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” (produced by Ray Allen):

“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 45Buckeye 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:

In the late summer of ’67 Shad (who was still working as a State Farm Insurance agent, employing Len Gartner briefly) took the group to Ray Allen‘s studio in Louisville (Shad’s studio of choice until he built his own) to record their next record. Len wanted to add some orchestration to the record, so they hired a flute player and recut “I’ll Leave You Crying,” speeding up the tempo and fattening the organ. They also recorded a new song, “The Girl With the Golden Hair” using a similar production.  Len played the organ on “Girl.”  Shad held off from releasing the 45 for some reason (probably he was trying to shop it to a major label) so the group had a very few copies pressed up on their own label, stating “promotional copy.”  Shortly after WSAI DJ Tom Dooley (with whom the group had done a couple on-air appearances) called up Hi label owner Joe Coughi and played “I’ll Leave You Crying” over the phone.  Joe bought the rights over the phone, and put the record out as is.  The record did well locally, making top 20 on WSAI and WUBE,and also got some action in scattered cities across the country.  Hi pushed “Crying”, although Len was behind “Girl” to get the pick side.

Us Too’s lone 45 on the Hi fetched $156 in 2010, while someone else forked over $3,049 in 2019 (after 26 bids) for the group’s original Jinx 45.

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 (still appears to be true as of July 2020):

“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” (magic blend of organ + vibes), as well as The WyngatesSee 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 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.

Update:  July 25, 2020

Speaking of horns, Randy McNutt would reveal five years later (via email) that none other than Les Asch (of James Brown’s backing band, The Dapps) blew tenor sax on both sides of this 45:

We used a white soul band on it, The Young Breed, for which Wayne Perry sang lead.  Les wasn’t in the group.  I hired him and another guy to play horns because the Breed had no horns.  They were playing at the Half Way Inn then.

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 a decent two figures at auction:

“Hang Up Your Hang-Ups”     Umoja     197?

As with 400 Years of What‘s “Get Down People,” this one-off 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?

“Get Down People”: $500 Funk

How cool that a 45 released on Shad O’Shea‘s Counterpart label – “Get Down People” by 400 Years of What – sold on Ebay for over $500.  However, if it weren’t for Buckeye Beat’s comprehensive listing of 45s released on Cincinnati’s Counterpart Records, I might have missed out altogether on this classic mid-70s disco-funk party jam:

“Get Down People”     400 Years of What     1975

Given the year of release (1975), I have to assume this song was recorded at O’Shea’s Counterpart Creative Studio in Cincinnati’s Cheviot neighborhood — the 45 label says these recordings were produced by 400 Years of What.   According to the informative blurb that accompanies the above YouTube video/audio clip:

“400 Years of What became *the* party band in the Cincinnati area after The House Guests [featuring ‘Bootsy’ & ‘Catfish’ Collins] dissolved around 1972.  Led by bassist Gordon Hickland, draftees from the House Guests included saxophonist RalphRandyWallace and trumpeter Ronnie Greenway.  With the addition of [future Zapp] keyboardist GregTuffyJackson, guitar slingers Big Jimmy Callery and Clarence Miller, and drummer Little Jimmy Roberts, the core of the crew was established.  For the band’s mid-’70s airing on Shad O’Shea’s Counterpart label, the traps were manned by FrankKashWaddy, destined to be a key player in the triumph of the Parliament sprawl and especially Bootsy’s solo works.  An early incarnation of this outfit backed Gloria Taylor on the singer’s rare single for the House Guests label [inaugural release, in fact], with her ‘Brother Less than a Man‘ being a primitive, rough version of the band’s later release as ‘Do What You Like.'”

Carfagna, Dante.  “The Cincinnati Connection:  The Local Roots of Bootsy Collins and Kash Waddy.”  Waxpoetics Aug./Sept. 2006: 93-94.  Print.

Because of high demand from DJs and mixmasters, this single was reissued in 2006 on Dopebrother Records — check out this bit of verbiage from the Hum Records catalog:

“Dopebrother is back with the first of two, super-rare sides of deepest dance floor funk from Cincinnati.  400 Years Of What dropped this often talked about but seldom seen single on Counterpart Records back in the heyday of Black Power, but in spite of the right-on vibe and intense musicianship, the record barely made it out of Ohio.  With original copies nearly impossible to uncover, it has only been through deep-pocketed collectors and DJ’s that anyone has gotten to hear the amazing A-side, a burning instrumental with extended drum breaks and an irresistable groove.  The B-side is just as strong, a Funkadelic-esque stoned headnodder with chanted vocals.  Dopebrother’s fully licensed and clean transfer from the Counterpart masters is an essential pick up for any funky DJs and afficionados of deep grooves.”

Original 1975 single                                         2006 reissue single

400 Years of What 45-1975400 Years of What 45-2006

More recently in 2013, Party Platter would launch their up-and-coming record label with this very same 45 – the first in a series of archival releases to showcase Cincinnati artists.

Photo courtesy of Party Platter

400 Years of WhatLeft to Right:  Louis McQueen, Gordie Hickland, Clarence ‘BigJon’ Miller, Jimmy Callery, Randy Wallace, Frank “Kash” Waddy., and [man in yellow hat].

A-Side Turned B-Side?

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 Ray Allen’s studio in Louisville perhaps?) and played on local AM hits radio station WSAI (thus, giving further credence to Nick Clooney‘s recent statement (see below*) 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!

A-Side                                                            B-Side

Soul Inc - Counterpart 45Soul Inc - Laurie 45

As Soul Inc. explains on its own website:

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.

Original copies of their Laurie and Counterpart 45s have sold for $125 (2018) and $71 (2009), respectively.

*Cincinnati Channel 12 story (May 21, 2015) about Dave Letterman’s final broadcast:

Long before David Letterman unveiled “Stupid Pet Tricks” to the world, he worked as a wacky weatherman in Indianapolis.  “I think you’ll see that once again we’ve fallen to the prey of political dirty dealings.  And right now you can see what I’m talking about.  The higher-ups have removed the border between Indiana and Ohio making it one giant state.  Personally, I’m against it,” Letterman joked in a weathercast for WLWI-TV in Indianapolis.

Letterman grew up watching live talk shows that were produced in Cincinnati and broadcast in Indianapolis, Dayton and Columbus by Crosley Broadcasting, later called Avco.  Former Local 12 News anchor Nick Clooney was a part of the network of shows.  “What was happening in Cincinnati was unique,” Clooney said in an interview with Local 12 News.  “It was a local, live haven.  No place in the country – including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago – all great broadcast cities. None had the local live shows as many as we did.”

Letterman started watching “The 50-50 Club” hosted by Ruth Lyons with his mother when he was in the fourth grade.  He talked about it in an interview with MoonDream Media, LLC in 2010.  “I would come home for lunch and the television would be on midday and that was rare to have it on midday.  And she would watch it and sort of know a little bit about it each day in half hour hunks when I was home for lunch,” Letterman said.

Letterman was truly captivated by Lyons.  “You got the sense that you weren’t watching a television show you were just watching a woman who had invited folks in to spend 90 minutes or whatever,” Letterman said in an interview with Local 12 producer Mark Magistrelli in 1995.  “I wish I could do that.  To me that would be the best show you could do.”

But “The Paul Dixon Show” truly inspired David Letterman.  “I loved Paul Dixon, too.  I really got a kick out of that guy. just thought he was great.”  Like Letterman, Dixon had an edge and was goofy.  His demeanor and bad toupee made him appealing to audiences.  He zoomed in on women’s legs with a binocular lens feature on the camera and gave away sausages.  “It was very entertaining and I found it endlessly gratifying that with nothing, and doing nothing the same way over and over every day,” Letterman said.

Former Cincinnati Enquirer TV columnist John Kiesewetter said Letterman studied Cincinnati television.  “I’ve talked to people who worked at Channel 5 because it was a sister station where he was the weather man at Channel 13 in Indianapolis. When he’d come to town on his off day, he’d show up in the control room at WLW and watch them do the Braun Show or something,” Kiesewetter said.  David Letterman loved Cincinnati TV but he also loved the city.

In 1997, Kiesewetter and a Letterman fan traveled to New York City and met the talk show host.  They gave Letterman a Cincinnati Reds jersey paid for by the Chamber of Commerce with his last name on the back and the number 15 to celebrate his 15th year in late night television.  “I used to love going down there to see the Reds play.  We spent some time there just goofing around,” Letterman said.  Cincinnati and its television shows made an impression on David Letterman. And in return, he put his own spin on the talk show and became a TV legend.  “There’s something kind of remarkable about Letterman.  He is sort of the patron saint of irony and most of the young people of let’s say George’s age just gravitated toward him because he was so salty,” Nick Clooney said.

Cincinnati’s Big 3 Indie (Labels)

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 RecordsCounterpart 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)

Shad O'Shea 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 Girlfriend/Girl 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?

 Link to Buckeye Beat‘s tribute page to The New Lime.