Beans


Band members                          Related acts

- Courtney Colletti - vocals, guitar, bass, percussion

- Paul Levine -- vocals, guitar, harmonica, mandolin, percussion

- Luis Molina -- percussion

- Skip Roberts (RIP 1973)  -- vocals, guitar, harmonica, percussion

 

 

 

- Johnny's Dance Band (Courtney Colletti)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Beans

Company: United Artists / Avalanche

Catalog: AVR-9200
Year: 1972

Country/State: New Jersey

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: cut lower left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6090

Price: $20.00

 

To be honest, Beans was a complete unknown to me (and I still don't know much about them).   I literally bought this one at a yard sale for the cool cover (credit to renown illustrator John Van Hamersveld).

 

I believe they were from the Philadelphia area and from the liner notes I can tell you the band featured singer/guitarists Courtney Colletti, Paul Levine, Skip Roberts, and percussionist Luis Molina.  They were initially signed to the small Avalanche label making their debut with an obscure 1971 single:

 

- 'Bleecker Street Rain' b/w '' (Avalanche catalog number 36011)

 

While the single did nothing commercially, it somehow attracted the attention of United Artists which agreed to distribute a follow-on album.  Co-produced by the band and David Woods, 1972's "Beans"  was full of strumming acoustic guitars, CSN&Y-styled harmonies, and a mixture of sensitive singer/songwriter numbers and more commercial material. With Coletti and Levine responsible for penning most of the material (Robert's contributed two selections), the album had a distinctive acoustic feel, but it wasn't your standard early-1970s folk ...  in fact to my ears this one sounds like something that might have been recorded a good five or ten years later.  Hard to accurately describe, but their sound which included extensive percussion, just had a mid-to-late 1970s vibe (maybe it's simply time for me to adjust the meds ...)  Colletti, Levine, and Roberts shared lead vocal duties throughout the set and while all were accomplished singers, I'd tell you Colletti had the best voice of the three.  For what it was worth, on tracks like 'True True', 'Eyes' and 'Dues (Enough Has Been Made, Enough Has Been Paid)' they displayed some of the prettiest harmony vocals I've ever heard.  

 

back cover photo

 

- 'Spin Around' started out with one of the album's most commercial melodies, but abruptly shifted gears into a slower, less impressive ballad section, but then redeemed itself  returning to the prime melody.   rating: *** stars

- Previously released as a single, 'Bleecker Street Rain' was a pretty ballad discussing the frustrations of cruising the New York night scene,  The song was also interesting for incorporating what sounded like electric sitar in the arrangement.   rating: *** stars

- Levine's 'Saturday Park' was a pretty acoustic ballad, but lacked anything that made it truly memorable.    rating: ** stars

- Robert's lone contribution to the album, 'Susie's Blues' was another pretty ballad, showcasing some tasty acoustic 12 string guitar and the band's beautiful harmony vocals.   rating: *** stars

- 'The Coming of Funny (Linda's Song)' was a strange song sporting what almost sounded like a progressive song structure.  It's a stretch, but imagine Jon Anderson-era Yes deciding they wanted to record a commercial ballad and I imagine it would sound something like this.    rating: ** stars

- 'Honky Tonk Refrigerator' sported a distinctive country feel and was clearly intended to underscore their cuteness factor.  It didn't work.  Rather than being cute, the results were cloying - imagine a crappy Commander Cory song and you'll know what to expect on this one.   rating: * star

- Ever wondered what 10cc would have sounded like had the been American ?  Probably not, but if you ever did, 'True True' should give you the answer.  A bit to clever for it's own good, but this one had some gorgeous group harmonies and one of those beautiful melodies that creeps into your head and won't let go.   rating:  ** stars

- Complete with Flamenco guitar and Molina's percussion, 'Eyes' opened side two with a catchy Latin flavored number.  With a bit of remixing this one would have had commercial potential.   rating:  *** stars

- Colletti certainly had a knack for pretty melodies and the ballad 'Summer Wind' was one of his best numbers, though the lyrics were a bit on the 'moon-in-June' side of the house.   rating:  ** stars

- I'm guessing this must have been something they lifted from their live show where it displayed their versatility, but on record 'An Ode To Big Artie & Or the Standards Gig In General' was a dreadful mock-jazzy  '20s styled number.  Yech.   rating: * star

- 'Drifter' was a rather plodding acoustic ballad that simply never generated much energy.   rating: * star

- The lone Coletti-Levine collaboration, 'Brass Boots' displayed a totally different side of the group - namely a band that could actually rock out.  Not only did it rock out, but the autobiographical (?) storyline about being 'discovered' was funny too boot !!!   rating: *** star

- Well the title was certainly interesting, but 'Dues (Enough Has Been Made, Enough Has Been Paid)' was another Latin-tinged ballad that never kicked into gear.  rating: ** stars

 

"Beans" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Spin Around   (Paul Levine) - 3:18

2.) Bleecker Street Rain   (Courtney Colletti) - 3:30

3.) Saturday Park    (Paul Levine) - 2:40

4.) Susie's Blues   (D. Roberts) - 4:04

5.) The Coming of Funny (Linda's Song)   (Paul Levine) - 2:17

6.) Honky Tonk Refrigerator   (Paul Levine) - 2:00

7.) True True   (Paul Levine) - 2:44

 

(side 2)
1.) Eyes   (Paul Levine) - 2:53

2.) Summer Wind   (Courtney Colletti) - 2:15

3.) An Ode To Big Artie & Or the Standards Gig In General   (Paul Levine) - 3:18

4.) Drifter   (D. Roberts) - 3:35

5.) Brass Boots   (Paul Levine - Courtney Colletti) - 3:04

5.) Dues (Enough Has Been Made, Enough Has Been Paid)   (Paul Levine) - 5:00

 

The single and album seem to have been the band's recording catalog,

 

After the band's breakup Colletti became a member of Johnny's Dance Band.  He's still active in music, living in Pennsylvania and apparently working in the jingle and corporate events world.  He has a small website at:

 

http://www.courtneycolletti.com/Welcome.html

 

 

So thanks to Pete Hunt for some additional information on the band:

 

"I just read your review of the band "Beans".  They were from the New Brunswick New Jersey Area, and all of them attended Rutgers.  They had a growing following in 1972 and were touring.  Unfortunately, Skip Roberts died in a car crash that year, and the band never regrouped.  They were fun to watch...very danceable."

Pete Hunt

January 2010

 

Also got this interesting email from the band's manager:

 

"

My name is John Felizzi.  I was the manager of Beans.  The guys are actually from Northern New Jersey. Paul Levine is from Passaic, Courtney from the Plainfield area, Luis is from Newark and Skip was from the Upper Saddle River area. Skip was killed in an auto accident shortly after the albums release.  All were students at Rutgers University and were friends of Eliot Laurie of "Brandy" fame-he was also a student at Rutgers.  I was introduced to the band by Big Arnie who was a gigging standards musician and worked with Courtney .  Courtney also did studio work in NYC and some Broadway pit work as well.  I was employed by Columbia Records and was able to get Beans a talent night gig at the Fllmore East in 1969.  Played there a number of times.  After doing a demo I shopped it around and was approached  by Stu Greenberg of United Artists.  Marv Griefinger was also hot for the band.  Their live shows were killer. Avalanche got behind the record and we had some regional success in the Northeast and South.  The band went on tour and opened for Bruce, West and Lang after Mountain broke up.  They also opened for Spencer Davis/Andy Way and actually did the southern college tour in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and worked with The Allman Brothers. Also opened for Jerry Lee Lewis in NJ. Tried like crazy to hook up with any agency but was not successful - kept to small venues and colleges until Skips death.  We attempted to replace him with another local musician/friend but it was not the same.  Luis is a New Jersey casino commissioner, Courtney is doing gigs in Philly, land sadly I lost track of Paul.  I remained in the music biz eventually going into clubs/restaurants and then resorts until retiring just recently.  Hiope that answers all of your questions-thanks for a frank and positive review of the album-brought back a lot of memories.
John Felizzi March 2011

 

 

 

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