“City Slang”: Lost Supergroup’s Swansong

Paul Trynka‘s well-researched and highly-readable biography of Iggy Pop includes this related story about Sonic’s Rendezvous Band – an all-star assemblage of musicians from revered ’60s & ’70s Detroit rock groups:

“Formed by the MC5’s guitarist, FredSonicSmith, and the Rationals’ singer, Scott Morgan, with Dum Dum Boy [and former Stooge] Scottie Ashton on drums and Gary Rasmussen – who’d played with The Up – on bass, SRB [Sonic’s Rendezvous Band] would become Detroit’s lost supergroup, issuing just one legendary single, ‘City Slang,’ in their brief history.”

Sleeve credits for the original 45 (that actually plays at 33 rpm) indicate the single to have been “a special preview edition limited to 1000 copies.”  Released in November, 1978

Iggy, who had jammed with these musicians in Detroit during his 1977 tour, would later asked them to accompany him on his TV Eye Live promotional tour of Europe.  But alas, the personality clash between Iggy and Fred Smith would would make an artistic partnership prove to be unworkable.  When Iggy asked the SRB to then back him on successive dates in the US, the band would decline the offer – much to Scott Ashton’s and Iggy’s collective chagrin  As Trynka observes, “it would be twenty years before Iggy would again play with the man he frequently mentioned as his favorite drummer.”

SRBIggy Pop:  A Product of His Time?

Illuminating bit of wisdom from Jim Osterberg on Iggy Pop’s function in modern society – taken from Roy Wilkinson’s interview with Iggy Pop in the May 2009 edition of The Word:

Roy:  Who’s going to take over after Iggy?  Who do you most see yourself in?

Jim/Iggy:  Peaches.  She’s the closest to me.  I would say.  But I don’t know if society wants more of that stuff.  I think I was able to tap into things people secretly wanted to say and do.  But now those conditions aren’t there anymore.  Youth is after power and ease.  Stuff is what they want, material stuff.

“Wildsville”: All in the Family (pt. 1)

A good ten years before The Beatles pioneered the concept of “double A-side” singles, The Loreleis – two young ladies from the Detroit area, Gail Menefee and Peggy Reinagle – were knocking it out of the park with their two-run homer, “You’re So Nice to Be Near” b/w “Wildsville.”

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “You’re So Nice to Be Near” by The Loreleis.]

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Wildsville” by The Loreleis.]

Menefee, as it turns out, is my aunt, and the fact that my dad’s brother’s wife was once in a “singing group” – before marriage and family changed the course of history – has always added a bit of luster to our family lore.  However, the fact that this 45 hit the Billboard Top 100 – reaching the #91 spot during the week of November 12, 1955 – somehow eluded the attention of our family’s East Coast contingent until recently rediscovered by my brother, thanks to information provided by the 45Cat website.

Peggy Reinagle                  Gail Menefee

Loreleis-3a    Wyandotte’s Own Joyland Record Shop                  Peggy & Gail sing for you

Loreleis-2aLoreleis-1a

Images of the vinyl record itself reveal that this single, interestingly, was released both as a 45 and 78.

original compositions on both sides – in the great Beatle tradition

Wildsville 78 rpmMore intriguing than the record hitting the national charts is the fact that “You’re So Nice to Be Near,” a dreamy ballad, was designated the A-side while “Wildsville” – an infectiously upbeat number with a clever geographically-themed lyric – strikes me as the obvious song to lead with.  Or, to use a Beatles analogy, “Wildsville” is the “Hello Goodbye” to “You’re So Nice to Be Near”‘s “I Am the Walrus.”   I would love to know if the radio DJs were flipping the record over and playing the “B-side” — perhaps at least a few of them were, given the record’s performance in the marketplace.

But wait!  A piece from the Wyandotte News Herald directly contradicts 45Cat’s assertion that “Wildsville” was the single’s B-side:  “‘Wildsville,’ a clever novelty, is the main side of their record, which is really going places.”  The reporter adds that the song was written “along with Bob Cordell, their road manager, on the way back from a club date in the East.” This same article also points out – something I learned only yesterday – that “after they won a talent contest at school that they got a contract making singing commercials.”  From there, things took off quickly:  “Joe Siracuse, of Spotlight Records, heard them and they started making records for the new company.  Their first was ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ (again their own composition); followed by ‘Certainly Baby,’ which did very well for them.”

Fascinating to see The Loreleis share the stage with such heavy hitters as LaVern Baker, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, the Johnny Burnette Trio and future MBE, Lonnie “King of Skiffle” Donegan, in a special show organized by legendary CKLW disk jockey, Robin Seymour, who spent his first 18 years at Detroit’s WKMH (see ad below):

Loreleis-6aLoreleis-4a                                         U.S. Place Names Cited in “Wildsville”:                                         From Asheville to Zanesville

– Steubenville, Ohio

– Asheville, North Carolina

– Louisville, Kentucky

– Nashville, Tennessee

– Jacksonville, Florida

– Knoxville, Tennessee

– Evansville, Indiana

– Brownsville, Texas

– Charlottesville, Virginia

– Greenville, South Carolina

– Belleville, Michigan

– Northville, Michigan

– Fayetteville, Arkansas

– Zanesville, Ohio

– Meadville, Pennsylvania

– Gainesville, Florida