Band members Related acts
- Johnny Arcesi (aka Johnny Arcessi, John Arcesia,
Tony Conti, Don Darcy, Johnny Darcy) (RIP 1993) --
- none known
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: Shadoks / Nine Little Indians
Country/State: Sayre, Pennsylvania
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: # 274 out of a 400 pressing
GEMM catalog ID: 5349
There are certainly some odd stories in the annals of rock and roll, but by any token Johnny Arcesi deserves to be in the 'executive summary'. Even if parts of his story are nothing more than fiction (the LSD links are of dubious merit), and much of the info on the web is outright wrong (he was apparently born in Pennsylvania, not Rhode Island, his album album wasn't released in 1968, more than 50 copies were pressed), it's still a whopper of a tale.
There's a ton of material on the web about Arcesi (pronounced 'R-ce-ce') so I'm just going to hit the biographical highlights ... He was born in Sayre, Pennsylvania in 1917 and as a child decided he wanted to be a singer. After a decade spent performing locally, as a 15 year old he moved to New York City in an effort to break into the big time. In New York he found a day job working for Harvey Mills' Mills Publishing Company. He also began working and recording with a number of big bands including Lud Gluskin and His Orchestra and The Claude Hopkins Orchestra. Boss/mentor Mills suggested Arcesi might consider a more anglicized name leading to a switch to the performing moniker 'Don Darcy'.
Over the next decade he toured nationally and occasionally recorded with a string of big bands and orchestras.
In 1952 he was signed to a recording contract by Capitol at which time he decided to revert to his original name. Over the next seven years he recorded a series of nine singles, enjoying his biggest brush with success as a result of an infamous marketing ploy that claimed Arcesi's voice could send young women into a trace. Attached is a link to a CBS television interview with Arcesi's manager Ed Scoufield and the man himself, including a performance of 'I'm Lost In Your Love':
It's doubtful any of the early 1950s singles will appeal to anyone reading this blurb, but for anyone curious, here's at least part of the discography:
- 1952's ''Wild Honey' b/w Moonlight Brings the Memories' (Capitol catalog number 2206)
- 1952's 'I'm Alone Because I Love You' b/w 'I Promise You' (Capitol catalog number 2270)
- 1952's 'It's Over' b/w 'Lost In Your Love' (Capitol catalog number 2300)
By the mid-1950s Arcesi's recording career was largely over. Turning his attention to the business side of the house, as Tony Conti he began working as a songwriter, producer, talent scout, and record label owner (Orpheus Records). Through the 1960s Arcesi apparently spent most of his time living in Palm Springs, California living in semi-retirement.
For some reason Arcesi decided to return to California and resume recording in the early 1970s. Co-produced by Arcesi and Alexander Furth and credited to 'Arcesia', 1971's "Reachin'" was a major trip. Even in his crooner mode Arcesi was no Frank Sinatra and on this album he was stepping into complete foreign territory - name rock. Saddled with a voice that was flat and had an irritating nasal twang, the man didn't have much range and seemed to have three performance modes - confused, constipated, and pissed off (check out the earlier link to the performance clip if you doubt the description). Those weren't exactly the characteristics most of us look for in a singer, but in this case they only served to underscore the strange 'real person' appeal the album had. Backed by an anonymous but competent rock ensemble, the 11 Arcesi originals (the Nine Little Indians reissue liner notes list him as 'Arcessi') bounced across the musical spectrum, including fascinating stabs at MOR ballads (the title track and 'Summer Love') and some equally engaging stabs at outright psych (the acid tinged 'Soul Wings' and 'Panther Bones'). As wild as the performances were Arcesi's sophomoric lyrics were even better; songs like 'Pictures In My Window', 'Butterfly Mind' and 'Summer Love' guaranteed to make anyone but English lit majors cringe in pain. I do a lot of technical writing and thought I was immune to such overwrought performances. Wrong. Stuff like 'a mechanical doll went from man to man and when she found him his eyes they glowed alone read goodbye and flashed out of nowhere ...' literally had me gasping in pain - c'mon how could anyone survive a couplet like '' ... Truly too strange to accurately describe, about the closest I could come was having you imagine your grandfather fronting the post-Jim Morrison Doors after they'd spent a week on bad dope. Maybe not something most of you'd want to contemplate too long, but for a couple of folks out there, this will be a major pleasure.
Gawd only knows why, but having moved to Hawaii in the mid-1970s, 1979 Arcesi apparently released a single off of the LP 'Reachin'' b/w 'Pictures In My Window' on his own Orpheus/Alephia label.
"Reachin'" track listing:
1.) Pictures In My Window (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 2:31
2.) Soul Wings (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 4:01
3.) White Panther (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 2:31
4.) Leaf (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 3:00
5.) Voice of Love (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 2:34
2.) Summer Love (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 3:14
3.) Mechanical Love (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 1:51
4.) Butterfly Mind (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 2:52
5.) Desiree (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 3:02
6.) Rainy Sunday (Johnny Arcessi - LeJon) - 3:25
Many reviews claim the album's unique sound was inspired by Arcesi's discovery of LSD. While there's no denying the album's unique attributes, the LSD link is apparently nothing more than an urban myth. Housed in a plain white cover reportedly only 300 copies of the album were originally pressed, making originals highly priced collectables (just look at the price of this reissue to get a feel for what an original would set you back.)
Couple of other snippets of information.
After a couple of years in Hawaii Arcesi returned to Palm Springs where he died in April 1983.
Irwin Chusid included a brief Arcesi wrtie-up in his book Songs In the Key of Z.
There's also small Arcesi website at:
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