Al Anderson Interview 1975 ©
The following interview took place on September 27, 1975, between Al Anderson(A) and Paul Bezanker(P). The author thanks Al for his sharing of time and information.
(P) We're talking with Al Anderson, formerly with Connecticut's Wildweeds, and now guitarist and lead vocalist of NRBQ (the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet). Al, it's nice of you to be here.
(A) It's great to be here.
(P) I'd like to delve into your background, if at all possible. Our listeners know you did a lot of recording with the Wildweeds from Windsor, Ct., and you made several records, one of which made the national charts. Quite a period before that I understand you did a lot of performing with groups and other vocalists from Conn. Is that true?
(A) Yes, I started out with a group called the Visuals, and then I went to a group called the Futuras, just local, Venture-type stuff. Later I went to a group called the Checkmates, and then my first rhythm-and-blues thing started when I played with Joey and the Impalas. Later there was a group called the Blues Messengers.
(P) All these groups from Conn.?
(A) Yes, and the Blues Messengers were the best of all the bands. It was a great rhythm-and-blues band, and members of that group would later be with the Wildweeds, three of them.
(P) Did any of the groups you just mentioned record any records?
(A) Nothing was ever recorded.
(P) How soon after this experience did you form the Wildweeds, or how did they get started?
(A) I started in the beginning group in 1960, and nothing really happened until 1964, when we just got together as a joke and called the group the Six-Packs. We just palyed hops for Dick Robinson (of WDRC). That was our sole purpose. We were just kidding around, it was an after-school kind of thing. We did that for about a year. Then Alex Lepak joined the group, and then it was me, his brother Andy, Alex, and Skippy Yakatis.
(P) Before we get into the Wildweeds and their fantastic history, could you tell us something about the atmosphere around Hartford and Conn.? The atmosphere of the people you played for, what kind of reception you got, and maybe who was your competition at different dances. Who were you competing against?
(A) When the Wildweeds were popular?
(P) No, before - from the groups you just named; from the period up until the Wildweeds, you played in a lot of groups in and around Hartford for dances and hops. What kind of reception and what kind of competition did you have?
(A) We weren't in competition with bands I remember as being the leaders back when there were the Saturday Knights and the Downbeats. Everybody else I didn't feel we were in competition with. I didn't feel in competition with the Downbeats because we weren't anywhere near them at the time.
(P) "Near them," in what respect, musically?
(A) As far as being popular. We were just a local Windsor band, we didn't even start to be serious.
(P) Primarily, what locations did you play in, mainly in Hartford?
(A) Just basically Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks, The K of C Hall.
(P) How did the Wildweeds form?
(A) I just named these guys in the band, and at that time we were playing hops for Dick Robinson. He suggested we go down to Syncron (Recording Studio) and make some cuts for his "Fun" label, which never materialized. We didn't do anything with that tape. And then we went down to Syncron again and cut some ___ and nothing happened with that tape.
(P) Do you still have these tapes?
(A) Yes, I do, I have everything I ever did. And then we went down again, and cut "No Good To Cry." Then that just sat in the can for around eight months.
(P) When was this first cut?
(A) All this happened between 1965 band 1967, but "No Good To Cry" was cut in 1966.
(P) So "No Good To Cry" was actually cut in 1966, but it was released on Cadet in 1967?
(A) I should say all that recording was done between 1965 and 1966; all those sessions. "No Good To Cry" just sat there, and we were just playing around. We had become quite a serious band in just eight months, before anything happened. Then the guy that owned Syncron called and said he'd found a label for us.
(P) Doc Cavalier?
(A) Right, and it was going to Atlantic, through Jerry Greenberg, who worked at Hartford at the time, and who is now vice-president for Atlantic.
(P) When you said Doc found a label for you, you mean you had a contract and a manager...
(A) Al Lepak's father was our manager.
(P) For all the people who aren't familiar with this end of the business, did your manager arrange with Doc Cavalier, or...
(A) Actually it was just a friendly thing at the time. There weren't any record deals or anything until the record deal.
(P) Who went looking for the label, then?
(A) Doc gave it to Jerry Greenberg who took it to Atlantic, and I guess they wanted it. They owed Chess a favor, and we were they favor that paid back to Chess. They got the record. At that time, we had been offered to record with King Curtis, who used to play the Hoffbrau (sp?). We turned him down, which was probably the biggest mistake right there.
(P) When was this?
(A) This was in 1966, we turned it down in favor of a local guy, which was a bad mistake because then it would have come out on Atlantic, and then it would have done something.
(P) Who else is on the record besides the Wildweeds? Did you do everything on "No Good To Cry" all by yourself?
(A) Yes, everything. We had no session people until the third single, when we had the Hartford Symphony guys.
(P) This was released in mid-1967?
(A) No, in winter, right around January.
(P) I know WDRC played it very much; it went right to number one.
(A) That's right. And they have a lot of credit from me, Bertha (Porter, Music Director), Charlie (Parker, Station Manager), Ken Griffin (disc jockey), all those d.j.'s were great.
(P) Yes, you had a lot of airplay in Conn. Did it go in any other markets? Where did it start breaking before it went national?
(A) It broke in the south as fast as it did here. It was number through the south, number five in New Orleans ans number five in Cleveland. It was a hit in a lot of markets, but we didn't get New York or L.A., and those are the ones you have to have to put it over.
(P) So it started breaking in the smaller markets?
(A) Yes. We didn't get Florida or San Fransisco - none of the West Coast stuff.
(P) Do you have any idea how many copies were sold?
(A) The last time I was told it was 47,000. Now I'm told it's up to almost 100,000.
(P) What do you mean, "last time"?
(A) That was back around 1968, or 1969 that I found out. As recording things go, I never got a statement, and I never made a penny.
(P) You NEVER made a penny?
(A) Yes, well, I made $891 from publishing, but I never got money for recording a record, I never got my union money, anything...
(P) How about that elusive but well-known, "royalty"?
(A) That's what I mean, I never got any royalties from a record, ever in my life, up until now, to this day. Never got money from a record company.
(P) Does that bother you?
(A) Yes. I'm getting mad.
(P) Would you say part of the problem was your manager?
(A) No. The problem was inexperience, maybe. Not the manager, he didn't purposely try to hurt the group, maybe through inexperience but he didn't try to tackle the problem enough. But we were all inexperienced at the time.
(P) That's what I was trying to aim for; maybe through your manager's inexperience, maybe this was the first group he managed.
(A) Definitely. We were surrounded by rookies. Including Syncron Sound. It was a bad studio, it was a bad recording, a bad sound.
(P) I understand that Syncron Studios was one of the two or three studios in the entire state of Conn. That had really good equipment to record on. I know there were a lot of small time places, but as far as 8-track or 16-track, they were one of two places in the state. I thought they had good equipment.
(A) Well, first, they didn't have good equipment as you heard, and second, if you have a Cadillac in the yard and nobody knows how to drive it, you're in trouble. Nobody really knew how to run it right, either.
(P) Back in 1967, was this right after they opened up?
(A) I don't recall. At the time, it was owned by Bill Hennessy, and they a microphone company there at the same time. They were making a recording mike.
(P) Getting back to the Wildweeds, the record took off, and did you start getting a lot more playing dates?
(A) We started getting a lot of playing dates. We travelled a bit, but then again, we had an inexperienced booker who didn't tie us up with the right things. We didn't go on a tour, I think our only gig outside of New England was a one week thing in Chicago and one date in North Carolina.
(P) Did you get offers for nation-wide tours, any letters?
(A) We never got that far. We signed with a big agency, but they never did a thing for us. GAC, was a big booking agency in NYC, but they don't book you until you're big. So they only got us a couple of things in Conn., which we didn't need.
(P) I recall back in the fall of '66, I heard you playing "No Good To Cry" down in Plainville, before it was released. I interviewed you when I was working for a campus radio station at the time, WCCS. You had said something at that time that there was a slight possibility of a national tour coming up, a Dick Clark type of thing. It never came about?
(A) No, it never happened. All the "maybes" never occurred.
(P) Was there any activity as far as changes in the group, or was there any recording that was never released before your second record?
(A) I forgot to add that before "No Good To Cry" came out, we added Ray Zeiner as an organist.
(P) For a total of 5 members?
(A) But the group stayed the same for all the Cadet singles, 5 members.
(P) Could you give us any background, any unusual number of takes, or any problems you had with the second single?
(A) We recorded that, and of course they wanted a followup to "No Good To Cry." I just wrote "Someday Morning" and then went down and recorded it. It was simple. We did most of our stuff in one day. We never went through a lot of takes.
(P) How long did it take you to write a song like that?
(A) Five minutes. "No Good To Cry" was a three minute "wonder."
(P) You say you wrote the music and the words?
(A) Wrote the words on the way to the studio. (Chuckle) It's true!
(P) Just as a Historical note, how many other groups that you know recorded "No Good To Cry"? I know Jimmy James and the Vagabonds did it.
(A) The Poppy Family. Wilson Picket recorded it and didn't release it, also the Boxtops recorded it and didn't release it. I also have it by Tobi Legend on Amy or Bell.
(P) All these people recorded it but didn't release it?
(A) Yes, except Jimmy James and Tobi Legend.
(P) I've seen it on some Lps...
(A) John Fred and His Playboy Band recorded it.
(P) Did you get any type of payment?
(A) Never got a penny.
(P) The second recording was titled...
(A) "Someday Morning." That was 1967 also. Didn't do anywhere near as good. But it still made the "bubbling under" chart on Billboard. I think every single was in the Billboard "bubbling under." But "No Good To Cry" was the only chart record. When "Someday" came out it was only a regional hit. I don't think it even made a mark outside of Hartford.
(P) It didn't followup sales-wise, in the same places "No Good To Cry" broke?
(A) I think it sold totally 7,000. Then in 1968 we were still palying around Conn., and recorded
"It Was Fun (While It Lasted)" and hired a guy named Bert Keyes; he wrote the string
arrangement. We just got four guys from the Hartford Symphony for strings, and we just doubled
them, so it was eight. We got four guys from Hartt College who did the horn parts for the flip-side, "Can't You See That I'm Lonely."
(P) On Cadet Concept. What reason for that?
(A) We were the first white group on Cadet, as far as I know.
(P) Yes, there were some solo white artists but as far as white groups on Cadet, that was unheard of. As a matter of fact a couple of "analysts," like music director Bob Paiva of WPOP said one of the reasons you may have had as good a success as you did, with "No Good To Cry," was being on Cadet, black stations would play you. They would look at the record more than once.
(A) That's true, however the week that they released trade ads in Billboard and Cash Box the record immediately disappeared from the black market.
(P) Why, because your picture appeared?
(A) Yes, immediately, when they found out we were white, they didn't know. Our picture appeared in the ads; that killed it right there.
(P) Cadet didn't promote you as the Righteous Brothers had done, as "blue-eyed soul"?
(A) Definitely not. Cadet didn't do much promotion in any way. They put us on Cadet Concept, and tried to tie us in with the "new wave" in 1968, and when the "new wave" of music was coming in.
(P) With Status Quo...
(A) They tried to start a new wave with a new label. It didn't last long. There weren't that many groups.
(P) Howlin' Wolf was on Cadet Concept, too, so it's kind of an odd label...
(A) "I'm Dreaming" was the forth single released, it's #7004. That did better than all of them, except for "No Good To Cry." "I'm Dreaming" was the second-best selling single.
(P) It had a completely different style, too.
(A) We were trying to get in on the new wave, also.
(P) Did you do all the writing for that?
(A) Yes. Both sides. We did "Happiness Is Just An Illusion" on the flip, and that was done with some Hartford Symphony guys, from Hartt College.
(P) You were trying to change your style?
(A) We were...we weren't changing our style, just trying to get ahead. I think on stage we were still the same.
(P) Yes, in person. But you were changing with the times, you weren't stationary.
(A) We were doing less soul, and more white stuff, and that was a mistake.
(A) Because we were better at soul stuff than anything. No question about it.
(P) When you talk about soul, you mean like the "Atlantic sound"?
(A) Just Motown, anything black, we did better.
(P) Do you feel that way today?
(A) Yes; still my favorite kind of music to play.
(P) After the Cadet Concept single came out, and received quite a better response from the two previous Cadets,...
(A) We flew to Chicago to talk with Marshall Chess.
(P) You left New England and too a big step to Chicago...
(A) We played there for a week; we went to see Marshall Chess, and told him we wanted to get out of the Conn. Syndrome, get away from Syncron, get away from Doc Cavalier, and record with them, insted of using an independent guy and a crummy studio. We wanted to record with him (Chess) producing a record in their studio at Chess, which is a good studio. The Stones recorded in it.
(P) Really professional?
(A) It was a really good studio. We couldn't get out of the contract with Doc Cavalier, and just
years passed. It was a year and a half passed before we had another record.
(P) I remember some of the reaction locally when you left. People were saying, "They've gone national, they're getting big, they don't want to bother with the home folks." But I personally felt that not only would you come back, but that you would keep in touch musically with Conn. But when you went to Chicago, you stayed there for about six months to a year?
(A) We stayed there for a week. We just played in some local bars, all it really turned out to be, but there was some big article in the (Conn.) Paper that we were going to Chicago...we were just playing in a bar no bigger than Mad Murphy's. This was supposed to be our "big thing!"
(P) I remember that article vaguely; but, what I'm referring to is my own personal experience...you stopped playing locally, and I had heard that you, as a group, went to Chicago, and I didn't hear anything from you locally until you had returned, playing at the Hedges. And you came back and played sixteen minute pieces and really heavy stuff like that.
(A) By then our popularity had started to decline.
(A) Right here. We drew much less of a crowd. Sometimes we played Hedges and only got 75 people.
(P) I think it was opening night I went to the Hedges and the place was mobbed. I had to buy you a 6-pack of beer just to hear "No Good To Cry"!
(A) You got off cheap!
(P) You had a good wailing voice then, even with six beers!
(A) I'm better on three beers than none!
(P) So Chicago bombed out.
(A) We didn't bomb out, we went with the intention to talk to Chess. That was one of our reasons for going...
(P) But it didn't come through...
(A) And we called Doc Cavalier and informed him that we had had enough of the crap in every direction. We wanted to go to Chess, and he wouldn't let us go. By that time music had changed so much that our popularity did decline. I had really become interested in country stuff.
(P) Any particular type?
(A) Everything. I was really into Johnny Cash, the Sun stuff.
(P) More rockabilly?
(A) No, not rockabilly, as much as just Johnny Cash. I didn't even know about it (Sun sound). I wasn't a record enthusiast at that time.
(P) Have you collected records all along? Ever since the early sixties?
(A) Just the last two years.
(P) So you started listening to the Sun sounds in other people's collections?
(A) No, I just had this record, the "Songs That Made Johnny Cash Famous," on Sun. I always had it since I was a kid. I liked it. And also that single by the Youngbloods, "Sugar Babe." That wasn't a single, it was on their "Earth Music" album. And that got me, the steel guitar, I always wanted one. All my life, because I loved country music when I was a kid.
(P) Did this start influencing you, as far as your writing and playing?
(A) Yes, we started to do that. And the crowds did not like that at all. They were very turned off by us doing Johnny Cash stuff.
(P) Is this around the time that the Vanguard LP came out?
(A) This is in late 1968.
(P) This was a whole new direction. I remember a lot of people asking me, when I was at the radio station, "We want an album by the Wildweeds, when is it coming out on Cadet?" I didn't know, and I was trying to find out myself. When you came back from Chicago, and played a few dates, and no more singles were coming out, this was long after Cadet Concept. All of a sudden I heard rumors that an album was coming out. I thought, "Wow, all their old stuff," but your style had changes, and you had a single, "And When She Smiles," off the album. This new style was mainly influenced by this new interest in country?
(A) Yes, it was definitely. There's enough material at Syncron, so if Cavalier wanted to release an album, there's more than enough, more than 12 cuts.
(P) There's at least twelve unreleased?
(A) No, along with the singles, there's at least four worthy things that could go on...
(P) Can we get into the Vanguard album? The material on it...do you want to say anything about any particular cut, or why the variety?
(A) We finally got released from Cavalier. We were never directly signed with Chess; we just signed with a producer, but nobody wanted us, because at that time, the country thing, this was before Poco, or the Byrds, nobody wanted to know about it unless you were already popular. So we couldn't find anybody to take us except Vanguard, which was a bad label. With almost no promotion.
(P) It had zero promotion, but it had a great reputation for quality artists.
(A) Just classical music.
(P) Well, Joan Baez, and other high quality recordings.
(A) Yes, folk music and classical music is their only claim to fame. So we went in there and got a deal with them; and cut this album, the tracks for it, in a couple of days, then went home. I wanted to go down to Nashville, and we got Charlie McCoy. I got my wish. The first time I got my wish on something like that. Charlie McCoy headed the session.
(P) For those who don't know, who's Charlie McCoy?
(A) He's a harmonica player who's done more sessions than anybody...than Victor has records. His first session was "Candy Man" by Roy Orbison.
(P) Has he ever had records of his own?
(A) Yes, two on Cadence...
(P) "Cherry Berry Wine"?
(A) Right, and then "Red Red Rooster." Charlie's a D.J.
(P) Can you give us any information on the musicians on the album? There is a brief list, as to special thanks to people that helped, but was there anybody else?
(A) Well, Weldon Myrick, he was a steel player, he's in the "Area Code 615," there's a clique of Nashville people who played together and did most of the sessions together. Even though they interchange, they have an "area code 615," Charlie McCoy, Weldon Myrick, and David Briggs, who's with Elvis now in Vegas; and Mac Gayden and Jim Colvart, who I never heard about. They were just in the studio that day and they came in and played a little.
(P) Just walked in...
(P) Is there anybody else who's not listed on the album?
(A) No, that's it.
(P) Why the Elvis cut, "My Baby Left Me," which is a fantastic rendition of his old RCA cut - why that song with all the rest of the other softer, quieter music?
(A) It was really country...
(P) It is, but it's a completely different style as far as a real rocker.
(A) That's a good question; I'll have to think about that, I don't know why I did it. I just loved it enough to cut it. At that time I did not know a lot of people knew about it; as a matter of fact, a lot of people still don't know about that song.
(P) Who chose it?
(P) You wrote everything else on the album except that.
(A) Right. The words to these were written on the way to the studio also...I write under pressure.
(P) Anyone else that you know of that recorded things of this album?
(A) Ian Matthews recorded "And When She Smiles," ...and the Carpenters changed it to "And When He Smiles," but they only did it on stage, and that's it. Positive.
(P) What kind of reaction did you get to this album commercially?
(A) Commercially, it was very bad; but it got good critical reviews. But we got absolutely no sales, possibly 2000 albums sold at that time.
(P) Just in New England?
(A) Right. It made it in California, L.A. "Mare Take Me Home" was pretty big in L.A.
(P) I've heard other people do "Mare," but probably just live.
(A) Right. Matthew Southern Comfort was the group that did "And When She Smiles," not Ian Matthews, he was in the group; they also did "Mare" on the same album.
(P) Did "Mare" by them ever get mentioned by Billboard, was it reviewed or "bubbling under"?
(A) "Mare" was their followup to "Woodstock," that was big for them. "Mare" came out and it bombed.
(P) By Matthew Southern Comfort. As far as this Wildweeds' LP on Vanguard, did it get any favorable reviews by Billboard or ever any action?
(A) No, it didn't show up on the charts for sales, but it got good reviews.
(P) Through this interview, I've been giving my own personal opinions as to what I thought was taking place; like the whole thing about Chicago, I thought you were there for six months, and you weren't. Also, my own personal opinion about what happened after this album, when I saw you at the Hedges, I expected you to be playing music like this LP, and you were playing super hard rock, like 15 minute things as I said earlier.
(A) We were doing mixtures; but because we were playing four hours a night, I had lost the will to play that long, so we just did long things to make people happy. If we did country all night, we couldn't get hired! Some guys even put in the contracts, "They can't play country."
(P) And that's right after the album came out?
(A) Right. We did our share of country at the time, too. We did a lot of Johnny Cash at the Hedges and we had just gotten a new guitar player, the group had changed by then. Before the album came out, Ray Zeiner had gone.
(P) Ray's not on the LP!
(A) Yes, and by the end of the Cadet Concept single, Ray had left and Andy had left.
(P) Before Chicago...
(A) After Chicago; so on the LP is Andy's brother, Alex, who came in on bass, and Bob Dudek switched from bass to drums, and we kept the group like that; we just kept it less people. Later on we added Bob Lapalm on guitar and Jeff Potter, who I grew up with in Windsor, on harp, piano. So we had six people.
(P) After the LP...
(A) Yes, there's some recording done by that group, but nothing was pressed by them. Lots of tapes from post-1968 to 1972, I've got probably 30 songs that we recorded but never were released, but which are better than anything that ever came out.
(P)Just Recently, like within the last year, I became aware of an album you did solo, at least it's just got your name on the cover, and it's on Vanguard. When did this take place?
(A) Well, the group had changed radically after this (first) album. Bob LaPalm and Jeff had left, and we brought in two guys from New London, Conn., named Chris Horton and John Pearson.
(P) Was there internal pressure in the group, or did people want to do different musical styles, or was there conflict somewhere to cause them to split up and you to go solo, or what?
(A) True, there were pressures sometimes, and guys got on nerves, we were a very immature group, we just came right out of highschool and went right into it...again, from the top, in post-68, Ray and Andy left, we added Alex on bass and that's when we recorded this album; then Bob moved over from bass to drums and we added Jeff & Bob (L.) after the LP came out. We played for about a year, and did a lot of recording; then Bob and Jeff quit, and Bob Dudek quit.
(P) He was an original member.
(A) He was; and we got Chris Horton on Hammond organ and Pearson on drums. There were some songs recorded by this group that never came out, but this was the worst of the Wildweeds group; and that was the last of the group.
(P) In late '68?
(A) Dec. 10, 1971, was our last job, nothing big. I was listening to NRBQ, who I idolized, since their first LP.
(P) Which was when?
(A) Released in 1968...we did a lot of NRBQ tunes in the Wildweeds, at least four or five. "Flat Foot Flewzy," we did "Tina"...
(P) All are original NRBQ?
(P) When did this solo LP take place; were you still with the Wildweeds?
(A) Yes. I joined NRBQ in 1971, but we (Wildweeds) were under a five year contract with Vanguard which we signed in 1969. And the rest of the guys left and I was stuck with holding the contract so I had to record an album for them (Vanguard) under the same terms as the group, and I never got any bread for that either. Which I should have, that was a bad mistake. I could've dealt a new contract, then.
(P) Who was your manager then, when you went solo?
(A) Frankie Scinlaro, who was NRBQ's manager, too. He's with Alice Cooper, now.
(P) Who's on your solo LP?
(A) I cut all the tracks with Alex from the Wildweeds, Jeff from the Wildweeds, myself, and Tom Staley from NRBQ on drums. We just added a few horns and that was it.
(P) That's the last recording you did for Vanguard?
(A) No, I came in and did more stuff, but bad; ...I wanted them to lose interest in me fast because they were preventing me from singing with NRBQ on records.
(P) How many different singles did you have on Vanguard?
(A) "And When She Smiles," "We'll Make Love," Ain't No Woman Finer Lookin'," and "Cmon If You're Comin'" ...I believe that's it.
(P) That LP finished up your obligation to Vanguard, and you went full-time with NRBQ?
(A) Right. They got me out of the contract, keeping the publishing until August of next year...
(P) What publishing?
(A) Publishing for all songs that I write for another year, they get to keep the publishing on it.
(P) Who's "they"?
(A) Vanguard. They own it and get 50% of money. That's how I got out of the contract, by giving them that.
(P) What time did you say that was going to be up?
(A) August of 1976. That's when I start my own publishing company. I'm going to try to get all my songs back, from the Wildweeds...so "No Good To Cry" will be mine again.
(P) Would you like to re-record it?
(A) We've already tried. But it didn't come out as good as the Wildweeds. If we can make it better than the Wildweeds, we'll put it out.
(P) You started listening to NRBQ when...
(A) I didn't find out about them until 1969, then I bought both their albums, the one with Carl Perkins and their first one.
(P) So you started playing with them in 1971?
(A) They asked the Wildweeds to come out and play at their farm, they wanted to find out how I played. We went up there, near Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and played and they liked the way I played and called me the next week and asked how I'd like to join. I said I'd be right there. That was it.
(P) Of the NRBQ recordings, what's the earliest on that you are playing on?
(A) The beginning of the whole "Scraps" album we recorded in four days...two weeks after I joined the band, in our own house. That did pretty well. Probably all told, NRBQ sold a couple thousand albums.
(P) For what labels?
(A) Columbia and Kama Sutra.
(P) What label are you on now?
(A) We're not. We're finding one right now. We have an album for sale and a single.
(P) What do you see for the future? Do you want to stay with NRBQ for a few years, or do you want to go solo?
(A) I think music is in as bad shape now as it was during the Four Seasons' thing back in 1962.
(P) You mean the Top 40?
(A) Right; and FM's bad, too; I haven't heard anything good on FM either.
(P) But as far as the future, would you like to stay with NRBQ indefinitely or just for a while, or go solo?
(A) I want to make a solo album sometime in the near future. But I don't want to leave NRBQ because I still haven't heard anything better. They're still my favorite group.
(P) Listening or playing?
(A) I'm still a fan.
(P) We were talking about earlier recordings with the Wildweeds and solo efforts. There was a single released on Poison Ring Records, a local label, under the name of Ray Zeiner. Is the entire group on that single?
(A) It was the original band at the session of "It Was Fun," the third single for Cadet. That was the same recording session. The flip wass nothing to do with the Weeds at all.
(P) What are the titles?
(A) "I Had A Girl" and "You Know Your Love," is the other side; we had nothing to do with that.
(P) Who's on the flip?
(A) I don't know.
(P) Ray Zeiner is doing the singing?
(A) Right, on both sides. There is also a single released by Tobi Legend on Amy, and Joey Reynolds, who was a D.J. here, just went into Syncron and stole the band track. Just set it up and had her sing on it. I never got paid for that either.
(P) Who sang?
(A) Tobi Legend. He just took our band track out of the vault, just put some horns on it, and released it. "No Good To Cry" was the track. It was available as a single. Very hard-to-find item, now.
(P) Besides the recordings we have discussed so far, are there any others we haven't mentioned?
(A) I also played guitar on a Clean Living record, "Far North Again," a 45.
(P) Where does the Ray Zeiner single fit in, with the four Cadets.
(A) No, it was released in 1969, but recorded in 1968.
(P) You said you started collecting records about two years ago. Can you make an estimate as to how many you have, and is there any artist you concentrate on trying to collect?
(A) I like a lot of stuff, all kinds of music. I'm not just an R&B guy or a country guy or just fifties rock up to 1959, December...I have roughly 500 albums, maybe 500 singles.
(P) That's pretty good for two years.
(A) I try not to keep any singles if there's an album, but I try to keep the single if there's
something special about it I like.
(P) Like the LP you brought over today with you.
(A) Right. It's a regular old Sun - hot item. The cover is special. It's very rare and very hard to find; they only made a few up before they changed it. The cover is "All Mama's Children", but it's not on the record; the LP is the "Dance Album With Carl Perkins", the one before "Teen Party."
(P) What do you think of Buddy Holly as far as his music?
(A) He's great, he's got some great stuff.
(A) I love Elvis, but I don't think he should be as revered as he is today; 'cause since he went into the service, I don't think he's been any good; nothing like he was in 1956-1957. I'm a Ray Charles fan. That's who I really like. I've got lots of records by him. And Lee Dorsey.
(P) Do you like the New Orleans sound?
(A) Very much.
(P) Ever meet or hear Fats Domino?
(A) Yes, I did, in Hartford.
(P) What do you think of him musically?
(A) He's still great; he still plays the same. He's got the same kind of band with the same kind of rhythm section.
(P) And that doesn't take away from it, that adds to it?
(A) That's right. Guys that try to modernize, get out of their vein, try to update - doesn't work.
(P) What do you think of the entire Rock and Roll Revival - good or bad? I've heard some people say that they'd rather not step backward, they'd rather step forward, and they might do one show; like Freddie Parris said he doesn't mind doing it once in a while, but he just changed the name of his group to Black Satin, because he wants to keep musically alive, he doesn't want to step backward...
(A) It depends on what's happening at the day. Right now I don't even care if I'm part of the 45 scene, because disco music is the worst thing I've heard in a long time...
(P) I'm not talking about disco music, but as far as the revival, do you think it's good for the music?
(A) It's good for the music, it has to be. The more the better, I guess. The thing is, that most of those Rock Revival things don't have, like the Shirelles, there's not one original Shirelle, or how about the Coasters...
(P) There's about thre or four different Coasters groups...
Paul Bezanker, who conducted this interview with Al, has written a history of Connecticut rock music called, "Connecticut Rocks." It contains detailed history and discographies of the Conn. rock music scene. You can reach him for further information at: PBezanker@aol.com or click the link at the top of this page.
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