Friday, February 29, 2008

The Grooves I Have

These are the U.P.-connected records I have in my personal collection. (And I want to emphasize that, unless I state otherwise in an entry, I do NOT own any of the records I discuss in the other entries of this blog.)


The Coppertones - COQUETTE b/w WEDDING BELLS (DL&T Enterprises A-2001); SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD; IF YOU LEAVE ME TONIGHT b/w POLKA MEDLEY; WIPE OUT (Rapid Records OV-379; c.1980). The Coppertones were a Rapid River country band produced by pioneering Escanaba DJ "Wailin' Wayne" Nault. "Coquette," featuring Joe Micheau on steel guitar, became a local hit, thanks to relentless airplay on the local country station; the Rapid Records EP may have been all that "remained" from an aborted album.

Jeff Cowell, Scott Furlow, John Richtig, Jim Counter - IRON MOUNTAIN CENTENNIAL SONG b/w DAYS I'M BACK (Ski Jumping JC-500). This single was released to commemorate the city of Iron Mountain's centennial in 1979. Cowell wrote the A-side; Cowell and Furlow wrote the B-side. Richtig was a member of both the New Breed and Ravelles (see the post "Some Grooves I Don't Have").

Monte DeGrave - SHE STILL CARES b/w KISS IN THE PARK (Athon 109; c.1970). Now an Escanaba-area businessman, Monte was a teenager when he composed and recorded these two songs. Years later, Monte Lee (as he was now calling himself) did a country CD which included a remake of "She Still Cares."

Duke Ellington & his Orch. - ANATOMY OF A MURDER b/w FLIRTIBIRD (Columbia 4-41427; c.1959). Two tunes from the soundtrack of the classic film, which remains the U.P.'s proudest cinematic moment.

Jack Elliott - M.I.A. SOLDIER b/w TRUCKER JIM'S LAST RIDE (Jelly 8-11-79; c. 1979) Mr. Elliott (not Ramblin' Jack) was a Nashville singer / producer, and the B-side is his own composition; but the A-side was written by Elmer M. Aho, a U.P. GROOVES! pioneer (more about him later).

Carl Erickson - LONESOME, BUSTED AND BLUE b/w WHISKEY NIGHTS (White Pine Records 208039; 1982). Both sides are Erickson originals; "Produced by Alan Robertson [and] Earl Ricker / Recorded at STUDIO B Ishpeming, MI".

The French Church - SLAPNECK b/w WITHOUT CRYING (Princeton PR-102). This was one of at least four singles released during 1967-68 on Princeton Records, a Marquette label owned by one Fred Crook. The French Church was from Marquette, and included Warren MacDonald, later owner of MacDonald Music Store in Marquette.

Lorraine Irving - IF YOU WERE LOSING HIM TO ME b/w JUST MARRIED (Queensgate 8061Q27). Lorraine was an Escanaba homemaker; the two songs on her only single were first recorded by (respectively) Jean Shepard and Faron Young.

Omo the Hobo / Omo the Lobo / Smiley Joe Omohundro - The Fayette-born troubadour has a separate post on this blog.

The Prophets of Doom - I TOLD YOU b/w BABA-DO-WAH (Peninsula 001; c.1967). Peninsula Records was an unofficial "division" of Bands Unlimited, the Escanaba-based talent agency run by Gene Smiltneck, who produced and engineered Peninsula's two singles. (The label was actually owned by Gene's brother Leon; and there is no connection between this Peninsula label and an earlier Peninsula label based in Cadillac, MI). The Prophets of Doom were one of Bands Unlimited's top attractions in the late '60s; "I Told You" was written by the band's bassist, Dave Watchorn, while "Baba-Do-Wah" was written by one David Brooks.

The Riot Squad - COME ON, LET'S GO b/w FERRY 'CROSS THE MERSEY (Peninsula 002; c.1967). Peninsula's second release was by The Riot Squad (not the British band), who turned out to be the dominant force in the Escanaba music scene; for more than two decades after their breakup, Escanaba's most popular local bands tended to be "descendants" of the Squad. Side A is an eccentric version of the Ritchie Valens oldie, with odd chord and tempo changes and a scorching guitar solo; Side B is the Gerry & the Pacemakers hit with lyrics hopelessly mangled.

Rockarolla - ONE NIGHT STAND (FOR ROCK AND ROLL) b/w WANT YOU TONIGHT (no label name, but recorded at B. Fleetwood Sound; master # NR 16257-1/2). This short-lived Escanaba band, led by Phil Nadeau, wrote and recorded this single in 1985. Nadeau, who also made some earlier tracks with his previous band Tangent, now owns his own guitar-building and repairing business, at Tell him I sent you.

Rocking Chair - YOU CAUGHT ME LAUGHING b/w I.O.I.O. (Musc World 001); DISCO DANCING b/w LOVING & LIVING (Music World 002). Arguably the most successful "descendant" of the Riot Squad, this trio - Greg Curran, Robert Derouin and Brendan Williams, all former Squadders - released these two singles on their own Music World label, as well as an album described in the ALBUMS section below. The first single's songs were written by, respectively, John Hiatt & the Bee Gees; the second single's tunes are both Rocking Chair originals.

Kris Erik Stevens - TRAINING WHEELS b/w I KEPT ON LOVING YOU (Sunlight label). Ishpeming-born Kris Erik became a nationally-known DJ on Chicago's powerful WLS; this single was put out by Sunlight Records, a Chicago label. Side A was written by Jim Peterik, then of the Ides of March ("Vehicle"), later of Survivor ("Eye of the Tiger"); Side B is a Paul Williams / Roger Nichols composition.


[NOTE: For those who've been here before, the high school / college band / choir albums that were listed here previously are now listed in the "High School / College Bands & Choirs" post.]

Come Alive Singers - HAPPY FEET (no label name, but "Recorded and Mastered by Sound 80" - S80 421-2671S); SOMEWHERE IN THE WIND ... I HEAR A SONG (Sound 80 S80 1191S). See separate post on Sacred Heart / Come Alive Singers.

The Gospel Heirs - I WILL SERVE HIM (Golden Echo Recording 808G5213; 1973). This Escanaba-based quartet, who toured and performed throughout the U.P., recorded this album in Appleton, WI.

Mark Mitchell - THE TREES FELL (White Pine 31003X); UNSUNG SONGS (White Pine 003). These albums by this "workingman & songwriter here in the back country of Michigan's Upper Peninsula" is filled with songs about U.P. history and the "unsung" people who made it. THE TREES FELL includes the theme from "Discovering," the long-running outdoors show on WLUC-TV6 in Marquette.

Hoot Roberts - INVITATION TO THE BLUES (Choco 1340-320). This was apparently the only LP release for Choco Records, which gives its address as "RR2, Marquette, Michigan". Wisconsin-based country singer Hoot Roberts also recorded for Wisconsin labels like Cuca and his own Owl label.

Rocking Chair - CHILDHOOD DREAMS (Fantasy World 2481). This direct "descendant" of the Riot Squad (see above) was one of the U.P.'s most popular local bands during the 1970's. Their one album (they'd previously released two singles - see SINGLES section above) included two original compositions.

Warney Ruhl & his Orchestra - MIRACLES IN MUSIC, VOLUME 1 (Gail & Rice Productions, no number). Houghton-born, Suomi College-educated Warney Ruhl led the orchestra on "Dinner Date," a weekday program on the old Mutual Broadcasting System. This album was recorded "live and in stereo" at the Calumet Theatre. (As far as I know, there were no other volumes.)

The Son-Life Singers - "ALIVE AND LIVING" (RPC label; master nos. Z 42441/2). This folk-chorus, from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church of Champion (Viola Turpeinen's hometown), made this album of "Sacred Folk Music" (so says the front cover), including the Youngbloods hit "Get Together."

Up With People - UP WITH PEOPLE (SING-OUT MUSICAL) (Pace 101). For the time being, I'm counting Mackinac Island as part of the U.P., which means bringing in this estimable organization, which began on Mackinac Island as a project of Moral Re-Armaments, Inc. (the former Oxford Group). This album was the soundtrack of a syndicated TV special filmed on Mackinac Island, showing the Colwells (UWP's creators and writers), various soloists (one of whom was a young Glenn Close) and the original UWP chorus going through their, ahem, paces.


Natalia said...

Do you know how can I get the single of Riot Squad - Ferry Cross the Mersey?

U.P. Grooves! said...

I wish I could help more, but all I can say right now is keep watching eBay or - a copy might show up either place. Or go to the Rock 'n' Roll Graffiti blog I mention in "Loose Ends and Closing Credits" and leave a question there.