Friday, August 30, 2019

WMSE August 31, 2019 Playlist and Track Notes

The following is a track-by-track commentary for our first visit to WMSE, as broadcast August 31, 2019.

Lord Beverley Moss and the Moss Men “Please, Please, What’s the Matter” 1966. Guitarist Bob Timmers, later founder of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Nashville, placed a want ad in a British music magazine looking for an “Eric Burdon-type” singer to come over and perform. Bev Moss, singer and part time grave digger, responded. Timmers paid for his plane fare and helped Moss secure a work visa. The band played shows in and around Wisconsin for about a year. At some point the band and Bev split, and when his visa expired he went back to England. He is currently still performing, doing musical theater, and an Elvis Presley tribute show in the Cornwall area. Keyboardist Vic Wendt was manager of the Concerto Music store. Drummer Tom Gebheim, who turned in a whirlwind performance on this recording, recently celebrated his 80th birthday. This record has been featured on several unlicensed garage rock compilations since the early 1980s, raising awareness of the single and increasing its desirability among collectors of the genre.

Passion “Midnight in the Park” 1970. This band is Tony’s Tygers (Tony Dancy, Lanny Hale, Craig Fairchild, Fred Euler) performing under a new name, looking to update their look and sound following their failed A&M Records contract. This was one of 2 singles released as Passion before the band split and went their separate ways. The core trio of Dancy, Hale and Fairchild regrouped and released their 2nd album in 2010, 42 years after their first.

Enchanters “On a Little Island” 1968. Very little is known about this quartet from Milwaukee. In fact, we only know 3 of their full names; Robert Walton, Tom Washington, and David Bursey, who joined after this record was recorded. Both sides of the single were written by full-time dentist, and part time songwriter Sy Lefco. Mr. Lefco was close to many artists in the Chicago Jazz scene, and even penned a minor hit for Oscar Peterson, “You Look Good to Me.”

Baroques “I Will Not Touch You” 1968. Best known for their psychedelic light show and performances at the Avant Garde club in Milwaukee, occasionally with the Velvet Whip. This single was done in April of 1968, after Chess Records passed on the songs presented for a second LP. Their Chess LP was reissued for Record Store Day Black Friday 2018 by label Sundazed Records.

The Golden Catalinas “Varsity Club Song” 1966. Recorded live at the former Varsity Club in La Crosse as a promotional plug and its recording was funded at least in part by the club’s owner. Famous for its live, raw sound and the look of the band, who at the time were sporting gold lame’ suits and shoes, AND gold sprayed pompadours! Target Productions was started by Al Posniak and Jim Kelly from the band.

Loyal Opposition “Telling Lies” 1969. The Loyal Opposition was a band from Sheboygan and played many concerts in the Northeast Wisconsin area. The Sheboygan-Two Rivers-Manitowoc scene alone birthed over 150 bands in the time between 1965 and 1972. The song was originally titled “Pondering” and had far more psychedelic lyrics. Label head Al Posniak suggested a rewrite and that lead singer Carl Weinberger (dec. 2018) perform in a faux-British accent. Though no studio recordings survive of the original version, the regrouped band played live in 2008, and was captured on video doing the song with BOTH sets of lyrics. That video is available on Youtube, thanks to Beth Eubank.

The Love Society “You Know How I Feel (and Why)” 1969. The Love Society were no strangers to success. Their Tee Pee-released single, a harmony-laden ballad interpretation of Bobby Freeman’s “Do You Wanna Dance” was picked up for national distribution by Scepter Records in the summer of 1968 and followed up by a cover of “Tobacco Road”. When that second record failed to meet Scepter’s expectations, the band cut another single with Target, an original Al Posniak 50s styled pop track. This song, the flip side, impressed RCA Victor, and the band cut a new A-side and released it nationally. After another less than successful follow-up and aborted album sessions in Chicago, the band cut a single for Mercury in late 1970 before calling it a day.
Phase III “Working in a Coalmine” 1970. Lead by brothers Duane and Keith Abler (the latter of which was also a member of the Love Society,) this group cut 2 singles in early 1970 at Target. This song, the B-side of their 2nd single, was written by Gary Laabs, a member of several Fox Valley bands going back to the very early 1960s and treasurer for the local musicians’ union. It was intended to be released by the band Cheese (with Wilbur VandeBurgt on bass) with the recording session photographed for a profile piece in the Appleton Post Crescent in 1969 but was ultimately cancelled. That recording is now considered lost.
Members of Phase III and The Love Society joined forces in 1973 and created Sunblind Lion, who still perform to this day, and have enjoyed great success on their home turf, with local audiences singing along to many of their original compositions.

Torquays “Even the Wind” 1968. This quartet recorded in 1968 when all four members were Oshkosh (West) High School underclassmen. Rhythm guitarist Alan Ives wrote and arranged both sides of the single, and this track was even performed live with the school orchestra backing them! Ives charted all of the orchestra parts for that version as well. The band changed names to Friends and slowly began adding members, at one point topping out at 7! Permutations of the band have endured to the present day, still performing in and around the Oshkosh area. Ives left the band in 1971 but continues to compose and perform both religious and secular music.

Private Property of Digil “Sunshine Flames” 1967.This was the 4th and final Private Property single, written, sung and featuring shimmering 12 string guitar from then 16-year-old prodigy Doug Yankus, one year before forming legendary rock trio Soup with bassist Dave Fass and drummer Rob Griffith, late of the band The Bloos Phase. The track is reminiscent of the Beach Boys or the Association, who were known for their multi-part vocal stylings. Yankus broke up the band when he outgrew the AM pop sound, and endeavored to stretch his interest in country rock, electric blues, and jazz. This track, as well as the other 7 released PPoD sides, were included in a deluxe reissue of Soup’s first LP by Gear Fab Records in 2000.

The 13th Hour “Badger Beat” 1966, Written and sung by Ricky Leigh Smolinski, with Jimmy Joe Van Hoof, Bill “Wilbur” VandeBurgt. Namesake of Al Posniak’s column in Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet ca. 67-68. One of the earliest, possibly the first, “official” Target records, and an unfortunate example of rushed production of the period. As the saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot.” And this band, for a moment, certainly was! Recorded in basement of Concerto Music in a spare room converted to studio space, it is also the single poorest quality recording the Archive is charged with restoring. Concerto was the local instrument shop and hang out of many musicians at the time.
Ricky and Wilbur were both highly regarded and in demand players. Ricky wrote and played on the first rock and roll record from Wisconsin in 1957 at age 15 and would continue live performance and writing for many groups, while Wilbur produced many recording sessions for Target through 1969 and continued playing in several groups through the 70s. Wilbur passed in 2006, Ricky retired from performing in the 90s due to carpal tunnel. Several records on today’s show were written by Ricky.

Jerry Sleger and his Cordovox “Jerry’s Polka” 1968. The only artist to record a full album at Target prior to 1972, as well as being the only artist to have a release in stereo from the label until 1971. Jerry was a mainstay at the Oshkosh EAA annual Fly-in, playing a monstrous one-man band set up of over a dozen modified keyboards, running to his Cordovox electric accordion. He retired from live performing in 2015 after 29 years. Tapes and CDs show up regularly for sale online, and YouTube has several videos from local news profiling him. “Jerry’s Polka” was one of his first recorded originals. He released 2 singles with Cuca Records sister label Sara around the same time as this, his first LP.

Glen Cass “Hurry-Up Sundown” 1970. A friend of guitar whiz Jerry Cole back to their teenage years, Glenn (Kastner) played in the earliest lineup of The Flaming Coals with Cole, drummer Tom Gebheim, and guitarist Ricky Leigh Smolinski. He moved to LA in the early 60s and played on several of Cole’s recordings, as well as many demo sessions with the likes of Glen Campbell and other future Wrecking Crew notables. Glenn can be heard on several tracks from the Byrds “Pre-Flyte” demoes LP. After a stint in the Detours with pedal steel giant Red Rhodes, Cass moved back to Wisconsin and played both as a solo and with his brother Norm. This is the the B-side of one of his first solo releases. In the 70s, he was the star of his own live country music show on WFRV tv in Green Bay. Later, he took up teaching and moved to Oregon, where he is now retired.

Speedy and the Alka Seltzers “Cathy Lost Her Love Today” 1968. Originally hailing from central Wisconsin, this group originally consisting of five members had pared down to three by the time of this recording: Jerry “Lakes” Laridaen, Jim Bisbee, and Butch Moore. All members were multi-instrumentalists as well as singers, and one of their main stage tricks was to swap between horns, guitars and drums between songs, as well as sing Association-style close harmony. In the mid 70s, Laridaen backed Glenn Cass on his TV show and eventually took the hosting spot when Glenn left. He retired from live performance in 2018.

Jules Blattner and the Warren Groovy All-Star Band “Backwater Blue” 1972. Jules Merrill Blattner. He was a leading powerhouse in early rock and roll in his native St. Louis, played on Chuck Berry’s 1964 LP “Chuck Berry in London“, fronted several successful groups in eastern Wisconsin through the late 80s, and enjoyed a homecoming and late era live career until his well-deserved retirement in 2000. Anyone who saw him live has incredibly positive memories of his energy, enthusiasm, and sheer skill of voice and guitar. Blattner passed away in June of 2019 following a long battle with ALS. He left behind a truly legendary legacy. The track on offer was pulled from his 1973 independent release “Back on the Road Again,” which was passed on by at least 2 major labels after both issuing this single without much fanfare or promotional support. This is the mono single edit, as released by MGM in 1972.

Raylene “Light of Day” 1967. Raylene recorded 3 singles with various line-ups including her then husband, sax player Roger Loos, and his brother Tom on drums. Light of Day is the B-side of the 3rd of these. Written and produced by Ricky Leigh, the vocals were recorded in the men’s washroom at the studio due to its reverb. This is my personal favorite of all the Target studio recordings. Raylene now lives in the West Bend area and still performs regularly with the band “Nite Trax.”

Rockin' Round the Airwaves!

Andy here, and I have incredible news! Paul and Tim of and WMSE 91.7 FM (Milwaukee School of Engineering) have invited us on the air to share the music and stories of Target Productions!

Tune in Saturday, August 31st at 5:00PM Central Time if you're in the Milwaukee area, or go to one of the links below to check out the show. We will be featuring music from the entire pantheon of artists, and most of the songs will be making their FM radio debut! I have written track-by-track notes for the songs that will be played, and they will be in the next blog post.

My wife and I are also headed down to Chicago for a day trip, and will be returning with even more cool stuff to share. Keep your eyes and ears here!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Vintage news to come!

Very exciting stuff! We have been hard at work digitizing and transcribing our namesake, the original weekly column "Rockin' Round the Valley" from the Appleton Post-Crescent, and those transcriptions will be available soon for everyone to read again! Please look forward to it!

A quick note about audio links

Just a quick heads up. As we have closed our account with SoundCloud, I will be updating our audio links over the next few weeks. I apologize for the inconvenience. We were receiving a lot of spam comments there and junk email from SC, and the cost of a paid account simply was not worth what it got us. New audio will link from, as the speed and quality are nice, and their free service has more than enough room for all of the music we need to make available.