Tag: Sam Gordon
When Pulse was finally finished, kaput, Beau, Peter and I moved to New York, rechristened as Island. The idea of the group was to have no limits. We played in a variety of styles. Eclectic would be the best way to describe our repertoire.
The first track here, Good Time, is one of the first, if not the first, we recorded at the cavernous Capitol Recording Studios. The tune was written by Beau and I sang lead, one of my first. Peter is on lead guitar and harmony and the track was pretty much recorded live in the studio as we didn’t even go back and put a rhythm track on to back Peter’s incendiary solo.
We did a lot of acoustic auditions in the offices of managers, promoters, agents and producers in New York and we almost invariably opened up with Good Time and it almost always generated interest in the listeners. An attention-grabber.
It can only be described as power country-rock, a territory we were just delving into.
The second track, Everybody’s Jumpin’, is one of my compositions and was recorded at Blue Rock in Soho with Todd Rundgren engineering as he had on a previously
posted track Where Am I Going? This is what I mean by eclectic. The song was inspired by one of my favorite vocalists at the time. I was trying to sing something in a lower register as most everything I did at that point was either high harmonies or leads in a high register. It doesn’t sound anything like the vocalist I had in mind. The music track is totally other than what inspired it.
We always envisioned the background vocals as horn parts, and perhaps we would have added those on a master, but it kind of works this way as well with three-part harmony. Barry Flast, later of Poco, lends a hand on the keys and as you can hear we gave him pretty much free reign.
All set up by Sam Gordon (RIP) the publisher who worked for Albert Grossman and Benet Glotzer. The SoundCloud photo includes Harvey, although he wasn’t with us by this time.
Island was a trio formed after the final breakup of Pulse, a Connecticut rock group of the late 1960s with a self-titled album on Poison Ring.
Before moving on to Island, though, a little background on the second version of Pulse, a four-piece group, which had changed the direction of the original six-piece band from almost strictly blues-rock to other styles, including country blues, country rock and pop, but still a hard-driving unit.
In the spring of 1970 after the departure of lead singer Carl Donnell from the original six-piece, a variety of lineups were tried until it was settled on Peter Neri, lead guitar and vocals, Paul Rosano, bass and vocals, and Beau Segal, drums and backup vocals, all staying on and the addition of Harvey Thurott, a second lead guitarist and singer/songwriter joining the band.
The group lasted until December, having parted ways with Doc Cavalier and Syncron Studios, the going was tough in Connecticut. Harvey left the band, and Peter, Paul and Beau moved into New York to try to land a record deal.
In New York, the band went even more in a singer/songwriter, pop-rock direction. We had virtually nothing except our equipment when we moved in and a ton of song ideas. We rehearsed in a loft in the mid-20s on the West side between Fifth and Sixth Avenues that Peter and Beau rented and lived in and literally auditioned in the offices of a number of prominent management agencies, including Michael Jeffries, who managed McKendree Spring, Albert Grossman-Benet Glotzer, who represented a plethora of artists such as Dylan, Todd Rundgren, The Band and many others, and even Sid Bernstein, who wanted to set up a showcase for us in the Village.
We settled on doing business mainly with Grossman-Glotzer and in particular Sam Gordon who ran their publishing arm. He promptly signed us to a publishing deal and set up all kinds of studio time.
By the way, the photo above is of the second Pulse with Harvey since I have virtually nothing from the Island era. So you’re getting 3/4 of Island in it.
We recorded most of our tunes at the old Capitol Studios in midtown, which was a cavernous room used for orchestras and musical comedy soundtrack recordings mostly, but the song here was done at Blue Rock in the Village, which is no longer around. A nice studio though. There are some photos of it in the video as well as one of Capitol.
As an added touch to this session, Sam Gordon got Todd Rundgren to come down and help engineer/produce it as a favor. We had produced the sessions at Capitol ourselves. The Blue Rock session is undoubtedly the best sounding of all the Island recordings. Rundgren had just released Something/Anything? and we would have loved to have him as our producer but he was being courted by some heavy hitters such as the New York Dolls and Grand Funk Railroad, both of whom seemingly gave him big paydays. Todd was quiet that afternoon but very easy to get along with and did a masterful job for us.
One thing I recall other than the session itself was that we literally ran into or rather walked into and met Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian singer, who was checking the studio out for a possible location for her next album. Charming and quite beautiful.
Where Am I Going? was the first track we recorded that day and we were all quite pleased with it, still am. We got a particularly good drum sound on the track for Beau’s semi-busy but appropriate parts and everything worked out as planned from the vocals — I sang lead, Peter harmony — to Peter’s guitar parts and a piano part added by Barry Flast, whom we had met at Gordon’s Publishing offices.
The song followed our trend of writing and playing in a pop style. I recall getting the initial idea for it while walking around the city, notably the intro vocal and a piano playing straight fours. I used to love walking around New York on my own and often would trek from Chelsea, where I lived, to the East Village and back, with melodies and chord changes flying through my head, a great way to come up with musical ideas