Tag Archives: Mr. Tambourine Man

Are you a Human Beinz? Out of the Cover Garage

7 Feb

In any era of fantastic music, great cover songs are frequently released. In the 60s, bands like the one featured today made their jump to fame by releasing covers of popular songs. Some covers from the 60s/70s are so well-known and well-done that it would surprise you to find out who originally recorded the song. I’ll name a few for the heck of it. “Feeling Groovy (The 59th Street Bridge Song)” was written by Simon and Garfunkel, but many prefer the version recorded by Harpers Bizarre. “Mr Tambourine Man” is, of course, recognized as a Byrds song, but it is a Dylan original. “You Shook Me,” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” on Led Zeppelin are Willie Dixon songs.

How about “Gloria” which hit the charts with Shadows of Night, but was written by Van Morrison and Them? Did you know another band named The Human Beinz also lent their sound to this hit, just after the Shadows of Night recorded the song? 

The Human Beinz thrived on covers. The band recorded covers of songs like “Foxy Lady” and “The Pied Paper.” They did hit it big with one of these covers in the United States, and then hit it really big with another cover in Japan. Actually, The Human Beinz was a 60s band that found more popularity in Japan then in the United States.

The Human Beinz were formed as the Premiers in 1964 and changed their name to the Human Beingz in 1966. They were a garage/frat rock band from Ohio formed by John “Dick” Belley (vocals, guitar), Joe “Ting” Markulin (vocals, guitar), Mel Pachuta (vocals, bass) and Gary Coates (drums).

Garage rock was big in Ohio during this time. Rick Zehringer (Derringer) was from Ohio and recorded “Hang on Sloopy” with the McCoys in 1965. Phil Keaggy and Glass Harp gigged in Youngstown, Ohio in 1968. Actually, and I love when you find out about incestuous rock relationships, Steve Markulin, Joe’s cousin, was in Glass Harp and left the band to join the Human Beinz.

The Human Beinz became the Beinz (instead of Beingz) because after signing to Capitol Records in 1967, their band name was misspelled, the g left out. In 1967 they hit it big with a cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Nobody But Me,” and the song kicked butt on the charts peaking at #8 in February of ’68. The name remained Beinz

It’s an awesome cover. They added rock flavor to an R&B song and did it well. I love the initial call and response that just makes you nod your head and move your legs. One of the strongest parts of the song is the defined bass guitar that carries the rhythm (even getting a brief solo prior to a buzzy guitar solo) along with repetitive claps and the repetition of “No.” The Isley Brothers loved repetition.

“Nobody But Me” was not their most popular song though. They released a cover of “Turn On Your Love Light” (recorded first by Bobby Bland in ’61 – and then covered by, you guessed it, Them, and the Grateful Dead).

A basic garage rock piece also carried by clangy drums, loud keys, vocal looseness, and a strong bass guitar. The song did not do much in the United States, but it reached #1 in Japan.

FUN FACT: “Nobody But Me” was used in Kill Bill: Vol. 1, and I would have included the video if it wasn’t full of black and white trademark Tarantino gratuitous gore.

The Birds Who Knew How to Spell – The Birds’ Story

26 Oct

If there are two things I’d like for you, my faithful and always wonderful reader, to get from this Obscure Classic Rock post (besides the fact that I must come off as an obsequious music writer – I do have unpopular sentiments, trust me), it is that a band name is exceptionally important and that bands that famous classic rock musicians played in prior to the pinnacle of their success often go understated. We will get to the name part a little later. For now, I want to provide some commentary on the latter point.

Before talented artists hit it big in popular bands, they almost always start in another band. The band may contain members of the ultimately successful line-up, but, it is exceptionally rare that every member of the known line-up grew up and formed the band together. Now, usually the first band is fallow, raw, and, therefore, understandably unsuccessful. But we are talking about the 60s and 70s, man. Even the bands before the bands were awesome. So why didn’t they just succeed at the outset?

Remember a few posts ago I mentioned how the Seeds experienced decreased popularity by mid-1968. The Seeds, a very talented band that in a lesser talented year may have been among some of the top acts, were going up against bands like, hmm, let’s see, The Doors, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel – need I really continue? Quite simply, the talent was incredible, and unfortunately bands frequently fell between the cracks. One such band (keeping with the semi-Fall theme) was the Birds. No, not the Byrds. The Birds.

These Birds

And now we come back to the first thing I wanted you to take from this post. When you name your band, be original. Choose something that some other group (perhaps from across the pond) won’t think of. It is, though, rather impossible to anticipate same-name problems, so sometimes you must go on luck. The Birds and the Byrds were producing music at the same time, and at the height of The Birds’ British success, The Byrds’ version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” was just released (1965) by the British CBS Records. And, unfortunately for the Birds, it went to town on the UK single charts. A slight issue, right. While both bands might have spelt the avian animal’s common name differently, they pronounced the name the same, and that’s what did the Birds in.
The Birds are known as being Ronnie Wood’s first band. Wood later played with The Creation, Faces and, now, the Rolling Stones. Bassist Kim Gardner also got his start with the Birds, later playing in The Creation with Wood. The Birds, though, unfortunately get that “first band” title too often. They were a talented act that, in 1964, were labeled as the next big thing, receiving equal billing with the Who at some concerts.
The Birds were formed in 1964 when the members were teens in Yiewsley, London. In addition to Wood and Gardner, the band featured vocalist  Ali McKenzie, guitarist Tony Munroe, and drummers Bob Langham and Pete McDaniels. They originally called themselves the Thunderbirds (which was actually the name of a 60’s band from Iowa, but, one that did not achieve success equaling the Byrds, so if the Birds kept their original name, both bands would have probably been able to coexist.) They changed their names because they were to play a show on the same bill as Chris Farlowe whose backing band was named the Thunderbirds. Whole lotta’ name problems, hah?
The band earned a recording contract with Decca after a “Ready Steady Go” Battle of the Bands, and they released their first two singles “You Don’t Love Me” and “Leaving Here.” They would continue to release music (including “That’s All I Need You For” which was a never recorded track from the 1967 movie Deadly Bees)  until a lack of success led to the group, which at once held much promise, disbanding. But, like I mentioned, a lack of success did not mean that the band wasn’t good, and the Birds represent another great band that was not able to have sustainable success during what was both the best and worst time to be a musician (the mid-late 60s).
“That’s All The I Need You For” (which as you can see was only partially done for the movie. The end features Ali McKenzie’s reformed Birds line-up playing the song.) features McKenzie’s excellent R&B/Mod rock voice mixed with some quality guitar work.
“Leaving Here” is an excellent first release. Lively energy is emitted from the song in the fast-paced chord-heavy guitar track and the turned-up note-striking guitar solo. You can hear that British R&B (“maximum R&B”) much in the style of the Who, the Creation, the Smoke, and other Mod-style bands playing at the same time as the Birds. The music was dance-able, hyper and melodious (even with the fuzzy, loud guitar). And the Birds were excellent at creating it for the short time that they did play together.
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