American Breed

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1962-67) as Gary and the Knight Lites

- Al Ciner -- lead guitar

- Chuck Colbert -- bass, vocals

- Gary Loizzo (RIP 2016) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

 - Jim Michalak -- drums, percussion


  line up 2  (1962-67) as Gary and the Knight Lites

- Al Ciner -- lead guitar

- Chuck Colbert -- bass, vocals

NEW - Lee Graziano -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Jim Michalak)

- Gary Loizzo (RIP 2016) -- vocals, rhythm guitar


  line up 3  (1967) as the Light Nites

- Al Ciner -- lead guitar

- Chuck Colbert -- bass, vocals

- Gary Loizzo (RIP 2016) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Lee Graziano -- drums, percussion


  line up 4  (1967-68) as The American Breed

- Al Ciner -- lead guitar

- Chuck Colbert -- bass, vocals

- Gary Loizzo (RIP 2016) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Lee Graziano -- drums, percussion


  line up 5 (1968-69)

- Al Ciner -- guitar

- Chuck Colbert -- bass, vocals

- Gary Loizzo (RIP 2016) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

NEW - Kevin Murphy -- keyboards

NEW - Andre Fischer -- drums, percussion (replaced Lee Graziano)


  line up 5 (1969) as The Breed

- Al Ciner -- guitar

- Chuck Colbert -- bass, vocals

- Gary Loizzo (RIP 2016) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Kevin Murphy -- keyboards

 - Andre Fischer -- drums, percussion (replaced Lee Graziano)

NEW - Paulette McWilliams -- vocals


  line up 6 (1986) reunion

- Al Ciner -- lead guitar

- Chuck Colbert -- bass, vocals

- Gary Loizzo (RIP 2016) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Lee Graziano -- drums, percussion






- The Bazooka Company (Al Ciner, Chuck Colbert, Gary Loizzo,

  and Lee Graziano)

- Big Sir

- The Breed

- The Circus

- The Daylighters

- Gary and the Knight Lites (Al Ciner, Chuck Colbert, Gary Loizzo,

  and Lee Graziano)

- The Nite Lights (Al Ciner, Chuck Colbert, Gary Loizzo, and 

  Lee Graziano)

- Rufus (Chuck Colbert, Lee Graziano, and Kevin Murphy)

- Smoke (Chuck Colbert, Lee Graziano, Paulette McWilliams, and

  Kevin Murphy)

- Three Dog Night





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The American Breed

Company: Acta

Catalog:  A 38002

Country/State: Cicero, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3340

Price: $25.00

So here's the funny thing about this album ...  Pretty much anyone who's ever listened to top-40 radio has heard 'Bend me, Shape Me', but few people realize this Chicago-based band recorded an album prior to enjoying a massive hit with that song.  


Formed in Circero, Illinois, starting in 1962 they were known as Gary and the Knight Lites (love the name).  The line-up featured  lead guitarist Al Ciner, bassist Chuck Colbert, singer/rhythm guitarist Gary Loizzo, and drummer Lee Graziano .  A rarity with their interracial line-up, between 1962 and 1967 the band recorded a series of six regional singles.  

- 1963's 'I'm Glad She's Mine' b/w 'How Can I Forget Her' (Mike catalog number 1020 A/B)

- 1963's 'Will You Go Steady' b/w 'I Can;t Love You Anymore' (Pr1ma catalog number P-1016)

- 1964's 'Take Me Back' b/w 'If I'm Lonely Tomorrow' (Pr1ma catalog number P-1024)

- 1964's 'Take Me Back' b/w 'If I'm Lonely Tomorrow' (Kedlen catalog number 2002)

- 1965's 'Sweet Little Sixteen' b/w 'Take Me Back' (Seeburg catalog number 3016)

- 1966's 'Big Bad Wolf' b/w 'I Don't Need Your Help' (U.S.A. catalog number 833)

- 1966's 'Lonely Soldier's Pledge' b/w 'So Far Away from Home' (Bell catalog number 643)


1967 saw them signed by Chicago's Dunwich Records and  morph into The Light Nites.   The new nameplate lasted long enough for the band to record a decent 1967 single for Dunwich.  





- 1967's 'One Two Boogaloo' b/w 'Same Old Thing' (Dunwich catalog number DN-149)






Manager/producer Bill Traut brought the band to the attention of Dot Records management, with Kenny Myers signing the band to his newly formed Acta imprint.  Concerned the name was still somewhat dated, Myers suggested a change; the band members coming up with a series of alternatives, ultlimately pulling "The America Breed" out of a hat full of names.


Produced by Traut, the band released a pair ofsingles to less than widespread acclaim:


- 1967's 'I Don't Think You Know Me' b/w 'Give Two Young Lovers a Chance' (Acta catalog number 45-802)

- 1967's 'Step Out of Your Head' b/w 'Same Old Thing' (Acta catalog number 45-804) 3 24 pop


While the singles were modest sellers, they attracted enough attention for Acta to fund a supporting album.  Produced by Traut, "The American Breed" had a typical mid-'60s rushed feel to it.  In addition to included the earlier singles, that "quicky product" feeling was underscored by the track listing's heavy dependence on an unimaginative mixture of popular pop and soul hits.  Of the eleven songs on the album, nine were covers, leaving room for two Chuck Colbert  and Gary Loizzo originals.  That was unfortunate since those two originals ('Same Old Thing' and 'Short Skirts') provided two of the album's highlights.  I'm not trying to be overly harsh since these guys actually turned in decent performances on most of the tracks.  Particularly good were the earlier singles ' I Don't Think You Know Me', the follow-up single 'Step Out of Your Mind', and a fun, energetic cover of Robert Higginbotham's 'High Heeled Sneakers'. Certainly not an album that was going to change the world in any way, but far better than one would have expected for what was essentially musical "product".


By the way, today you have to roll your eyes with respect to the album covert.  Posing the band with a supposed American Indians was of questionable taste in 1967 and  definitely politically incorrect in this day and age.  The four guys dressed in Indian garb looked like they'd been dipped in red dye #2; -check out the blond guy, sitting in the middle of the front row.  


"The American Breed" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Step Out of Your Mind   (Al Gorgoni - Chip Taylor) - 2:30   rating: **** stars

To be honest, I almost like 'Step Out of Your Mind' more than 'Bend Me, Shape Me'.  It's not as over-exposed as their mega hit and there's always been something mildly subversive in the song's MOR-ish counter-culture messaging.   Easy to see why the song was released as a single:

- 1967's 'Step Out of Your Head' b/w 'Same Old Thing' (Acta catalog number 45-804)

2.) Knock On Wood   (Eddie Floyd - Steve Cropper) - 3:35  rating: *** stars

There was nothing wrong with their pro-forma cover of 'Knock On Wood',.  Their arrangement sslowed the tune down a tad, but otherwise remained true to the original.  In turn that raised the question why anyone would bother with this cover when you could hear the Stax original.   

3.) We Gotta Get Outta This Place   (Barry Mann - Cynthia Weil) - 3:23  rating: ** stars

Different song, but same question as above.  With Eric Burdon and The Animals effectively owning this song, why would anyone bother with a cover?  I will admit drummer Lee Graziano turned in one helluva performance on the track.

4.) Same Old Thing   (Chuck Colbert - Gary  Loizzo) - 2:22   rating: **** stars

One of two Colbert-Loizzo originals on the album, given the quality of the blue-eyed soul 'Same Old Thing', you had to wonder why Acta didn't allow the band greater flexibility to record more original material.  The song had previously appeared as the flip side to their Light Nites single ''One Two Boogaloo' and as the flip side to The American Breed 'Step Out of Your Head' 45.

5.) Lipstick Traces   (Naomi Neville) - 2:19  rating: **** stars

In terms of covers, I'll give producer Traut and the band a little bit of admiration for being willing to broaden their net to include this Neville Brothers tune.  Unfortunately they turned it into something that sounded like it was part of a Holiday Inn lounge act performance.


(side 2)

1.) Don't Forget About Me   (Gerry Goffin - Carole King) - 2:35   rating: ** stars

The album's third single was also one of the album's most forgettable covers.  A sappy, over-orchestrated ballad, if you want to hear the best version, check out Dusty Springfield's catalog.

- 1967's 'Don't Forget About Me' b/w 'Short Skirts' (Acta catalog number 45-808) # 107 pop

2.) High Heeled Sneakers  (Robert Higginbotham) - 2:57   rating: **** stars

If I had to pick the album's best cover track it was easily 'High Heeled Sneakers'.   This one wasn't going to make you forget Tommy Tucker's bluesy hit, but unlike some of the more pop oriented covers, the band sounded like they were having fun with this one.

3.) My Girl   (Smokey Robinson - White) - 3:00  rating: **** stars

Hum, their Association-styled cover of this Motown classic was better than I would have expected.  

4.) Short Skirts   (Chuck Colbert - Gary  Loizzo) - 2:25   rating: **** star

The album's second original tune, 'Short Skirts' opened up with some unexpected Al Ciner fuzz guitar.  Admittedly, the sounded like a studio demo, rather than a finished song and it sounded like Ciner had stolen the chord structure from The Beatles' 'Day Tripper'.  On the other hand it was nice to hear the band at least dipping their toes into a heavier, rock sound.  Admittedly the lyrics were far from politically correct.

5.) I Don't Think You Know Me   (Gerry Goffin - Carole King) - 2:30   rating: **** stars

The band's first single, their cover of Goffin and King's 'I Don't Think You Know Me' offered up a nice slice of Byrds-styled folk-rock.  The arrangement wasn't all that different from The Monkees versions (one with Mike Nesmith on lead vocals, the other with Peter Tork), but I'd actually give the nod to this take.  Hard to understand why it wasn't a massive radio hit for the band.

- 1967's 'I Don't Think You Know Me' b/w 'Give Two Young Lovers a Chance' (Acta catalog number 45-802)

6.) Up Tight (Everything's Alright)   (Henry Cosby - Judkins - Sylvia Moy) - 2:38  rating: ** stars

Because the song was so strong, the results were pleasant, and ultimately forgettable.





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet & Green

Company: Acta

Catalog:  A 38006

Country/State: Cicero, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out notch top left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 

Price: $25.00


Today their known as one-hit wonders, but if you poke around The American Breed catalog, there's quite a bit to enjoy.  Obviously you're not going to buy one of their albums expecting a collection of Free styled blues-rock.  On the other hand, if your expectations are in the right place, these guys are easily as enjoyable as many of their mid-'60s competitors. Comparisons to The Association come to mind. 


Released in 1968, the Bill Traut produced "Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet & Green" was their third studio album.  The title gave the impression this was a concept piece and that was underscored by the liner notes that linked the album title to the four season and to the four band members; e.g. Pumpkin = Autumn = Chuck Colbert.; Powder = Winter = Gary Loizzo, etc.  In spite of those marketing moves, if there was an unifying musical theme, it was lost to my ears.  Instead what you got was a decent collection of mid-'60s pop tunes.  Featuring largely outside material, there wasn't anything particularly original across these thirteen tracks. The four "title tracks" were nothing more than brief song snippets with little merit, though virtually all of the other tracks had AM radio potential.  Admittedly several performances ('Welcome, You're In Love' and 'Music To Think By') were overwhelmed by sentimental claptrap.  The other big complaint stemmed from Traut's insistence on cluttering the arrangements with horns.  As exemplified by the bouncy 'I'm Gonna Make You Mine' time after time the horns detracted from strong underlying melodies and performances.    Highlights included the should've-been-a-massive hit 'Cool It (We're Not Alone', the band original 'Take Me If You Want Me' and the singles 'Ready, Willing and Able' and 'Anyway That You Want Me.'


"Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet & Green" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Pumpkin (instrumental)  (Eddie Higgins) - 2:14   rating: ** stars

'Pumpkin' started out as a decent slice of pop, but quickly spun into a throwaway, fragmented sound collage with barrelhouse piano, an American Indian-styled beat, and spoken word segments.

2.) Cool It (We're Not Alone)   (Scott English - Kenny Young) - 2:40   rating: **** stars

If you were looking for a song that captured mid-'60s pop sensibilities, the bubbly, horn-powered 'Cool It (We're Not Alone)' would be a good candidate.  Incideously catchy, this could have easily slotted on an Archies album.  Neither the video, or sound are very good, but YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the song for a live audience: American Breed - Cool It / Keep The Faith (Rare clip) - YouTube

3.) Welcome, You're In Love   (Jerry Riopelle - Murray MacLeon - Stuart Margolin) - 2:40  rating: ** stars

Complete with a forgettable melody, too busy arrangement, and vapid lyrics, 'Welcome, You're In Love' found the group diving too deep into throwaway bubblegum pop.  Thoroughly forgettable,  Pass.

4.) The Right To Cry   (Gerry Goffin - Carole King) - 3:06   rating: **** stars

If you were going to pick cover material, you could do far worse than a Goffin-King track.  With a breezy melody, forlorn lead vocal, and plenty of jangle guitars, 'The Right To Cry' would have made a dandy top-40 staple.  The Association would have approved of the harmony vocals.

4.) Ready, Willing and Able  (Bob Stone) - 2:26   rating: **** stars

'Ready, Willing and Able' upped the rock quotient, but in a highly commercial fashion - imagine a good Tommy James and the Shondells track.  Easy to see why the song was tapped as a single:

- 1968's 'Ready, Willing and Able' b/w 'Take Me If You Want Me' (Acta catalog number 45-284)  YouTube also has a promotional video filmed for the track: American Breed - Ready, Willing and Able (Rare promo) - YouTube

5.) Take Me If You Want Me  (Al Ciner - Chuck Colbert - Lee Graziano - Gary Loizzo) - 2:24   rating: **** stars

The album's first original composition, 'Take Me If You Want Me' demonstrated these guys were capable writers.  Easily as good as most of the outside material presented to them, you were left to wonder why the band's management didn't give them the opportunity to record more original material.

6.) Powder   (Eddie Higgins) - 0:44   rating: *** stars

The second of the four song fragments reflecting the album title, 'Powder' sounded a bit like a bunch of Gregorian monks decided they wanted to form a pop band.  Very short ...

(side 2)

1.) Scarlet   (Eddie Higgins) - 1:07   rating: ** stars

Incidental soundtrack music ... clarinet and piano.

2.) Anyway That You Want Me  (Chip Taylor) - 1:07   rating: *** stars

There are a bunch of takes on this one, including versions by The Liverpool Five, Evie Sands and The Troggs.  Because it's a tougher take, The Liverpool Five version is probably the best of the lot, but this one is sweet and quite commercial.  It was released as the album's second single:

- 1968's 'Anyway That You Want Me' b/w 'Master of My Fate' (ACTA catalog number 45-827)

3.) Master of My Fate   (Larry Weiss) - 2:23   rating: **** stars

I've always been a sucker for faux electric sitar sound made by Coral electric guitars so their cover of Larry Weiss' 'Master of My Fate' captured me from the opening chords.  You weren't going to mistake these guys for The Jefferson Airplane, or a West Coast psych band, but it was nice to see them at least nodding to the genre.

4.) Music To Think By   (Richard Boyell) - 2:20  rating: ** stars

Pop music for grandparents that wanted their grandkids to think they were cool ... 

5.) Train On a One-Track Mind   (Arthur Resnick - Joe Levine) - 2:10   rating: *** stars

'Train On a One-Track Mind' was a good example of the band's strengths and weaknesses.  Their cover of the Resnick-Levine was energetic and commercial, but Bill Traut's busy production and the horn charts gave the song a needless MOR feel.  It wasn't hard to picture these guys appearing on The Merve Griffin show in their bell bottoms and groovy sixties threads.  Totally non-threatening music that made parents and grandparents happy.

6.) I'm Gonna Make You Mine   (Bill Carr - Carl D'erric - Carole Bayer) - 2:15   rating: *** stars

Propelled by more Coral guitar, 'I'm Gonna Make You Mine' was another nice pop tune that would have been even better without the intrusive horns.  

7.) Green   (Eddie Higgins) - 0:47  rating: ** stars

Geez, sounds like a Free Design snippet.