Blues Magoos, The


Band members               Related acts

  line up 1 (1964-65) (as The Trenchcoats)

- Ronnie Gilbert -- bass

- John Finnegan -- drums, percussion

- Dennis LePore -- lead guitar

- Ralph Scala  -- keyboards, vocals

- Emil Perry Thielhelm (aka Peppy Castro) -- vocals, lead guitar

 

  line up 2 (1966-69) (as The Blues Magoos)

NEW- Geoff Danking -- drums (replaced John Finnegan)

- Ronnie Gilbert -- bass

NEW - Mike Esposito -- lead guitar

- Ralph Scala  -- keyboards, vocals

- Emil Perry Thielhelm (aka Peppy Castro) -- vocals, lead guitar

 

  line up 3 (1969-70)

NEW - Richie Dickon -- drums, percussion (replaced Geoff Danking)

NEW - Roger Eaton -- bass (replaced Ronnie Gilbert)

NEW - Eric Justin Kas -- vocals, keyboards, harmonica

NEW - John Liello -- vibes, percussion

- Emil Perry Thielhelm (aka Peppy Castro) -- vocals, lead guitar

 

  line up 4 (1970-72)

- Richie Dickon -- drums, percussion

NEW - Alfred 'Pee Wee' Ellis -- sax, percussion

- Eric Justin Kas -- vocals, keyboards, harmonica

- John Liello -- vibes, percussion

NEW - Cooker LoPresti -- bass (replaced Roger Eaton)

NEW - Jim Payne -- drums, percussion (replaced  Geoff Danking)

- Emil Perry Thielhelm (aka Peppy Castro) -- vocals, lead guitar

NEW - Daddy Ya Ya - tambourine

 

 

 

 

- American Flyer (Eric Kaz)

- Angel (Peppy Castro)

- Balance (Peppy Castro)

- Barnaby Bye (Peppy Castro)

- Bear (Eric Kaz)

- The Dependables (Ralph Scala)

- Eric Kaz (solo efforts)

- Marc Black & Funky Sex Gods

- The Millennium (Ralph Scala)

- The Trenchcoats

- Wiggy Bits (Peppy Castro)

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Gulf Coast Bound

Company: ABC

Catalog: ABCS-710
Year: 1970

Country/State: Bronx, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6083

Price: $20.00

 

Given guitarist Emil Perry Thielhelm was still a member of the band (the only original holdover at this point), I guess this outfit had every right to bill themselves as The Blues Magoos.  That said, like the predecessor set (1969's "Never Going Back To Georgia"), anyone expecting to hear a set of garage and psych-influenced numbers was going to be in for a rude awakening when they slapped 1970's "Gulf Coast Bound" on their turntable.

 

Working with original Blues Magoos producer Bob Wyld, these six tracks featured most of the line up found on the first ABC album.  Added to the lineup this time out were sax player Alfred Ellis and bassist Cooker LoPrestit replacing Roger Eaton and second drummer Jim Payne.  As a result the collection featured the same general sound as the earlier LP, leading to speculation at least some of these tracks were recorded during the earlier sessions and left off that album because they were longer and less 'commercial'.  

 

Regardless of their history, I've always been a big Blues Magoos fan, but their final two albums have always reminded me of the way The Rascals got away from their creative strengths.  Like that other band, this collection found Thielhelm and company throwing their artistic careers at the feet of a strange mixture of jazz and soul influences.  With three percussionists in the mix, tracks like 'Slow Down Sundown', 'Can't Get Enough of You', and the instrumental 'Magoos Blues''' were simply buried in layers of Latin-flavored percussion and soul-jazz ramblings leading much of the collection to suffer from dreaded 'sounds-the-same disease'.   The combination of Latin percussion and pseudo-jazzy moves (flatulent horns and aimless vibes), may have sounded good on paper, but I dare anyone to try sitting through the 12 minute 'Can't Get Enough of You'.   Simply horrible ...   Adding to their problems, neither Kas (shown as Kaz on the writing credits), nor Theilhelm had a particularly good voice.  They may have sounded okay in a live setting, but in the studio the results proved harsh and irritating to the point where the instrumental breaks provided some of the album highlights.

 

- Propelled by Alfred Ellis on sax, the title track found the band taking a stab at a blues number.  In the positive column, this was the album's shortest and most focused performance.  In the negative column, the song was a mess.  Sporting a forgettable melody, crappy vocals, and an overabundance of mindless Latin percussion, Ellis' endless sax solo just made things worse.  rating: * stars

- 'Slow Down Sundown' could have actually been a pretty good performance.  The song had kind of a nifty adult contemporary groove, but the harsh, strained lead vocal, the jazzy touches (discordance sax solos (apparently meant to sound like jungle animals), vibes and heavy percussion) ultimately killed it.  Okay, the fart sound at the end of the song always makes me smile ...   rating: ** stars

- And then there was the 12 plus minute epic 'Can't Get Enough of You'.  The song actually started out sounding pretty good - nice, funky groove and some tasty Thielman fuzz guitar ...  and then things turned horribly wrong.  Hideous group vocals (I think Kaz had the lead on this one), a meandering melody, and endless and pointless solos.  Imagine a crappy song out of the Lee Oskar and War catalog and you'll know what this one sounded like.   rating: ** stars

- Penned by newcomer Ellis, the instrumental 'Magoo's Blues' showcased an okay adult contemporary jazz vibe (think about mid-1990s elevator music and you'll get a feel for this one).  Technically it was quite impressive with lots of space for individual solos, but it was also sort of soulless.     rating: ** stars

- 'Tonight the Sky's About To Cry' was a bland, vocally painful, and instantly forgettable ballad.     rating: * star

- The lone group composition, the instrumental 'Sea Breeze Express' was best describe as a meandering piece of jazz-rock fusion.  Their are some folks that go bonkers for this kind of free form stuff, but to my ears it's basically noise.     rating: * star

 

The album was also tapped for a single (their last 45):

 

- 1970's 'Gulf Coast Bound' b/w 'Sea Breeze Express' (ABC catalog 11238)

 

Sporting one of the year's ugliest covers (blame designer Ron Lieberman) certainly didn't help sales.  All told, a sad footnote to their recording legacy.

 

"Gulf Coast Bound" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Gulf Coast Bound   (Eric Kaz - Emil Thielhelm) - 3:51

2.) Slow Down Sundown   (Eric Kaz - J. Andreolli -  Emil Thielhelm) - 6:09

3.) Can't Get Enough of You   (Eric Kaz) - 12:21

 

(side 2)
1.) Magoo's Blues (instrumental)   (Alfred Ellis) - 7:54

2.) Tonight the Sky's About To Cry   (Eric Kaz - J. Andreolli) - 5:14

3.) Sea Breeze Express (instrumental)   (Eric Kaz - J. Andreolli -  Emil Thielhelm - Alfred Ellis - Richie Dickon - Jim Payne - John Liello - J. LoPresti - 4:13

 

 

For anyone interested, The Blues Magoos are still active and have a web presence at:

 

http://www.bluesmagoos.net/

 

 

One of the interesting benefits of having the BadCatRecords website is getting to hear from many of the people I write about.  Some aren't too happy with my opinions, but the majority are pretty cool about it.  Witness this email:

 

 

While searching google to get in touch with John Liello whom I've lost touch with I came across your recent "Gulf Coast Bound" review. So, I figured I'd give you the Paul Harvey rest of the story. After the Magoos broke up I decided at the ripe old age of 19 that I wanted to explore and be the first artist to do Latin rock. I had the concept and was starting to rehearse with the band in that direction. I knew I would be starting from scratch and that it wasn't going to be easy. To my surprise, the Magoos managers after seeing the band approached me and said that they owned the name Blues Magoos and had signed the name to ABC and that I was a main focus or the original group and they wanted me to continue and sign on. At first I thought that it was stupid because this band was exploring Latin rock. My dad was born in Bogota, Columbia but died when I was 5 months old so I wanted to do something that connected me to my heritage. I was born Emilio Castro but was later adopted by my step dad Thielhelm. Peppy became a nick name when I started playing music. So having wrestled with the thought that it would take me a very long time to establish a new band I decided to take the deal so I could continue to work at get material out and be the first to have a Latin rock LP out in the market place. 

However we plan and God laughs. When the record was ready for release the other Magoos tied it up in court for nine months and within that time Santana released their first record and I missed out [on the Latin rock boom]. All water under the bridge now as I've had a wonderful life making music and continue to do so. I was too young to know better and didn't enjoy being controlled by my Magoo managers and "Gulf Coast Bound" was the final nail in the coffin. Happily, The Magoos have a new record in the can with Ralph Scala and Geoff Daking and myself re-united in the original sense and we'll be going out and performing as well. So all is not lost. 

=
All the best. LOL 
Peppy Castro 

 

P.S.  Your review in hind sight is just about right. However it was still a great experience working Pee Wee Ellis and the others. Just another day to get it right. Peace. 

 

 

 

 

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