And Then Came Curt Boetcher (Again!)
by Ray McCarthy, from ZigZag Magazine 49, January 1975
With all the independent producing, it became a logical step to form a label. So in March of 1969 Together Records was formed by Gary Usher, Curt Boettcher, and Keith Olsen under the wings of Transcontinental Entertainment Corporation, which at the time was presided over by the whizz-kid Mike Curb. It was described at the inception as an ‘artist orientated label,’ giving the artists approval of all aspects of a release, from advertising, artwork, promotion, and the material eventually issued.
Gary Usher said when the label was launched: “We don’t intend to fall into the pitfalls of many labels whose growth is measured in dollars and cents, to the detriment of artistic freedom. We’ll keep a limited roster of artists, maybe no more than six or seven. After all, if you can’t hit with a handful of artists, there’s no reason to think that you can make a hundred successful.”
Fine sentiments, I’m sure you’ll agree. Stay tuned and let’s hope it works! Unfortunately we can’t reproduce the beautiful Together Records logo in these pages, but the labels are worth the price of the records alone.
Curt: “The actual drawing was by a chick named Keita Colten. She did a portrait of myself, Gary Usher and Grace Slick, along with that logo. Her drawings are just unbelievable, there’s nobody else like her, and I could see them computer-animated or something. Someday when I’m rich and famous (huge laugh) and a big star, I’ll get my hands on some beautiful property and have her animate it.”
Dean Torrence and his Kittyhawk artwork company designed most of the sleeves for the company.
Many of the records released were in their “Archive” series, and the first album from the label was one of these. It was The Byrds’ Preflyte (Together 1001) of which fervent readers will need no reminder. It was issued with the group’s permission, assisting on the mix, and other etceteras in its eventual compilation. Produced by Jim Dickson and culled from rehearsal sessions and demos, the album was a chart success, prompting The Turtles to cover one of the tracks, the McGuinn/Clark song “You Showed Me.” It was on the Turtles’ Battle of the Bands album, and was the group’s last top ten record.
Preflyte was reissued by CBS Stateside in 1973 around the time of The Byrds Asylum reunion album, and issued in England just before that on Bumble Records (original sleeve). Prompted by this initial success, more releases in the “Archive” series were planned, including a San Francisco anthology from acts appearing at the Avalon Ballroom (produced by Bobby Cohn) and Matrix nightclub (produced by Pete Abrams) with ‘live’ studio rehearsals from the period 1964 to 1966. Another planned set was a Lord Buckley anthology, but as with the San Francisco set, they never got past the planning stages.
The second record on Together was the second album from Sagittarius, The Blue Marble (Together 1002). Again this was a Gary Usher led (did I hear Gary Ushered...?) effort only more so than the last, containing mostly Gary Usher songs and vocals. There is little to relate this to the earlier Sagittarius album, songwise and vocally. Harmonies are there for sure, but for the most part being replaced by moog. Not to mention the personnel on the album which is almost a new crew.
One of the best tracks is “In My Room,” the Gary Usher-Brian Wilson song, which is certainly the closest to the feel of the first Sagittarius record. The lead vocal is by Curt, and those of you familiar with The Beach Boys’ version will know what a great song it is, if a trifle melancholy. This was the second single on the label, and made a reasonable dent in the stateside charts, but not entirely amazing, otherwise you would have all heard of it. After all, the label would have got a deal in England and the record would have been issued, and the tiny radios would have been singing the words as a charmer to the balmy summer of ‘69, and perhaps after stardom, there would be little point in me getting together this article! But things didn’t quite work out like that, did they?
Back to the tale. The record was produced by the trio, Boettcher, Usher and Olsen, and the ‘b’ side “Navajo Girl” was nary to be found on the album. This track has a guy called Chuck (Chuck? funny name for a dog) Girard, as the lead vocalist, and written by Gary and Sandy Salisbury, the only one it seems, apart from Keith, to stay with the ‘troops.’ It opens with steel guitar, then shifts into mex trumpeting, and then the faithful vocals finally come in, but in the main the song belongs to Chuck (Chuck?), although the harmonies exist aplenty in the chorus. The number is Together 102.
Curt’s composing credit on the album is “From You Unto Us.” Lead vocal on this one is Gary, but let’s not take it as read, as it was originally a Curt B. demo and to say that Gary covered the vocal would be more correct. Moog takes up a lot of the speaker in this track, and the album must have been one of the first to use the moog so extensively. Another outstanding track on the album is Michele O’Malley’s “I Sing My Song,” very tuneful and again with some inventive use of moog. Lee Mallory, it seems, is another guy who is still around, and with Gary Usher he wrote the title track “The Blue Marble.” But the album is one that takes time to grow on you, there are some not-so-hot tracks on the album, and the lead vocals at times leave a lot to be desired, but there is certainly enough to enjoy. Mind, it’s not so joyful as some of the work that this team have put together. No credit is given as to the musicians involved in the album, but Curt gets a mention for singing the lead on “Will You Ever See Me”—perhaps one of the first times that his voice was heard in full, although harmony drifts through occasionally in this Gary Usher song.
Also our Chuck gets mentioned for singing the lead on “I See in You” and “Gladys.” Another single, “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City’ (Together 122) was issued by the group. It was the original theme song for Midnight Cowboy but turned down in favour of “Everybody’s Talkin’,” so all seemed well in expectation of the song doing well. It did manage some activity chartwise, but this was thwarted due to the original by Nilsson being issued as the follow-up to “Talkin’.” This was the year of the moon landing, and the packaging of the album romanticised on this theme, with its lunar photos (supplied by NASA).
Curt: “I thought all the little moon pictures and everything, were corny. Everything—cereal box tops and air-sick bags, they all had pictures, of the moon on them. It wasn’t one of Gary’s better albums, he over-extended himself I think.
“On that second Sagittarius album, I’ve got to tell you something. This was when Gary and I weren’t getting along. Gary can get a little out of line sometimes, and he likes to take a little more credit than he has coming-this is the old Gary, the new Gary doesn’t do this. Half of the vocals were done by myself, and Gary would lay his voice behind, mask it, you know, and put on his vocal. And a lot of the songs like ‘From You Unto Us’ and ‘Song to the Magic Frog’ [from the first Sagittarius album] and all that, he just took demo tracks I had lying around. I just gave him permission to use my demo tracks, and he would just sweeten them up with instruments. And if he used synthesizer, he’d take all my vocal parts that I had on my demos and voice them with synthesizer, and things like that.
“And I think that’s where Fennelly got confused over who was stealing who’s voice, as he mentioned in his article [see ZZ41]. He thought that that’s what I had done on The Millennium with him, but it wasn’t true. I did do it to a certain extent with Lee, because Lee had a hard time staying on key sometime. It was one of those production evil necessity bullshit trips. The way I am now I won’t work with anyone who can’t cut it. I don’t prop them up anymore; I’ll just say let’s not do it. It has to be for real. Michael Fennelly was wrong, there never was two Sagittarius albums on Columbia. One was on Together and the other one was on Columbia.”
Nice to know the other side of the tale given by Michael, and nice to know there is one.
Amongst the other albums in the “Archive” series were tapes from late ‘62, early ‘63, of The Hillman (Together 1012), again produced by Jim Dickson. The members of The Hillman included Chris Hillman, The Gosdin Bros (who in ‘69 were in Buck Owens Buckaroos, and are now the Gosdin Bros on MGM), and Dave Parmley. The album was an amalgamation of group compositions, and songs from the heroes of the day, Pete Seeger, Maybelle Carter, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Bill Monroe. Originally recorded for World Pacific, they had been lying in the vaults all this time, but then, I guess that most of our heroes have things in the vaults, awaiting that very special reason for issuance.
It was pure blue grass at a time when there was more interest in the ‘folksy-folk’ of Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary. Quite a refreshing and honest sound throughout, especially songs such as “When My Ship Comes In,” and “Rangers Command.”
Although the San Francisco anthology did not in fact appear, Early LA did (Together 1014), and the first side consisted of Jim Dickson produced tracks. Dino Valenti had his own CBS album out around this time, and part of his ups and downs included “Get Together,” the Youngbloods’ classic, and also of course Quicksilver Messenger Service. However, on this album he settles for a Leadbelly song, “Black Betty,” and an original in his blues interpretation, “Life’s Like That.” Then there’s David Crosby, from the folk of the Les Baxter Balladeers—his first rock recording of Hoyt Axton’s “Willie Jean,” a song to see a superior version by The Sunshine Company. And a Ray Charles blues track “Come Back Baby.” It must be remembered that these were never originally meant for release, it is just that notoriety by the people included has made it inevitable. Of course they never realised that they would find themselves in the position that deemed these recordings to be sought.
The next incarnation of David Crosby was in The Byrds, and we have already mentioned Preflyte, but the next couple of tracks did not appear on that album. There was a McGuinn-Clark song, “The Only Girl,” and “You’re Movin’,” two tracks that were more Beatle-influenced than Dylan.
Lastly on this side were two Dillards’ tracks which seem more complete than some of the others on this side. There’s “Don’t You Cry” which later appeared on Wheatstraw Suite, but which also exists in an earlier version. The next track is certainly worthy of that particular Dillards’ album, namely “Every Season Changes You” written by one Ruth Talley.
The second side of the album is devoted to the Richard Moore produced tracks of Canned Heat, all two of them, consisting of the bluesy “You Know I Love You” (6.49) and the inevitable boogie of “First Time Around” (10.34), both being ‘live’ recordings. The actual dates of the recordings are not stated on the album, but no doubt they were made while they were between contracts and starvation.
Not available to comment on, but with available information were a couple of other packagings of Doug Dillard—Banjo Album (Together ST 1003) and another city anthology called Chicago Anthology (Together ST 1024), which is supposedly the 24th release on the label; I don’t really imagine this to be the case, as no doubt there were albums scheduled that never came out. These were about the only ones listed in Schwann, the American catalogue, which is pretty accurate as these things go.
However another original recording was a double album by Danny Cox called Birth Announcement (Together ST 1011). This set is full of elongated interpretations of songs ranging from Lennon and McCartney to Bob Dylan, and traditional songs. Included were “Hey Jude,” “Little Maggie,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “A Day in the Life,” “Dear Prudence,” “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” and “Just Like a Woman.” The album has a flowing style, eased along by Cox’s voice, and I think it would be accurate to say that the style is close to, say, Richie Havens, although his particular voice is much easier to take. The album features guitar by Danny Cox and Richard Ruskin, Doug Rhodes on bass, Red Rhodes on steel guitar, and Pat Shanahan on drums (the last three had played on the Millennium album, Pat playing vibes, and of course he went on to Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band). Additional bass work is provided by Steve Le Fever, and tasteful string arrangements by the producer Gary Usher.
It was released in July of ‘69, and Danny later resurfaced on MGM’s Sunflower label. He now resides at Casablanca, Neil Bogart’s label, and has a new album Feel So Good available.
Also scheduled, but never issued, was an album by a group called Moses Lake, to be produced by Curt and Keith, not to mention the Sandy Salisbury album, also to be produced by the duo. Also the very first album by Curt was under way. Again this did not materialise. However, what did result were some singles by this trio. A Sandy Salisbury single, “Do Unto Others,” was in fact the label’s first issue (Together 101), written by Curt and one Keith Colley. Quite a rocking little track, and a definite departure from his previous work. The instrumentation is heavier, but still retains that harmony sound with striking falsetto, and a memorable chorus, These ingredients should have made the record a chart stormer, but only regional activity greeted it. Even today the record is strong, and someone should pick it up. The ‘b’ side of the single, “Cecily”, is much quieter, a Boettcher/Salisbury collaboration, and a country flavoured track that reminds me of the later Curt B. track “Such a Lady.” But back on the track, there is some nice steel guitar presumably from Red Rhodes, not to mention a stunning guitar break in the middle. And then there’s a high harmonic voice coming in on the chorus. It really is a great little single. Which of course hardens the blow of there not being an eventual Sandy album, which was scheduled for release in October of ‘69. There was however another Sandy Salisbury single of “Goody Goodbye” which is not in my racks, and a Lee Mallory single of “The Love Song.” After a couple of years’ existence T.E.C. pulled out of the investment made, leaving Gary to go back to independent producing, and Curt and Keith to pursue a similar route.
Curt: “We did a whole album with Moses Lake that has... a Negro poet... I can’t remember his name... a Negro poet who wrote about the creation; we did this whole musical thing based on that poem, which was far out. But the lead singer of the group had a nervous breakdown in the middle of the sessions, and the tracks were never completed.
“I was working on Sandy Salisbury, and working on projects that were extremely experimental, ambitious, hard to cut, things like that. And Gary was repackaging old demos and stuff. He was saying ‘Well, gosh, I can’t figure out why Curt’s budgets are so much higher than mine,’ and here was I giving him the means to lower his budget. So pretty soon I was under the gun with Transcontinental, and they were viewing everything I did very dimly. I had started on my own album for Transcontinental and freaked out in the middle of it, because of their insensitivities.”
So there you have it—another chapter in the tale, but around the Together days Curt’s name appeared on yet another album. This being Michele and Saturn Rings (ABCS 684), the surname being O’Malley, a name that had appeared on the first Sagittarius album, and also amongst the vocalists that appeared in various projects previously mentioned. The album contained three songs that had appeared on the first Sagittarius LP, Present Tense, pre-Michele versions of “Musty Dusty” and “Song to the Magic Frog” and another version of “Would You Like to Go,” which is treated very close to the original. The harmonies and similar instrumentation are there, of course, the main difference being the Michele vocal lead. Apart from the fragile songs and the vocal group track, she also belts it out on Curt’s eight minute track “Lament to the Astro Cowboy” which is okay but wandering, not really meaning much. Not at all characteristic of previous work, but there, Curt was not involved in the album as far as producing or arranging. He probably worked on “Would You Like to Go” where he may have assisted on vocals, and incidentally composing credit for the song is given to Bobby Jameson. Jameson’s “Know Yourself” also appears on this, along with a song co-written with Michele, “White Linen.” Apart from Curt’s “Lament to the Astro Cowboy” and the Boettcher/Almer “Musty Dusty,” there also was “Believe You” and “Misty Mirage,” two songs that again strike one as being unrepresentative of his usual work. “Spinning Spinning Spinning,” the Ballroom track, also appears on this record, written by Curt and Lee, and it presents no alternative to the original. “Musty” also contained some extensive use of flute, supplied by Lowell George, who also contributes some harmonica work through the album. It’s pretty certain that the usual crew in part also worked on the album. Mike Deasy produced the set, and the sleeve was designed by Dean Torrence’s company.
For the next couple of years Curt’s activities remain limited, but for the moment we are now in 1969 towards the end of the Together mess, and back with Keith Olsen.
Curt: “Keith and I knew each other since we were in college. We were at the University of Minnesota together. Keith was playing in the Minneapolis Symphony, he played second chairviola, bass, something like that. Damn good engineer. After eight years, we ran into some kind of falling out that I don’t really understand.”
And here we are in 1970, and back with The Association, but for only one song though, the track from the second Millennium LP, “Just About the Same.” The lyric in this instance was very different to the original, “It’s You,” the theme being more universal. Part of the lyric goes:
Ask me a question and I’ll give you your answer,
Are you part of everybody? Yes you are,
Where do you think all these people have come from?
Are you their brother? Well, I guess you are,
Hey, Everybody is Just About the Same.
(Warner Bros 7372)
Perhaps another pun on the “Just About the Same” lines. Whatever, it’s a great track, which seems to fit in with those quasi-religious things that were around at the time like “People Got to Be Free,” or “Get Together.” A very spirited (sorry) track with some of those Association harmonies, and what sounds like falling over drums from time to time.
Curt: “I dubbed The Association’s vocal on top of The Millennium track, and they couldn’t even cut the vocal. They didn’t do the vocal one tenth as good as The Millennium did, but that’s showbiz. And they got a chart record, it got in the seventies, fifties, somewhere along there. That’s the story of ‘Just About the Same.’ I just heard about Jules, who’s Gary Alexander today, after a long absence. I guess he’s got a group together and they’re recording for A&M. But I don’t really see any of the Association; the last guy I saw in the group was Ted [Bluechel Jr.]. They, in my humble opinion, were never able to handle their own success, as far as their head spaces. It really changed them as people—it’s part of what happens.”
Song came along around this time too, a group and an LP that Curt and Keith produced for MGM (SE47141). It was Mickey Rooney Jr.’s group, which Curt says made some of the tightest tracks he ever cut, with some amazing Beatle-esque take-offs. As you can guess this is one I cannot comment on, but believe me, if it is as near as good as the previous things, then it certainly is one to look for. The record came out around July of ‘71.
Curt: “I was introduced to Emitt Rhodes through Todd Schiffman, manager of Loggins & Messina and former manager of Iron Butterfly, Blues Image, Casey Kelly, who else, who else?—l can’t remember... aah, Poco.”
So just before Song, Curt was involved in the one man show, Emitt Rhodes. You may remember him, his first album Emitt Rhodes (Dunhill DS 50089/Probe SPBA 6256) had plenty of attention on its release due to the fact of Emitt doing all the work on it, producing, playing all the instruments, vocals, and writing. It also drew similar parallels to the McCartney album in that way, not to mention the styling and voice. But it is a good album despite all that, scoring pretty heavily in the USA. He too has a history that goes back to 1967 and his group Merry Go Round, scored around that time with You’re a Very Lovely Woman on A&M, which was reissued to cash in on the success of the solo album.
There now comes a sitting in limbo period, during which time he did no producing and made no records.
During this time Curt’s marriage broke up, and all the sundry hassles involved in that scene. And also there was a slight name change.
You may have noticed without too much effort, that on occasions the name Boettcher has two ‘t’s’ and then one, Curt dropped a ‘t’ in ‘72.
Curt: “Why did I drop the ‘t’ from my name? Ahm... there’s this guy out here named Gregg Tiffin, a very famous numerologist, inventor of his own parapsychological science called Cyrcaian Time Analysis, which he does with computers, things like that. He told me that my name was a jinx, so the two ‘t’s’ in Boettcher were the kiss of death. Dionne Warwicke added an ‘e’ to her name, and I dropped a ‘t’ from my name, it’s supposed to er... clear my head, and make better, clearer decisions. So that’s why I dropped the ‘t’.”
Curt’s next step was to go up to Washington State, and get together with one Web Burrel, whence they began laying plans for Curt’s own album, Securing a contract with Elektra was the next thing, which was probably due to Jac Holzman who had Michael Fennelly’s group Crabby Appleton on the label. A Holzman quote from the English issue of Curt’s album (by ZZ’s own John Tobler) publicity blurb: “He’s done two tracks. It’s taken him over a year, but they’re absolutely first class.” As you can see Jac was quite pleased to be having him on Elektra, even if the results of Curt’s affiliation were slow in coming. That’s Curt, Capricorn—slow moving, earth sign.
So in December ‘72 the album There’s an Innocent Face (Elektra EKS 75037/K 42124) was finally released. In America that chose to be an inopportune time for release, because it was unfortunately lumped together with a series of new bands the label was issuing. It received only nominal promotion due perhaps to the fact that the time and money spent on the album had annoyed the label, or because the label was just about to be lumped together with Asylum. Anyway the album was on issue, and it followed suit in England and a couple of months later, where the buzz had already been felt. Strangely enough, Elektra issued “My World Fell Down” on the Nuggets compilation, at the same time as the Curt album, and it was the original single cut, a coincidence I feel.
Now of course I am really behind this album. To have gotten this far and not be, would be somewhat anti-climatic, but it really is worthy of your attention. The lead track is “I Love You More Each Day,” which was also the single a month before the issue of the LP. A full production with tubas, stirring string arrangements (which reminded me on first hearing of the sort of thing on the Van Dyke Parks Song Cycle), all soaring through the strong lead vocal from time to time. And the vocal, the first time that we have been treated to the voice on its own, apart from the Together single, combining in the chorus with that harmony sound. However, it was, I fear, too complex for the singles market. It would have been great to have it up there, but uncomputable. Next, comes the country track “Such a Lady,” the one I compared to the earlier Curt song, “Cecily.” The only thing is that this was written by R. Naylor and C. Gusias, the connection being just coincidental. It’s a gentle track that boasts the steel guitar of Red Rhodes, and a contingent of background singers coming in on every odd verse. The restful mood created by this track is most agreeable disturbed by the next. Just when you might have thought ‘Ah huh, here we go, a laid back in the chair album.’ “She’ll Stay With You” begins with some fast picking and it never lets up. ARP synthesizer is in there too, supported by that strong acoustic guitar, and some powerful vocals from Curt.
Harmonies figure in this track, most obviously at the end, with its collage of cloo-wops and a pinch of 50s rock in “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Book of Love” just catching in on the tag. After that you can only recreate the same mood, or slow down. We slow down, but not too slow, with the J. Netkin, Curt Boetcher, Web Burrel tune, “Love You Yes I Do.” Now this is a favourite of mine, but then so many on here are; plenty of conga sounds are provided by one Tessie, not way in front of everything else, but blended in with the overall sound. In fact, that is a thing that Curt has never done, given any instrument the upfront position in the recordings.
C. Guisas gives us the next track in the host of delights, no relation to the Ham song, only the name gives you that idea, “Without Her.” This time the song and its instrumentation is much more simple, no complex arrangement here, just a gentle run on the guitar and electric piano. A short piece (1.23) that one could call the interlude before the weight of the next track reaches you. Last track on side one is “Bobby California,” the most rocking track on the whole album. A ‘live’ atmosphere is created by the audience of tapes, and a lovely mixture of modern and old rock & roll, with the girls who provided the background vocals (dubbed in the lyrics—The Heartbeats) providing shoo-be-doo-wahs. Nice electric guitar, fancy drumming and great organ work which is just perfect in the middle. No harmonies folks, just a real strong track, which leaves the tapes crying out for more, right up to your spindle. The song is about a country lad who leaves his Arizona home, and fame reaches him in California via his vocal prowess, so he changes his name to—Bobby California. This would have been the ideal single for England. I feel, although none too close to the usual Curt Boetcher fare, which convinces me even more of its chances-the compromise.
Turn it over, and you have the track that made it onto the Elektra sampler New Magic in a Dusty World some months before the album, namely “The Choice is Yours,” written by The Rooney Brothers, Mickey Jr. & Teddy, departed from Song one would imagine. The song has a lovely lyric, and another guess would be that it was probably one of the first two for the album that Jac enthused over. Harmonies bubble through the song, and you would be forgiven for putting it into a Beach Boy mould. I like the opening lyric: “Keep your peace of mind, you’ll find it handy, that’s the best advice you’d get from me.” Beautiful song, and beautifully sung. A similar feel to that produced on “She’ll Stay With You” is given to the next track, “Malachi Star,” written by Judy Pulver and her ex-lover Bob Wachtel (who played with the Everly Bros. for a while). It begins with some plodding drumming behind those vocals, before it takes off with some amazing falsetto, and the ARP running along with the sound.
Then we level out with the voices and come down to the lower registers for “Lay Down,” a D. Gere song (he also wrote “Bobby California,” by the way). A touch of a reggae beat is present throughout this track, and the voice drifts through the low notes and then comes up in a gentle manner that is a joy to hear. Tight harmonies also pervade the track, but not as dense as some contained in the album. After the complexity of most of the songs, we come to “I’ve Been Wrong,” written again by D. Gere. This song is just Curt and a couple of acoustic guitars, a ballad with a fine lyric, not a lot to say about this one, except it is not as much a favourite at most of the material here.
And finally everyone comes back for the final track “Wufferton Frog” written by J. Netkin. A lot of high fun on the track which has a full backing, containing tubas, no harmonies, but an enjoyable track—singalong et al. A childlike chorus and croaking frogs end the track and the album, as this too runs into the label.
The album was produced by Curt and Web, for their Land-O-Lake Productions. Gary Usher is listed as executive producer, and the songs were arranged and adapted by Curt and Web. The album, as it turned out, gained quite a lot of response from radio and press in England. There is an army of people who follow him in the USA, but as far as promotion goes, the album did not reach past this army. And of course in England it was left for people to discover him for themselves.
Curt: “Tandyn Almer was writing With Brian Wilson when I was mixing my last album for Elektra. I got a telephone call from them. They said drop what you’re doing right now, and come up and write songs with us. I said, ‘I can’t! I’m in the middle of my mixdown. ‘And they said, ‘Shit, and that’s enough of that’.”
Pity about that; no doubt Tandyn and Almer were writing for The Beach Boys, they did put some things together for Holland, but only “Sail on, Sailor” turned up for the album. It’ll be good however to see what turns up in the months to come.
Undaunted by the lack of response, Curt and Web began on their second effort for the label, with a tentative title of Chicken Little Was Right. This time the work for the album was somewhat swifter, resulting in five almost complete tracks. But Elektra called a halt to the proceedings, which is a shame, to put it mildly. So the sessions ended, and Curt could not go to any other label at the time, because he was still tied to Elektra.
Meanwhile back in England his old associate Mike Fennelly had completed an album with Argent’s rhythm section, called Lane Changer. Mike was not long out of his group Crabby Appleton, formed a while after the Millennium thing, and he had gained a taste for a heavier approach than The Millennium had pursued. There is no denying the power of the album and its sundry pyrotechnics, or its influences ranging from Led Zeppelin to Neil Young. But sorry folks, and John, for me, the album does not make it; a mere lad weaned on all those vocal groups, it was too metallic and sparse, although a couple of the tracks, namely “Over My Dead Body” and “Shine a Light” are ones that provoke some response in me.
Curt though was somewhat shattered by the Elektra attitude, after their initial enthusiasm, but I suppose that’s record company politics for you. He then drifted on up to Seattle... there was not much else to do at the time as you can imagine, and he met up with some guys in a group called Flavour. Not the Flavour that had dented the U.S. charts in ‘69 with “Sally Had a Party,” but a Canadian bunch. Along with the drummer of the group, Curt decided to head back to L.A. and reform Millennium, same name, different people. This was in the early part of 1974. Roy Hatee had been contacted, and the reaction from him was positive. So a tie-up with CBS would be a not too silly assumption, especially as in England Dan Loggins of CBS had heard the album and reached the same conclusion as Roy, thus solidifying the situation.
Some time has elapsed since this situation came about, during which time the Millennium idea has been shelved, due to the complications involved in putting the group together. And Curt has been taking in other musical inspiration—the Philly sound and other soul configurations. In August, Curt headed back to L.A., awaiting news on the contract, and anxious to get back in the studio. Gary too had got in touch, and the duo are ready to try for a hit single, the aim being to hit at a synthesis of that soul-disco feel.
Curt: “At this point all I can hope is that the contract comes through with Columbia; it’s been so many months of waiting that I can’t believe it. I just hate it. I wish Dan was the head of A&R here. If it doesn’t happen or whatever, maybe I’ll make a mad appeal to bring me over to England or something. Maybe I’ll have to come over to England to do it yet.
“Although I must admit that the economic chaos, fuel shortages, lack of heat in the winter, and all those weird strikes and everything kind of scare me. And not knowing any of the musicians there, or any of the people, kind of scares me too. Taking your whole scene and transplanting it somewhere else, is kind of scary. But at the same time, maybe the whole change, being in a market that was responsive to your efforts would pull me clear. I’ve really been turned off by the whole scene that I’ve been going through here. I don’t know, I’d like to be recognised a little bit I guess. I guess everybody would you know. I just feel like it’s a waste of time, and I want to have time to enjoy my life, you know—experience things.
“That was provided a lot in Seattle. Seattle was really neat for my head, it turned me on to that whole different direction in music. I just hope that I absorb the discotheque feelings, because I really like it. Who knows what it’ll come out like. I think my only concern is whether someone wants to buy it!”
There you have some of Curt’s desires and anxieties, but fear not, because now one hears that things are beginning to take a more encouraging shape across the range. New management and all that sort of thing.
This brings us up to date with the activities of Curt Boetcher.
For Curt’s next waxings we may expect some tunes from the pen of David Batteaux, writer of El Chicano’s big hit last year, “Tell Her She’s Lovely” (and with his brother Robin Batteaux, and former members of some obscure American groups, Apaloose, and Compton & Batteaux). It looks good, Curt’s unique voice in with that black sound, and Gary too back on the scene.
*Curt’s last production credit was on the Andy Goldmark album (Warner Bros BS 2703). It bears all the credits one may expect, produced by Gary Usher, plus Dean Torrence as the Art Director. Plus strong session people like Larry Knechtel, Jim Keltner. And that appears to be the contribution Curt makes. The album, despite all this going for it, fails to contain any of the magic usually associated with these people. Nice moments, but something is missing. The record was issued in March of ‘73.
If you think that there are quite a lot of production credits already listed, well cast an eye on some more that have come to light since the main portion of this epic was completed:
“Pretty Girls and Rolling Stones” (Epic 5-9673)
“June Bride Baby” (Epic 5-9806)
Jonathan Moore (single)
GoldBriars (single) “London Bridge” / “I Didn’t Ever Know” (produced by Boetcher who wrote ‘b’ side)
Karen Karsh (single) “Musty Dusty” (Dunhill 4151) (Curt Boettcher song)
Plastic People (single) “It’s Not Right” (Kapp 789) (produced by Boettcher for Bell & Our Productions)
The New Life (single) “Canterbury Road” (Epic 10538) (written by L. Mallory/C. Boettcher/M. Fennelly/L. Christie)
Plastic People (single) “Hide” (Kapp 823) (produced by Boettcher/co-written M. Fennelly)
Something Young: “Oh, Don’t Come Crying Back to Me” / “The Words I’m Seeking” (Fontana F 1556) (lead vocals—Curt with Ruthann Friedman—produced by Curt for Our Productions)
Moses Lake: “Oobleck” (Together 113)
Sandy Salisbury: “Come Softly” (Together 125)
Sandy Salisbury: “On and On She Goes” (Together 139)
(These last three were pretty certain to have been produced by the terrific trio Curt-Keith-Gary.)
It seems the reason behind the gaps between each single on Together is due to the fact that other labels distributed by Transcontinental used the same numbering system.
And, of course, there could be some more things lurking in the man’s past...
Special thanks to John Tobler (for his support and loan of the Together albums), Pete Frame, Dan Loggins, Daryl Wolf, and, of course, Curt for his assistance.
© Ray McCarthy and used with permission.
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