As with Waylon Jennings‘ deeply-felt “Abilene” or Ruby Wright’s surprisingly bass-centric “Adios Aloha,” one cannot but feel alarmed by the depth of bottom in the opening synth notes of this charmingly analog production – recorded at Cincinnati’s Counterpart Studios, with Shad O‘Shea and Wes Boatman at the helm (get it?):
“Capricorn Flight” The Saturn Symphony Orchestra 1981
Lo and behold, “Capricorn Flight” would be from the pen of Manzel Bush – however, using the alias The Saturn Symphony Orchestra. Last September, Zero to 180 celebrated the groovy ‘space funk’ sound of Manzel, who would record two 1970s dance tracks for Cincinnati’s Fraternity that would be highly sought by DJs and vinyl enthusiasts in the decades since.
Is Cincinnati aware the degree to which Manzel‘s two 45s “Space Funk” (from 1977) & “Midnight Theme” (1979) have become revered dance tracks around the globe? Note the trippy backwards drumming intro that immediately draws in the listener on “Space Funk”:
Worth noting that Harry Carlson would sell 20-year-old Fraternity to Shad O’Shea in 1975, thus allowing Fraternity to stake a claim as “America’s oldest continuously operating independent record label.” Shad would consolidate operations at Counterpart Creative Studios in Cheviot, where Manzel’s two singles would be created.
What’s the deal with this 1988 release? Need info, please
“The Manzel story began quite unsuspectingly. In 1976 O’Shea built Cincinnati, OH’s first state-of-the-art recording studio, Counterpart Creative Studios, and recorded some sessions by Manzel. The instrumental funk group from Lexington, KY, consisted of Manzel Bush (keyboards), John L. Van Dyke (guitar), and Steve Garner (drums). Just before the sessions were totally finished, Lieutenant Bush got called off to military duty in Germany, and O’Shea hired some players from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to finish off the sessions. The first of the recordings to see the light of day were ‘Space Funk’ b/w ‘Jump Street,’ which O’Shea released on Fraternity in 1977.”
Discogs has the rest of the story:
“Two years later, after some further tweaking by Bush, came the ‘Midnight Theme’ b/w ‘Sugar Dreams’ 45, and that was that. Manzel were no more. Bush stayed in the military, raised a family, and left music behind. Twenty-five years later, in 2004, the recordings of Manzel resurfaced with the aid of Kenny Dope and the Undercover Brother. The two wanted to reissue the original, very rare, and quite bootlegged Manzel recordings. However, the Dopebrother guys didn’t just reissue the original 45s. They dug up the tapes from the original Manzel sessions at Counterpart Creative, remixed and remastered them, and then released everything on a lavishly detailed CD, Midnight Theme. They also released a ‘Midnight Theme’ b/w ‘Space Funk’ single on 7″ vinyl with a picture sleeve reproducing the artwork from a flyer for a Manzel show in the ’70s.”
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!”
Oddly, no images of this Mike Reid 45 (neither Counterpart nor Laurie) can be found online – clearly this is a forgotten song … but no longer.
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!”
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.
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”:
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
“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
Columbus 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
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.
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
Louisville’s Soul Inc. is another music group from my hometown’s Ohio Valley region that recorded a local hit (“Love Me When I’m Down”) on a local label (Counterpart) that had been recorded locally (at Louisville’s Falls City perhaps?) and played on local AM hits radio station WSAI (thus, giving further credence to Nick Clooney’s recent statement that Cincinnati was a uniquely endowed media market that rivaled/bettered Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles):
“Love Me When I’m Down” Soul Inc. 1968
“Love Me When I’m Down” is the A-side of a 1968 ‘rock ‘n’ soul’ Counterpart single that directly led to the band’s signing with the respected independent label, Laurie — only to have the A & B sides reversed on their debut Laurie 45!
“The band’s in-your-face quality was evident on ‘Love Me When I’m Down,’ released as their next single along with ‘I Belong to Nobody.’ More than anything else the group recorded, ‘Love Me When I’m Down’ captures Soul, Inc.’s live sound, with Young and Bugbee’s driving guitars (the solo is by Bugbee), Settle’s aggressive vocal, and Maxwell’s pounding drums. ‘We always said that we wanted the drums to sound like a bag of rocks,’ Maxwell recalls.”
Interesting to note that, as with The New Lime, (a) Soul Inc’s first 45 would also be issued on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label and (2) Shad O’Shea’s Counterpart Records would likewise help pave the path toward the band’s getting signed to a more nationally prominent label.
The mod organ and soulful vibraphone make a winning combination in 1967’s “Perfect Girl” by The New Lime from Campbell County, Kentucky:
“The Perfect Girl” The New Lime 1967
[The organ+vibes immediately brings to mind seminal single “Space Walk” by The Astros!]
It is 2015, and I am only now aware – thanks to independent producer and music writer, Randy McNutt – that I have been unintentionally ignoring a third significant Cincinnati music production mill in addition to (1) King Records and (2) Fraternity: (3) Counterpart!
Counterpart Records is the brainchild of Shad O’Shea (Howard Lovdal, by birth). According to McNutt, after CBS sold its Cincinnati’s radio affiliate, WCPO, O’Shea was no longer a radio show host, thus, O’Shea immediately shifted his career focus, first to creating a label – Counterpart – and second, to building a brick-and-mortar recording facility. Says McNutt:
“[O’Shea’s] Counterpart Records label, when I was in high school was like a major to me. His records were played on WSAI and other stations. He broke many good rock-band records. Then he’d sell them to larger indies or the majors. He had a wall in hallway office at the studio with nothing but 45s that he produced or released over the years, including ones on Mercury, RCA, Columbia, Laurie, Monument, SSS International, and other labels. There must have been 50 records on that big wall. He recorded groups such as the New Lime, which went from Counterpart to Columbia under his guidance; the Mark V out of Dayton (‘Hey Conductor’), and other groups.
“Counterpart was regional, going into Kentucky and Indiana. But its big strength was in Cincinnati and Dayton. Shad had a big hit if he sold 5,000 copies. Sometimes he would get a hot regional record, and it would catch the eye of a major or a national independent. They would lease the master from him. This happened to him with the Mark V’s “Hey Conductor” in, I believe, 1967. The group was from Dayton. The record was then re-released on Mercury’s Phillips label.
“I started cutting records over at Counterpart and became a close friend of his. He bought the Fraternity Records name from Harry Carlson in 1975. I placed masters with both Harry and Shad over the years. In fact, I might be the only indie producer to have the distinction (small as it is) of placing masters with all three owners of Fraternity.”
Shad O’Shea (and Webster)
The New Lime: Singles Discography
Whenever I Look In Her Eyes/And She Cried --------- Fraternity F947 1965
It's Your Turn to Cry/Only You -------------------- Boss 9915 1966
Meant to Be/Walkin the Dog ------------------------ Counterpart 2495 196?
That Girl/She Kissed Me (With Her Eyes) ----------- Counterpart 2577 1967
That Girl/She Kissed Me (With Her Eyes) ----------- Columbia 4-44017 1967
There Goes My Girlfriend/Girl w Long Blonde Hair -- Counterpart 2593 1967
Meant to Be/Perfect Girl -------------------------- Counterpart 2599 196?
Ain't Got No Soul/I Still Remember ---------------- Counterpart 2609 1967
Donna/The Gumdrop Trilogy ------------------------- Counterpart 2626 196?
Donna/The Gumdrop Trilogy ------------------------- Columbia 4-44597 1968
Sunny/I Still Remember ---------------------------- Minart 150 196?