Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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 [“Magazine of the Air”] 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:

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.


LINK to other stories related to Shad O’Shea’s Counterpart Records

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4 Responses

  1. I’ve written many great songs – like I’m a Believer and Sweet Caroline – but I must tell you – the song Beer & Pretzels from The Us Too Group is a classic. Wish I had written that one. Props to my fellow songwriter Len Gartner

    1. Mr. Diamond,
      Coming from such a masterful and chart-tested songwriter as you, that means a lot.
      Zero to 180 is honored that you took time from your busy schedule to voice your support for Cincinnati’s local talent.


  2. Happy Birthday (March 28) to my father Len Gartner – who loved his days in the US TOO GROUP as well as his DEJA VU days. He passed away July 12, 2019…may his soul rest in peace.

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