TEN WHEEL DRIVE AT THE 1969 ATLANTA POP FESTIVAL
L to R: Mike Zager, Aram Schefrin, Bill Takas, Leon Luther Rix, Genya Ravan, Jay Silva, Pete Hyde, Richie Meisterman, Dennis Parisi, Lou Hoff
CONSTRUCTION #2009

TEN WHEEL DRIVE CHRONICLES


I told the story of Ten Wheel Drive, as I remember it, in "The Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles," a series of podcasts I did a couple of years ago. These podcasts are now back up at twd.libsyn.com, and you can find the transcripts of these podcasts at the bottom of this website. Thanks to Bill Janowski, from Elmhurst, Illinois, who put in the time to transcribe them just because he wanted to.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

TWD SECRETS NOW SHOWING UP ON FACEBOOK

Allen Herman: "Genya, I don't know about you but I once lit Dennis Parisi's hair on fire in the back row of our plane to FSU while doing a hit on a hash pipe."

Genya: "Oh my Goodness .what about Steve Sattan falling off the stage and continued playing like a bug on its back trying to get up...never dropped a beat.....hahahahha "

Genya: "And the Chambers gave me a hit of Angel Dust and you guys had to play the intro to Eye of The Needle' for twenty mintutes till Aram came over to me to give me my opening line.....the audience loved it, they knew I was stoned...."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A REVIEW FROM 2007

Ten Wheel Drive was a band that formed after Genya Ravan's all-female band Goldie and the Gingerbreads broke up. Around the same time Michael Zager and Aram Schefrin were also looking for a band as well. After being introduced to each other by their managers and also after filling the entire brass section Ten Wheel Drive was officially born. The thing about Zager, Schefrin, and Ravan is that they all came from a different musical background, so they all had to find a way to mix and match these to create the best possible formula for Ten Wheel Drive, and they did an amazing job.
Their first big show was in 1969 at the Fillmore East in New York where halfway through the show Genya Ravan decided that her voice and the music behind it wasn't quite enough for the crowd so she decided to take off her vest and perform the last half of the show topless.
Ten Wheel Drive is some very, very intense psychedelic-afro funk/blues/soul music that is seemingly way ahead of its time. Genya Ravan's voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Janis Joplin's voice, but the band backing Genya makes this album so much more heavy than any of Joplin's records. The only time Joplin's music even came close to resembling this was at Woodstock when she had Kozmic Blues backing her, but the thing about that is that Ten Wheel Drive had already done that so to anyone who knew anything about would have known that it really wasn't that revolutionary. There is just so many different backing instruments playing that the music just becomes so intricate and elaborate that it fully separates itself from any genre or band of that time . Genya's voice can go from so soothing and smooth to just a "sharp as razor blades" screech that just makes you feel the soul in every single song. The brass and rhythm section backing also adds to the overall funk/soul sound of this album. You get this big-band-ish , psychedelic, funky, soul sound out of every song and you can sense each individual musicians different musical background as the ball all of them up to create an amazing album. There is just not a bad song on this album. Every song carries the same amount of absolute soul and this unique sound that you just can't find anywhere else.

Prove me wrong. Don't forget to comment.

Enjoy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

RECENT COMMENTS ON YOUTUBE

Shooting the Breeze:

Aw, man, now you've done it. This one always stopped the party at the clubhouse, with people asking me, "Who is that? Where can I get it?" I was never sure why it didn't dominate the charts. And my bride of 36 years still gets all sloppy when I play it. Thank you so much, for doing it in the first place and for posting it now.

Genya, Aram I love this song! Your messin with my emotions. XXOO

does anyone know where i could find cds or failing that the vinyl ? loved this group so much

My God! Thank you the person who found and posted this!!! I loved this at 15 years old!!! OOOO God!! I love this! God Bless You. I love Genya Ravan and Ten Wheel Drive!!! She has a gorgeous voice! Should have been a superstar in the music industry! Hardworking and great!!

Danny Stiles legendary trumpet player played on this album.

One of the all-time great songs. Play this at Mega-Blast Volume!

Don't know if this is the appropriate place to do so, but thanks to you, Mr. Zager, and TWD for being among the inspirations that motivated me at that time to want to stay in school, study formally, and learn as much as I could about how "music" works. As a result, I've been a full-time working professional musician my entire life, and a part-time faculty member at the World's Most Famous Music School, in Boston, since 1986.
Sie gesund.

Morning Much Better:

A great song, complemented by a fantastic performance by Genya Ravan and incredible horns! Loved it then and love it now. I still say it was 40 years ahead of its time. A re-release goes top ten with a bit of promotion and associated commotion.

Eye of the Needle:

The paradigm of first-generation "fusion," at it's best.
Thanks, Mr. Schefrin, good job, then, and now.

bass and drums as they should be...fucking raw and violent!

Heavy stuff, great song and performance. With the dual male/female vocals, sort of like a Jefferson Airplane feel with better musicianship and horns. Have the LP & CD , also an edited version released as a single. Ten Wheel Drive should have had been huge with big hit albums & songs.

Thank you! This brings back a snowy night, steamy inside the Fillmore East, chills running up and down my spine. What a voice! What a song!

No Next Time:

A Ten Wheel Drive support group-that's exactly what we need. As a songwriter myself, I have always admired their inventive arrangements and sense of melody

It feels as if I've entered a Ten Wheel Drive support group. Thought I was alone out here. Loved this one..and Eye of The Needle, and Tightrope, Lapidary and Candy Man. Woooooo!

Great song, one of my favorites. Excellent arrangement, lyrics and, of course, an inspired vocal performance. Ten Wheel Drive is a very talented band that deserved more recognition that what they received. I would like to see a limited edition CD box set of all the Ten Wheel Drive albums, including the one with Annie Sutton. Annie did a song, with a chorus of "Who Am I" which was excellent.

The Night I Got Out of Jail:

Not Bad for a little Polish Girl.

Oh Genya ! Dynamite ! and Ten Wheel Drive, what a drviing rocking band ! thanks for the post !

Genya Ravan ROCKS!!

Ten Wheel Drive......Powerhouse!!

Tightrope:

Her voice is rock history- THE BADDEST ASSKICKIN SOUND. Plus- soul, romance and natural groove.

One of the real ones in music- legendary and listening to her proves it.

She should have been a superstar! Phenomenal voice! Genya should receive all type of awards for being a musical pioneer!

f this is the channel of the REAL Aram Schefrin, I just want to say that Ten Wheel Drive KICKED ASS! This band was one of my seminal influences in early years. Thanks for making this unforgettable music, and getting Genya out there to be heard and appreciated!

Man, this is GREAT stuff!!!!!!! Heard this on I think the "Deep Tracks" satellite station this past weekend! Was immediately blown away! Thank you so much for posting this one, aschefrin!!!!

Stay With Me -

I always loved this band: Horns Like BS&t, singer like Joplin. This version is the first I ever heard, Midler's version, in the fictionalized life of Joplin, "The Rose," made perfect sense, and I liked it, but it doesn't match this.

Last of the Line -

One of the greatest voice talents of the 60s and 70s. She could belt it out as well as anybody! Brought shivers to my spine.

10 Wheel Drive has grease, soul and the grit of NYC all in one. While being world class for infinity.
Genya is / was and always will be the baddest ever. Great band with some album cover art thaz classic.

I never understood why you never enjoyed greater success, but I always thought you really captured *The Sound* that was a natural evolution of the Big Band, The Blues, Rock and Jazz - not to mention a really kick-ass singer in Genya.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

NEW STUFF

Just completed a demo on the first new Ten Wheel Drive song since 1973.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AIRFARE

They're playing "Eye of the Needle" on Airtran, Expressjet, Frontier and JetBlue.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A COMMENT ON YOUTUBE ON "SHOOTIN' THE BREEZE"

God bless you for being part of, and contributing to, what may be the headiest and most intelligent period in post-rock Pop.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

HELP!

I have written a libretto based on Mary Todd Lincoln's incarceration in a mental hospital. I had a composer to set to score it, but he has gotten too busy. As it is some of my best work, I have posted it online here. If anyone knows a composer who would like to work with it, please let me know by commenting on this post.

THANKS, ANTHONY!

Shootin' The Breeze, Ten Wheel Drive

I can't even begin to know how to thank you for you putting this song on Youtube. I'm an accomplished musican and back in the 70's I purchased the album and fell in love with this song so I had my bands play it. The musical agrrangment speaks for itself. In the 80's i lost the album when I moved to a new city. I have always had a special liking in my heart for this song and missed it so much through the years. My search for the recording thru the years has only been nothing but frustrating.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart, you have made my day!!

Anthony

Sunday, August 9, 2009

NOW I KNOW

Thanks to Steve Loeb, a great piano man who played on several "Peculiar Friends" cuts, I now know who the unidentified guy on the T W D cover is.

It's Joe Schick, who owned Blue Rock Studio on Greene Street in New York. Between the end of the band with Genya and the re-beginning with Annie, we played with the idea of putting together another sort of band. We did a bunch of demos at Blue Rock with Steve, Joe Beck, Russell George and a drummer I can't remember. When TWD came back together, Don Grolnick (who did piano work on the new album) decided not to stay with the band. So we were short one man for the album cover photo, and Joe very kindly agreed to stand in. Steve Robbins later took Grolnick's place.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

T W D NOW UP ON ITUNES


The fourth Ten Wheel Drive album, T W D, featuring Ann E. Sutton on lead vocals, is not available for download at iTunes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TWD NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON


Ten Wheel Drive's fourth album, featuring Ann E. Sutton, is now available for download at Amazon.com.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

CONSTRUCTION NO. 1 ON ITUNES



Construction No. 1 is now available for digital download on iTunes, Amazon, Lala, Napster and Rhapsody. The album now includes a never before released cut of Odetta and TWD live at the Bitter End.

BRIEF REPLIES ON ITUNES


Brief Replies is now available for digital download on iTunes, Amazon, Lala, Napster and Rhapsody.

PECULIAR FRIENDS ON ITUNES


Peculiar Friends is now available for digital download on iTunes, Amazon, Lala, Napster and Rhapsody.

Saturday, July 11, 2009



The cast of characters shown here:

Top: Genya, Dave Liebman, Aram, John Gatchell, Mike, Steve Satten, Bobby Piazza
Bottom: Dennis Parisi, Allan Herman, John Eckert

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

INCREDIBLE!

NEWLY DISCOVERED PICTURES

I found a box of slides of pictures of TWD. I've had them scanned at ScanCafe, and here they are. They are of a transitional period between the band that did "Brief Replies" and the band that did "Peculiar Friends." The horns are from the earlier period; Gator Watson was with us for a short time after the "Brief Replies" rhythm section left, and before Dave Williams. Gator may have been the drummer on "Love Me." Blake Hines played on "Peculiar Friends" and was with the band until Genya left.

Genya

Genya and Aram

Blake Hines

John Eckert

Dennis Parisi

Dave Leibman

Gator Watson

John Gatchell

Steve Satten

HOW WE GOT STARTED

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 01 - How We Got Started - 11/13/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.),

This is the Ten Wheel Drive Podcast and I'm Aram Schefrin.

If you're of a certain age and you grew up in the Eastern half of the United States, you might remember a rock band called Ten Wheel Drive. The band had an incredible horn section, strong rhythm section and the phenomenal lead vocals of Genya Ravan. It played a conglomeration of Jazz, Rock, R&B and Blues.

Here's what critics are still saying about Ten Wheel Drive on the Internet:

(Quoted from (1) The All-Music Guide, (2) Best Of CD Booklet)

(1) "Ten Wheel Drive was a highly influential rock/jazz group not afraid to push the envelope."

(2) "Nearly every element in these songs were built into complex, but remarkably natural sounding arrangements. The vocal harmonies wove in and out of the multi-layered horn lines and the band was somehow able to jump back and forth between powerhouse electric guitar solos and smooth, jazz flavored piano highlights."

As for Genya, I found this quote on the Internet:

(3)(From Genya Ravan Official Site, Review of Construction #1 (1969)
by Justin Cober-Lake)

"When she uses her voice aggressively, it's the sound of the world coming unhinged."

There's a lot more of that stuff, and we'll get to it.

Mike Zager, Genya Ravan and I put the band together in New York in 1968.

We're going to be telling you the whole story, including a lot of little inside details that nobody knows. But before we begin that, let's hear a cut from the band's second album, so those of you who never heard the band know what these people were talking about. Here's Pulse' from 'Brief Replies.'

(Song starts at 02:32, ends at 06:48)

Mike Zager and I grew up in Passaic, New Jersey, which was an immigrant town, nothing much to speak of. We were always interested in music - myself, I started playing guitar at age six, and that was classical guitar, and after a few years of that I switched over to flamenco guitar and studied with Carlos Montoya, which was an experience all of its own.

I didn't know this, but I read it in an article that I found on the Internet about Michael - he started playing the violin in the third grade, and in school he played clarinet, saxophone and a little bass - I never heard him do any of those things, but I heard him play a lot of keyboards.

I had switched to drums by that time, and we talk all the time about our first gig together - I don't remember if it was junior high or high school, but we played it at somebody's house with a saxophonist named Larry Landau, whom we haven't heard or seen since. We bought what used to be called 'combo orks' - these were little booklets of sort of orchestrations of pieces, and these were Bill Haley Combo 'orks,' and we set up in somebody's house upstairs 'cause they didn't have room for us downstairs where the party was, and miked the awful sound down to the second floor.

We played in the high school dance band, and the key moment of that that I recall was when we backed up The Shirelles, who came from our high school - they were in our classes, and had just broke, and "I Met Him On A Sunday," incidentally, was motivated by a guy named Ronnie Austin, of whom we never heard again, who always used to sing in the auditorium something called 'Doo Ron Day Ron Day Ron Day Papa Doo Ron.' So The Shirelles stole 'I Met Him On A Sunday' from Ronnie Austin.

Anyway, The Shirelles were singing at a talent show and we were backing them up and they did 'I Met Him On A Sunday,' and then they did their version of 'A Sunday Kind Of Love,' which was an early doo-wop record. Unfortunately, they sang the whole thing in quite another key from the one we were playing it in, and Mike and I sat there with our mouths open for about four minutes while this 'abortion' went on.

For the balance of high school, we put together a couple of bands, one called The Saints and one of them called The Melodeers with a bunch of local guys who were J.D.'s - 'Hoods,' 'Juvenile Delinquents,' whatever you want to call them. We used to play gigs at the YWCA (Joey Dee & the Starliters were regulars there, too), and after every gig there would be a rumble outside. Half the band carried sawed-off pool cues tucked in their belts but they always kept the Jewish kids - that was Mike and me - from any harm, and we were grateful to them - besides, they were pretty good players.

Besides being into rock and roll - which I was more than Mike - we were both very heavily into jazz. We listened to an awful lot of it, and by the time we were in our senior year in high school, we were playing jazz - mostly hard bop and bebop - at weddings, bowling banquets and God knows what else where they didn't know what the hell it was we were doing - mostly with a sax player named Bobby Moscall, who was a really fine player, and who taught me Lesson Number One in jazz when he told me that the ballad is the jazzman's prayer.

When we both went off to college, we sort of lost touch with each other - I turned to folk music, played a lot of that in college and then I went to law school, and in law school I played flamenco guitar with another guy at the coffeehouses in Boston, and Michael went to school in Miami because he wanted to get into television, and then worked for CBS, I think as a production assistant, where he met Barry Manilow who was doing something very similar.

Mike studied piano with a lot of people, the most notable of whom that I recall was Hank Jones, who was one of the true geniuses of jazz piano.

After that, I started practicing law in Newark, New Jersey, and Michael was working for his family's supermarket business. Both of us decided that we really didn't want to do either of those two things - that what we really wanted to do was to write musicals, and I remember Michael getting on the phone and calling up Stephen Sondheim, cold, and asking him if he would teach us how to write musicals - and Sondheim said he would - I don't know how that happened, but it did - and Michael and I used to go to Sondheim's townhouse in New York, and he would show us what was wrong with what we were writing for the theater.

It was 1968, we were both married, and we decided we had enough of our jobs, and we would take a year and see whether we could put something together. So I quit, and he quit, and then the question arose of exactly how it was we were going to support ourselves while we were getting this musical written, which of course was going to be a great success, and I came up with the idea, I think, of putting together a rock band. I don't know why, but I thought that would be an easy way to make a living.

It was The Beatles who had brought Mike into rock - their inventiveness convinced him that there was room in rock music for real creativity, and so we decided to put the band together.

The next installment of the podcast will tell you how we did that, and what we were thinking, insane as it was, but for now, here's another cut from Ten Wheel Drive.

(Song 'Fourteenth Street' starts at 13:12, ends at 19:05)

(NO OUTRO)

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HOW MIKE AND ARAM GOT TOGETHER WITH GENYA

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 02 - How Mike and Aram got together with Genya - 11/17/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

I was converted to 'Flower Power' in one night. My wife and I went down to the East Village to St. Mark's Place. The street was wild with street performers and all sorts of psychedelic clothes and psychedelic art - dope all over the place, and from there we went to the Fillmore East to catch The Jefferson Airplane.

That night, I saw my first light show, and heard Jimi Hendrix blasting out of the speakers, watched The Airplane for a couple of hours, and I was completely hooked. I knew this was what I wanted more than anything else in my life.

So Mike and I did a couple arrangements of other People's songs - and I remember that Buffalo Springfield was one of them - put together a band of local New Jersey guys, and in somebody's basement, tried them out.

Blood, Sweat And Tears was happening by then - the original BS&T with Al Kooper and Randy Brecker, and Mike and I knew that was the direction we wanted to go. The biggest influence on us was Maynard Ferguson And His Big Band. Mike and I, when we were underage, used to go to Birdland in New York and sit in the peanut gallery to watch him. The band had more power than anything we had ever seen,and we were absolutely determined to duplicate that kind of power in rock and roll.

I'm gonna give you a taste of Maynard Ferguson, so you'll be able to understand where Ten Wheel Drive actually came from.

Maynard Ferguson -

(Song starts at 02:16 - ends at 5:09)

So, that's what we wanted, and that's what we got.

The way we worked the writing was I would usually write the lyrics first, and then Michael and I would sit down at the keyboard and he would compose the song, and I would sit with him and make sure that he caught the lyric points they way they were supposed to be caught.

And then the two of us would arrange the song - mostly Michael - once again, I would sit there and say 'Yeah, that's it, that's it, that's it, that's it.'

We tried a couple of singers down in that basement - I remember in particular a very beautiful Filipino girl - but nobody quite had the soul or the power that we needed to put across what we wanted to do.

Somebody - I don't remember what his name was - put us in touch with a manager named Billy Fields in New York, and Billy at the time was a partner of Sid Bernstein, who was famous for having brought The Beatles to New York.

Billy had a client named Goldie Zelkowitz, her actual name was Genya Zelkowitz - I guess Genya means Goldie - she had been born in Poland, and had been an escapee from the Holocaust. She lived on the Lower East Side, as I remember.

Apparently, when she was 16 years old, her family arranged a marriage for her to some older guy, and that was not Genya at all, and in the early 1960's she took off to California, on the back of a motorcycle as I remember her telling it. Somewhere out there she started a band called Goldie And The Gingerbreads, which wound up on the Atco label, which was a subsidiary of Atlantic Records, and which was either the first, or one of the first, all-girl bands - that means girls played all the instruments, and well, too. They wound up in England opening tours for The Rolling Stones -so we were very impressed at what we were hearing about her, and Billy arranged for us to meet her in some crummy little rehearsal studio in mid-town Manhattan.

Genya wanted to sing some jazz, too - as I remember, she was dating a drummer at the time named Les DeMerle, whose motto was 'More Drums, Les DeMerle' - so she seemed like the perfect combination for us.

By that time, we were writing original material for the band, and our concept of the arranging had gotten itself together. So according to Genya, we played her two songs - one of them was 'Polar Bear Rug' and the second was 'I Am A Want Ad.'

This is what one critic had to say about the record that we finally made of that song - he says

(3) 'Ravan brings the sex from within a horn section that rages out of control even as it stays tied to the grinding bass line. In between hand drums and a cutting trumpet solo, Ravan sings and screams, and I can't help but imagine her on the ground, Joe Cocker-style, the audience in a frenzy. It's hard to get a grip on what she's talking about -- the psychedelic abstraction in
the lyrics veers from anti-capitalist leanings to sultry come-ons - but it doesn't matter in the least. ...it feels like Ten Wheel Drive has ignited another explosion and is ready for more, even if you've been beaten down.'

I don't know about the lyrics to that tune - The Beatles at the time, Paul McCartney was writing some pretty nonsensical stuff, and I guess I thought that's what I wanted to try with this song - I never thought it was anti-capitalist, but I did think it was anti-materialist, not that I'm particularly anti-materialist.

Anyway, here's that song as it finally turned out.

(Song 'I Am A Want Ad' starts at 8:56, ends at 13:26)

Next time, we'll talk about how we put the band together, and started rehearsing at Paul Colby's
Bitter End on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(Ends at 14:14)

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WE PUT THE BAND TOGETHER

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 03 - We Put The Band Together - 11/20/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

While Mike and I concentrated on the arranging and the writing; Genya and Mike primarily, with some help from Billy Fields, put the band together.

The bass player was Bill Takas - Bill had been a jazzer it seemed like forever, he was a stringbean of a guy with an attitude, and he seemed pretty old to me. Now Bill had recorded with Judy Collins, but most of his work was with jazz people like Tal Farlow and Bob Dorough, who he spent most of his time with, and the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, which was probably the best and most inventive big band ever.

Mike was gonna handle all the keyboards - his background was basically jazz too, and he was playing the B-3 organ and a Farfisa organ which is what we started with, a little piece of junk that all the rock bands were using at the time - it sounded like hell.

I was doing the guitar work, and although I had been playing guitar for years, I had not been playing rock guitar or electric guitar, and I had to train myself to use that - some people say I never quite did. I had a crappy little Japanese electric guitar when this thing started - I got rid of that just as quickly as I could.

We still needed a drummer - we already had the band together and were at The Bitter End, and we were using a guy whose name I don't recall, who Barry Manilow had turned Mike onto, and he wasn't working out, and so we came up with Luther Rix. I don't remember who brought Luther in - it might have been Bill Takas, but Luther was the only real rocker we had in the group. I checked him on the Internet recently and I couldn't find the answer, but my recollection is that he had worked with Tracy Nelson & Mother Earth before he came to us. After he left us, he would up on Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Tour, and worked with a whole lot of people after that. Anyway, Luther was a rocker, but he had a lot of jazz chops, and he was the perfect fit for us at the time.

Between Genya and Mike mostly, we put together the horn section. Richard Meisterman was a trumpet player in New Jersey that Mike had known for some time. I don't know
who brought in Jay Silva, who played trumpet and flute for us, or Peter Hyde, who was a trumpet player. Dennis Parisi was a trombone player - he was out of, I think, Newark, New Jersey, and Mike brought him in, and I don't remember who brought in the most talented of those people - it was Louis Hoff, our sax player, who played baritone, tenor and soprano, flute, clarinet, you name it, whatever it was, and was among the most soulful saxophonists I have ever heard. The band recorded one song that Louis wrote with his wife, Elizabeth Hoff. Louis also arranged this tune, and Genya loved to sing it because it let her stretch out her jazz chops.

I'm going to play it for you now - it's 'Candy Man Blues,' from our first album.

(Song starts at 03:32, ends at 08:07)

In our last podcast I mentioned that one of the first songs that Mike and I wrote and arranged for Ten Wheel Drive was called 'Polar Bear Rug.' This was one of the songs we played for Genya to get her interested in working with us. The horn players hated playing this song because it had so much horn work, and so much high horn work, that it was a lip-splitter. But we played it all the time, and it was very good for us, so here it is, 'Polar Bear Rug.'

(Song starts at 08:34, ends at 13:06)

The harmonica solo was Genya.

Next time we'll tell you about working in Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, and a very hot time when rock was just beginning to take over from folk, then and there - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(14:00)


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THE BITTER END

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

November 23, 2005

Episode 04 - The Bitter End

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

The Bitter End was, and still is, still on Bleecker Street in Manhattan. It started up in 1962 - it was a beat club first, then a folk club, and after Bob Dylan switched over to electric and we got there, the club was turning over to rock.

The owner, Paul Colby, was a friend of Billy Fields, so Billy arranged for us to use the club as a place for us to rehearse during the day. They gave us keys to the building - we used to come in there every afternoon and put the songs together, bit by bit.

It was a great place to be at the time because there were all sorts of active coffeehouses and nightclubs in the area - one of the places down the street was Nobody's, which is famous for being the place where David Clayton-Thomas had his ear bitten off - no, we weren't there at the time.

Anyway, after a couple months of rehearsal we thought we were ready to go, so Billy arranged for a night at The Bitter End for us, where he would bring in the executives from the various record companies.

By the way, the band in the beginning had been called The Great Train Robbery - we had to give that name up because somebody else had it, and after a lot of discussion I believe Billy Fields came up with the name Ten Wheel Drive - nobody really loved it, but we couldn't come up with anything better.

We did our audition night - Jerry Schoenbaum from Polydor Records came down - Polydor was new in the United States at the time - they were a German company - they had Cat Mother and John Mayall and a couple other people - Manfred Mann, and they were ready - they signed us up on the spot practically, and shortly after that we launched ourselves on the nightclub circuit in New York.

The places I loved best besides The Bitter End were The Electric Circus and Steve Paul's 'The Scene.' The Electric Circus was above a Polish hall, or maybe it WAS a Polish Hall, on St. Mark's Place in Manhattan. They had psychedelic paintings going all the way up the walls and on the staircase, and when you got up there it was just like being in another world - they had jugglers and mimes and all sorts of other entertainment running around in the audience, and the whole place was a huge dancefloor.

We played there a lot of times, a lot of them with Sly And The Family Stone, which was the most entertaining group we ever worked with, except for the fact that you always had to wait an hour and a half for Sly to get out of his dressing room.

The other great place was Steve Paul's 'The Scene,' and what was great about that was that it was in a basement, and all sorts of rock people used to come down to see you there - they used to come and tell us when Bob Dylan was in the house, and Janis Joplin came down there one night, and sat in with the band. There's no tape of that performance, but the word is that's where she got the idea to put together the band she used on the 'Kozmic Blues' album - let me give you just a little taste of that, so you can see what I'm talking about.

(Excerpt of Janis Joplin's 'As Good As You've Been to This World' - starts at 03:38, ends at 04:56)

We recorded the first album, CONSTRUCTION #1, in about a week. We recorded it basically live - there were not a lot of overdubs back in those days. I guess we did that album on 16-track.

The producer was Walter Raim, who I think had done Judy Collins, but most of his work up to that time had been in advertising, writing jingles on Madison Avenue. We chose him because he had a real good sense of music, but I think as a rock producer, he wasn't quite there, because the album was rather thin.

I tended to write storytelling lyrics - maybe a little over-intellectualized, but for Genya you had to write soul, both in the lyrics and the melody. Here's a cut from that first album, that we think caught both of those, 'Ain't Gonna Happen.'

(Song starts at 05:45, ends at 11:22)

By the way, that track was sampled by Jay-Z for the cut '1-900-HUSTLER' on his album 'Dynasty - La Roc Familia' - I can't play it for you here, because I can't get it down to WAV format from MP3, and I don't recommend it as a piece of music, but if you're curious, give it a listen, because the sample is pretty obvious.

After our album was released, we played at The Village Gate, which is one of the great clubs in the village - here's a review from that performance:

"Ten Wheel Drive's powerhouse bag of rock/blues enhanced by the dynamic thrust of a jazzy brass section stormed across the Gate crowd in a flashy set that left everyone breathless. Exotic lead singer Genya Ravan was the central spark of the excitement. She is slick, sexy, and filled with the energy of the earth, and her gusty voice tears across the air like the cry of a lost night wind in rage at its own loneliness. Like I just love Genya."

By the way, in the early days, we weren't quite sure if her name was (pronounced) Genya 'Raven' or Genya 'Ravahn' - and it switched back and forth all the time.

But wherever we played back then, The Bitter End was our home, and we used to come back to it every once in a while just to touch base with the core of our fans and where we all got started. Some of those performances were recorded - most of those are lost, but I did find a crummy cassette of a crummy recording.

We used to double-bill with a lot of folk acts back in the beginning - Dave Van Ronk was one, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee I remember, Jose Feliciano I remember, but I didn't remember the night Odetta sat in with Ten Wheel Drive until I heard this tape.

Nobody's heard this - if you weren't there that night, you don't know about it.

(Odetta With TWD - Bob Dylan Song 'See What Tomorrow Brings' starts at 13:12, ends at 15:45)

On the next podcast, The Atlanta Pop Festival, from 1969 - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(16:28)

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CONSTRUCTION #1



I told this whole story on my podcast "The Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles." Here are the links to the chapters dealing with this album.







We put the band together
The Bitter End
The Atlanta Pop Festival
The first band breaks up


A review
A review
A review

Robert Christgau's review (he never did like the band - or, as he put it: "Finally, I can't stand horn bands. Dreams, Ten Wheel Drive, BS&T, Chicago, If, Ball 'n' Jack, and on and on and on, they all sound alike to me, with their singers trying to imitate saxophones trying to imitate trumpets and their trumpets trying to imitate steam whistles. I still tolerate soul horns, sometimes, and I remain quite sympathetic to jazz, but rock horns just turn me off and I will try to resist telling you so any more.")

TEN WHEEL DRIVE: Construction No. 1 (Polydor) I don't much approve of jazz-rock, and Genya Ravan, this group's resident Janis Joplin, can get a little too harsh and samey at times, but this is so superior to anything (arghh) Lighthouse or (polite belch) Blood, Sweat, and Tears have done that I feel obliged to kind-of recommend it. I wish I believed their live performance shows as much taste, but I'm not making any bets. B




Personnel:

Genya Ravan
Michael Zager - keyboards
Aram Schefrin - guitar and percussion
Luther Rix - drums
Bill Takas - bass
Richie Meisterman - trumpet
Jay Silva - trumpet
Pete Hyde - trumpet
Lou Hoff - saxaphones
Dennis Parisi - trombone

You can now download this album at Amazon.com. Unfortunately, I have no idea who is getting the royalties.

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THE ATLANTA POP FESTIVAL

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 05 - The Atlanta Pop Festival - November 27, 2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Podcast and I'm Aram Schefrin.

On the July Fourth weekend in 1969, we went to the Atlanta International Raceway to play the first Atlanta Pop Festival. There were 150,000 people there. It was the biggest pop festival ever held in the East, and it was two months before Woodstock.

Here's the lineup of the acts we played with: Janis Joplin, Delaney & Bonnie with Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Procol Harum, Johnny Winter, Chuck Berry, Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicago (which was then C.T.A., Chicago Transit Authority), Al Kooper, Canned Heat, Creedence (Clearwater Revival aka CCR), Joe Cocker, and The (Paul) Butterfield Blues Band.

It was a two-day festival, and we and Grand Funk Railroad were alternating as opening acts - we did the first day, they did the second. Both acts played both days, the only difference was who opened the festival. It was hot as hell, but it was absolutely beautiful.

I've got two good stories about the Atlanta Pop Festival, but before I tell them to you, I'm going to play you the song we opened that festival with - this is 'Tightrope,' written by Genya (Ravan) and Luther Rix.

(Song starts at 01:53, ends at 07:03)

Two or three months before the festival, I had met Duane Allman at a party at a brownstone in Manhattan. I had sat outside in the balcony and listened to him talk for a couple of hours, and I couldn't understand a single thing he said - not his accent, but what he was talking about.

Anyway, when I got backstage at the festival, I saw Duane there and I went over to say hello. He told me he had a problem - apparently he'd been booked on the festival by somebody who was not authorized to book him, and the people who were actually running the festival were not going to let The Allman Brothers play.

The Allmans did NOT play that festival - the next year, 1970, they headlined it.

When I went into the trailer - which was the offices of the producers of the show - to try to help Duane out, of course I couldn't help him but I did meet the most beautiful woman I had ever seen - it was complete love at first sight, and it was OK, because my marriage had split up by then. I hung around in that office until I just completely got in the way.

I got her to agree to meet me after she got off from whatever it was she had to do, and that happened in the early evening, and we finally got together.

We went out and sat on a blanket as the sun went down and listened to the other acts. What I remember the most is the incredible romantic feeling as I sat with her on the blanket, making out and listening to Delaney & Bonnie and their unbelievable set.

When the show was over that evening, she had some work she had to finish, and we agreed that I'd go back to my hotel room and she'd come and get me, then we'd spend the night together.

Well, I went back to my room, I waited and I waited and I waited, and she didn't come, and I finally fell asleep.

The next morning I found out that she'd gotten there quite late and had knocked on the door, and I didn't hear her. I've never forgotten it, I've never forgotten her, it's one of the great regrets of my life.

We closed our sets at The Atlanta Pop Festival with the song I'm gonna play you next.

We had finished writing just about everything else for the first album, CONSTRUCTION #1, and I said to Michael I thought something was missing and we needed one more really hot number, so we came up with this one.

The horn players didn't like it because they thought that the opening figure was ripped off from Blood, Sweat & Tears - we said 'we don't care, it's going.'

This song, 'Eye Of The Needle,' which I've been using as the opening and closing of this program, became the permanent closer for Ten Wheel Drive.

When we got back to New York WNEW-FM had picked it up and were playing the hell out of it. It led to great things for us, so here it is, 'Eye Of The Needle.'

By the way, before I play it, I want to say that the word on the street was this was a drug song - it was not. It was a song about frustration and unhappiness, and now that I look back on it, I don't know why I was so frustrated and unhappy at that time, and to tell you the truth, I don't want to know.

The male lead vocal is Luther Rix - here it is.

(Song starts at 10:12, ends at 18:02)

(talking over fade)

Next time - The first band breaks up. See you then.

(silence until 19:07)

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THE FIRST BAND BREAKS UP

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 06 - The First Band Breaks Up - 12/01/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Podcast and I'm Aram Schefrin.

Billy Fields told us that we'd been offered the chance to play Woodstock and he turned it down. Genya, in her book 'Lollipop Lounge,' said that the horn players refused to do it because there wasn't enough money in it. I don't believe either of those stories, because I don't think any of us were that stupid. I think Billy told us that we got that offer because he wanted us to feel better about the fact that we DIDN'T get an offer.

It's a little convoluted, but I think that's the deal.

Here's a song we would not have played at Woodstock - this was designed to show off Genya's jazz chops - this is 'Lapidary.'

(Song starts at 01:20, ends at 05:52)

Genya was right about one thing, though - the horn players did become trouble. You have to remember that they were jazzers, but once they got into rock and roll, they brought some of the jazz attitude in, and I think they smelled stardom, and they became a little bit difficult to handle.

We made one trip down to the South, because after we did the Atlanta Pop Festival, we went on the college circuit, playing with all sorts of acts, and one of the trips was down to North Carolina - I remember I slept in the luggage rack on the long trip down to North Carolina!!

Everybody had long hair by then, and when they started passing pickup trucks with rifle racks in the back, considering the reputation of the South at the time, the horn players didn't want to get off the bus!! I don't know how we got them off the bus, and it still amuses me that the last place in the United States where long hair is popular, turned out to be the very parts of the South where we thought we were going to have a problem.

We were hired to do a commercial for Delco Batteries. The scheme was they were going to put us at the base of Niagara Falls, and they were going to run our power off of one Delco battery, and the theory was that we were going to drown out the Falls.

Well, they did put us down there in this constant drizzle, and it got to the point where a lot of the instruments rotted out as a result of that commercial, but they miked us so close that when they played it back, they couldn't even hear the Falls - we definitely had drowned them out and they had to add falls into the commercial to make it realistic.

That commercial got on the air, and it also was a two-page spread in Life Magazine in 1969, a copy of which I still have.

After shooting that commercial, we were all in a cave underneath the Falls, and an argument started, primarily between the horn players and Genya. I don't remember what it was about, but it was never resolved, and the end result was that shortly thereafter the band split up. Michael, I and Genya were the only three left.

In the next podcast, I'm going to tell you how we put the second Ten Wheel Drive together - the one that really made the grade and the one that got the standing ovations - the best band we ever had.

In the meantine, though, I'm going to play you the last cut from CONSTRUCTION #1 - this is called 'House In Central Park' - we DID play this at the Atlanta Pop Festival, oddly enough. Luther Rix played the cello part, and after he left the band, we never played this song again - here it is.

(Song starts at 08:35, ends at 13:05)

See you next time on the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(13:48)

BRIEF REPLIES



This one, too.















Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles chapters

Brief Replies
The soul ballads
Standing ovations
Pulse

A review

Personnel:

Genya Ravan
Mike Zager - keyboards
Aram Schefrin - guitar & percussion
Bobby Piazza - bass
Allen Herman - drums
John Gatchell - trumpet
Steve Satten - trumpet
John Eckert - trumpet
Dave Leibman - saxaphones
Dennis Parisi - trombone


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BRIEF REPLIES

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 07 - The second album, 'Brief Replies' - 12/03/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Podcast and I'm Aram Schefrin.

The horn section for the second Ten Wheel Drive was John Gatchell, Steve Satten and John Eckert on trumpets and Dave Liebman on multiple saxes - Dave went on to work with Miles Davis after us - and Dennis Parisi, who had changed his mind and decided to stay with the band, on trombone.

We also had to find a new drummer and bass player. The bass player we found was Bobby Piazza - we used to call him 'Thunder Thumbs' because he was the first bass player we had seen who played primarily with his thumb - that's a technique that's very common now.

John Gatchell, who had just gotten out of the service, I think the Navy, told us about a friend of his, Steve Gadd, who was still in the service and would be out in two or three months, and if we could wait, he'd be great for us.

We had commitments, we couldn't wait, and I've always wondered what it would've been like to have had Steve Gadd in Ten Wheel Drive.

Instead, we found Allen Herman, who was a harder-hitting and more controlled drummer than Luther Rix had been - all of the replacements, I thought, were an improvement on what we had previously.

The best (part) of it was that we all quickly became a family, which made it even more fun to savor the success that we had with that band.

It was time to do another album. We had had great critical success and decent sales on the first album, and we were trying to follow the guidance of the comments we had heard from the reviewers, and from the fans who saw us in concert.

There was a lot of praise for the innovative nature of what we were doing, and so we decided to stretch out that innovation a little bit on the second album, while at the same time trying to keep hold of the 'Soul' roots which were necessary to Genya.

We decided to write a song in the Otis Redding vein - actually, very similar to his song 'Hard To Handle,' which I'm going to play you a little bit of right now, so you can know what I'm talking about.

(Song excerpt starts at 02:42, ends at 03:28)

The producer on Brief Replies was Guy Draper - his background was R&B, so we figured this cut was perfect for him. Well, he suggested a few changes to it, and believe it or not, this is what the song turned into - this is 'Morning Much Better.'

(Song starts at 03:45, ends at 06:20)

So help me, that was Guy Draper's idea, and not ours. I played the banjo on that cut, and I hadn't played banjo in years - my chops were pretty rusty, so you don't want to be able to hear the banjo track any better than we mixed it.

That song was released as the first single off Brief Replies, and it did pretty well for a while - it started climbing the charts, got up to (Number) 68, and then it disappeared overnight from the charts. We couldn't understand what had happened to it, but we found out later that the track had been blacklisted because of the (quote) 'explicit lyrics' - it was taken off the air and that was the end of it.

As I mentioned earlier, we had decided to attempt to become more innovative on this album than we had on Construction #1, and the way we chose to do that was to use the 'suite' format - we did two cuts in that format, and this is one of them - it shows off the limits of our creativity at that time, just about anything that the band could do.

This is the title cut from the album Brief Replies.

(Song starts at 07:30, ends at 12:48)

The triple simultaneous trumpet solos was an idea we ripped off from Maynard Ferguson's 'Three Little Foxes.'

Next time, we'll play the Soul Ballads from Brief Replies - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(13:42)

THE SOUL BALLADS

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 08 - The Soul Ballads - 12/06/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Podcast and I'm Aram Schefrin.

While we were working on 'Brief Replies,' Genya handed me an album by Lorraine Ellison. I played it, and there wasn't a single cut on that album that didn't have the potential to become a massive hit.

Lorraine was a so-so singer, but all the songs were written by Jerry Ragovoy, who was a genius with soul music. Janis Joplin had already had two hits with material from that album - 'Try'(Just A Little Bit Harder) and (Take Another) 'Piece Of My Heart.'

Here's a bit of Lorraine doing 'Try,' because if I don't play it for you, you'll never hear Lorraine Ellison. (Ed. Note: Lorraine's stuff is now on iTunes.)

(Song starts at 01:11, ends at 01:46)

Now you know where Janis got it.

If Ten Wheel Drive had stayed together, we would have done a lot more cuts from that album, but the one that Genya wanted to do particularly was 'Stay With Me.' I did the arrangement for this myself - I added horns - and here it is.

(Song starts at 02:02, ends at 06:22)

That was a big hit for us - we got a lot of airplay, and Genya just broke up the audience every time she performed it, but the one that I love from that album was 'Last Of The Line.' It was written by Michael and myself, and I still get chills when I hear Genya sing it - here it is.

(Song starts at 06:40, ends at 11:58)

The top high background voice on that song, which was done at about a dog whistle level, was actually sung by a man.

Next time out, we'll talk about some of the great gigs we did with that band - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(12:51)

STANDING OVATIONS

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 09 - Standing Ovations - 12/09/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of the Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Podcast and I'm Aram Schefrin.

I mentioned in an earlier podcast that as part of the effort we made to experiment with rock music, we did a couple of songs in 'suite' form. Another one of the tracks we did was the one I'm going to play you now which was 'How Long Before I'm Gone.'

These tracks were not particularly successful, they did not get a lot of airplay, and my guess is we were wrong about what it was the public wanted in the way of further experimentation. However, this track was sampled by 50 Cent for a new video game which either is just coming out or has come out recently, so somebody found it useful.

The lead male vocal was Bobby Piazza. Here's 'How Long Before I'm Gone.'

(Song starts at 01:29, ends at 08:12)

Although Brief Replies didn't do as well as we had hoped, the band itself was doing great. By the middle of 1970, we were getting standing ovations everywhere we played - that wasn't hard to do, because if you played 'Eye Of The Needle,' the repeated ending would get people on their feet just about as quickly as you could.

We played a lot of great gigs at that time - the ones I remember were a concert for WNEW-FM in Central Park, where there were 30,000 people outside watching us - some of them were sitting in the trees; our first gig at The Fillmore East with Steppenwolf, a concert we did at Carnegie Hall with Rhinoceros, who were also managed by Sid Bernstein at the time, and a gig at The Felt Forum which ended with what seemed like the entire audience up on the stage, dancing with us to 'Eye Of The Needle.'

We were back on the college circuit, and the same thing was happening out there, and of course we got back to The Bitter End every once in a while, just to touch base with our roots.

I'm gonna play you a little piece of a cut which was recorded there - badly, as usual - which never wound up on a Ten Wheel Drive album, it's a song Mike and I did called 'I Can't Breathe.'

(Song excerpt starts at 09:29, ends at 11:05)

Although Ten Wheel Drive was noted for hard-driving stuff, every once in a while we did a cut that was completely out of character. This is a song Genya and I wrote - Genya loved to sing it, and it's got some great sax work by Dave Liebman. Oddly enough, this cut was sampled too, by Black Crow for a cut called 'I Gotcha Open.' I can't figure out how it happened, but it turns out that Ten Wheel Drive is one of the most sampled groups around.

Anyway, here's 'Come Live With Me.'

(Song starts at 11:35, ends at 16:55)

In the next podcast, Ten Wheel Drive breaks up again, and we do the third album, which I think is our best - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(17:42)

PECULIAR FRIENDS

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 10 - Peculiar Friends - 12/16/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

I played this cut for you way back at the beginning of the show, but before we leave the album Brief Replies, let's hear it again. This song was written by Genya (Ravan) and Mike (Zager) - this is 'Pulse.'

(Song starts at 00:54, ends at 05:16)

Ten Wheel Drive played most of its gigs in a triangle between New York, Miami and Chicago, but we did get out to the West Coast for one tour. We played The Fillmore East in San Francisco with Steve Miller (Band), and The Cafe Au Go-Go in Los Angeles on Sunset Strip with Steely Dan and The Allman Brothers.

Ten Wheel Drive was never much of a 'groupie' band, but that's where I got my first and only dose of 'The Clap' on the road, and I also made love to a singer whom I shall not name, under a tree in Marin County. She later became a famous voice for the lesbian community.

By this time, things were getting tough again inside the band, and if I remembered what the fights were about I probably wouldn't tell you. But once again, things collapsed, and everybody left.

This time, it was difficult, because we had a gig scheduled at The Fillmore East and nobody to play it (with), so we scrambled around to find the musicians to fill the slots - I'll identify those players in the next podcast - and we made it to The Fillmore East with the horn players using black music stands because they hadn't memorized the music yet.

As if things weren't difficult enough, we were backstage at The Fillmore East ready to go on, and all of a sudden we couldn't find our new bass player, Blake Hines. We told Bill Graham what the problem was, and he said 'Find him, or we're not gonna put you on!!'

So I ran out down Second Avenue and there was Blake, just wandering around, having a good old time. I brought him back and we made the show - and it was a pretty good one.

That was the band that made the album Peculiar Friends, which I consider our best. Michael and I produced it - we stayed away from a lot of jazz experimentation on that (one) and slanted the album more towards the rock and roll end.

We wanted to get a live feel to all the cuts, because our live performances were so much stronger than our recordings had been up to that time. On this next cut, we loaded the studio up with our friends and basically DID record it live - here's 'Down In The Cold.'

(Song starts at 07:20, ends at 13:28)

The sax solo was by Alan Gauvin. Next time, we'll play more of Peculiar Friends - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(Ends at 14:15)

PECULIAR FRIENDS


This - the third TWD album - was the best album Ten Wheel Drive ever did. It was the first album Mike and I produced and, if I do say so myself, we were much better able to capture the essence of the band than anyone else. We wanted it to sound like a live album, and it does. It has some of Genya's greatest performances, and some of the band's, too.

You can download the tracks from iTunes. And the reviews on the iTunes store are pretty good, too.

Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles chapters:

Peculiar Friends
One of Genya's best
Genya goes solo
Off the vinyl

A review on ArtistDirect

Personnel:

Genya Ravan
Mike Zager - keyboards
Steve Loeb - piano on "Love Me"
Aram Schefrin - guitar & percussion
David Williams - drums
Andy Newmark - drums on "Love Me"
Blake Hines - bass
Dean Pratt - trumpet
Danny Stiles - trumpet
Frank Frint - trumpet - but there was no Frank Frint. A lot of people sat in this seat
Alan Gauvin - saxaphones
Tom Malone - trombone - later Bill Watrous


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ONE OF GENYA'S BEST

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 11 - One Of Genya's Best (Peculiar Friends) - 12/19/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

Here's the makeup of the new Ten Wheel Drive that did (the album) Peculiar Friends: The horns were Alan Gauvin on saxophone, Dean Pratt on trumpet (who was the best soloist we ever had), Tom Malone on trombone (Tom wound up in the Saturday Night Live(SNL) band and just about everywhere else), Danny Stiles on trumpet, and on the album cover, the last trumpet player mentioned is 'Frank Frint.'

'Frank Frint' doesn't exist - we didn't have the third trumpet player when this album was made - I can't remember who sat in and played it - and a couple of trumpet players took that spot ultimately.

We decided to go with a black rhythm section - the bassist was Blake Hines, the drummer was David Williams, and if you listen to the cuts on Peculiar Friends, you'll hear that we had a much more funky feel with Dave. To me, the key for a funky drummer always was: rather than him playing horizontally, he played vertically, which means when you watched him play, he was bobbing up and down, not side to side - that was the mark of a funk drummer.

The cut I'm going to play you next has what I consider to be Genya's best vocal of all time. The piano player on this cut was Steve Loeb, who was a dear friend of mine at the time, and a great piano player. I don't know where Steve is, and if anybody listening to this (podcast) does, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know. (Note: I've heard from Steve lately.)

Anyway, this is 'Love Me.'

(Song starts at 02:19, ends at 07:22)

Absolutley awesome!! (in my humble opinion)

I told you last time that on the Peculiar Friends album we moved away from jazz and into rock much more heavily. This next cut was about as far as we ever went on frantic rock and roll. The song is about something that happened after I got divorced - if you want to know more about that, read Genya's book 'Lollipop Lounge'.

This is 'The Night I Got Out
Of Jail.'

(Song starts at 07:48, ends at 11:33)

Next time, we'll talk about then end of Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan, but not Ten Wheel Drive - see you then.

(11:41 - OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration, ends at 12:22)

Then silence until another Outro at 13:34, ends at 14:15)

GENYA GOES SOLO

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 12 - We Do A Concert Piece With Orchestra, And Genya Goes Solo - 12/25/2005

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

We used strings for the first time on Peculiar Friends - Mike and I arranged them - and here's one of the cuts we used them on - this is 'Shootin' The Breeze.'

(Song starts at 00:48, ends at 04:02)

And THAT led to Ten Wheel Drive's biggest project - we got a commission to do a piece with The American Symphony Orchestra, so we wrote what we called an 'oratorio' based on the story of Custer's Last Stand at Little Big Horn.

We scored it for full orchestra, and we performed it one time at Carnegie Hall, with the American Symphony (Orchestra). A tape WAS made of that performance, but nobody knows where it is, so I can't play it for you, and I haven't heard it since 1971.

Genya was getting restless, and the days of the 'big jazz-rock bands' were coming to an end. If, The Ides Of March, Lighthouse and Blood Sweat & Tears all were fading away. Tower Of Power hung on, and so did Chicago, which was always the least favorite of mine, as far as 'big jazz-rock bands' were concerned - I always thought they were extremely stiff - 'they didn't swing,' as we used to put it in the jazz context, and they had no soul, either.

There was ONE big band out of San Francisco which had a lot of soul, almost as much as we did, and I'd like to play you a little bit of them, because they've been pretty much lost to history - the lead singer was Lydia Pense, and the band was Cold Blood.

While Ten Wheel Drive drew primarily from Maynard Ferguson, as I've told you, it seems to me that Cold Blood drew an awful lot from Count Basie - more traditional blues-based big band stuff.

Here's a smidgen of Cold Blood.

(Song excerpt of 'Ready To Live' starts at 05:38, ends at 08:54)

Cold Blood was produced by David Rubinson, who was a classmate of mine at Columbia College, and who went out to California after he graduated and got himself involved in the flowering of music out in San Francisco.

As I said, Genya was getting restless, and after the concert at Carnegie Hall, she decided she wanted to go solo, and that was the end of that verson of Ten Wheel Drive - not the end of Ten Wheel Drive altogether, however, and we will be playing you (on the next podcast) some cuts from the (let's call it) 'undiscovered' (Capitol) album, TWD.

Genya signed with Columbia Records, she did a solo album there which Michael and I produced, and after that our ways parted.

As this podcast continues, I will be playing you cuts from the work Mike did and I did after Ten Wheel Drive. Genya's stuff is pretty well covered on her website, and you can hear it there.

As a closer on the original version of Ten Wheel Drive, I'm going to play you a cut that was archetypical of everything that was the best of the band. This is 'Fourteenth Street' (I Can't Get Together).

(Song starts at 10:02, ends at 15:25)

Next time, Ten Wheel Drive on Capitol Records.

Merry Christmas, and see you soon!!

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(16:36)

THE NEW TEN WHEEL DRIVE

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 13 - The New Ten Wheel Drive (On Capitol Records) - 01/03/2006

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

Ten Wheel Drive 'comes back from the dead,' and we finally get to do 'Morning Much Better' (Live, with Annie Sutton on vocals) the way we wrote it.

(Song fade-in starts at 00:47, ends at 04:32, Talking over last portion of song starts at 04:20)

That was from a live performance in Cleveland, Ohio.

After the (Peculiar Friends) band broke up, Mike got involved in writing commercials and scoring TV, and I spent more time doing studio work in New York. But after a year, we got nostalgic for Ten Wheel Drive and decided to put it back together again.

John Gatchell, who had been our lead trumpet player on the second version of Ten Wheel Drive, came back again, and we were glad to have him. The new players were Dean Pratt (also back again, from the Peculiar Friends album) on trumpet -
he was the best soloist we ever had; Gerry Chamberlain on trombone; Ed Xiques (pronounced 'Hick-iss') on reeds, Harry Max on bass and Barry Lazarowitz on drums. The new lead singer was Ann E. (Annie) Sutton.

Annie had sung background for The Rascals and was the lead singer for White Elephant, which was a big band put together in New York by the vibist Mike Mainieri. Annie didn't have the power that Genya had, but she was a singer's singer. She could do practically anything, and so we wrote lighter material for her that showed off her touch with a ballad, like this one, which is called 'I Can Still See You To Love.'

(Song starts at 05:35, ends at 08:35)

The (electric) piano on that cut was played by Don Grolnick, who worked with James Taylor and Paul Simon, and who is dead now, and the background vocals were by Daryl Hall and John Oates. They were friends of Annie's; they had already recorded their second Atlantic album ('Abandoned Luncheonette') with 'She's Gone' on it ('Sara Smile' was on their first self-titled RCA release post-Atlantic). The (current) album wasn't doing anything yet, and I think Daryl had the best male soul voice I'd ever heard.

Next time, we'll tell you what happened with the new Ten Wheel Drive - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(09:47)

TWD ON CAPITOL

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 14 - TWD On Capitol Records - 01/08/2006

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

After we put the band back together again, Mike and I went out to California and got ourselves a contract with Capitol Records. We put together an album (the band's fourth) which we called 'TWD.'

We hadn't given up on the experimentation, but this time it was more with the lyrics than with the music. I got into (writing) 'story songs,' and I'm gonna play two of those for you on this podcast.

The first one is called 'Close Up The Cheese' - it's a story about the marriage of a nun to Christ, if you'd believe it!! I sang the lead on this one for the first and only time in Ten Wheel Drive, and the background vocals are again by Daryl Hall and John Oates (with Annie Sutton).

Here is 'Close Up The Cheese.'

(Song starts at 01:20, ends at 06:07)

Capitol actually released that song as a single - against my better judgement, anyway. I didn't think either the lyric or the music was AM Radio or singles material, and I was right - the single went absolutely nowhere.

In retrospect, I think the idea of doing these kinds of 'poetic lyrics' really were a mistake, and I'm sure I drove Mike crazy with them, and I remember a reviewer from Downbeat Magazine who actually loved the album. but he said he suspected that this kind of poetry was not going to catch on.

What it did lead to was my moving over into writing novels, several of which I am podcasting now, on other (site) locations.

Here's the second 'story song' that I'm gonna play for you - it's called 'Slain Man's Widow' - I'll let you figure out what it's about - Annie (Sutton) sings the lead.

(Song starts at 07:06, ends at 13:02)

Next time, I'll tell what the new Ten Wheel Drive did (and didn't) do - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(13:50)

OFF THE VINYL

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 15 - 01/17/2006 Back To Genya - Off The Vinyl (Peculiar Friends)

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

Well, we thought we were through with playing you everything we had that Genya was singing on - however, we've just come up with a neat little gadget that allows us to pull old tracks off of LP's and put them into MP3 format nice and easy, and that opens up a whole lot of doors.

So I'm gonna play you three tracks from Peculiar Friends that I didn't think I'd be able to play (for) you.

On this first one, 'The Pickpocket,' it's a song I wrote because I decided I wanted to try to be Jimi Hendrix for once in my life.

(Song starts at 01:20, ends at 05:05)

Hope you forgive the pops and scratches - that's the best I can do.

This next cut is the most gorgeous thing Ten Wheel Drive ever did - it uses full strings, Michael's playing the harmonium on this cut, and it's called 'I Had Him Down.'

(Song starts at 05:20, ends at 09:13)

And finally, the prophetically titled 'No Next Time' - this was the last cut on Peculiar Friends, and the last thing we ever did with Genya.

I sing the male lead - here we go.

(Song starts at 09:29, ends at 14:01)

Next time, back to Annie (Sutton) - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(14:45)

MORE TWD

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 16 - More TWD (On Capitol Records) - 01/23/2006

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

Some time back I told you about the concert we did with The American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall of an oratorio we wrote based on the story of Custer's Little Big Horn. I told you that the tape of that performance was missing, and that we had no idea where it is. However, we DID resurrect one of those songs, and put it on the TWD (Capitol) album with Annie Sutton (on vocals).

So here's that song - it was sung by 'Libby Custer,' and it's called 'Why Am I So Easy To Leave.'

(Song starts at 01:12, ends at 06:02)

We cut the (4th) TWD album with Annie Sutton in California in Hollywood - that's when I learned that you can't walk in Hollywood; you HAVE to have a car.

After that, we went back on the road, primarily to the colleges again, but it didn't work out so well - in fact, there were some pretty miserable experiences.

We weren't being booked by William Morris (Agency) anymore, so it was pretty much 'catch as catch can,' and the two gigs that stick in my mind were (1) in Duluth, Minnesota, where we played a concert with Three Dog Night. After we finished opening for them, somebody from their road crew came down to us and told us that we had spilled a Coca-Cola on their B-3 organ and ruined it, which we didn't do, because we DIDN'T BRING Coca-Colas on stage!!

After that, I was down in the front of the stage watching Three Dog Night perform, and some 11-year-old girl grabbed me and gave me a 'soul kiss'!! That was when it was starting to occur to me that maybe I was getting a little too old for this game.

(2) The other gig I remember was in Bangor, Maine. We got out on stage and the audience was so 'Quaaluded out' that there was barely any reaction to the music!!

I didn't take it personally, because that was the state of the audiences at that time, but I was beginning to think that maybe this was getting ridiculous.

Ever since 'Morning Much Better' got knocked off the air because it was 'too explicit,' I tried to make certain that every album had one song on it which was as close to as 'explicit' as I could get it without crossing whatever 'the line' was that the radio stations were perceiving.

This is that (type of) song from the TWD album - it's called 'Just Plain Love.'

(Song starts at 07:48, ends at 12:10)

Next time, the end of Ten Wheel Drive - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(12:55)

TWD

After Genya left TWD, the band remained silent for over a year. Then Mike and I got itchy to get back on the road. But we needed a new singer, and a new record label, because Polydor would not record us without Genya. And a new booking agent.

I don't remember how we found Ann E. Sutton. Annie was from Pittsburgh and had sung backup for the Rascals and fronted Mike Mainieri's big jazz/rock band, White Elephant. Annie was in many ways a better singer than Genya. Her pitch was perfect, as Genya's was not. She could sing very sweetly and yet put a serious blues growl into her voice. On the downside, her voice was fairly thin, and she didn't have Genya's presence. She was just as intense, but in a much subtler way.

Somehow Mike got us to Capitol Records. I don't remember the agent we wound up with. We recorded the album in New York and mixed it in LA, which is how I learned that you can't walk around the City of Angels.

The band was the best, in terms of musicality, Ten Wheel Drive had ever had. We cut back from five to four horns to add another keyboard, Steve Robbins, who could do pretty much anything. The horns were John Gatchell (the only TWD veteran) and Dean Pratt on trumpets, Ed Xiques (later Peewee Ellis) on saxes and Gerry Chamberlain (who died last year) on trombone. On bass was Harry Max, and on drums Barry Lazarowitz. They all had a lot of studio experience.

My writing had changed quite a bit. I was still trying to keep within the TWD formula - a song about sex, a song about love, a song like "Eye of the Needle." But the lyrics were getting more literate and more story-oriented - probably not a good thing in rock 'n' roll. I actually considered moving us into vaudeville; we probably would have, if we had lasted longer.

The album - titled TWD - wasn't promoted much, and didn't sell. (I wore a white satin suit on the cover; I looked like a waiter at Ratner's. That should have told me something.) We had some gigs - not a lot - and we were no longer headlining. The whole thing felt like a pale shadow of what we had been. But I have a tape of a concert we did in Cleveland, and the band was at least as tight live as it had been on disc.

After a while it became too much of a struggle. Our last gig was at a club on Long Island. We had some new material, and the band was incredible. But it was a sad trip back to Manhattan in the back of a Ryder truck. And that was the end of Ten Wheel Drive.

The only place you can hear the album is here, and on the podcast of "The Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles". It's really good stuff, but it was either way ahead of or way behind the market. But give it a listen, and enjoy.

Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles chapters:

The new Ten Wheel Drive
TWD on Capitol
More TWD
The end of Ten Wheel Drive

Personnel:

Annie Sutton
Mike Zager - keyboards
Aram Schefrin - guitar & percussion
Don Grolnick - keyboards - later Steve Robbins
Harry Max - bass
Barry Lazarowitz - drums
John Gatchell - trumpet
Dean Pratt - trumpet
Gerry Chamberlain - trombone
Ed Xiques - saxaphones - later PeeWee Ellis
Daryl Hall & John Oates - background vocals

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THE END OF TEN WHEEL DRIVE

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 17 - The End Of Ten Wheel Drive (Capitol Records) - 01/30/2006

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

(Song 'Tap Water' starts at 00:39, ends at 05:04)

Yes, eternity is a stairway and life is a banana peel.

Back in the very beginning, before we even got Ten Wheel Drive off the ground, Mike and I had made each other a promise - and the promise was that if we ever wound up playing roadhouses we'd quit.

Well, bookings got hard to come by, and we DID end up playing roadhouses, in particular a club out in Long Island called My Father's Place.

We knew we were at the end of the road, so we played that gig - the band was brilliant and perfect and never better - rode home in the back of the Ryder equipment truck and that was the end of that.

The band never played together again.

I was in shock for a couple of days, or maybe even longer than that - this was a VERY personal death, and that calls for a 'death song,' and we've got one.

(Song 'Bye Light Of Day' starts at 05:55, ends at 08:50)

The last Ten Wheel Drive song I'm gonna play you was actually one of the first that Michael and I wrote - actually BEFORE Ten Wheel Drive. We changed the lyrics a little for this and put it on the TWD (Capitol) album - this is Annie Sutton and the last you'll hear of her from us - well, that's not actually true - but this is 'Monsoon Rain.'

(Song starts at 09:12, ends at 12:43)

Next time, we'll tell you what we did AFTER Ten Wheel Drive - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(13:30)

MORE TWD TRACKS

THE BEST OF TEN WHEEL DRIVE



This was the only official CD Polydor ever released of Ten Wheel Drive material. It was a limited pressing, and copies are hard to find.

But here's where we know you can find a copy.

Amazon.com
Rateyourmusic.com
CDandLP.com - they also have vinyl
Ebay - for over $45
A review

ARAM DOES DISCO

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 18 - Aram Does Disco - 02/05/2006

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

Music was really depressing in the mid-1970's.

Ten Wheel Drive was never a particularly 'political' band, but ALL music was 'political' in the late 1960's and early 1970's. It was the center of everything cultural - it drove the anti-war movement, it was something that people thought about constantly, and they also were looking to it for advice - God knows why, since most musicians didn't know anything any better than anybody else did, or less well.

But all that died after Kent State (University shootings - the anti-war protest event), and after that it was just music, which should've been enough - I mean, Ten Wheel Drive was always primarily about music, but it wasn't after what we had been through in the past five or six years.

I spent time in the studios and did a lot of recording, but it wasn't very inspiring, and New York wasn't a fun place to be at that time either.

In early 1975, I got a phone call - David LaRue had done the artwork for our album Peculiar Friends, and we'd stayed in touch, and David told me there was something that he wanted me to see. So we went down together, south of Christopher Street in Manhattan. I don't remember the name of the club - it was a huge open room, and what I DO remember was there was a 'condom balloon' hanging from the ceiling that was as big as something from The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!! Things were WILD in there - both sexually and musically - and what I was witnessing was the beginnings of Disco.

David had gotten into it right at the start, and was making a study of it because he had decided he was going to be a Disco artist. The reason he took me to the club primarily was to listen to the kind of music that was being played there, which was very adventurous and not heard on radio at that time, and to study the number of Beats Per Minute (BPM) the more popular songs were using, and the way that they handled 'the breaks' - those parts of the songs where the music stopped and just the rhythm was working, and to see what the crowd's reaction was to various techniques.

David had met up with a guy named Dennis Ganim, who owned Pyramid Records. Pyramid had made a deal with Roulette Records, which was owned by Morris Levy. Morris was the prototype of the Jewish gangster on 'The Sopranos.' (TV show) They were going to let David cut a Disco album, so he brought me a lot of tracks to study, and particularly Donna Summer's 'Love To Love You Baby,' which was really hot at that time - in the clubs, NOT on the radio.

We got together in a crummy little studio and we cut an album. The way we did it is that David would tell me what structure he wanted the song to be, and I would write a track basically to which he would affix a lyric and melody. We cut the whole album, and I said 'There's something missing here, David, we need one more track,' and this is what I came up with. I wrote the track, played all the guitars, did the arranging and produced it. This is 'Cathedrals.'

(Song starts at 03:47, ends at 10:43)

I brought the 'basic track' home from the studio, I played it - it must've been a million times, and I said 'Yeah, this is absolutely IT!!' That record went to Number 6 on the Billboard Disco Charts, and it was Number 1 on the R&B Charts in England.

On that record, I put together the rhythm section that I used in all my 'Disco Phase' (recordings) - the drummer was Richard Crooks, who was the most solid drummer I knew - he just laid down an absolutely fantastic platform and stuck with it. The bass player was a friend of Annie Sutton's - Steve 'Fontz' Gelfand - a very creative player. The keyboards were by Steve Tubin, who was working with Richard Crooks at the time. The conga (player) was Billy King, and the guitars on this cut were (by) myself. Annie (Sutton) put the background vocalists together - with Sharon Redd and Erin Dickens - and their sound was just heavenly.

That record established both David and myself in disco - they (the critics) were calling David 'The Dylan Of the Discos' at the time - and it set the stage for the second D.C. LaRue album.

David came up with the idea of doing a 'fake original Broadway Cast album' - the cover, which David designed, was so convincing that initially the album got 'racked'(shelved) in the Broadway Cast' (Soundtrack sections) racks in music stores, and we had to make sure it got pulled out of there!!

We called it 'The Tea Dance' - Tea Dances were dances being held primarily on Fire Island in the late afternoon in the gay communities out there. The album was primarily disco, but it had a couple of very 'Hollywood' (sounding) cuts from the 1930's. We used 'The King Kong Fanfare' to start the album off - I had to catch that (fanfare music) by ear off a record, and then arrange it for basically a full orchestra.

David had become very friendly with the New York club DJ's, and we had them in the studio through the whole album, giving us their advice on what to do.

The hit off that album was 'Overture,' which had basically no vocal to it - it was something that I wrote AS an overture, or 'fake overture,' for a Broadway play. But the cut that I really love from that album, and which I'm gonna play for you, is 'Don't Keep It In The Shadows.' I thought that cut would become an anthem for the gay community - it didn't, but I still love it anyway.

The lead vocals were shared on thet cut by David (LaRue) and Lou Christie - and Lou 'Lightning Strikes Again' was just amazing!! Here it is.

(Song starts at 13:17, ends at 18:53)

The lead guitar was by Steve Khan.

That album went to Number 2 on the Billboard Disco Charts, and Casablanca Records bought out David's contract. David went to Hollywood to make his next album - without me. David had his greatest public recognition during that period, although I thought the album that was made out in California had a lot of Disco 'cliches' in it - things I stayed away from, like the 'psh-psh-psh' that everybody was using on the hi-hat cymbals.

And then, 'kerplunk,' Disco died - or (more exactly) died in the U.S. Disco never 'died,' it was always strong in Europe, although it became more and more electronic during the 1980's - what you now know as 'trance,' 'house,' etc. is a direct descendent of the Disco records made in the 1970's.

I went on to make a number of cuts with other artists, a couple of albums, but being a producer, writer, arranger and guitar player was 'burning me out' - by 1977 I was completely drained!! On top of that I was 35 years old, and as far as I was concerned, Rock & Roll was a 'young man's game' - little did I know that The (Rolling) Stones would still be going in their sixties!!

So I went back to law - I started practicing law in Rhode Island, where I still practice law (today).

In 1980, David gave me a call - Casablanca was looking to cut another record with him. Since Disco was 'dead,' what we tried to do was combine Disco with the 'New Wave' music that was happening at the time - (like) The Cars, etc. We cut the basic tracks in New York, and then I brought them up to Rhode Island and worked there at a studio - which really was a lot of fun - doing the overdubs and the mixing.

The album, called 'Star Baby,' was released by Casablanca - I liked it a lot, but it didn't go anywhere. It's hard for me to pick one cut from that album to play for you because I liked all of it, but this (cut) is one of the best, I think - this is 'Boys Can't Fake It.'

(Song starts at 21:00, ends at 24:32)

I haven't made a record since!!

Next time, I'll tell you what Mike (Zager) has been doing - see you then.

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(25:19)

MIKE DOES DISCO

TEN WHEEL DRIVE - CHRONICLES - Narrated By Aram Schefrin

Episode 19 - Mike Does Disco - 02/08/2006

(00:00)

(*) Intro - Eye Of The Needle (30 SEC.), This is the Ten Wheel Drive Chronicles and I'm Aram Schefrin.

In 1975, when I started doing disco (productions), so did Mike, but I was working the 'gay' end and he was working the 'black' end, no pun intended in either case.

His first record was on Bang - it was 'Do It With Feeling,' and it came out in 1975 under the name 'Michael Zager's Moon Band,' and the singer was Peabo Bryson, with whom Michael did a lot of work over time.
But his biggest disco record came out in 1978, with 'Let's All Chant,' which was a HUGE record, and still is. I can't play it for you because I can't get a WAV version of it to upload, but you can find it all over the place.

That record went to Number 15 on the R&B Charts, Number 36 on the Pop Charts, and Number 1 on the Disco Charts. Mike's other records from that time include 'Benihana,' which was sung by the porn star Marilyn Chambers, and did pretty well. I never got to meet her, by the way. He also did albums with Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, and Cissy Houston, who was a singer with The Sweet Inspirations, and (also was) Whitney Houston's mother. In fact, on Michael's album 'Life's A Party' which was released in 1978, Whitney, who was 14 at the time, sang lead on one of the cuts, but here's Michael's
biggest breakthrough crossover record - you all know it - it's The Spinners' 'Working My Way Back To You.'

(Song starts at 02:13, ends at 06:11)

Mike wasn't just focused on records, though - he was doing a lot of other things. He was underscoring movies, and he was writing and producing (advertising) jingles for companies like MCI, Buick, Acura, IBM, Bounce, Crystal Light and a whole lot of others. At the same time, Mike was studying at Mannes School Of Music, got a degree in composition and wrote a symphony, which was performed in Manhattan.

'Let's All Chant' wound up on the soundtrack of 'The Eyes Of Laura Mars,' and Michael also wrote the theme song for 'Friday The 13th - Part 3.'

Mike and I hadn't been in touch over those years, but a couple of years ago I got a call from him telling me he was moving to Florida, which is where I now live - because he had been appointed 'Eminent Professor Of Music' at Florida-Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

He had created, and was now implementing, one of the first university programs designed to teach kids how to make it financially in the music business, and what you have to do to make it in either film scoring or making records, producing - every area of the business. In connection with that, he's put out a book called 'Writing Music For Radio And Television Commercials - A Manual For Composers And Students,' which is really great, both basic and advanced stuff, and it's available at Amazon.com.

So Mike and I have resumed our relationship, and hopefully maybe we'll get together and do some records again.

In the meantime, he's loaned me one of his cuts, which I've been using as the theme for one of my podcasts, and I'm gonna play you that now - I don't know how old this cut is, but it's pretty damn good - it's called 'Traffic Jam.'

(Song starts at 07:56, ends at 15:01)

Aww, it's really nasty of me to 'horn in' on Mike's moment on this podcast, but I happened to find an old cut of mine - a Disco cut called 'Full Time Thing,' done by a group called Whirlwind, which did extremely well in the Disco market around 1976, so I thought I'd toss
it in here. The group brought me this song - I didn't pick it - and here's what I did with it.

(Song starts at 15:22, ends at 20:51)

Yeah, we got some more - so we'll be back!!

(OUTRO - Same as intro except no narration)

(21:35)