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
Year:
 1967

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.

 

 

 

 

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