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Rich and Johnny's Inzane Michigan


Apr 23, 2020

  For a smattering of tunes from below =


The Rondells “Everybody to and Fro”
Formed in 1961 at Cooley High School on the West Side of Detroit, the Rondells stuck together until most of the band was drafted into the Vietnam War. The five-piece outfit banged out rock ‘n’ roll laced with rhythm and blues – equal parts Bo Diddley and Dave Clark Five. The band traveled as far as Ontario and Cleveland for gigs and even performed on Robin Seymour's Swingin' Time. This ridiculously limited single was recorded in Detroit at Rainbow Recording Studio at 15305 Livernois.

The Ides of March – “Playthings 5x5” 
From the tiny town of Essexville, just north of Bay City, the Ides of March formed in 1966 while attending Garber High School. The band’s frontman Bob Ward, known for nicking Mick Jagger’s stage moves, doubled as the band manager and landed the group opening slots on big shows with The Bossmen, Terry Knight & the Pack and Paul Revere & the Raiders. This 1966 B-side, recorded for $27.50, was thrown together just prior to the session, but outshined the A-side and scored local radio play. The record was self-released, hence the 45’s unadorned red label. After the group disbanded in 1968, Tim Ward (lead guitar) later formed the Blues Company, also heard on this fine compilation. 

The Ferraris “Lovin’ Feeling” 
While the Ones and the Woolies saw the most national success out of the Lansing-based bands, other teenage outfits like the Plagues, Tonto & the Renegades and Beaux Jens were also packing local teen clubs. One of the most overlooked bands from that scene is the Ferraris. Formed by teenage twin brothers Hector and Victor Juarez, the band gigged every weekend at packed teen dances. In 1967, the Ferraris spent a week performing in a musical clinic alongside Stevie Wonder, who was attending Lansing’s Michigan School for the Blind. Wonder even fronted an impromptu jam session in the Juarez’s living room. This rare track, “Lovin’ Feeling,” was recorded in January 1966 at the long defunct Don Lee Studios in Lansing but was never properly released. The brothers disbanded after Vietnam called in 1970. 

The Oxford Five “Out of Love For You” 
The Oxford Five were a Birmingham-based band spawned from an even more obscure band called the Intruders. This B-side was recorded in late ’66 and released on the Sidra Records label in January 1967 as the flipside of “The World I’ve Planned.” The single helped land the group some decent shows, including an opening slot on a Beau Brummels’ bill and a string of gigs at the Hideout, Detroit’s now legendary teen club. Much to the band’s chagrin, the label on the DJ promo copy of this 45 accidentally omitted the band name. 

The Monday Knights “What is Love”
 This jovial jam was released in the late ‘60s as an A-side via the Flint-based Endy label – the flip was the “The Electrafyed Sound.” This short-lived Davison-based outfit is the same batch of Michigan cats who fronted another obscure act, Foxx and The United Lace, which recorded the “Watch Out for Love” single on Zip Records.

Chevrons “Hey Little Teaser” 
In 1965, the Chevrons formed at East Christian High in Grand Rapids and quickly did what most West Michigan-based bands did: headed to Great Lakes Recording Studio in nearby Sparta and cut tracks for the studio’s Fenton Records imprint – the label responsible for fellow locals like the JuJus and the Quest’s. Lead vocalist and keyboardist Bob Goote wrote this tune and many of the band’s other originals. In early 1966, “Hey Little Teaser” climbed to #5 on local radio charts. A year later the group disbanded after their high school graduation. Soon after, Goote formed a new band, Counts of Coventry, and recorded “Somewhere (Someone Is Waiting),” another lost local hit on 4 Count Records.

James T and the Workers “I Can’t Stop” 
This organ-driven 1967 B-side was recorded in the Flint suburb of Mount Morris. Released on the Prophonics Studios label, James T and the Workers, led by songwriter Richard Ross, were a fixture in Flint’s rock ‘n’ roll revival that later birthed Terry Knight & the Pack and Grand Funk Railroad. The group’s crude, primitive single, “That is All,” written in 1964 by the band’s guitarist David Rilett, was immortalized on Back from the Grave Vol. 8. This track showcases the band’s more melodic side.

The Other Kind “Can’t Wait Forever”
 While it’s now just another vacant lot in Detroit, 4619 14th St, near Grand River Avenue, once housed 
Mickay’s Records, a forgotten Motor City studio known for cutting a string of singles, most notably a series of discs from J.J. Barnes. The studio was also home to the Other Kind, a soul-tinged Michigan rock group who laid down its 1967 single, “Can’t Wait Forever,” at the long-gone recording service. The building was destroyed during the ’67 riots. 

The Royal Coachmen “You Can’t Get Me Down”
 Armed with an ample amount of searing fuzz, the Royal Coachmen developed a dedicated following in the Lenawee County teen-club scene. The Adrian-based band scored airtime on Swingin' Time and also managed to record this self-penned A-side, backed by another original track, “You Don’t Know.”

5 of a Kind “Please Tell Me (They Were Wrong)” 
Label mates to the Oxford Five, 5 of a Kind were also on the Sidra label. Established in 1966, the imprint was headquartered in Detroit at 18292 Wyoming Avenue and linked to at least three other labels: Team Town, W.I.G and Drew. Five of a Kind are best known for the sought out 1966 northern-soul instrumental “The Other Side.” Presented here is the flipside of that 45, “Please Tell Me (They Were Wrong).”

Kross of the Moon “Speak Softly to the Wind”
 This tune from the obnoxiously rare Kross of the Moon 45 was released on the Wildcat label, a Detroit-based subsidiary of Big Mack. Led by Fortune Records alumni Maury Dean (and Big Mack vice president), the Wildcat label didn’t last long. After releasing a small stack of wax, including the rugged 1967 “Enchanted Island” single from the Crosstown Bus, Dean fled Detroit shortly after the ’67 riots. The imprint fizzled and its releases, like Kross of the Moon’s “Speak Softly to the Wind,” slipped into vinyl oblivion. 

Fabulous Shantels “Remain Unknown Girl”
 While the Fabulous Shantels, who formed in 1964, will forever be attached to the Ohio and northern Kentucky music scene, the Cincinnati-based foursome also formed some Michigan ties. Just after Thanksgiving 1966, the group headed north to Sound Incorporated Studios in New Haven, a town 40 minutes north of Detroit. While in Michigan, the Fabulous Shantels performed at a high school dance and recorded this piercing track, along with three others. The single was rushed to the pressing plant and released in early 1967 via the Sound imprint. 

The Blues Company “I’m Comin’” 
Featuring the swirling, scorching lead guitar work of Tim Ward, this 1968 track, released on the group’s Pear label, is another gem courtesy of Great Lakes Recording Studio in Sparta. This Bay City-based band is a prime example of a garage band’s conversion into the heavier, LSD-fueled realm of psych-rock. After three mind-altering singles, the group split up in 1969. Ward later released one solo LP. 

The Sayms “In the Wind” 
Closing out this volume of Michigan Mayhem is a supreme rarity. The muffled, otherworldly sounds of “In the Wind” are confined to this one acetate by the Sayms, from parts unknown. The flipside was “I Walk Alone,” and some scrawl on the sleeve indicates, at some point, it was sent as a promo to WXOX 1250-AM, a Saginaw-area radio station.

Notes by Rich Tupica