“Capricorn Flight”: It’s the Bass II

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 OShea 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 OrchestraLast 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.

Manzel Bush photo courtesy of Discogs.com

Manzel BushWithin the last ten years, copies of “Capricorn Flight” would fetch $316 in 2008, $188 in 2012, and $148 in 2010.

First appearance of Cincinnati skyline in Zero to 180

Saturn Symphony Orchestra 45-aJust discovered this delightful vintage ad c/o Aerial Noise

Manzel ad

Meet Lonnie Mack

Hard to believe that Lonnie Mack‘s obvious winner of an instrumental – “Soul Express” – is not yet available for preview on YouTube and, thus, in danger of being lost in our cultural memory. The title of this piece is gallows humor expressing sadness over the fact this song is not more widely known:

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Soul Express” by Lonnie Mack (1968)]

You can find this recording (and “Snow on the Mountain“) on Ace’s Lonnie Mack collection, Lonnie on the Move, a compact disc retrospective that I am happy to report has since been expanded to a 26-track stocking stuffer entitled, Lonnie Mack:  Still on the Move – The Fraternity Years 1963-1968.  Er, wait a second – it turns out that Ace gave “Soul Express” the ol’ heave ho!  Check it out:

“This collection does not repeat the mistakes of its predecessor by including both ‘Soul Express’ and ‘Jam And Butter’ – per the original Trip album – as it becomes fairly obvious in an A/B test that these are, in fact, one and the same master (albeit the ‘Jam & Butter’ tape runs marginally faster than the tape for ‘Soul Express’). In fact, we haven’t included it at all, as we have a splendid stereo mix of that mono ‘Soul Express’/’Jam & Butter’ master on Memphis Wham, where it appears under its “proper” title, ‘The Freeze’!”

Photo courtesy of Ace Records

Lonnie Mack-hippy mod

As Trey Faull notes in the original liner notes, Lonnie Mack (it is fun to point out) contributed guitar work on recording sessions for Freddie King, James Brown, Mike Nesmith, and even The Doors.  Greil Marcus, in The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, writes about the conspicuous impact of the very presence of “recently signed” artist, Lonnie Mack – who played bass on “Roadhouse Blues” for fellow Elektra artists, The Doors – thereby validating Wikipedia’s assertion that “the sessions only took off on the second day [of recording], when resident Elektra guitarist Lonnie Mack joined in on bass.”

Faull would also describe “Soul Express” & “Jam and Butter” as “one funky onion with stabbing horns and plenty of flair.”

Lonnie Mack - Soul Express 45

Lonnie Mack - Fraternity 45“Snow on the Mountain” Update:  Tambourine Part Now Fully Restored!

In the historical notes that accompany Lonnie Mack:  Still on the Move, Ace Records makes the following announcement on its website:

“Our previously reissued version of ‘(There’s) Snow On The Mountain’ lacked the tambourine overdub heard on the single (as, to be fair, did the version on the Trip album that was taken from the same tapes!), so we’ve put that right here.”
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Mountain Snow = Icy Heart

Cincinnati’s other prominent label – besides King – was Fraternity Records, who (in a tidy quirk of math) enjoyed three successive #2 hits between the years 1956 and 1958.

However, by 1963 things were looking grim — until Lonnie Mack entered the picture.  Tip of the hat to David Edwards & Mike Calahan of Both Sides Now Publications for the back story:

“By 1963, it had been a long time since [#2 hit] ‘All American Boy,’ [by Bill Parsons, a.k.a., Bobby Bare] and most people had forgotten about the label altogether.  But in the summer of 1963, a young guitar player from Indiana by the name of Lonnie McIntosh had his band in King Records’ Cincinnati studio backing another artist.  When some studio time was left, the band recorded an instrumental version of what at the time was a fairly obscure song, Chuck Berry’s ‘Memphis.’   The recording was inspired; unlike the slow tempo of Berry’s version, McIntosh rolled out a snappy, danceable, and in retrospect, memorable, version of the song that Fraternity issued under the name Lonnie Mack.  It made #5 on the national charts. ‘Memphis’ was obscure no more, as other artists such as Johnny Rivers did the song in Mack’s faster tempo and it became a Chuck Berry classic.”

Lonnie Mack - 1960s

I could not agree more with Richie Unterberger (in the All Music Guide to Blues) and his assessment of Lonnie Mack’s under-appreciated B-side “Snow on the Mountain,” a recording that he deems “a first-class overlooked blue-eyed soul cooker from 1967”:

“Snow on the Mountain” = 41 ‘views’ on YouTube as of 9/23/15

Soulful Kinda Music & other credible sources document the fact that this song was used as a flip side in the latter part of 1966 – and then again the next year!  Moreover, 45Cat shows the song – initially titled “There’s Snow on the Mountain” – as an A-side the first time around:  could this be true?

1966 release                                                        1967 release

Lonnie Mack 45-1bLonnie Mack 45-1a

All Roads Lead to Shad O’Shea

Rubber City Review has a nice tribute to Lonnie Mack that also ropes Shad O’Shea into the story – by virtue of the fact that $25,000 in 1975 made him Fraternity Records’ new owner.

Photo courtesy of Rubber City Review

Shad O'Shea behind the board

“Soul Serenade”: Beau Dollar + Coins

Seems like everyone’s covered “Soul Serenade” – so why does no one play it on the radio?  Don’t you think it’s about time for this tune to be rediscovered?

“Soul Serenade”     Beau Dollar & the Coins     1966

This irresistible instrumental was produced by Lonnie Mack, one-time musical compatriot of Roger TroyBeau Dollar – last celebrated in this offbeat & oddball historical highlight reel – once served as a session drummer for Syd Nathan’s King Records in Cincinnati.  Three of the Coins – Ed Setser, Tim Hedding & Les Asch – in fact, would join Roger Troy’s Jellyroll.

                      DJ copy                                        45 on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label

Beau Dollar - Prime 45Beau Dollar - Fraternity 45

Originally recorded by legendary session musician and bandleader, King Curtis, in 1964, this song would be covered by the likes of Quincy Jones, Gloria Lynne, Aretha Franklin,  Lou RawlsWillie Mitchell, The Allman Brothers, Jimmy Castor Bunch, Bill Black’s Combo & The Derek Trucks Band.

The song would also spawn a slew of ska, rocksteady & reggae covers by such notable names as Prince Buster, The Soul Brothers, The Paragons, The Gaylads, Tommy McCook, Boris Gardiner, St. George & the Dragon Killers, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and don’t forget The Federalmen.

Beau Dollar’s Last King 45 as Artist – written by henry glover

Beau Dollar - King 45

“Space Funk”: Groovy Synths

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”:

“Space Funk”     Manzel     1977

The number of times Dopebrother Records have reissued (and remixed) these tracks – originally produced by Manzel Bush & Shad O’Shea – is a testament to their durability, as well as desirability by DJs and vinyl enthusiasts worldwide.  One recording of “Space Funk” posted on YouTube has enjoyed 180,000+ “views” to date.

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
Manzel 45

Discogs.com waxes biographical about Lexington, Kentucky’s Manzel:

“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.”

Manzel-aManzel-bManzel-c

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.”