American Gypsy


Band members               Related acts

- Steve Clisby -- vocals, keyboards, alto sax (1972-82)

- Omar Dupree -- vocals (1978-79)

- Michael Hamane -- guitar, backing vocals (1972-)

- Dale Harrel Jr. -- guitar, vocals (1972-)

- Richard James -- drums, percussion (1972-77)

- Lorezo Mills -- percussion, backing vocals (-80)

- Lisa Schulte -- lead vocals (replaced Omar Dupree and

  Jetty Weels) (1979-80)

- Joe Skeete -- bass, synthesizers (1972-82)

- Elout Smit - drums, percussion (replaced Richard James)

  (1977-78)

- Jetty Weels -- vocals (1978-79) 

- Dennis Whitbread -- drums, percussion (-82)

- Steve Yellick -- keyboards (-82)

 

 

 

- Cash On Delivery (Michael Manane)

- Steve Clisby Band

- DeIrose (Elout Smit)

- Houseband (Lisa Schulte)

- Max 'n Specs ()

- The Mosam Skiffle Band (Michael Hamane)

- Navel (Lisa Schulte)

- Rockaway Boulevard (Omar Dupree - Jetty Weels)

- Sacha and Paul (Jetty Weels)

- Scene (Dennis Whitbread)

- Streetlight (Elout Smit)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  American Gypsy

Company: Chess

Catalog: CH-60034

Year: 1975

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: cut top right corner; still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5323

Price: $50.00

 

This is a tough one to categorize.  Originally I was going to label it funk, but that's not a true reflection of the band.  Similarly their not pop, rock, soul, progressive.  Maybe I should start a 'multi-genre' category ?  Anyhow, it also took me awhile to warm up to this LP, but having given it a chance it's now a subtle pleasure.   

 

The band's actually got an interesting, if somewhat torturous history.  Formed in the early-1960s, over the next decade the group went through a series of name, personnel and genre changes, including Blue Morning, Orpheus, and The Pasadena Ghetto Orchestra (love that last name).  They managed to pay their bills as sessions players, supporting a wide array of acts ranging from The Byrds to Barry White.

 

 

Frustrated with their inability to break on their own, in 1972 the group (with a line up consisting of singer Steve Clisby, guitarists Michael Hamane and Dale Harrel Jr., drummer Richard James, percussionist Lorezo Mills, and bassist Joe Skeete), decided to abandon the US music scene and take a stab at success in Europe.  Avoiding the UK they opted to take up residence in Limburg, Holland where they caught the attention of manager/producers Piet Souer and Hans van Hemert who proved instrumental in getting them signed to Philips (Ariola signing them to a German distribution agreement).

 

Released in 1974, the band debuted with the single 'Angel Eyes' b/w 'Let Your Life Be Led By Love' (Philips catalog number 6012435).  A mix of Sly Stoned-psych and disco stomper the single proved a surprise hit.  As was standard marketing procedure, Philips rushed the band into the studio to record a supporting LP - the cleverly-titled "Angel Eyes".  Picking up on the band's success, Chess jumped in signing on as the band's US distributor.  Who knows why, but for the domestic market Chess elected to slap an alternative cover and title on the set.  

 

In case anyone's interested, here's a picture of the original Dutch pressing.  It's actually a more interesting cover than the conventional group photo Chess slapped on the US release.

 

 

"American Gypsy" - Philips - 6410066

Co-produced by Souer and  van Hemert, their 1975 album debut "American Gypsy" was a diverse and somewhat enigmatic enterprise.  With most of the band and producers Souer and van Hemert contributing material, the album  bounced all over the musical spectrum.  As lead singer Clisby had a chameleon-like voice capable of mimicking everyone from classic love man crooner ('10,000 Miles') to whacked out Sly Stone ('Lady Eleanor').  The latter had to be the strangest cover of a Lindisfarne song you'll ever hear and was actually a Dutch hit.  The diversity factor may have been unsettling but made for album that was also a lot of fun to play 'spot-the-influence' with.  The lead off rocker 'Inside Out' recalled a blend of Sly Stone funk and Barrett Whitfield produced psychedelic-era Temptations.  Written by van Hemert 'Ooh Why Not' sounded like first-rate Brit pop - imagine a Chapman-Chinn production with Beach Boys harmonies attached.  'Golden Ring' was conventional old school soul, before breaking into a jazzy scat propelled ending.  There was even a pretty cool synthesizer-driven progressive instrumental - the closer 'Tribute To American Gypsy' !  Not the year's most original offering, but fun through and through.  For the US market Chess also tapped the LP for a single in the form of 'Angel Eyes' b/w '10,000 Miles' (Chess catalog number CH-2170).  Both the single and the parent LP went nowhere effectively spelling the end to their US recording career.  

 

"American Gypsy" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Inside Out   (Lorenzo Mills - Joe Skeete - Steve Douglas)  5:57

2.) 10,000 Miles   (Joe Skeete - Lorenzo Mills) - 4:03

3.) Ooh Why Not   (Hans van Hemert) - 4:06

4.) Golden Ring   (Steve Douglas -- Joe Skeete) - 4:22

5.) Lady Eleanor   (A. Hill) - 3:58

 

(side 2)
1.) Angel Eyes   (Pier Souer) - 3:45

2.) While Its Cold Outside   (Hans van Hemert - Piet Souer) - 4:28

3.) Stuck On You   (Piet Souer) - 2:56

4.) Let Your Life Lead By Love   (Hans van Hermet) - 3:02

5.) Tribute To American Gypsy (instrumental)   (Hans van Hemert - Piet Souer) - 3:18

 

Enduring a stream of personnel changes the band remained popular through Europe, releasing a string of singles over the next eight years.

 

 

 

- 1974's 'Lady Eleanor' b/w 'While It's Cold Outside" (Philips catalog 
  number 6012463)
- 1975's 'Central Station' b/w 'Oh Why Not' (Philips catalog number 6012510)
- 1977's 'Yoyo' b/w 'Yoyo Part 2' (Negram catalog number 5C 006-25780)
- 1977's 'Yoyo' b/w 'Yoyo Part 2' ( Negram catalog number 5C 052-25780) 
  12" single former
- 1978's 'Waterboy' b/w 'Funkwar' (Negram catalog number 5C 006-26053)
- 1979's 'I'm O.K, You're O.K.' b/w 'I'm O.K., You're O.K.' (Part 2) (Philips 
   catalog number 6012921)
- 1979s 'I'm O.K, You're O.K.' b/w 'I'm O.K., You're O.K.' (Part 2) (Philips 
   catalog number 9198390) 12" single format
 
I've never heard it, but there's also a 1981 LP "Love Is a Hazard" (Killroy catalog 
number KIL 21028 KL) and a single of the album ' No Hang ups' b/w 'Love 
Is A Hazard' (Killroy catalog KR 3594)
 

 

Several of the members remain active in music.  Clisby has his own band and a myspace site at:

 

http://www.myspace.com/steveclisby

 

 

 

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