This song sounds to me like an obvious – and instantaneous – hit:
“Phantom Lover” Marv Lockard 1967
And yet so little information exists about this classic 1967 mix (arranged and produced by Ray Allen) from Shad O’Shea‘s Counterpart Records, with its deep bass grooves and warm reverb.
Three years prior, Marv Lockard – as part of The Dolphins – would record a song at King Records (“Hey-Da-Da-Dow”) that would catch the ear of Harry Carlson, who would issue it on Fraternity and have a #69 pop hit in late 1964. According to Buckeye Beat, Kenny Smith, former host of Cincinnati’s “Soul Street” TV show – and subject of a previous Zero to 180 celebration – assisted with the song’s production.
Fun to note that “Phantom Lover” was part of the set list for Portland, Oregon radio’s XRAY FM first annual Halloween Show in 2014.
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 needlepoint 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 Joe Richard, who posted “A Time for Peace” on YouTube —
“Recorded in 1971, 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“:
As I recall, it was released in late November or early December of 1971. The only radio station in Cincinnati to give it any airplay at the time was 700 WLW, and then I only heard it when Jim LaBarbara was on the air. I think the 45 was a one-time thing at the time for Mike since he was still playing for the Bengals. However, he did make a few appearances on Nick Clooney’s daily shows on Channel 9, and then on Nick’s Channel 12 show which was on 11:30-12:30 in the morning/afternoon.
When I was 11-12, Shad was a popular DJ on WCPO 1230 radio in Cincinnati. Mike Reid also appeared as a musician on one or 2 of the WEBN album projects from the 80s [e.g., plays clarinet for Danny Morgan on Album Project #4]. A few years ago Mike came to town for the Northern Kentucky Music Legends at Tower Park in Ft Thomas, sat in with Danny Morgan’s group on a couple of songs. I posted one of the songs to youtube [“You Ain’t Going Nowhere“].
I befriended Shad O’Shea in 2002, visited him at his office in Cheviot, where he had mint copies of every 45 he had produced in a large file cabinet consisting of 6 large drawers full of 45s.
Note that the Counterpart label above gives engineering credit to Gene Lawson, inventor of the Lawson microphone.
Thanks to “tymeshifter” at rateyourmusic for providing the back story on a single issued by Counterpart whose A & B sides were purchased (I’m shocked) by Laurie Records in 1968:
1966 single by Hurricane WV’s the Mojos, who begat The Muffetts
“These guys were previously known as The Mojos from West Virginia. Their manager talked them into relocating to Columbus, OH in order to fulfill contractual obligations for a band called The Muphets, who had just disbanded. They immediately renamed themselves The Muffetts for that purpose. This first single was originally released on Counterpart, but picked up by Laurie a few months later. And it’s a killer!. Side A is mid-tempo garage/pop with fuzz weaving throughout, vocal harmony and fairly loud drumming. The other side is mid-slow, garage influenced psych with vocal harmony, acoustic guitar and a reverbed fuzz-wah break.”
“Lost” The Muffetts 1968
I love the acoustic guitars that precede the vintage 1968 fuzztone electric lead guitar and “Moody Blues” harmonies that follow each verse – so much so, in fact, that I’m even willing to look the other way when they nick the bridge to “Incense and Peppermints” for their own!
It would appear that B-side “Heather Girl” made Columbus, OH’s WCOL AM’s Top 40 hit list for two weeks in Summer, 1968. Produced by Ray Allen.
The Muffetts would release one more (rare) single on NYC’s Chelsea Ltd. label in 1969 — “Dance, Dance, Dance” b/w “Make It Alright.”
“A Shad Day Production” — could Shad O’Shea be involved?
Interesting 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?
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:
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.
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
“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.
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 Wyngates “See 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!'”
Buckeye 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.
“[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
Wayne Perry at Counterpart Creative Studios
This 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”
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.
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).
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?