I am struck by the number of Scotty Moore–produced 45s from the late 60s/early 70s that are not available for preview on YouTube due to their relative obscurity — most especially the rare Otis Redding tribute “We’re Gonna Miss You, Otis” b/w “Macon,” whose B-side was actually written by Moore, whose spirit left us four weeks ago today.
Fortunately, that’s not the case for a memorable garage rock 45 from 1966 on tiny little label, Down Home, that bears production credits by Scotty Moore, along with session keyboardist, songwriter, publisher and producer Jerry Smith (who played piano on Dick Curless’ 1973 Live at the Wheeling Truck Driver’s Jamboree album). Check out the heavy rockabilly guitar break in the middle of “Ain’t About to Lose My Cool” by The Original Dukes:
“Ain’t About to Lose My Cool” The Original Dukes 1966
Charles Best: Organ & vocals James Hickman: Guitar James Sonday: Drums Richard Martin: Bass, Sax & Harmonica
Not much seems to be known about The Original Dukes, other than they hailed from Indianapolis. Prepare to fork over a little dough should you decide to own an original copy of this 45.
Note the (unintended?) wordplay of the song’s authorship — “Sonday/Best.”
“Ain’t About to Lose My Cool” would make the lineup for Volume 3 of the Greg Shaw-curated Pebbles series of indie garage 45s taken from his own collection of over one million records.
One has to wonder whether the Columbus, Ohio combo – Purple Reign – sought legal counsel over the homophonic similarity of the band’s name with the title of Prince’s career-defining album (22 million sales worldwide to date) and movie from 1984, Purple Rain:
“Wish You Didn’t Have to Go” Purple Reign 1968
Note the singer’s ingenious use of “home-spun” echo on the song’s chorus — who needs expensive gadgetry and special effects when you can be your own Echoplex?
How fun to see (as a former Ohio State student who frequented record shops) that Used Kids Records (a subsidiary of Columbus-based School Kids Records) sold this 45 a couple years ago for sixteen bucks. As Buckeye Beat notes, this 7-inch recording is a “split” single, which means a different artist on the flip side — in this case, Touches of Gold.
Check out Hillside‘s built-in ad on the 45 label itself: “For Rent Guitars – Amps – Microphones – Organ – Piano – Speakers – P.A. Systems”:
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.
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!
“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.“
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.
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 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 sound 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.”
Billboard predicted in its February 4, 1967 edition that New Lime’s “That Girl” single on Columbia was predicted to reach the Hot 100 chart, while that same week’s edition of Cash Box saw “That Girl” in the spotlight as a ‘Newcomer Pick’ with these encouraging words:
The New Lime makes its bid for stardom with an attractive teen-oriented item called “That Girl.” The pleasant soft-rocker could catch on. On the flip, the crew serves up a rhythmic, pounding ditty titled “She Kissed Me (With Her Eyes).”
King wasn’t the only independent label in the early rock era to dabble in various sounds and musical genres; nevertheless, it’s still pretty hard to beat King for its sheer stylistic breadth. While never really considered much of a “rock” label, King nevertheless signed another Beatle-sounding group (besides Them) called The Impacs, who – judging by the Fender guitars on their two King album covers – look like they might also have a little west coast surf in their sound.
The Impacs first recording session on December 10, 1963 yielded 28 songs, of which 12 (including “Cat Walk”; “The Grab”; “Hamburger”; “Ambush”; “Love Struck” & “The Breeze”) would remain unreleased. One more round of recording on May 12-13, 1964 would yield eight more songs, all of them seeing light of day as single and/or album tracks. All recording was done “principally” in Miami.
An avid collector of 45s once described The Impacs as “surf rock” within the context of “pre 65 garage” music. Of the five King 45s released, only one is available for preview, however, on YouTube, but it’s classic — “Your Mama Put the Hurt on Me“:
“Your Mama Put the Hurt on Me” The Impacs 1964
I suspect the B-side, “Cape Kennedy Fla,” and album track, “Music for a Space Station,” are both instrumentals, as I know “Kool It” and “Zot” both to be.
The Impacs King Discography
King 45 #5851 “Two Strangers” b/w “Jo-Ann” 1964
King 45 #5863 “Shimmy Shimmy” b/w “Zot” 1964
King 45 #5891 “Kool It” b/w “She Didn’t Even Say Hello” 1964
King 45 #5910 “Ain’t That the Way Life Is” b/w “Don’t Cry Baby” 1964
King 45 #5965 “Your Mama Put the Hurt on Me” b/w “Cape Kennedy Fla” 1964