”) that would catch the ear of Harry Carlson, who would issue it on Fraternity and have a #69 pop hit in late 1964.  According to Buckeye Beat, Kenny Smith, former host of Cincinnati’s “Soul Street” TV show – and subject of a previous Zero to 180 celebration – assisted with the song’s production.

Fun to note that “Phantom Lover” was part of the set list for Portland, Oregon radio’s XRAY FM first annual Halloween Show in 2014.

Marv Lockard 45Marv Lockard has a page devoted to his recorded legacy on this German roots rock tribute website.  I am also amused to see that Lockard was once a fellow Gateway recording artist with my brother’s father-in-law, Jack Gutjahr.

This special Halloween piece is the 13th item (spooky! true!) about Counterpart Records.

Mike Reid’s Bengal Ballad

I remember as a young Cincinnati Bengals fan what a brain-tickling proposition it was to have an NCAA All-American and All-Pro NFL defensive lineman who, when out of uniform, would play the piano with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and how this activity amusingly defied expectations of manly behavior in a manly era (this was around the same time that Rosie Grier revealed himself to be a knitting enthusiast).   I am, of course, referring to number 74, Mike Reid, who would leave football to become a top songwriter in Nashville, penning “Stranger in My House” for Ronnie Milsap and co-writing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” for Bonnie Raitt, among many other hits.

According to the person who posted this song on YouTube, “A Time for Peace” was “recorded in 1971 [when] Mike Reid was still playing football for the Cincinnati Bengals.    The song was produced by long-time Cincinnati recording facility owner and music producer Shad O’Shea”:

“A Time for Peace”     Mike Reid     1971

Randy McNutt, author of The Cincinnati Sound and King Records of Cincinnati, confirms that the song was originally released on Counterpart and then, guess what?  “Laurie leased it and re-issued it,” says McNutt, “It wasn’t a hit, but it was a good record.  Shad had a small orchestra on it!”

Mike ReidOddly, no images of this Mike Reid 45 (neither Counterpart nor Laurie) can be found online – clearly this is a forgotten song … but no longer.

The Muffetts: Former Mojos

Thanks to “tymeshifter” at rateyourmusic for providing the back story on a single issued by Counterpart whose A & B sides were purchased (I’m shocked) by Laurie Records in 1968:

1966 single by Hurricane WV’s the Mojos, who begat The Muffetts

Mojos 45“These guys were previously known as The Mojos from West Virginia.  Their manager talked them into relocating to Columbus, OH in order to fulfill contractual obligations for a band called The Muphets, who had just disbanded.  They immediately renamed themselves The Muffetts for that purpose.  This first single was originally released on Counterpart, but picked up by Laurie a few months later.  And it’s a killer!.  Side A is mid-tempo garage/pop with fuzz weaving throughout, vocal harmony and fairly loud drumming.  The other side is mid-slow, garage influenced psych with vocal harmony, acoustic guitar and a reverbed fuzz-wah break.”

“Lost”     The Muffetts     1968

I love the acoustic guitars that precede the vintage 1968 fuzztone electric lead guitar and “Moody Blues” harmonies that follow each verse – so much so, in fact, that I’m even willing to look the other way when they nick the bridge to “Incense and Peppermints” for their own!.

It would appear that B-side “Heather Girl” made Columbus, OH’s WCOL AM’s Top 40 hit list for two weeks in Summer, 1968.

Muffetts 45-aMuffetts 45-b

The Muffetts would release one more (rare) single on NYC’s Chelsea Ltd. label in 1969 – “Dance, Dance, Dance” b/w “Make It Alright.”

“A Shad Day Production” — could Shad O’Shea be involved?

Muffetts 45-cHeavens to Murgatroyd!  Story #11 in Zero to 180’s Counterpart Records History Series

Psych + Horns = The Gears

Doc Lehman’s Bangagong! music blog has a poster for a “Festival of Bands” in Columbus, Ohio that took place in 1967 — 34 bands over the course of 2 evenings, admission just $1:

Is this the same Vox as in Vox Guitar-Organ and Vox Phantom guitars?

Vox Festival of Bands 1967Interesting to note that the first band at the top of each list would record a memorable 45 for Counterpart Records, either that same year – The Fifth Order’s “A Thousand Devils” – or the next one – The Gears, with their horns-heavy psychedelic classic, “Come Back to Me“:

“Come Back to Me”     The Gears     1968

The Gears would record one more 45 that same year – “Feel Right” – for Columbus label, Hillside, and then … nothing more?

Gears 45-aGears 45-b

Jubilation!  This is story #10 in Zero to 180’s Counterpart Records History Series.

Band Name That Inspired U2?

According to Buckeye Beat, Shad O’Shea was instrumental in fashioning a local hit out of “The Only Thing to Do” by Cincinnati’s own The “Us Too” Group:

“Somehow the record got the attention of Counterpart Records Shad O’Shea (a.k.a. Howard Lovdal) who took an interest in ‘The Only Thing To Do.’  Shad decided to release an edited version of the song, backed with a different flip side called ‘The Way it Must Be,’ an excellent slow number which was recorded at the same time as the two sides of the [earlier] Jinx 45.  Although it’s not clear why Shad made the change, the guess would be that he wanted a fast and slow side to make clear which one to push.

The effectively edited ‘Only Thing To Do’ was released in February of ’67 and hit immediately on Cincinnati’s #1 station WSAI.  The record went to top 10 on WSAI and WUBE, the #2 station in town.  The record even earned a spin on Stan Matlock’s WKRC ‘easy listening’ drive time program, which happened to catch the ear of Len [Gartner]’s thrilled father – apparently Matlock had no idea he was spinnin’ a platter by a local teen rock band.”

“The Only Thing to Do”     The ‘Us Too’ Group     1967

Text that accompanies the above YouTube audio clip:

“This record comes out of Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Us Too Group was comprised of members Joe Madrigal, Glen Davis, Bob Dickens, Tom Whisner and Len Gartner.  This record was cut at King records studios in late 1966 and the group had 100 copies pressed up on the Jinx record label.  By early 1967 the record had come to the attention of Counterpart records owner Shad O’Shea who edited this song from the longer version cut for Jinx and issued it with a new B side that was cut at the same sessions that yielded the A side.  The record became an immediate local hit, making the top 10 on some of the top Cincinnati radio stations, WUBE and WSAI.  They had one more record issued as Us Too on [Willie Mitchell’s] Hi record label plus another issued as Maelstrom and broke up after one final Us Too 45 on Counterpart in 1968, after numerous changes in group members.  The various members of the group continued performing with other musicians through the years.  This is one of my all time favorite 45’s and I hope you dig it!”

Us Too 45

Buckeye Beat also reports that Hi Records purchased Us Too’s follow-up 45 “I’ll Leave You Crying” on the spot when it was played over the phone line by WSAI DJ, Tom Dooley.  Someone would pay $73 in 2009 for Us Too’s lone 45 on the Hi label.

Wake the nation!  This is story #9 in Zero to 180’s Counterpart Records History Series

Insanely Rare, Impressively Different

Fascinating how Felix Harris’s sole recording — 1972’s “Walkin’ in the Night” 45 released on Cincinnati’s Counterpart Records — would be highly coveted by UK vinyl enthusiasts nearly 40 years later.  According to the soul music aficionado who posted this recording on YouTube  Felix Harris’s single is (says John Manship) “insanely rare, impressively different”:

“Walkin’ in the Night”     Felix Harris     1972

This Shad O’Shea-produced seven-inch appears to be Felix Harris’s entire recorded output.

Felix Harris 45

Another 45 Sold to Laurie

Things were starting to really heat up for Counterpart Records in 1967.  “See What’s Right” by The Wyngates was followed by (1) a regional hit, “Hey Conductor” by Mark V (featuring Sonny Flaharty), that got picked up by Philips for national distribution and then (2) another promising 45 – “A Thousand Devils” by Columbus, Ohio’s Fifth Order – that was snatched up so quickly by Laurie Records that no one seems to own a copy of the original Counterpart record:

“A Thousand Devils (Are Chasin’ Me)”     The Fifth Order     1967

Billboard would note the sale in its September 9, 1967 edition:

“Laurie Records has bought the master for the Counterpart record ‘A Thousand Devils’ by the Fifth Order.”

Two weeks later, Billboard would pick this 45 to reach the “Hot 100” chart.   Interesting to point out that Counterpart’s owner, Shad O’Shea would be listed as one of the song’s co-creators (using his birth name, Howard Lovdal).

The Buick-inspired Electras would evolve into The Fifth Order

Fifth Order-ElectrasColumbus Music History’s piece about the resurgence of interest in Fifth Order reveals that (1) “A Thousand Devils” was #1 on the hit list of 1230 AM WCOL the week of September 11, 1967 and (2) Counterpart Records released a third and “virtually unknown 45 of earlier recordings” in 1968 after the group had already disbanded!

         1st Counterpart 45           B-side of “controversial” third 45

Fifth Order 45-aFifth Order 45-b

Shad O’Shea, however, would have another opportunity to make a deal with Laurie Records in 1968 for Soul Inc’s “Love Me When I’m Down,” as noted earlier in our series.

photo courtesy of expo-67’s Opulent conceptions

Fifth Order

Opulent Confession tells us that debut Counterpart 45 “Goin’ Too Far” is a garage rock classic that sold, according to the liner notes of the band’s 2004 CD retrospective, sold upwards of 18,000 records — prompting indie label Diamond to purchase the song for national distribution

Northern KY’s 1967 Moment

You have to hand it to Northern Kentucky, who produced a pair of Nuggets-era garage rock classics – New Lime‘s “Perfect Girl” (organ+vibes) & The Wyngates “See What’s Right” – both issued on Cincinnati’s Counterpart Records in 1967, pop music’s peak year.  Check out this archival footage of The Wyngates lip-syncing their performance on Nick Clooney’s Bandstand show on Cincinnati’s NBC affiliate, WLWT, in July, 1967:

“See What’s Right”     The Wyngates on ‘Nick Clooney’s Bandstand’    1967

As band member Dan Schear hilariously explains on YouTube:

“Before you complain about flagrantly bad lipsync, let’s consider home video technology of 1967 and the person who captured this event:  The Grandmother of The Wyngates keyboardist, Ed Wilbers (guy with the goat-tee & sunglasses) shot it right off her home TV set with a silent Brownie 8mm wind-up movie camera.  We should be GRATEFUL that she filmed it at all & that for the most part, it is actually watchable today!  Her biggest mistake? She kept starting & stopping the camera instead of just letting it roll continuously which would have allowed me, all these years & technological advances later to have synced-up the film to the 45rpm record “See What’s Right” that my band The Wyngates were pantomiming on WLWT NBC Cincinnati’s Nick Clooney’s Bandstand show on July 2, 1967.  So without further gripes from the viewing audience, please enjoy this for what it was back-in-the-day when we young folks thought we could ‘save mankind!'”

WyngatesBuckeye Beat informs us that the Ft. Thomas, Kentucky outfit recorded “See What’s Right” and instrumental “Persian Night Flight” at Cincinnati’s King Records studio and got it played on local radio – back when indie labels like Counterpart Records could be played on local hits stations like WSAI.

Cincinnati’s Bubblegum Soul

Randy McNutt gives a first-hand account of Cincinnati’s local recording scene in the liner notes to his CD compilation Souled Out:  Queen City Soul-Rockers of the 1970s:

“[Lonnie] Mack’s 1963 hit “Memphis” and “Wham!” [on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label] had started a local fascination with blues-rock — a combination of the blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and a dash of country.  By 1970, however, Ohio’s raucous roadhouse sound had tilted toward rock and soul.

In Cincinnati, the best places to record such music were the iconic King Recording Studio on Brewster Avenue in Evanston (where James Brown often recorded), and guitarist Rusty York’s newer Jewel Recording on Kinney Avenue in [suburban] Mt. Healthy.  They were mono paradises with a lot of bottom in their sounds.  When King abruptly closed in 1971, Jewel became the main venue for blue-eyed soul.  Mack operated out of there.  Even the Heywoods recorded there.  They had horns then, long before ‘Billy Don’t Be a Hero.’

McNutt then recounts the circumstances behind the recording of the catchy “bubblegum soul” B-side of the very first single he co-wrote & -produced with singer, Wayne Perry:

“At 3 a.m. on a frigid January night in 1970, we finally cut the rhythm track for our first single ‘Mr. Bus Driver,’ on Jewel’s new 8-track Ampex recorder.  We needed a B-side — fast and cheap.  In desperation, we wrote our first original song, a strange mix of soul and bubblegum, in my boss’s factory office.  We didn’t even have a guitar handy.   Workers drifted past, watching as we gyrated and sang in the tiny windowed office.  They must have thought we were lunatics.  We soon returned to Jewel to record our newly-written oddity, ‘Gimme the Green Light,’ on Rusty’s older 4-track Ampex.  (He charged less to use it because it was paid off)”:

“Gimme the Green Light”     Wayne Perry     1970

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Gimme the Green Light” by Wayne Perry]

Wayne Perry at Counterpart Creative Studios

Wayne PerryThis 45 would be released 3 years later as Counterpart 3745 in September, 1973.  Label below shows that Gene Lawson – inventor of Lawson Microphones – engineered this single.

Pretend this is the B-side “Gimme the Green Light”

Wayne Perry 45

As it turns out, this B-side would be Cincinnati’s contribution to a bona fide Ohio bubblegum scene via Oxford’s The Lemon Pipers (psych-pop hit, “My Green Tamborine“) and Mansfield’s Ohio Express (“Yummy in My Tummy“).  Fortunately, “Gimme the Green Light’s” horns make for a much funkier confection.

Umoja’s Hang Up-Free Funk

Impressive musicianship and stellar vocals make for another slice of Cincinnati funk on Counterpart Records that is able to command serious scratch (currently $90 on Ebay) on the vinyl market:

“Hang Up Your Hang-Ups”     Umoja     197?

As with 400 Years of What’s “Get Down People,” this 45 – Umoja’s sole musical gift to the world – was recorded at Shad O’Shea’s Counterpart Creative Studio.

Sadly, there is little to no information about this group out there.  Nathaniel Best, Jr., who co-wrote the song, would release a spiritual album in 1986, Set Your House in Order, while the song’s other co-creator, John Stuckey, Jr., would work with Huey P. Meaux in the 1970s on a 45 (“Seeds and Stems“) and an LP (A Little Exposure).

Umoja 45a

Note on the label above that the song length is marked as “3:41,” while YouTube’s time counter reports the song as only being 2 minutes and 51 seconds in length.  What gives?