The Bagatelle

Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1967)

- David Bynoe -- bass

- Bob Degan -- keyboards

- Mark Gould -- trumpet

- Fred Griffeth -- vocals

- Lee Mason -- drums

- Marshall O'Connell -- guitar

- Steve Shrell -- sax, flue

- David "Redtop" Thomas -- vocals

- Rodney Young -- vocals


  line up 1 (1967-68)

NEW - Willie "Loco" Alexander -- vocals, keyboards, percussion

  (replaced Bob Degan)

- David Bynoe -- bass

- Mark Gould -- trumpet

- Fred Griffeth -- vocals

- Lee Mason -- drums

- Marshall O'Connell -- guitar

- Steve Shrell -- sax, flue

- David "Redtop" Thomas -- vocals

- Rodney Young -- vocals




- Willie Alexander (solo efforts)

- Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band

- Willie Alexander and the Confessions

- Willie Alexander and the Jackals

- Country (Tom Snow)

- Fondiler & Snow (Tom Snow)

- The International Submarine Band (Tom Snow)

- Lost (Willie Alexander and Lee Mason)

- The New York Trumpet Ensemble (Mark Gould)

- Tom Snow (solo efforts)

- The Sperm Bank Babies (Willie Alexander)

- The Velvet Underground (Willie Alexander)




Genre: pop

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  11pm Saturday

Company: ABC

Catalog: ABCS-646

Year: 1968

Country/State: Boston, Massachusetts

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $30,00

Cost: $59.55


Singer/keyboardist Willie Alexander and drummer Lee Mason had previously been members of the Boston-based Lost.  When The Lost collapsed Mason formed the racially integrated, nine piece outfit The Bagatelle.  Within a matter of months, Alexander joined The Bagatelle, replacing keyboard player Bob Degan.


The band attracted some local attention playing Boston area clubs (sometimes accompanied by fire eaters) and serving as an opening act for a variety of national touring acts.  



Signed by ABC, the band made their label debut with:


- 1968's 'Such a Fuss About Sunday b/w 'What Can I Do' (ABC catalog number 45-11063)








A minor local hit, the single's success led ABC to finance a supporting album.  Produced by Tom Wilson, "11pm Saturday" offered up an interesting, if unoriginal collection of soul-rock.  Musically the album featured a standard mix of originals and popular covers (largely geared towards popular soul hits).  Sporting four quality singers in the form of Alexander, Fred Griffeth, David "Redtop" Thomas and Rodney Young the sound bounced around between conventional soul covers ('Soul Man') to Association-styled harmony rich pop (the earlier single and 'Hey You').  The liner notes didn't provide much information, but to my ears it sounded as if producer Wilson had decided to capture the band's live show.  Frankly I don't know if these were in-concert performances, live in the studio takes, or the production work was simply poor.  Given the vocals frequently sounded muddy, I'd guess it was a live set.  The extended closing medley was obviously live.  Highlights included Alexander's remake of The Lost's 'Everybody Knows' and the stunning a capella 'Every Night' which opened side two.  These guys were clearly talented, but ultimately there were too many pedestrian covers and the absence of a distinctive sound kept the collection from making a long term impression.   


"11:00 P.M. Sunday" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Soul Man   (Isaac Hayes - David Porter) - 4:08   rating: * star

The opening sounded like something recorded for an adventure film soundtrack. You had to wait almost two minutes for the classic melody to untangle itself from the heavy orchestration.  And when it did, you were left to wonder what was the point?  No idea why you would want to listen to this one when the Sam & Dave original was at your fingertips.  Maybe I'm being snarky, but the singer sounded like he's swallowed the mike.  

2.) Got To Get You Into My Life (Paul McCartney - John Lennon) - 1:52   rating: ** stars

Nice that they covered one of my favorite Beatles tunes, but the shouted "group" vocals and the hackneyed backing - strings, blaring horns, etc. added nothing to the original.  Thankfully the song clocked in at under two minutes.  

3.) Shake   (Sam Cooke) - 2:06   rating: *** stars

Sam Cooke's one of those classic songs that every band seems to feel a need to include in their live repertoire.  About the nicest thing I can say about this version is it was competent.  

4.) Mashed Potatoes   (Dessie Rozier) - 3:53   rating: *** stars

With so many classic covers of James Brown's 'Mashed Potatoes' this was another track where you were left to wonder what was the point.  Admittedly Mark Gould's trumpet solo was impressive,  Extra star for the solo.  

5.) Such a Fuss About Sunday   (Fred Griffeth - Rodney Young - David Thomas - Tom Snow) - 2:56  rating: **** stars

Perhaps because it was an original composition, the band sounded far more energetic and interested in the horn-rocker 'Such a Fuss About Sunday.'  Musically the tune served as a mash-up of soul, horn rock and Latin rock influences.  Easily the album's standout performance.

6.) Hey You - 3:16   rating: ** stars

Opening with a Steve Shrell flute, solo you wondered if someone had slapped on a Herbie Mann album by mistake.  It didn't get much better when The Association styled arrangement and vocalist kicked in.  

7.) I'm Losing You   (Norman Whifield - Cornelius Grant - Eddie Holland) - 2:20  rating: ** stars

Lame cover of the Motown classic ...  The singers sounded like the were amped up on speed - the whole song was too fast.  Pull out The Temptations version, or even Rare Earth's cover.  

8.) Back On the Farm  - 3:45  rating: ** stars

Well I liked David Bynoe's opening bass, but from there 'Back On the Farm' just went south.


(side 1)

1.) Every Night - 3:55  rating: ** stars

Side two opened with an unexpected a cappella performance.  'Every Night' was pretty showcasing the band's considerable vocal talents, but the '50s doo wop feel just sounded old and out of place..

2.) Everybody Knows - 2:25   rating: **** stars

Alexander originally recorded 'Everybody Knows' with The Lost.  He subsequently recorded it a third time with Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band.  While he may not have had the best voice in the band, I've always found him to be the most enjoyable of the group.  With Alexander's dark, ominous delivery, this was also one of the best songs on the album, though it would have been even better without producer Wilson's overwhelming orchestration and the quick fade.  

3.) I've Been Trying  (Curtis Mayfield) - 3:48  rating: *** stars

Unlike many of their soul covers, they actually turned in a nice take on the Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions ballad.  Admittedly it didn't come close to the original, but who was going to match the original?

4.) I Can't Stand It - 4:12  rating: *** stars

The intro certainly sounded like a live performance with the rest of 'I Can't Stand It' recalling the jazz-soul moves of groups like The Young Holt Trio.  

5.) medley - 10:05  rating: ** stars

Their extended medley was clearly intended as an in-concert highlight and the audience seemed appreciative.  A mixture of soul, pop and rock snippets, the doo-wop numbers didn't do much for me, though I suspect after a couple of cold beers I would have been more impressive.  

    i.) I Feel Good

    ii.) Getting Ready

    iii.) Please Please Me

    iv.) Gloria

    v.) One Summer Night

    vi.) Crying In the Chapel

    vii.) In the Still of the Night

    viii.) I Only Have Eyes for You

    viiii.) For Your Love