Tag Archives: 2010

Kings Go Forth, then disappear

There haven’t been a lot of cool soul bands to come out of Wisconsin lately, so when one does, you notice. When that scorching 10-piece group goes missing, you notice that, too.

So whatever happened to Kings Go Forth?

The timeline:

2007: Founded in Milwaukee by Andy Noble, who ran the old Lotus Land Records store in the city’s eclectic Riverwest neighborhood, and then and now is a DJ at a monthly soul/funk dance night in Riverwest.

2009: Signed to Luaka Bop Records.

April 2010: The first and only Kings Go Forth LP, “The Outsiders Are Back,” is released.

April 20, 2010: Riding the crest of acclaim, Kings Go Forth plays a live, one-hour show on NPR Music.

April 30, 2010: Kings Go Forth plays a record release show at Turner Hall in Milwaukee.

May 2010: The band says on its website that it’s “touring internationally in support of the record, and writing and recording new material for a yet-unnamed sophomore release.”

June 25, 2010: I saw Kings Go Forth live at a summer festival in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee. It was tremendous.

April 2011: Detroit guitar legend Dennis Coffey releases his self-titled comeback record. He’s backed by Kings Go Forth on one cut, “Miss Millie.” Eagerly waiting for “Miss Millie,” I wrote about it.

July 2011: The band says on its website that it’s “playing select festivals this summer while spending most of their time writing and recording the next record.”‘

Sept. 24, 2011: Kings Go Forth performs live for KEXP radio in Seattle.

Nov. 19, 2011: The last gig listed on its website, at the Firebird in St. Louis. It came a week after the band had finished a two-week European tour.

Sept. 10, 2012: The last update on its Facebook page, saying that the band’s rhythm section was backing Milwaukee soul legend Harvey Scales and some of the original Seven Sounds at a local gig.

Since then: Nothing. The evidence suggests that Kings Go Forth is no more.

DJ Prestige caught up with Andy Noble over at the fine Flea Market Funk blog a year ago. They talked mostly about collecting records, but Noble also said “I have a new group with an amazing singer from Racine, Little Gregory.” But on Noble’s Soundcloud page, there’s a track titled “Last day before Little Gregory quit.”

On that Soundcloud post from seven months ago, Noble writes:

“so i had this band with this dude little gregory for like 6 months, he was cool but he was old, i guess i shouldn’t have put much faith in it, but i did, because — well i guess that’s what i do … anyways, he dipped outta nowhere one day and left me with not much else besides a lot of little phone recordings of stuff, anyways, i like them — maybe you will too?”

Considering all that, this one seems appropriate.

kingsgoforth outsidersarebacklp

“Now We’re Gone,” Kings Go Forth, from “The Outsiders Are Back,” 2010. Also available digitally.

Noteworthy: Also from last year, from roughly the same time as the Flea Market Funk interview, here’s a podcast with Noble again talking mostly about record collecting. (The host is Mark Metcalf, who for several years lived in the Milwaukee area, ran a restaurant, worked in the media and did some acting. You may remember him as Doug Neidermeyer in “Animal House,” and from those Twisted Sister videos of the ’80s.)

Also noteworthy: Eilon Paz stopped to visit Noble in Milwaukee last fall on another of the road trips for his Dust and Grooves photography and interview project. Noble has a neon “We Buy Records” sign at his house.

Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

4 Comments

Filed under February 2014, Sounds

Behold the Ides of March

It was one of those gigs that you unexpectedly learn about, one that you immediately know you have to see.

The Ides of March — the Chicago-area group that in 1970 did “Vehicle,” one of my favorite songs — was playing nearby a couple of weeks ago. So I called down to Sheboygan, an hour south, and got tickets. One ticket was for the show. The other ticket was for something special.

When 3 p.m. rolled around that Saturday afternoon, they ushered about 40 of us out from the wings and out onto the stage of the Weill Center. I grew up in Sheboygan and had not been in the building in 40 years. Back then, it was the Sheboygan Theater, showing movies. It’s since been elegantly restored, and I stood there looking up at the small lights twinkling on the ceiling.

It wasn’t long before the teacher came around and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Jim Peterik.” Yes, the same guy who led the Ides all those years ago. The guy who led Survivor and wrote some of .38 Special’s most memorable songs. The guy who then got back together with his childhood friends and revived the Ides.

Peterik, guitarist Larry Millas and bass player Bob Bergland — that’s them above — led an afternoon session on songwriting. They shared a few stories, offered a few tips, and played acoustic bits of their songs. They’ve been pals since 1964, when they were in seventh grade, playing in Larry’s basement in Berwyn, Illinois.

In 1966, after the boys had played together for about a year and half, Larry’s mom called Mercury Records in Chicago to convince someone to listen to them. The boys thought they needed a new song so they, along with drummer Mike Borch, wrote “You Wouldn’t Listen” the night before. Mercury didn’t sign them, but London Records did, and its Parrot label released the tune in 1966 as the Ides’ first single. “Not bad for a sleepover,” Peterik said.

“Vehicle,” which became a smash in 1970, was about an ex-girlfriend. “She didn’t want to date me. She just wanted me to be her chauffeur,” Peterik said.

Then, of course, Warner Brothers wanted a follow-up to “Vehicle,” preferably something that sounded a little like “Vehicle.” The Ides came up with “Superman,” which Jim and Larry and Bob sampled during the session.

Even though “Superman” didn’t do as well as “Vehicle,” the Ides were one of the hottest bands going in 1970. They toured with the Allman Brothers, Poco and Led Zeppelin. They also were on a bill with the Grateful Dead, who played so long that the Ides had to cut “Vehicle” from their set.

There was no such problem in Sheboygan. The Ides deftly mixed old Ides songs, new Ides songs, Survivor songs and .38 Special songs. It takes some balls to end your first set with “Vehicle.” But when you end the show with “Eye of the Tiger” as a wild, extended jam, it all makes sense.

Anytime the Ides play in Wisconsin, it’s a bit of a homecoming. They played here often on their way up in the ’60s. To hear Peterik rattle off the towns they played, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were booked by the Catholic priest who moonlighted as a rock promoter back then.

Here’s what the Ides sound like today.

“Keep Rocking” and “I Found Love,” the Ides of March, from “Still 19,” 2010.

The first tune is written by Peterik, Millas and keyboard player Scott May.

The second tune is by Peterik. The CD also has a “vintage mix” of “Vehicle” that’s fairly true to the original and a cover of the Beatles’ “A Day In The Life.”

5 Comments

Filed under March 2011, Sounds

Witness to history

History is being made in Wisconsin this week.

No matter where you are, you’ve likely seen it on the news. Tens of thousands of protesters — public employees, teachers and union workers — have been filling the state Capitol in Madison and its grounds as they fight the Republican governor’s proposal to strip them of collective bargaining rights.

The story has taken one astonishing turn after another.

On Tuesday, it was simply that 13,000 people showed up to protest on a weekday. On Wednesday, the legislative hearing on the bill went until 3 in the morning. And the protesters kept coming. On Thursday, 14 Democratic senators fled the state to block a vote on the bill. On Friday, so many teachers were protesting that some districts canceled classes.

On Saturday, 60,000 people came to the Capitol Square, representing both sides of the debate. An estimated 500 police officers were on hand. Welcome to Madison. The protests were spirited and loud but peaceful all week, with only a handful of arrests for disorderly conduct. It stayed that way Saturday, when the governor’s opponents still far outnumbered the governor’s supporters.

We’ve not seen anything like this in Wisconsin since the Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It’s a story of such magnitude that the Green Bay Packers’ victory in Super Bowl XLV just two weeks ago — also a big story in Wisconsin — has been shoved far into the background, rendered almost an afterthought.

Here’s a look at the protests, set to the music of “14 Senators,” a song written Friday morning by Madison folk singer Ken Lonnquist and performed live on the radio less than an hour later.

And some timeless music perhaps appropriate for the moment.

“We The People,” Allen Toussaint, from Bell single 782, 1969. Available on “What Is Success: The Scepter and Bell Recordings,” a 2007 import CD.

“Eyes On The Prize,” Mavis Staples, from “We’ll Never Turn Back,” 2007.

“World In Motion,” Pops Staples with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, from “Peace to the Neigbhorhood,” 1992. It’s out of print but is available digitally.

“(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People,” the Chi-Lites, from “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People,” 1971. The LP is out of print but the song is available digitally.

“Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today),” the Temptations, from “Greatest Hits II,” 1970. The LP is out of print, but the song is available digitally.

“Fight The Power (Part 1 & 2),” the Isley Brothers, from “The Heat Is On,” 1975. The LP is out of print but the song is available digitally.

8 Comments

Filed under February 2011, Sounds

12 days of Christmas, Day 12

We were talking the other night about Christmas presents for our son, who’s 15, a sophomore in high school. At issue was whether we have that one big gift, the one with the wow factor.

I was thinking back to when I was 15, what that one big gift was. It was Christmas 1972. That one big gift was this:

That is a suede leather Converse All-Star basketball shoe, gold with black trim. I, too, was a sophomore the year I got a pair. It was a big deal. I’m not sure my parents fully understood the attraction, but they popped for the $15 — almost $75 in today’s dollars — to get them. I wore them until they wore out, then kept them around for years as something close to sandals.

There are other good memories of that one big gift. The Tickle Bee game, G.I. Joe, the Packers helmet and jersey, and, of course, that Panasonic AM-FM radio.

Now we have one big gift for you. More of our favorite Christmas tunes, the ones without which it wouldn’t be Christmas.

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, released as a single, 1971. A remastered version is available on  “Gimme Some Truth,” a 4-CD compilation released earlier this year.

“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?

“Snoopy’s Christmas,” the Royal Guardsmen, from “Snoopy and His Friends,” 1967. (The link is to a double CD also featuring “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron,” their debut album from 1966.)

“Merry Christmas, mein friend!

“Winter Wonderland,” Steve Goodman, from “Artistic Hair,” 1983. I bought this record at his show in Madison, Wisconsin, in April of that year. He signed it “Joe — Hello.”

“It’s kind of absurd/when you don’t know the words/to sing/
walkin’ in a winter wonderland!”

“All I Want for Christmas,” Timbuk3, 1987, from “A Different Kind of Christmas,” 1994. It’s out of print. Pat MacDonald grew up here in Green Bay and has returned. These days, he performs as pat mAcdonald — he insists on that spelling. His gig notices also say “Timbuk3 (no space!) is to be mentioned in a biographical context only.” So there!

“All I want for Christmas is world peace.”

“Merry Christmas Baby (alternate edit),” Elvis Presley, 1971, from “Reconsider Baby,” 1985. It’s out of print, and pricey if you can find it. It’s my favorite Elvis record, full of his blues tunes. That it’s on blue vinyl is just icing on the cake.

“Wake up, Putt!”

“Twelve Days of Christmas,” Bob and Doug McKenzie, from “Great White North,” 1981.

“OK, so g’day, this is the Christmas part.”

“Santa Claus and his Old Lady,” Cheech and Chong, from Ode single 66021, released December 1971. Also available on “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Cheech and Chong,” a 2-CD best-of compilation released in 2002.

“We could sure use a dude like that right now.”

No great lines, just great tunes

“White Christmas,” the Edwin Hawkins Singers, from “Peace Is ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.” 1972. It’s out of print with that title, but is available as “Edwin Hawkins Singers Christmas,” with essentially the same cover. This has a great solo by Tramaine Davis.

“Christmas Medley,” the Salsoul Orchestra, from “Christmas Jollies,” 1976. This is 12 minutes of soul, salsa and dance bliss. An instant party starter.

“Halleujah! It’s Christmas,” .38 Special, from “A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night,” 2001. Re-released in 2008 as “The Best of .38 Special: The Christmas Collection,” one of those 20th Century Masters reissues. This joyous, upbeat tune — written by guitarists Don Barnes and Danny Chauncey and lead singer Donnie Van Zant — ought to be a classic.

“Feliz Navidad,” Robert Greenidge, from “It’s Christmas, Mon!”, 1995. It’s out of print. Though Greenidge gets no cover billing on this CD, he’s playing the steel pan. He’s been with Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band since 1983. Earlier this year, Greenidge and his bandmates released “A Coral Reefer Christmas” on Buffett’s Mailboat Records label. This tune is not on that record.

“Christmas in the City of the Angels,” Johnny Mathis, from Columbia 1-11158, a 7-inch single, 1979. Though Mathis has recorded several Christmas albums, this cut never made it onto one. People ask for it every year. (This cut has gone from radio to tape to CD, and then ripped, so that may explain the sound quality if you find it lacking.)

Bonus gifts!

Some of our friends have sent along some tunes they thought you’d like.

“Must Have Been A Mighty Day,” Emily Hurd, from “Tins and Pins and Peppermints,” 2010. She’s a singer-songwriter from Chicago by way of Rockford, Ill., where we have a mutual friend. It’s been interesting to listen to her style evolve, moving from loose and gritty to far more poised and polished. This tune has a bit of both styles. She previewed this record for fans last year, then released it this year.

“Cashing In On Christmastime,” Charles Ramsey, 2010. He’s a singer-songwriter from Philadelphia who has some other nice, non-holiday stuff on his MySpace page. This genial, laid-back cut reminds me of Bob Dylan or Tom Petty with the Traveling Wilburys.

“Christmas Medley,” the Midwesterners, 2009. A pleasant little instrumental featuring Richard Wiegel, the guitarist in this band out of Madison, Wisconsin. He was one of the guitarists in Clicker, the much-loved ’70s Wisconsin rock/pop/glam/show band we write about from time to time.

6 Comments

Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Back into that groove

Get paid. Go to the record store. Buy two or three records.

That’s how it went, every two weeks from the mid-’70s until sometime in the early to mid-’90s. Now, all these years later, I’m slowly getting back into that groove.

I got paid on Friday, and I’d meant to go to the record store today, but that didn’t happen.

Some of the money set aside for that went for new dress shoes for The Sophomore, whose homecoming dance is tonight. Some of the money set aside for records went to pay for The Sophomore’s dinner date.

And so it goes.

Last month, I stopped at a record store I’ve been digging since the ’70s, the one that benefited from those earliest visits after payday.

Going through the bins at Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau, Wisconsin, I came across the new record by Tom Jones, albeit on CD. Wanting to buy something at the Sleeve — didn’t find anything in the vinyl section — I picked it up.

Two weeks ago, I stopped in at our record store in Green Bay — the Exclusive Company — and was delighted to find its used vinyl section greatly expanded. It already had an extensive new vinyl section. In the latter, I found the new record by Mavis Staples.

And then I found that Tom Jones record on vinyl. It has been bugging me ever since. Given a choice, I want vinyl rather than CD.

Next time I stop in at the Exclusive Company, I’m getting that Tom Jones on vinyl. Here’s why.

Tom Jones, doing “Burning Hell,” a John Lee Hooker cover, on “The Late Show With David Letterman,” Sept. 22, 2010.

It’s a cut from “Praise & Blame,” which came out a couple of months ago. It’s full of gospel-inspired tunes that go back and forth from reverent to rocking.

But that vinyl will have to wait until next payday, two weeks from now.

Unless, of course, The Sophomore needs something more urgently.

4 Comments

Filed under October 2010, Sounds