Now available from the Fraternity Music Group.
Souled Out: Queen City Soul-Rockers of the 1970s
Compiled by Randy McNutt
Wayne Perry's first single, which was actually recorded
at Jewel Recording in Mt. Healthy, Ohio, near Cincinnati.
New Album Showcases Vintage
The Fraternity Records
Group of New York announces the release of "Souled Out: Queen
City Soul-Rockers of the 1970s," an anthology of Cincinnati recordings made
for several labels at local recording studios in the 1970s. It is available through Amazon.com, CD Baby, and other Internet sites as well as from record stores. For information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the early 1960s until about 1975, soul-rock bands
were a big part of the Cincinnati music scene. Independent
producer Randy McNutt chose the material from his audio archives, which include
songs by the Young Breed, the Chamberly Kids, Little Flint, Rick “Bam” Powell,
and the hit songwriter Wayne Perry. Perry became one of the nation’s most
successful songwriters in Nashville in the 1990s, writing hits for the Back
Street Boys, Lorrie Morgan, Tim McGraw, and many other acts.
“The album shows the
progression of local soul-rock through the decade,” McNutt said. “As the years
passed, the bands adapted to other styles, including disco and a jazzy-rock-pop
sound. By the early ’80s, the groups were rarely found in local clubs.”
This compilation features
sides originally released on Cincinnati’s Fraternity, Counterpart, and Beast
labels, as well as some previously unreleased tracks. Recording mainly in
Cincinnati, the Perry-McNutt production company first recorded Perry, then the
blue-eyed soul singer for the Young Breed, and then expanded to record other
“I wanted to present the
original mixes,” McNutt said. “They came from various local recording
studios—Jewel, Counterpart, Studio B in Hamilton, Ohio, and the Forum in
northern Kentucky. Most of the old studios are gone now. You’re lucky to find
anyone with a multi-track tape machine these days.”
The CD is released on the
Counterpart label, an important Cincinnati label in the 1960s and early 1970s.
The name is now owned by Undercover Brother Productions of New York. Company
president Victor Piagneri suggested releasing the CD on Counterpart because of
its historical connection to the music.
CD’s 17 tracks include contributions by top Cincinnati musicians of the period,
including singer-drummer Powell, bassist Roger “Jellyroll” Troy, pianist Denzil
“Dumpy” Rice, B-3 organist Wayne Bullock (a former Lonnie Mack musician), guitarists Rusty York and
Gary Boston, fiddle player Rollin Bennett Jr., saxophonists Les Asch, Craig
Shenefelt, and Terry Burnside, and drummers Jerry Love and Gene Lawson, among many.
“These talented musicians and many others played on
hundreds of recordings made in Cincinnati in the ’70s,” McNutt said. “I wanted
to save some of the old tapes and make the songs available to music lovers
Wayne Perry (left) and Randy McNutt in this
Avco-Embassy publicity photo, 1970.
The Souled Out Story
Four nights a week Wayne Perry wailed at the Half-Way Inn near Hamilton, Ohio, with a white soul band
called the Young Breed, and by day he strolled the corridors of the Mosler Safe Co., picking
up paperwork while singing to himself and exclaiming “Hey, all right!”
default, I became his producer, confidante, songwriting coach, publisher,
traveling partner, and sort-of-manager. At my urging, we soon joined the overcrowded ranks
of America’s independent record producers, forming our own PM
Productions—complete with a crescent moon logo. On our lunch hour, we held
“staff meetings” over burgers and malts at Hyde’s Drive-In restaurant, not far
from the factory. To me, we led the most exciting lives of anyone at the old
Mosler Safe Co.
We went after white soul. In those days, many
nightclubs in Greater Cincinnati were dancing spots. Horn bands flourished, but
horns weren’t always necessary. Soul was. A few of the more popular white
soul-rock bands were the Dapps, Beau Dollar & the Coins, Lonnie Mack and
the Memphis Men, and the Young Breed. They all drew large and dependable
crowds, despite the rise of what some musicians called “hippie rock.” Mack’s
1963 hit instrumentals “Memphis” and “Wham!” had started a local fascination
with blues-rock—a combination of the blues, rock ’n’ roll, and a dash of
country. By 1970, however, Ohio’s raucous roadhouse sound had tilted more
toward rock and soul.
In Cincinnati, the best places to record such music
were the iconic King Recording Studio on Brewster Avenue in Evanston (where
James Brown often recorded), and guitarist Rusty York’s newer Jewel Recording
on Kinney Avenue in Mt. Healthy. They were mono paradises with a lot of bottom
in their sounds. When King abruptly closed in 1971, Jewel became the main venue
for blue-eyed soul. Mack operated out of there. Even the Heywoods recorded
there. They had horns then, long before “Billy Don’t Be A Hero.”
At 3 a.m. on a frigid January night in 1970, we finally cut the rhythm
track for our first single, “Mr. Bus Driver,” on Jewel’s new 8-track Ampex
recorder. We needed a B-side—fast and cheap. In desperation, we wrote our first
original song, a strange mix of soul and bubblegum, in my boss’s factory
office. We didn’t even have a guitar handy. Workers drifted past, watching as
we gyrated and sang in the tiny windowed office. They must have thought we were
lunatics. We soon returned to Jewel to record our newly written oddity, “Gimme
the Green Light,” on Rusty’s older 4-track Ampex. (He charged less to use it
because it was paid off.)
Six months later, with help from music veterans Harry Carlson and
Herman Griffin, we received six offers for our master. Each of us working
independently, we inadvertently placed the tape with three different
companies—Fraternity Records in Cincinnati, Certron Records in Nashville (I was
impressed; it was Clint Eastwood’s label), and with New York’s Avco-Embassy
Records. Because Avco offered the largest advance, we decided to sign with it.
After some delays, the company shelved the record and decided to go “all
black,” as Avco’s executives described their move.
Undaunted, we continued to discover new soul-rock
bands that seemed to pop up in every other roadhouse. Wayne often joined them
in the studio for additional vocal punch. One of our discoveries, the Chamberly
Kids of Lebanon, Ohio, played at the Half-Way Inn, a jumping roadhouse on State
Route 4 between Hamilton and Middletown, north of Cincinnati. Their talented
drummer, a high school senior named Rick Powell, sang with a pure rock voice.
Wayne joined him on harmonies and Roger “Jellyroll” Troy, leader of the band
Jellyroll, played bass. During the memorable session at Jewel, Jellyroll’s car
was repossessed and he wore red, white, and blue shoes.
We continued mixing and matching musicians to create
our own bands. We spent our entire $2,000 in “up-front money” to record two
more singles at Jewel. By necessity, I selected the material and Wayne picked
the musicians—some of Cincinnati’s finest blues-rockers. All the while, I
pressed him to write his own songs. He learned fast. When he liked one, which
was often, he’d call me and sing it over the telephone. I’d make suggestions on
the spot—lengthen the chorus, or change the title or a word or a phrase.
Meanwhile, our fledgling production company limped along, recording Rick Powell
and other acts on a new 16-track recorder at Shad O’Shea’s Counterpart Creative
Studio. A few years later, we graduated to 24 tracks and to other studios.
The tracks on this album represent
only a part of the work that Wayne Perry and I did in the 1970s. We recorded
together well into the late 1980s, trying gospel, country, pop, and rock for
Wayne and other acts in Nashville and Cincinnati. As a talented singer, writer,
and producer, he was heavily involved in every facet of the process. The work
gave him invaluable experience, which he later took to Music City when he
pursued a songwriting career and wrote hits for the Back Street Boys, Lorrie
Morgan, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Joe Diffie, Holly Dunn, and other stars.
While preparing these old tracks, I
decided to restore credit to the original bands—the way Wayne and I intended it
to be. (Sometimes we had to change the names for more practical reasons of the
day.) Thus, the Young Breed now performs a version of “Mr. Bus Driver,” and
Little Flint does its own version of “Gonna Have A Good Time.”
I’ve also included one black soul
recording, “Right Or Wrong” by the Westbound Freeway, a R&B group we found
in a Cincinnati TV studio while they were rehearsing for a local soul program.
Wayne’s original demo is also featured here for comparison. The Freeway’s
record, recorded on an 8-track Ampex, demonstrates the inevitable merger of
white and black soul in Cincinnati in the mid-1970s.
In 1977, our friend Herman Griffin,
lead vocalist and co-producer of the hit R&B group the Boys in the Band,
asked us to help him assemble an album that would return the group to vinyl. He
wanted to blend white and black sounds—a soul-rock sound. Wayne became one of
his studio singers. Unfortunately, a recession hindered Herman from getting a
deal and making a comeback.
By then, the influence and
popularity of white soul-rockers had diminished around Cincinnati due to
all-pervasive disco, which dominated radio and our culture. Instead of offering
the usual blue-eyed soul bands with horns, local clubs hung disco globes and
hired club disc jockeys.
Looking back on those times, I
realize now that Cincinnati’s soul-rock era—roughly 1963 to 1975—was a special
time. Its songs have survived disco, rap, and this negligent producer’s steamy
attic, where decades ago he stashed old recording tapes in two large plastic
garbage bags. Recently rediscovered, they are now unleashed upon an
If I close my eyes, I can almost hear a deep-voiced MC as he stands on
stage: “Ladies and gentlemen, introducing . . . the Young Breed . . . Rick
Powell and the Chamberly Kids . . . and, for your rocking pleasure, Mr. Wayne
Hey, all right! Yeah!
McNutt (left) and Perry at Jewel Recording Studio.
to these sidemen (and to the others who are forgotten): Roger “Jellyroll”
Troy, bass, Rick “Bam” Powell, drums, and Gene Lawson, piano, on “Good Time”;
Rusty York, dobro, Wayne Bullock, B-3 organ, Bill Jones, bass, and Les Asch and
Craig Shenefelt, saxes, on “Bus Driver”; Terry Burnside and Les Asch, sax, on
“Pain”; Gary Boston, guitar, Jerry Love, drums, and Roger Troy, bass, on
“Pain”; Terry Hoskins, B-3 organ, on “Pain,” “Good Time,” and “Green Light”;
Dave Fields, sax, and Mike Hodges, electric piano, on both versions of “Right
Or Wrong”; Dave Fields, sax solo on “Take A Chance”; Dan Moonitz, trumpet and
horn arrangements, on the master version of “Get ’Em Hot”; Denzil “Dumpy” Rice,
piano, and Junior Bennett, violin and arrangements, on “Waiting For You”; and
Gary Griffin, keyboards, on “Take A Chance.” Finally, thanks to the
Jordan-Parker Revue for singing backup on the “Bus Driver” single, and to the
revived Charmaines for their sultry sounds on the “Get ’Em Hot” master.
Cincinnati Sidemen Contributed to Souled Out
Denzil “Dumpy” Rice:
This Hamilton, Ohio, resident played piano on hundreds of Cincinnati recording
sessions from the 1960s through the 1980s; performed in local clubs as a
vocalist and pianist; twice played with “Memphis” man Lonnie Mack; co-wrote
“There’s a Honky-Tonk Angel (Who’ll Take Me Back In)” with former Cincinnati
blues-rock musician Troy Seals, who wrote dozens of big hits. The song was a
hit for Elvis Presley and Conway Twitty. Rice moved easily from country to
rockabilly to blue-eyed soul, and his sound featured elements of all three
Lockland native Bullock is known for his performances on the Hammond B-3 organ,
but he made his professional music mark on bass for Lonnie Mack in the early
1960s. Later, Bullock took up the B-3 and performed for one of Greater
Cincinnati’s more popular soul-rock groups, the Young Breed. He provided a
soulful sound for other blue-eyed soul bands into the early 1980s.
Troy: Cincinnati’s own Troy recorded for Kapp and RCA in the 1970s and
1980s, fronting his own band, Jellyroll, produced by the producer of Three Dog
Night. In addition to his fine bass playing, Troy was also a soulful singer who
reportedly was turned down by Blood, Sweat and Tears when he sought to replace
lead vocalist David Clayton Thomas. The reason? He sounded too much like the
Rusty York: York
is known as one of the finest bluegrass musicians in the country. His studio,
Jewel Recording in suburban Mt. Healthy, Ohio, hosted some of the top blue-eyed
soul bands of the 1970s, including Lonnie Mack’s. York played on several of
Mack’s recordings. A gifted string man, York played everything from soul-rock
to bluegrass to country. He sang his only nationally charted record, the
rockabilly “Sugaree” on Chess Records in the late 1950s.
Gene Lawson: The
creator of the Lawson microphone in Nashville provided the beat for one of
soul-rock’s greatest hits, “Memphis” by Lonnie Mack in 1963. A native of
Reading, Ohio, Lawson moved into studio engineering early on in his career,
working at Jewel and Counterpart studios in Cincinnati before moving to
Nashville. He played soul-rock as well as country.
Vocalist-producer Griffin was Motown Records’ first artist in the late 1950s.
He later became an independent producer, working out of Cincinnati in the early
1970s. His R&B chart group, the Boys in the Band, changed its focus in the
late 1970s, as Griffin sought to change its image to soul-rock. Griffin was
once married to Mary Wells, the “My Guy” singer who toured England with the
Beatles under the direction of Griffin.
Rick “Bam” Powell:
A Lebanon, Ohio, native, Powell formed the Chamberly Kids in high school around 1970.
He soon began recording in his home. He would go on to play with a number of
important Cincinnati bands, including the Blue Birds. He is a singer and
Bennett: A country player by trade, Cincinnati’s Bennett toured with George
Jones and other country stars. But he could play any kind of popular music,
which provided him countless recording sessions as a sideman, recording
engineer, and arranger. On Souled Out, he played string parts and
arranged. Bennett was also a songwriter, composing the hit “Too Big A Price To
Pay” for Kenny Price of Hee-Haw.
Rick Powell, 1974, recording at home.
(Photo by Randy McNutt)
featured on Souled Out were originally released on the Fraternity,
Counterpart, and Beast labels of Greater Cincinnati.
Founded in Cincinnati in 1954 by portrait photographer Harry Carlson,
Fraternity quickly became the city’s second most successful singles label
(behind King Records). Carlson sold the name to studio owner Shad O’Shea in
1975. O’Shea operated the company until 2008, when he sold it to Victor
Piagneri, who continues to operate the Fraternity Records Group in New York.
Founded in 1963 by WCPO Radio disc jockey O’Shea, Counterpart was based in
Cheviot, Ohio, in suburban Cincinnati. The label introduced some of Ohio’s
premier garage bands including the New Lime, Dayton’s Mark V, the “Us Too”
Group, the Fifth Order, Le Bleu Monde, and Ivan and the Sabers. It also
recorded blue-eyed soul diva Gerri Diamond and country writer-singer Bobby
Borchers. O’Shea stopped operating the label regularly after obtaining
Fraternity. He also sold Counterpart in 2008 to Piagneri, who reintroduced the
name for the release of Souled Out.
by producer Randy McNutt in 1973 and distributed by Counterpart, Beast featured
the group Little Flint doing “Pain” and “Gonna Have A Good Time.” The company
was based in Hamilton, Ohio.
The original release of "Good Time" on Beast, 1973.
Wayne Perry takes a break at
Counterpart Recording, Cincinnati, 1973.