Banchee


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-71)

- Peter Alongi (RIP 199?) -- vocals, lead guitar  
- Victor Digilio -- drums, percussion  
- Jose ('Joey') Miguel deJesus -- vocals, rhythm guitar   
- Michael Marino -- vocals, bass  

  

  line up 2 (1971)

- Peter Alongi (RIP 199?) -- vocals, lead guitar 
- Victor Digilio -- drums, percussion  
- Jose ('Joey') Miguel deJesus -- vocals, rhythm guitar  
- Michael Marino -- vocals, bass  

NEW - Fernando Luis Roman -- percussion, vocals  
 


 

 

- Peepl (Peter Alongi and Jose Miguel deJesus)

- The Protons (Jose Miguel deJesus)

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Banchee

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 8240

Year: 1969

Country/State: New Jersey

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out notch in spine; lyric insert; original inner sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5108

Price: SOLD $60.00

 

Can't say I know a great deal about this outfit.  I believe they were originally from Long Island, New Jersey.  That was reiterated in an email I got from an ex-wife of one of the members who was kind enough to drop me an email having stumbled across my brief reviews.  Wish I'd kept the email, but I believe it might have been from the late Peter Alongi's former wife.  

 

 

Signed by Atlantic, their 1969 debut "Banchee" teamed the quartet (former Peepl singer/guitarist Peter Alongi, drummer Victor Digilio, rhythm guitarist Jose Miguel deJesus, and bassist Michael Marino) with producers Warren Schatz and Stephen Schlaks.  Like much late-1960s product the debut displayed some psych influences (the leadoff, mid tempo number 'The Night Is Calling' has a distinctively trippy feel to it), but the predominant sound was heavy, guitar-powered rock.  With all four members contributing material, original numbers such as 'Beautifully Day' (sic), the fuzz guitar-propelled 'Evolmia', 'I Just Don't Know' and the extended 'Tom's Island' offered up a series of high energy guitar powered rockers that were both tuneful and structural interesting. That said, the album was surprisingly diverse. 'Train of Life' sounding like a post-Monkees Mike Nesmith after a week of heavy speed usage, 'Hands of a Clock' had a pseudo-jazzy feel, while the Latin-tinged 'As Me Thinks' recalled early-Santana. Overlooking DiGillo's pompous back cover liner notes, it's a surprisingly enjoyable and not particularly difficult to find debut ... (Original copies include a separate lyric insert.)

 

There's also a single off of the LP: 1970's  'I Just Don't Know' b/w 'Train Of Life' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2708) 

 

"Banchee" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) The Night Is Calling   (Peter Alongi) - 3:30
2.) Train of Life   (Michael Marino) - 3:21
3.) As Me Thinks   (Jose Miguel DeJesus) - 3:11
4.) Follow a Dream   (Jose Miguel DeJesus) - 4:28
5.) Beautifully Day   (Peter Alongi) - 5:10

 

(side 2)
1.) Evolmia   (Jose Miguel DeJesus - Victor DiGillo) - 3:24
2.) I Just Don't Know   (Peter Alongi) - 3:17
3.) Hands of a Clock   (Michael Marino) - 4:14
4.) Tom's Island   (Peter Alongi) - 8:49

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Thinkin'

Company: Polydor

Catalog: 24 4406

Year: 1971

Country/State: New Jersey

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: promo sticker on cover, minor ring wear; white label promo copy

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5109

Price: $125.00

 

Released two years after their debut, 1971's "Thinkin'" found Banchee signed to Polydor.  It also found the group expanded to a five piece with the addition of singer/percussionist Fernando Roman (who happened to be Jose Miguel deJesus' cousin).  With the band co-producing with an assist from Dave Palmer and Ralph Moss (Jimi Hendrix manager Michael Jeffrey credited as executive producer), the sophomore set found the band aiming for an even tougher rock sound.  Unlike the debut which was a largely democratic project with everyone contributing to the writing chores, this time around singer/rhythm guitarist Jose Miguel deJesus was responsible for the majority of the material (lead guitarist Peter Alongi contributing two tracks).  Kicked along by Alomgi's squealing lead guitar (this is one of those great headphone LPs), some understated Latin percussion, and their "group" lead vocals, songs such as the blazing opener 'John Doe', 'Willya' and the title track made for hard rock that was simultaneously tuneful and commercial.  At least to my ears the results recalled Santana at their most rocking, or perhaps Manassas-era Stephen Stills. While it wasn't particularly original, or groundbreaking, this was one of those rare albums where there simply wasn't a bad song on the entire set.  No, it wasn't perfect, but it beat the crap out of scores of better known and selling competitors.   Curiously this is the album that seems to attract critical attention (it's listed in one of the Hans Pokora reference books), though I find the debut just as entertaining.  

 

"Thinkin'" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) John Doe   (Jose Miguel DeJesus) - 4:20

Opening up with a great guitar riff and some uplifting early-'70s lyrics (ah, the age of peace and brotherhood), 'John Doe' was catchier than anything on the debut album.  With a some nice Latin percussion (courtesy of Roman), a very catchy refrain, and one of Peter Alongi's best guitar solos, this one has always reminded me of something Stephen Still and Manassas might have recorded.  Shame it faded out just as Alongi was starting to cook.  Very nice and hard to believe it wasn't tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

2.) Willya   (Jose Miguel DeJesus) - 3:30

While it lacked a melody as strong as the opener, 'Willya' was actually a tougher rock song which wasn't without its own charms.  Yeah, the group-sing vocals didn't do a great deal for me this time out, but the song actually generated quite a bit of energy and once again Alongi's performance was sterling.   rating: **** stars

3.) 3/4 Song  (Peter Alongi) - 3:20

One of two Peter Alongi compositions, '3/4 Song' found the band sticking their collective toes into kind of a jazz-rock fusion bin.  The song wasn't bad (easily as good as the stuff Jeff Beck would churn out a couple of years later), but at least to my ears it didn't come close to their more conventional rock moves.   rating: *** stars

4.) Thinkin'   (Jose Miguel DeJesus) - 4:05

The title track found the band moving back to straight ahead rock with some nice vocal harmonies (again imagine Manassas doing a hard rock song) and what may have been Alongi's best guitar solo.  The only downside to this one was ending where the song sort of degenerated into a needless jam before just falling apart.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Searcher's Life   (Peter Alongi) - 3:11

Alongi's second composition, 'Searcher's Life' was the album's most overly commercial track.  Built on an incideously catchy guitar riff and showcasing some of de Jesus brightest vocals, it was easy to see why the song was tapped as a single.  Shame Polydor didn't do anything to support the song.   rating: *** stars

2.) Iceberg   (Jose Miguel DeJesus) - 3:48

Opening up as a stark ballad, 'Iceberg' gained momentum and power as it went along.  The song also displayed some nice CSN&Y-styled harmony vocals and another dazzling Alongi solo.   rating: **** stars

3.) Children of the Universe   (Jose Miguel DeJesus) - 3:12

While it wasn't exactly progressive, 'Children of the Universe' showcased the most LP's most experimental arrangement and sound.  With nice counterpart vocals it was quite different from the rest of the album and for some reason surprisingly enjoyable.  Shame it edited down since it really was starting to get interesting.   rating: *** stars 

4.) "38"   (Jose Miguel DeJesus) - 8:58

Starting out as a down and dirty rocker, on "38" the band's secret weapons came in the form of drummer Victor Digilio and percussionist Roman.  The pair provided a great rhythm foundation for Alongi's squealing guitar.  The song's abrupt change in tempo came as unexpected shock, but the sweet backing harmonies (again recalling CSN&Y)  saved the segment and kept your interest until the track returned to its rock base.   Nice way to end the album.   rating: **** stars 

 

I've also seen a a couple of on-line listings for a Polydor single (though I've never laid eyes on a stock copy):

 

- 1971's 'Searcher's Life' b/w 'Three-Quarter Time' (Polydor catalog number PD 14104).

 

Well worth looking for, even if it isn't exactly cheap.

 

 

Curiously, in October, 2007 one of the band members contacted me out of the blue asking for a point of contact at Polydor (interested in getting some royalty payments) and asking for some information on how to go about pursuing bootleggers.  He was apparently aware that both of the Banchee LPs had been reissued on CD by the European Lizard label in 2001 (Lizard catalog number LR 0713-2).  I asked a couple of questions about the band, but didn't get a great deal of information other than a couple of them were living in Puerto Rico and were planning to reissue the LPs themselves.

 

Alongi reportedly died in the mid-1990s, though I've never been able to track down an obituary, or any other information.  Jose Miguel deJesus is apparently still actively engaged in music, having recently released an independent CD as a member of The Protons.

 

 

 

 

 

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