INC. ,

3065 DELAWARE AVE. KENMORE, N. Y. 14217 716-873-9534


Staff Editor-in-Chief : Gary Sperrazza ! Staff Writers,: Bob Kozak Joe F~rnbacher • Andy Cutler Bernard 'Eno' Kugel Mitch 'JD' Hejna Jim Bunnell Contributors: David Riley (Montreal) f '

• ,',' ·an informal histow ·of the band nominated for Canadian Rock Entertainers of •.1 theYear •'·'.,. I ·,·1 · ,, by Bob Kozak ..... .. .. . ... .. .... . . . ... . ........ . .. . . . .. . ... Page 4 BE!,;ER THAN_T,HE BEATLES: TH_E WACKERS' WACK~ROLOGY . . :. 1 A Shakin Street Spectacular on the band that was just that, and could've ,.;, been if not for the trials and tribulations that every band should know about ·'.r before fT1aking that great white entrance into the rock 'n' roll race. Interviews ), and pix galore. by Gary Sperrazza and Lester Bangs . .. . .. . . . . . ... . ....... . .. . . . Page 8 RANDY BISHOP'S -SEARCH FOR' STARDOM ', ·'• ''. When Rahdy 'Bishop left the Wackers' to persue a solo career, he knew he was ' , going to have to play by .the rules and, in the interim, hopefully stretch and break them by Bob JS.ozak · .... . ........ . ................... .. . .. .. . .. Page 18 THE DUDES: A HOCK 'N'. ROLL SHAKEDOWN The lively story of the band that's already p·laying the greatest hits of 1975! by ·Gary Sperrazza ! . ........ .. .....,............... , ...•......Page 20 PUZZLES : Find the Canadian groups, Move cr.os,sw.ord puzzle.......... .. .........· .. .. . Page 23 LONGPLAYERS ;' ' The Wackers .unreleased Wack 'n' · Roll album by Gary Sperrazza, Anne Andersson by Bob Kozak, J.P. Ferland ar;id Moonquake by Gary Sperrazza! , by The Shakin' Street Staff . .- . . . . ...,:. .:. . . ... . ... : ..... . ..... Page 25 CANADIAN SINGLES ' ' , · , ' Tying'up some 'of the loose e11ds of the bands mentioned in this issue , by Gary Sperrazza! ... .. . .. .... . ...·............... . ...... . ...Page 29 CONCERTS , Revive the los t art of throwing tomatos, eggs and bottles. Targets at six bucks a shot. ' by My Sta rs ,\ . . .".,... ... . . ... • . . :' '..... . ........... . ......... Page.30 , . . . ,. ' ,. . ' , ' P ' • ;I, p· ' r1ze . · · 1x. Poor Cheryl Segarir:il-, ,.l}fte~ working fitfully for eight hours on a Sunday Montreal morning to prepare a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner for the Dudes and the Shakin' Str~et Kidz unbeatable even for our dago relatives, she surveyed the battle-worn crowd " t ' ' \ of people in her ~ousp, .,ravenously enjoying th,e excellent food and saluting her birthday. She decided tp take a picture of us, her man Bob, and all the other bungry Dudes. Granted she's •no\ eee Ctiilders or Michael Gallo (our primo photo man), but if you look close you can see lots of things. Kootch shoving dressing into Richie Henman's ear. Gary Sperrazza(!) spilling wine on Bob Kozak's trousers. The Vienna Boys Choir telling Bob Segarini why they can't use his material. Greg Shaw making his just-eaten turkey 'all come back.' Brian Greenway trying to tell .Cheryl Segarini that this picture won't come out cuz there's not enough light in the room. Poor Cheryl Segarini. · • • • · • ,


Mike Saunders (L.A.) Jymn Panett (L.A.) Pete Tomlinson (N.Y..) Lester Bangs (Detroit) , Tom Bingham (Dunkirk) ' Dave Meinzer (manager) . Lois Anzelowitz '


Carol Panaro · Michael Gallo Esmond Choueke Cheryl Segarini

Business: Barbara Krakoff - Distribution : Magic! (Abrakapoof)

The SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE is published alternate Thursdays during the academic year and monthly during the summer vacation by the students of Buffalo State College, .and is funded by the mandatory s!Judent activity fee. Total press run is' l2,000. THE SHAKIN' ST. GAZETTE is distributed free of charge to the college communities, and over 30 locations dealing in aspects of the music business, and is widely read ,by ,Buffalo fans, disc jockeys, critics and music business people across the country, many of whom contribute to the Gazette. THE SH.A.KIN' STREET GAZETTE is made available outside the city at a cost of $3 per semester or $5.50 per year. The Shakin' S'treet Gazette is published at the State University College at Buffalo, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14222. Located , in Student · Union Room 417. (716) 862-6729. Editorial offices at 35 Knox Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14216. (716) 875-8475. 3


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(another hit), and Myles' nifty rocker "Carry On." But the band had trouble. "We must have worked 300 days that year," Myles sa id . "The pace was incredible, we were never home. It left us very confused and frustrated." David echoed this view when we talked to him. "It was very frustrating. Myles and I wanted to progress as writers and musicians. But we were working all the time, playing the same songs, and we never had a ·chance to write or rehearse. Working so hard caused the group to get very dry ." , So, fee ling the group was stagnating, David and Ritchie dec ided to spl it, and formed a trio called Silver. And Jim and Myles, determined not to fall into the same trap again', went out looking for a new group. Gary Moffit (from local Montreal bands) was the new guitarist, · and Gerry Mercer (originally from Mashmakan) who had played with the Wackers on Shredder became the drummer. April Wine's third album, Electric Jewels, started by the old group and finished with the new members, is probably . their best yet. The band has attempted to mix ' the best of pop and hard - rock., sounding on the singles ("Weeping Window," "Lady Run, Lady Hide") like a Canadian Badfinger, and on the album\ cuts like a Canadian Led Zeppelin. The album, released ih 1973, is one , of the finest recent albums, Canadian, American, or English. Even the group's attempts at difficult material come off. "Lady Run, t.ady Hide" is a "pretty" song with multitracked acoustic gu'itars and vocals, and string for icing, but it works because the melody is pretty and the group has a sense of when to quit. T·he title cut is another example. One Canadian reviewer called it "contrived and derivative" and at first listen it does seem to be that - with its metaphorical and pessimistic lyrics (pertaining to the band's frustration at that time), its length (nearly six minutes), and its changes in mood and music. But the group pulls it off _with elan and a sincerity which is hard to resist. I , . The only so·ng not written by Myles Goodwyn and .,Jim Clench is the opener "Weeping Widow" done as a single before the split. The song is a great example of heavy metal chording in a pop framework. In fact the band is quite reminiscent of our beloved Sweet in this respect; an even better example being "Come On Along," one of the best cuts on · the album. This song also includes 5

littl e time for songwriting, also b~gan to look outside of the group for a hit sing le. , "We were going into the studio maybe once every three or four months and all · we were aiming for was a single," David said. ,"We didn't always have time to write ourselves, so they were bringing us demos from New York." , The first of these, brought to them by producer Ralph Murphy, was "Could Have Been a Lady," written hy E. Brown and T. Wilson from the English group Hot Chocolate, who later went on to write "Brother Louie" for Stories . It was April Wine's first hit single, and their only U.S. hit. ·The a lbum that followed was quite a step up from the first, and established them as a major Canadian rock band. Despite the in clu sion of "psycheq.el ic" noise between cuts, sound effects, and an 1 abundance of orchestration all pointing toward the album as being the band's attempt at some sort of conceptual art statement, On Record is generally an excellent air-um . This was due to the superior material this time out, and also a heavy injection of rock 'n' roll to keep the softer cuts honest. The result was an album that transcended its pretensions, with no really bad cuts, and a few great ones: David's "Drop Your Guns"

another feature of April Wine - the twin lead vocals of Myles and Jim. As a whole the group can be gentle ("Lady , Run, Lady Hide"), they can tear your head , off ("Cat's Cl aw"), and they can even boogie ("Just Like That") and they do it all better than most. Last summer April Wine released a live album recorded on the "Electric Adventure Tour '74" called April Wine Live, produced by those old Rascal/Bulldogs, Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli (not to be confused Witi-1 Gino Vanelli). The album contains two new Clench/Goodwyn songs, "Druthers" and "(Mama) It's True," three songs from Electric Jewels, an unnecessary drum sofa (nothing against Gerry Mercer, who's an excellent drummer, but it's hard to think of any drum solo being necessary), the latest single "I'm On Fire For You Baby," and an encore of "Coul'd Have Been a Lady ." Although none of the old songs sound quite as good as their original versions, owing to the fact that they're all almost note for note copies, and the live sound just doesn't compare to the studio quality, the album still is a good example of April Wine's "high energy rock" as Jim calls it, and it does incite a desire to see them live.

Getting Rocked With April Wine by Bob Kozak

If you were listening to your transistor or car radio back in the early summer of 1972, you probably remember a funky guitar driven song called "You Could Have Been a Lady," definitely one of the best singles that summer. · And you might have wondered what ever happened to the band that did that record. Another case of hit a nd run? One-shot Canadian wonders who lucked out with a single good record and are probably back to playing little dives in the Maritimes? Hardly. Cause up in Canada, April Wine are big names with no less than four albums to their credit. An,d it's you who's getting the short end of the deal: the better part of those four albums are full of driving hard rock songs as good as or better than "You Could Have Been a Lady." When we got to Montreal, April Wine were resting and getting nel(V material together for another album 'and tour-:- Unfortunately, we were never able to make connection with the group, but you can rest assured that The Gazette will soon be winging it back to Montreal to

get the full and complete April Wine story . 't For ...... now we do have the a lbums, we did talk briefly with guitar ist Myles Goodwyn and bassist Jim Clench, and we al so talked to David and Ritchie ljenman, who, although they have been out of the band for over a year' now, are still good friends with the rest of the band·, and whose comments do shed light on April Wine's beginnings, up until the spilt. April Wine was originally formed by David and Ritchie, their cousin Jim Henman, and Myles Goodwyn in January, 1970 in Halifax Nova Scotia, and after playing some in the Maritimes, they . moved west to Montreal and were signed to Aquarius records. Their first album, April Wine, is by far their poorest album . David Henman's songs sounded like Wishbone Ash during their Pilgr'image period and aren't very impressive. Jim . Henman's songs were mostly acoustic and boring. And Myles Goodwyn's songs, though obviously the best cuts oh the album, are nowhere near as good as his later songs. Still, when

Myles' "Fast Train" got airp lay the band persisted. At this point Jim Henman, who had always yearned for the sim ple llfe, decided to leave the band so he could go back to school ,and ,do some solo folk singing back in Nova Scotia. The band needed a ·bass player, and Jim Clench was called in, one of the best moves the band has made, with Jim also adding a lot of singing and songwriting punch. There were other, more subtle changes between the first and. second albums. Myles, who at the "i:i~e was ·the band's most prolific songw'riter and best singer, came out front to take over the band's lead vocals (David, Myles, and Jim had shared this chore on the first album), and · generally assume the dominant positi-on in the band. David explains how this came about: "Myles is a very strong talent, but he also , has a very strong drive. He was the main force of the group ,. but also the main inspiration. Myles was hever actually the leader, but his energy inspired the rest of the group to try to keep up with him." ' The band, worki_ng hard with very



NOVEMBER 21, 1974

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But right now the band is following its version of the three R's - rehearsing, writing, and resting. They won't be going back to work until January and they hope this rest and renewal will help stave off the frustration and fatigue that split the old group. As for an American record label, no one seems to know if they have one. They were signed to Big Tree and On Record was released under the title April Wine after "Could Have Been a Lady" SHAKIN' ST. GAZETTE

was a hit. (And I have seen the album, although many people, including Gary Sperrazza, told me they never did, and I haven't seen it recently.) Big Tree has released nothing since then., though, and no one seems to know if they're still signed. But that would be academic if some record company on this side of _the border would get smart and si·gn the group. For now, .if you wish-to hear the kind

of group April Wine have turned into, you have to go to Canada to get the records. So next time you're up the~e scouting 'around for Pagliaro Live, it's recommended ·you grab Electric Jewels, and maybe April Wine Live. Impress your friends. And if they ask you where you got this fab, gear stuff, just take another sip of Brador - uh, I mean Jenny Cream, and sit back, secure in the knowledge that you were first on your block.


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' 1 THE BEATLES :Tfie W a~kers Wackerology ' . ' \

~Y Gary Sperrazza and Lester ·sangs

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pop scene, which, since then, has bu.sted wide open with a slew of fine talented bands, like Pagliaro, Mahogany Rush, April Wine (Port Colborne), Thundermug ,(London, Ontario) and Charlebois. It seems a shame that the Wackers, who spearheaded the movement of 60's consciousness into 70's rock 'n' roll, had to be the mar~yrs of a movement in pop , that's fully carved its niche in 1'974. But, anyway, back- in 1972, be:fore the trek up to Montreal, the Wackers sat down amidst the roomy clutter of Wackeri'ng Heights and. told Shakin' Street their story. In_many ways, it's the rock '.n',roll st-0ry that many young bands scuffling for recognition in these tight 70's can learn from . Heed on ... ***************'******* Where does it all begin? Where else?, "I \ grew up in Stockton, California," says Bob, "I used to go to the dances at the Stockton Ballroom where the black groups would play Little Richard, Speci-ality records and all those great R & B things. And I loved al l that stuff, but it wasn't my trip. ,When the Beatles hit, the Stones, . Kinks, all ,that stuff was min'e., 'cause it was directed at me. Everything I read, everything I Iistened to, eve.rywhere I went, that was my heritage. So I got Chuck Berry and Little Ri~hard back through those 'people. It was more honest." "The Beatles were the first people I ever wanted to e·m,ulate,'; recalls Randy. · "The first time I ever saw a Beatles album, I said, 'Man I'm growin' my' hair like that!" ,,, "The Beatl;s opened the door," adds Bob. "Just like ... Click! Better times. . .' And we all went Yippee! There's a party over there.",Getting your own version of the party into high and self-sustaining gear ain't always easy, though, All of the Wackers paid their dues as only a white middle class teenage Americ,an , jivecat can· before finding their present satisfactiops, Bob: "I got thrown out of a band called the Jades because I was growin' my hair long. So I started hanging around in San Francisco and got into a band called Us, and got · thrown out of that one because I smoked grass, It was the Beau Brummels days.'' Upon these hard knocks a brief but semi-successful

Nob0dy seems to know what a rock 'n' roll band is anymore. Some people think it's a wall of noise and l')Othing more, ·some think it's the evansescent correspondence of a small circle of delicate sensibilities sheltering each other from the traffic with acoustic palm fronds. But where is the truest, most complete realization of what the idec1 of a rock 'n' roll band stands for: a bunch of brats with some talent and a loi of nerve, perhaps more comfortable blasting in a bar than frozen in a concert hall, jiving and jumping for the dual purposes of getting their own kicks and conquering the world? The Wackers, that's where. Meanwhile, miscegenation prevails. British bands have · always taken their best riffs from America, but nowadays the fashion is for aspiri'ng American bands to take a passel of the most saleable riffs from the current British heavies, splice 'em together and push it as· instant vintage mainstream sound. Punch your radio sele_sxor and hear the Raspberries' "Go All the Way," for example. Lately, the whole circus has been c,ompounded with British bands acting and sounding American with both countries b0rrowing from each other so much that , you can't tell what''s what anymore. But, back ir;il 1970-72, it wasn't ttie case. · · 1 The Wackers were one band who had pulled off th_e coup of taking only and all ot the best the Limeys had to give- their flash, their visual sock, their harmonic tightness- and applying it to the creation of a srn'ashingly American sound with a clear link between the bars of the California coast and the glittery walls of superstardom. Okay, so if all that is true, why haven't you heard and . ; . flipped ' over the Wackers? It's a long story. To get a full shot of the straight dope, the Wackers gave an in-depth interview, covering many aspects of aspiring, hard-working bands that every young group can relate to, and should know about. "The b_and was founded on the principle of laziness," said semi-leader and un'official Wacker spokesman Bob Segarini. "If you're a dedicated lazy person, nothing in the world can sway SHAKIN' ST. GAZETTE 8

you from the true path and nothing in the· world is too .good for you. We're very media-oriented people. We grew up with the TV and radio and recor_ds and porn. We're 'very aware of the heritage that's been hande~ down 1 t0 us by our peers. I love . . . \ .football, and rock 'n' roll 1s exactly like football. .. " ' You can see where tl1is all starts . It -sta rts in being a kid superconsumer, sitting on your ass and waiting for it all to flow in. Which is why, besides his enviable record collection, Bob has about four giant sea-chests of old comic books, porn, and magazines of every ilk. Someday he will pass all this, along with a lot of rocking noise, on to his own kids. And when you grow up like this, sooner or late'r you're bound to transmute it all into a sty le and self-expression of your own. "The nice thing about rock 'n' roll, continues Bob, "is the fact that you get everything first, and by the time the rest of the country is wearing wide pants with Snoopy on the side , you've figured out what it is and can go 'Fuck that! What's that?!' N~ bigger snob than a/ punk. But it's nice. It's a comfortable place. We're not down and out, and -we don't pretend to be." I No, indeed . To see the Wackers on stage was ·to delight in the absolute excess-economy ostentation of rock 'n' roll. They wore threads as trendily sharp as any British fave, and they didn't even wear them pretentiously. They got into makeup ·when it suited them, too. "I dunno, I feel more comfortable with fingernail polish and stars on my face than I do with a beard," says lead guitarist Randy Bishop. He's the first one you spot on the album covers, looking like some bisexual infant with his belly button hanging out under his tight blouse. His physical presence is sufficiently Adonis-like that it's no surprise that every time they're chatting out by the back fence, his fortyish farmer neighbor can never seem to look him in the eye (Note: the interview took place in a beautiful hills,ide ranch villa called Wackering Heights in Eureka, California before the band moved 'to Montreal-Ed.) ********************** The place: Crescent City, near the Oregon border.

We're d~ving up to an average gig in a gym there, and in the course of an almost nonstop four hour set (they were the only band) the Wackers brought a cro'wd wh,ich had largely never heard of them to a dancing, cheering fever with a perfect program of originals done in full, strong style that belies the . thinne);s of their album sound forever, and classics like "It's All O~er Now" and an "Ooh!"-perfect rendition of the Fab Four's "She Loves You" that functions far more as archetype and living example of the get-up joy of this music than any limp nostalgia gimmick._ It was one of those rare cases where you just couldn't keep yours':llf from dancing, and when you tired, it was an equal delight just to, sit on the' floor taking sips from the wine smuggled in and listen _to the sound and watch the bandl roar and leap 'and get off vastly on their aud ience and each other. \_ 1 . Segarini has a terrific amount of stage presence, bony thin as any star ~hould be and moving behind his guitar w_ith a grace that ain 't fop-elegant so much as the perhaps unconscious viscera l recognition of how well he wears it all . Randy bites into his guitar with his long purpie-nailed fingers and bears down with a macho anger that works perfectly in counterpoint , with his androgynotJs demeanor. Bassist Kootch is one classic bassist: gaunt, grave , and distant looking, but never absent-minded. Drummer Ernie Earnshaw seems a bit reti'ring in the presence off all thi~ charisma, looking more like your 1 neighbor than a Seventies matinee idol , but that's fine because he is that way and -it's a perfect, amusing complement to the rest. It was destined to· be one of the Wackers' last gigs in their home state: Bob and Randy & Kootch were catching a train that night to Montreal, in the Canadian province of Quebec, where they were recording a duo-like album for Elecktra that ' had since mutated int~ the third Wackers LP, Shredder. Lack of recognition in California (at one point, they were actually down to hawking copies of their own albums in a bar they'd played at just to keep themselves in food ar-id beer) had finally impelled the Wackers to I-eave the 'pastoral vistas of-Wackering Heigl1ts and replant their seeds smack dab into the Montreal



NOVEMBER 21, 1974

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picking up their books in September. They got ripped off for everything they owned down to the last amp jack in New York, and by the middle of 1970 Bob and - Randy were sleepwalking through the tour , fantasizing super rock bands of the future. *******~************* "We were sitting in a' hotel room in Washington, DC," says Bob, "making up names and putting 'em on postcards and sendin 'em to strangers because there was nothing els-e to do. That's touring. So I was at the Pentagon Motel and we're going nuts; I send a postcard to Paul Rothchild (staff producer at Elecktra) that said; "Rothchild: Have seen this band in some little Virginia town called Ernie and the Incredible Chickens and they're better than the Beatles.Send·del:•~gation down to sign them before RCA does."One day we were talkin' and the name Wackers came up, and it was a gutbuster: 'Ah' shit, I'd love to be in a band called the Wackers!; and it became a 1 big joke ..." "It was the last stages with Roxy," elaborate·s Randy, "we were two months behind on our . rent, everybody was really down, we couldn't get any gigs. So Bob and I-held a secret caucus and said: 'Let's get outa th is bird and go write some songs and put together a rock 'n' roll band called the Wackers, and do old Rolling Stones and Beatles songs and just have a good time." .. · That, more or less and through many hard luck tangents, was what they did . David Anderle introduced them to guitarist Mike Stull, who l.eft the group in summer of 1972, and the executive shelving of plans for Mike to do a solo album for A&M resulted in th~ three down and out rock musicians making a pack to play Wack 'n' Roll. "We were living in a suitcase, on Coca-Cola, sleeping in a Volkswagon. So we came to Hollywood and met Mike, got togethe1· and played some and the first song we wrote was "On The Way Up,'' which also happens to be the absolute standout of the first Wackers album. "It worked really good from the start because nobody had to be told anything or learn any harmony parts or worry that the next guy might not be able to. Everybody could do more because they didn't have to do as much." That was the beginning of the Wackers. Getting their feet as jukeboxes. "We came up here (Eureka) with the · immediate goal of playi ~g rock 'n' roll in bars . We started with the most basic stuff. All of us had worked in bands of all kinds and got it and lost it and wandered around and there was just · no question at this point that this was what we were gonna do . So we picked a drummer named Bill Henderson (h·e played on one track, "Don't Be Cruel," lrom their first Elecktra LP) and . \ then went 1to tl1e basement of the _Unique Experience, this sort of headshop with black oak walls and water dripping from the ceiling, and · just played. We had an electric piano arid a Standard Oil Barrel that we set up onstage for no reason." "We borrowed a Sixty Beatie Hit book," continues Randy, "that had all the chords and words to all their songs in it, and just got down to it." · Bob: "We opened in tl1e first week of March at the Purple Haze and just kicked ass. Everybody went 'What's that?'. It wasn't ,such unusual music, I guess, except·that we didn't care· about anything else, we didn't strain ourselves to do anything but exactly what we wanted to do . If we wanted to play a whole night of nothing but Beatles, we did__. When songs came we'd write 'em and slide 'em in, otherwise we just pounded qut Beatles and Stones. And we were getting wasted every night, drank up all our pay - " "No," corrects Randy. "They let us play for free ."

aggregation known as the ,Family Tree was founded . It contained, in addition to some other musicians since lost in arnana, Bob and Kootch, and·was a rather pallid mating of San Francisco Era and the Concept Rock fad. Picked up by RCA and briefly hyped in an unfortunate sampler package the company called Groupquake, the band did manage to get one album out: Miss Butters, an exercise in ersatz Sgt. Pepper thrqwover designed as a concept story about an old schoolteacher shared by the boys in the band who may or may n_ot have been mythical. "The Family Tree was formed," says Bob, "because I wanted to be in a good rock 'n' roll band. Originally, it was wit_h . a guy named _Mike Olson, who - is now Lee Michaels, · Newman Davis on drums and Bill Whittington on bass. It lasted about 2 or 3 months. It just got wierd because Mike wanted to play in bars and I wanted to b'e a rock 'n' roll star, sq he left, Newman left, qnd everybody was sick of Whittington. He used to pick his nose, and his pants wouldn't fit, 't:hat was what bugged everybody . One day his wife called up and quit ·for him! And that wa~ a disaster because she owned three of the guitars and half the PA, couple of arpps . .." "The Family Tree slogged on with mostly new personnel, including Kootch on bass, from late 1966 to 1968. "And then we added another guitar player named Jim deCoco," sez Bob, "and what that did was it introduced a technician, and a good 'o,ne, to the band . A~d completely fucked the l;iand up." ** ***** ***** * ****** ** Family Tree broke up in July of 1968, and not long after that, Bob wandered South and landed in a group called Roxy, where he first worked with a guitarist named Randy Bishop, who chuckles: "Bob taught me everything f know about pop so"rig writing. I was a folkie when I met him, my voice sounded like an ·opera singer's." Roxy was tt,e archetypal Los Angeles •flash band - big sound, some Byrds, Love, Doors, Clear Light strains all mingled with volume and violence with Creedence Clearwater in late 1969, and on their one Elecktra albumJ whi_c_h _is still available · and contains a selection of early Segar 0 ini-Bishop songwriting which bore the - obvious seed of the greatness which had bloomed in the Wackers and was mighty,_fine' in its own right : "Run away with the rock 'n' roll circus.. ." '·Never quite achieving notoriety as the San Andreas Who, _they even\ ually fell in with a rather different cr'owd, and a kind of music which has since become one of the trendiest svles on the boards. Bob : "We were back to hanging out, and we\ met Rita Coolidge . We started working together, not really work'ing at it but just singing a lot; she'd come up .on stage with us and do a couple of nwmbers at gigs, and one night Graham Nash came up with her. We'd just get so fucking tequila'd out that it would turn into a party ." "fhe sole recorded product of the party was an Elecktra single' with Coolidge sitting in, and when it didn't go anywhere (Mad Dogs and Englishmen hadn't happened yet, although that style of loose gospelly jam was on the upswing) the b~nd retr.eated to the country, exactly according to script, to sort out the hallucinations and musical priorities. What happened was that they proceeded to get even more stultified. "We ate cornbread and black-eyed peas and ham hocks," says Randy, shaking his head, "and thought we were a really down home group. What we really were was naive . I even grew a beard." Roxy shuffled out of their backwood hibernation soon and went out on the road with all the enthusiasms of school brats


Clockwise from above: Kootc 1 : tall, ·lean and sings a great Chuck Berry song, to boot. Randy Bishop screams as he breaks a fingernail. Bob Segarini : shaking that funky tambourine. Drummer Ernie: Hey, smile for the camera . .. Ernie? Ernie!!



NOVEMBER 21, 1974






, so~ewhere. It'll sound the same, except that it'll have a tendency to sound sterile." "It's the difference between transistors and tubes," explains Bob, for the benefit of your completely befuddled reporterss. I don't know if IPS stands for Illicit Pimp Services, but I do know that tl1e presence of a technician was what finally sank the Family Tree, and that nothing could be more antithetical to the spirit qf the Wackers. Nevertheless, both albums went off in record time. "We .. went down to Wally Heider'~ and cut ·13 complete songs, mixes and all, in 10 days. We were so hot - neither Randy nor I had been in a studio for a, year and a half - that we just went be rserk . In the first four days we recorded nine songs, tracking .vocals with no overdut>s. It was just time, we couldn't wait, ' not even long enough to make sure or bully 9ur way to having . the album sound like we'd dreamed it would ." ' On the second day a minor crisis erupted when Billy tl1e Drummer found that he was having trouble due to lack of studio experience, so Gary Usher called in Ernie Earnshaw, "who we'd known in LA and was now vegetating in Marin ." The· recording session also completed the present and classic Wackers line-up with the return of the prodigal l

r:~, rt •.! ."V/ ackers BuckingMigration trend: Staying in Cat;tada·

... I mean he got a kick out of it on one level, but he also went 'Aaaahh .. .' Next I got him to listen to some of the songs, with emphasis on the acoustic shit. We started playing r more acoustic sets .while he was here, even though we didn't dig 'em that much, because we recognized that the acoustic stuff would knock him out and the flat out beer drinking rock 'n' roll would lessen our chances..." Randy: "First he sat down for 12 hours and told us that we were a piece of shit. And that we didn't l1ave any right . .. He said: 'You guys got no business in this business. Are you better than the Beatl,es?' And we all laughed and said, 'Yeah, of course we are_!" . "When he was working at RCA, he said, b._ands would come in all hot and sit in his office and he'd say 'Are you better than the Beatles?' And it'd throw 'em completely: "Auuuhh, the Beatles ... wow, man ... " So he'd call 'em that way, and throw 'em out. But he couldn't call us. He'd never had anybody tell him that they were better than tl1e Beatles before, serious or not, so finally he decided to produce us and said;. 'You got a lot of gall.' ***** * *** * ******* In terms of getting their sound and sense across to the public,it might have been better for the Wackers if Gary Usher had thrown them out of his office and into the arms of a producer with different orientations. Because the plain damned facts of the matter are th'at neither one of the first two 1/Vackers albums, both Usher-produced, is very inspiring, even though both have terrific songs and the kernel of the excitement found in their live show. They're sweet, gossamer, unassuming. albums that come off as some H0llywood hack's attempt to mate Graham Nash harmonics with Abbey Road musical idea_s. They come off that way because of the production. It's a mighty thin varnish, utterly gutless, and songs that'll knock yow back with their depth and grandeur in person (like "We Can Fly") simply cheep and noodle. It's plain sad, particularly when you start wondering how great the songs would've sounded if ... say, Ted Templeman or Bob Ezrin had produced them instead. I asked the band if, in spite of their· natural excitement over getting to .a studio at last, they had second thoughts when they first became fully cognizant of what Usher had in mind for them in lieu of rock 'n' roll. "We thought we could overcome it," says Bob. "And we started to a couple of times. We won a couple of flights on Wackering Heights (their first), but we lost so many others. But it got really ugly during Hot Wacks. We had some shouting scrapes while we were recording in Montreal. Randy reveals: "Our big mistake was doing that first album . with Elecktra. Because once Roxy failed, it really soured the company on Bob and myself." "I can't really blame Gary," continues Bob, "because he's a talented guy; he .was bright enough to think that we could I I make good records, and we learned a tremendous amount from him. Someday we'd like to work with him again. But we couldn't get him to stop produ6ng. He'd let us have bits and pieces of rock 'n' roll, but they always sounded like there was a piece of gauze over it. We could never .get him to kick back a little bit." Kootch: "No matter what he does he has to take the longest way around, do it the hardest way possible. Instead of putting a room noise on a cut he'll do a 15 IPS round robin or a 7½ IPS round robin and put it way off in the right speaker

J MONTREAL - The Canadian tradition has l~ng been for local mµsicians of any real calibre to relocate in the United States. Elek- t/a's Wackers represent a complete r4versal of that rock name game. t Previously located in Eureka. E;al., the " four members of the Wackers moved to Montreal at the beginning of winter. They have smce had a moderately successful slpgle, "Day and Night" and are recording 'a fourth album for f;1ektra at Kebec Sound. The ·al- bum, will be entitled "Wack 'n' ~oil." " "The reason we moved to Mont- n'{al," explained singer Bob Se- t:arini "is that we found our- ~lves spending so much time here. te also were amazed by the open- ~ss of the media to our music- ~.,.

outlets like CHOM, the "Musical Friends" TV show, daily critics like Juan · Rodriquez and Bill Mann. It was such a change to what we're used to. Plus we think the facilities at Kebec Sound are second to none. · "We spent eight months of 1972 in Montreal, and in October we made it permanent. Now we regard ourselves as a Canadian band, although we're signed to Elektra in the U.S. But we've worked for our place here. "The Canadian music scene is the most underrated, underhyped and underexploited music scene that I've ever been part of," Sega- rini said "Montreal feels to me the way San Francisco did in 1967. Something's going to happen."

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·,,Yeah," sez Bob, "at first!" Manager Cherie Porter has the last word on this one: "This . band drinks more than any group I've ever seen! I once got a statement from a bar they played in for three nights. It says _we own TH EM $3.50 for bar tabs over the amount of pay!!" "So we partied and played," until they couldn't tell the difference. This was March of 1971, and the band that was to release two alb~ms within the following year was attaining the , status of a local legend: "We'd be onstage: 'What're we gonna do tonite?' Ended up 'E-A-G'! Got it? One two three, wham! Didn't matter if nobody but one guy in the band had ever played it before. They'd reek for four or five days, then they fell into place and we just kept on going." Somewhere in this alcoholic haze, _an emissary from Elektra who remembered Bob and Randy from the Roxy days came up, liked what he heard and signed the Wackers to his label. Mark Abramson of Judy Collins fame expressed some enthusiasm, then backed out. The band was getting miffed. So in true punk fashion they called up Jae Holzman, then president of Elektra Records, to bawl him out. , Bob: "Holzman says, 'I've got this guy, he's had a lot of experience and really knows the music, and he wants to do your records.' "'What's his name?' " 'Gary Usher.' " So for awhile we just flipped, because we all loved some of the thing he'd produced - Beach Boys, those Byrds albums, Firesign Theatre, Paul Revere. So I call him, I've never met him before and we talk_ long distance for about three hours. A truly great conversation, bits of wisdom like the reason drunks keep their Muscatel in paper bags: I dunno, I says, and he says: "So they don't know when it's gonna run out.' So I thought, Shit, this guy's great. We figured he was just the man to grasp what we were doing instantly. So he came up here, and he walked into the club, and he hated us. Because it was LOUD. Loud ROCK 'N' ROLL, and Randy would_rap all this drunken obsenity and somebody would fart

cross between the Grateful Dead and CSNY. But I think Jae understands now. I mean vve finally quit, we used to bug everybody at that label with obscene phone calls. We were a real I bunch of assholes. But sometimes you've gotta be. I mean Allen Klein's an asshole. Everybody hat_!:)d him because he got out and got things done for his band." Concerning managers, Randy sez, "Right -after Hot Wacks came out, we were at our peak. The Wackers played in Buffalo, opening for the Doors at the Peace Bridge Exhibition Center. Our manager was the Doors' manager and he wouldn't let us go to any of the press confere,nces because he was afraid we'd draw attention away from the Doors." "Our hassle with Elektra," summarizes Bob, "is that sometimes we feel thfY don't think we're as concerned with . the music as we pretend to be ."Everybody laughs at that one, because it's so obviously a statement of the nature of the band, the inner discipline of its rowdy, disorderly delinquent attitudes, and the conundrum which sums up forever the immutable generation gap between the new punk artists and the internatiorial industries and cartels which market them any way they can and with varying and easily diminishing degrees of insight into how their rockin' charges think anc:l feel and .work. But the Wackers aren't here to snivel: "It's just as much our fault that we're misunderstood at that label as anybody else's. Our lack of direction at the outset was the real source of the trouble. And it was our responsibility to correct that. 'fou hav·e to understand that when you're unknown, and you get a record company wh9 has no idea who you are, there's bound to be problems.'' Things were touch and go for a while, indeed . Elektra was all charming uncl e , soothing words and random attempts to smooth things over by folkie diplomacy . Jae Holzman came to visit Wackering . Heights, made the Wackers the best meal ·th ey'd ever eaten in th e ir lives (all organic too, even though they are lowdown burge r fanciers to a man), and blew .their minds by doing th e dishes while they were out. Jae Holzman is

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I budget for a · record by a five-man band. But, duririg tl1e recording i process, various members of the grou,p kept walking in: · Kootch, Ernie drummed on two cuts, a previously-unknown guitarist n'amed J.P. 1 Lauzon, Mashmakan's drummer Jerry Mercer - ideas filtered back and forth, and at length all pretences to some Uncle Scrqoge edition of Brewer and Shripley were abandoned and they let loose and got down . · · 1- Randy explains: "Shedder was a really fun album to record cuz nobody gave a shit about technicalities. The album began at Wally Heider's in San Francisco, the we ' came up to Montreal to finish it and stayed , at Doug Pringle's {a DJ at CHOM who has since recorded two singles under Bishop's production and signed to T. Rex' label, Hot Wax)." in his review in Rollihg Stone·, Ben Edmonds said:''With rock 'n' roll commanding so much of the action on Shredder {"Hey Lawdy Lawdy," "It's My Life"), even their acoustic material packs a punch, and may in fact provide the album's most enjoyable moments. These are rock 'n' roll ballads, not whimperings from some Marin County sickbed .. . On "Last dance " you can almost envision Ray Davies and Bowie in starchy prom tuxedos, waltzing across the floor for the final time. Randy Bishop's vocal is overly affected, but works perfectly in context. Tne song is a caricature, its features consciously distorted for emphasis and effect. At the heart of the Wacker ethic is, an unmoveable commitment to fun, even should it take the form of mild self-parody." Edmonds goes on to note the album's only weak, a ten-minute jam called : 'Buck Buckdog Memorial Jam." Concerning that oddity, Segarini complained, "I would rather have had three more WackEirs songs instead of the jam. But Mark Abramson pointed out that there ;are people out there

wtio will like it. I find it extremely boring and no one in the band \ealiy enjoyed the jam, except for J .P., but it was a good showc~ e for him." The group then began to bu_ild an amazing following on the initial ~ trengtl1 of a hit single, "Day and Night" {from Shredder) in Montreal. They then toured the N9rthwest \ with Lauzon to raise the money to move •to Montreal perma1tently and Lauzon left. At that point, Randy explains, "When we lost a ,lead guitarist for the second time, we decided to remain as a four-piece group. We couldn't find any more Wacke rs." Bob: "Th e first time we played as a four-piece group (Ran,dy, Kootch Ernie and myself) was wh en' '.'Day and Night" was Top 20 in Detroit. When the four of us played together, there was always an . amazirig amount of energy . Randy 1/VOuld makethese amazing 20 foot leaps, I was always dancing a_nd prancing, and Kootch and Ernie were always kidding_and joking around." · Perhaps it was the adoration that Montreal lavished upon them that, gave them the encouragement to record the1 album they'd always wanted to . record: a full-fledged, sock-em drunken rock 'n' roll album filled with the songs that ·they'd been playing for years. I mean, Christ, these songs were knocking Wacker audiences for a loop in concert presentation, _and the damn company wouldn't let them onto vinyl! Bob: When we pri_ginally came up here to do Wack 'n' Roll, we had already recorded the demo right after HotWacks, consisting of "Rock 'n·; Roll Circus," "Teenage Love," "She L'oves You," Randy's "Old Mr. Hard Times" - all uptempo, n;ick 'n' roll · songs, And we played · them for Elecktra promotion head John Davis, who was jumping up and down shouting 'I've finally got a rock 'n' roll band." And I _was

a good, merr-y man " possessed of remarkable humility for anyone and especially one in his position. But Jae Holzman did not understand rock 'n' roll. Few people at Elektra did : So it's really entirely justifiable in the face of all these attempts at mollification the Wackers were just punk enough to grumble about how they still weren't getting their just jive desserts. They . wrote a song during this period ,. ,never recorded I except on their {Tlyriad private tapes , which sums .up the mood of those days perfectly. ' -Living in the basement, playing till you cry Somebody happens by and says, "Your time has come" , 1 1 "Really like what you're layin' down , but you know we'll have to change the sound, To make it sell, we'll hide the cake and record the crumbs." 1


Well I-just want to ·play my music I•just want to sing my songs You been changing what I am to me . And making my mistakes for me too long too long.* · ****** * **** * *********

So, . after Hot Waclcs, Stull left the group. Sez Bob: "Stull ' left to be a technician and get into Da Blues. I got him to play Rickenbacher 12-string funky leads and he hated to play \them : he thought it restricted his blues playing and fast licks. ' But I give a big fat fuck about fast licks. Gimme a Badfinger solo anytime as opposed to a Mahavishnu solo. I find that redundant and boring at the same time ," The ,group's third LP Shredder, originally begun as the Segarini-Bishop acoustic-duo album into which Elecktra had expressed a willingness to sink money substantially beydnd the

I Well, it seems the Wackers ,were a very uncooperative bunch . Their reputation was so widespread, in fact, that when their fourth album (Wack 'n' Roll) was refused by Elecktra, no other record company would touch them . And that I . , was the straw- that broke the Wac~ers' back. On the other hand, they were treated shabbily by their record company .. The Wackers received next to nothing in terms of promotion . Any publicity q.ills incurred came out of the Wackers' own pockets. Furthermore, their records, were never advertised, although they so(d well wherever they were given airplay. Elecktra just didn't give a shit about the , Wackers. 1 ' • Unfortunately, we're going to fo'rget the Wackers. It may take weeks, months, or years, but we'I I forget them ; A~ the band stepped up to the mikes to ·begin the closing "Hot,Wacks" medley, one of their titles popped into my mind: "Time Will Carry On (Even When We're Gone)" That's the real traged-; behind the death of the Wacke rs. -David Riley

hotel in Byton was disgraceful . Aside from the immediate entourage, no one was aware of the impending dissolution until the day before, when it was leaked 'in a newspaper. It was a shame that the kids who supported the band so devotedly were denied a final opportunity to see them. Ah, what the hell, this sort of thing happens every day, right? I mean, there must be hundreds of groups who throw in the to'wel every yea~. Isn't it just another butt in the ashtray? It's all goi_ng to be ·water under ;the bridge soon anyway, right? , Bullshit. Its pain was of the first degree. A sizable number of people from Montreal drove the 120 miles to see the show, even -~n spite of ·one day's notice. The Wackers were obviously special and it was a sad day for a lot of people when they .gave t~eir last performance. The band seemed 'unaffected although · it was the last stand. That's professionalism, I guess. To their endless credit, they didn't foist their problems on an unsuspecting audience, who had no inkling of what was going on.

The toughest part of the even\ing was kissing goodbye to all those great songs. The Wackers were a rock and roll band of the highest calibre and many of their compositions st~ as classics ·of their genre. "In the Isles," "Day and Night," "I'm Bored," "On the Way Up," "Tonight," "Wait and See," "Juvenile Delinquent," "Hey Lawdy Lawdy" (the latter three are still performed by the Dudes-Ed.) ... ah, I can see it now. The Wacker wives must have used two whole rolls of Scottowels to soak up the tears, as each opening chord signified the last times each song would be played. Dancing eased the depression, although the sight of a half dozen lunatics bopping their hearts out and screaming all the words to strange songs left the local audience quizically staring at us. It's time, thOugh, to bring this all back into perspective. Concerning their mishandling by Elecktra, the band 's producer ca 11 ed them "the great American tragedy." But _ let's not get carried awa 1 y. If they were that good, why didn't Elecktra promote them properly?

The Wackers Last Stand Like most other bands, the Wacke rs were not si_mply the four guys on stage. There were, the roadies, the manager, the family, 1 the record company arid othe~s

captured the h~arts and soul of teens throughout the city. They played high schools every weekend during the school year and the kids always turned out in droves. Here was a big-name band {"Didn't they get rel(iewed in Creem and Rolling Stone?" was the usual comment) playing for a bunch of high-school punks! The Wackers soon developed a ha(d core of followers. There was a fan ·club for the more impassioned ones, who sent their favorite Wacker many a special letter. And everybody just waited for the Big Record that was going to rocket them to stardom . However, suddenly we found ourselves ,heading for Ottawa; two hours away, to catch their final ' act' as a group. The Wackers were dissolving, v1ct1ms of financi al troubles brought -about mainly by an unsympathetic record company. It was bad enough th'e band was breaking up, but to have it all end in some two-bit ..._

filling various capacities. This is the story of the end of the Wackers. It's not the be-or-end all, but it tells what happened when one group called it quits. The Wackers were a rock 'n' roll band from California who chose· Montreal as a base. Montreal is a big city but it can think awfully small at times. One of these instances is with regard to its' musical talent. With t'he possible exception of Leonard Cohen, who is really neither musical nor talented, no one has ,ever become successful in the America·n rock world using Montreal as a home base . But the Wackers were actually here and they were going to be famous, and they were going to put Montreal on th'e map! Simply because they had two albums released, the Wackers ,were immediately top dogs when they moved here. They


NOVEMBER 21, 1974



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