Monday, May 24, 2010

Cheese - Kids Don't Mind

Kids Don't Mind

She Said

CHEESE (New York City NY)
Kids Don't Mind b/w She Said
B-B-Baby (36157), 1979

Jim Maresca placed an ad in a NY/NJ pop culture rag called The Aquarian in 1978. As a singer and guitarist he was looking for people to start a band with. He found bassist Andy Bale, drummer Dennis Miniero and a lead guitar player named Vic Harrison. They called the band Cheese and over the next two years they gigged regularly around New York's hot spots, made an appearance on the Uncle Floyd show and self-released a single.

It is believed that 750 copies of the record were made between two pressings which could be differentiated by either tan or pink center labels. The single earned favorable reviews but the band was still unable to build a large local following. They did receive a fair amount of airplay in other states, however. Unfortunately they never ventured out to play those areas before calling it quits in 1981.

Vic, Jim, and Andy had a side project called The Young Shriners, which played minute-long songs with titles of iconic rock standards like "Born To Run" and "Stairway To Heaven," but with new lyrics and completely unique music. Jim and Andy later went on to play in the Sic F*cks with Snooky and Tish of Manic Panic notoriety. Andy is now an accomplished radio DJ. Jim is still playing music and Vic is the executive director of the VA Horse Racing Commission and still plays music. His sister Nina sang back-up vocals on the song "She Said" on the single. Dennis still plays drums as well as other instruments. He ran an importing company and spent some time in Hong Kong but is now living back in NY selling Mini Coopers under the name Dennis MINIero. Get it?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Speedies - Let Me Take Your Foto

A. Let Me Take Your Foto

B. No Substitute

SPEEDIES (Brooklyn, NY)
Let Me Take Your Foto b/w No Substitute
Golden Disc (GDR-1003), 1979

Eric, Greg and Allen started playing together at the tail end of 1978. They shared a strong love for breakfast cereal, cartoon theme songs, 60's pop, 70's glam and the new British wave of cutting edge acts such as the Buzzcocks, Generation X, and the Jam (who they'd eventually open for). At the tender age of 16 they were determined to make a mark playing catchy pop tunes about girls, school, and pop perfection. After enlisting vivacious singer John Marino, the group began gigging (sans bass player) and making their mark in pop history. Quickly building a loyal following with their wild stage shows, they eventually realized they needed a bass player. In stepped John Carlucci and the band was unstoppable. Their first single, "Let Me Take Your Foto" sold out instantly.

With many shows, some touring, a second single, and numerous rave reviews under their belt, the band called it quits in 1981 to pursue further education. Though we'll never know what the Speedies could have become had they persevered a few years longer, schooling seemed a wise route as members went on to become Supreme Court judges, professors at Yale, inevators at Apple Computer, etc.

Renewed interest in the band came in 2005 when they were featured on a Numero Group comp called "Yellow Pills: Prefill." Later in the year, the song "Let Me Take Your Foto" was featured in a highly acclaimed Hewlett Packard ad campaign. This led to the band's eventual LP release on the Radio Heartbeat label which featured the songs from their two singles and early unreleased gems, as well as a reunion performance in New York at the Radio Heartbeat Festival.

The video below is for the song "Time" which is from their second single and was also featured on Powerpearls #3.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Finders - Which Way

Which Way

It's So Insane

THE FINDERS (San Francisco, CA)
Which Way b/w It's So Insane
Sky-Fi (SF-5217), 1981

John Perga, along with brothers Phil and Dennis Shraub, grew up together in San Mateo, CA. Sharing a fond admiration of British Invasion bands, the three played together in numerous groups dating as far back as 1967. Having spent much time writing and perfecting songs through the early and mid-70s, the boys did a lot of recording and set a high precedent for production quality early on, mimicking the techniques of their favorite British bands.

Come 1978, John and Phil form The Rockers without Dennis. Although he left to pursue other obligations, Dennis still maintained an integral role in the managerial and recording aspect of things. With new drummer George Hastings (later replaced by Bryan Allinsmith) and bassist Carl Jeppesen, the band played frequently and slowly built a strong Bay area following. Their sole self-released EP is a masterpiece of power pop recorded history.

Sheridan Oakes eventually joined the group on bass for a short while before long time friend John San Filippo took over and better fit the bill. At that point a name change seemed appropriate. Following the rejection of The Hole Finders, they settled simply on The Finders. "Which Way" b/w "It's So Insane" was their first of two singles, and those familiar with The Rockers could hear the natural progression. The same studio, crew and standards were used in the production of these songs as was used on the Rockers EP.

The Finders' next release was the "Calling Dr. Howard" b/w "Bad Food" single which was greeted with lawsuits for it's content and picture sleeve imagery (Columbia Pictures didn't approve of their use of the Three Stooges). Though humor always played a part in their written material and stage show, these two songs took it to a different level and may have alienated them as a novelty act instead of the talented songwriters and musicians that they were. Nonetheless, they made a music video for "Calling Dr. Howard."

The band later recorded an entire album's worth of material, and even had former Move manager Tony Secunda on board as producer. But the collaboration didn't prove ideal and they ended up finishing the project without him. A legacy of phenomenal material sat unheard in the studio vault for a couple decades due to a combination of their label folding and the band not having the funds to pay the studio, not to mention the imminent demise of the band. Luckily, Japanese label Wizard-In-Vinyl released the material on CD (ironically, not on vinyl) a few years back. One listen to this collection will reinstate their position as incredible power pop songwriters and performers.

Below are the banned picture sleeve cover and cease and desist letter.