Caboose


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1967-69) (as Butterscotch Caboose)

- Randy Copeland -- bass

- Wayne Morgan -- drums, percussion

- Patrice Ramsey (aka Pat Karr)-- vocals

- Walter Ramsey -- keyboards, backing vocals

- Lynn Rose -- lead guitar

- Randy Taylor -- lead vocals

 

  line up 2  (1969-70) 

NEW - Tommy Cathey -- bass, backing vocals (replaced Randy Copeland)

NEW- Jackie Cook -- lead guitar (replaced Lynn Rose)

NEW- Gary Johns -- vocals (replaced Randy Taylor)

- Patrice Ramsey (aka Pat Karr) -- vocals

- Walter Ramsey -- keyboards, backing vocals

NEW - Joel Williams -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Wayne Morgan)

 

  line up 3  (1970-71) (as Caboose)

- Tommy Cathey -- bass, backing vocals

- Jackie Cook -- lead guitar 

- Gary Johns -- vocals 

- Patrice Ramsey (aka Pat Karr) -- vocals

- Walter Ramsey -- keyboards, backing vocals

- Joel Williams -- drums, percussion 

 

  line up 4  (1971)

- Tommy Cathey -- bass, backing vocals

- Jackie Cook -- lead guitar 

NEW - David Mayo -- lead vocals (replaced Gary Johns)

- Patrice Ramsey (aka Pat Karr) -- vocals

- Walter Ramsey -- keyboards, backing vocals

- Joel Williams -- drums, percussion 

 

 

 

- Alamo (Tommy Cathey)

- The Breakers (Gary Johns)

- Butterscotch Caboose

- Tommy Cathey (solo efforts)

- D. Beaver (David Beaver)

- DeGarmo and Key (Timmy Cathey)

- Edgewood (David Beaver, David Mayo, and Joel Williams)

- Omaha (Tommy Cathey)

- The Primitives (Walter Ramsey Jr.)

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Caboose

Company: Enterprise

Catalog:  ENS 1015
Year:
 1970

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3312

Price: $40.00

Elvis ...  I'm always amazed at how many people think the Memphis music scene starts and stops with that one name.

 

Originally known as Butterscotch Caboose (what a great '60s-era name), this band formed in 1967.  Keyboardist Walter Ramsey Jr. had been a founding member of The Primitives.  When that entity called it quits (over the dreaded musical direction discussion), Ramsey decided to form a more rock-oriented outfit.  Taking their name from a local high school blackboard, the original line-up featured Ramsey, his sister Pat on vocals, bassist  Randy Copeland, drummer Wayne Morgan, guitarist  Lynn Rose, and Randy Taylor on lead vocals.  Six months of rehearsals saw them get an audition with Chips Moman who helped them sign a contract with Amy Records.   Teamed with singer/songwriter/producer Mark James (aka Francis Rodney Zambon), they released a debut single within a couple of months:

- 1968's 'Melinda' b/w 'Let a Little Sun In' (Amy catalog number A 11-025)

 

With the 45 flopping, Amy moved the group over to its Memphis-based American Group Productions (AGP)  label, releasing two equally obscure singles over the next year:

 

- 1969's 'Could I Borrow Some Time' b/w 'High Places' (AGP catalog number 111) 

- 1969's 'World of Hurt' b/w 'Sundown Sally' (AGP catalog number 117)

 

Increasingly frustrated with their inability to break commercially, by 1969 the band had undergone significant personnel shifts.  Bassist Copeland was replaced by Tommy Cathey.  Guitarist Lynn Rose was replaced by Jackie Cook.  Singer Randy Taylor was replaced by former The Breakers singer Gary Johns.  Finally drummer Wayne Morgan was replaced by Joel Williams.

 

Ending their relationship with Amy/AGP, in 1970 the revamped group recorded a series of demos for Bill Browder and  Larry Rogers.  The demos; in particular the track 'Black Hands, White Cotton' were shopped around to a number of labels with Stax eventually signing the group to its Enterprise subsidiary.

 

Having shortened their name to The Caboose, the group made it's label debut with the single:

- 1970's 'Black Hands, White Cotton' b/w 'In My Hour of Need' (Enterprise catalog number ENA-9015)  # 79 pop

 

The song's uplifted message of racial harmony began to make inroads in radio markets, but Stax's promotional staff was ill equipped to deal with the pop market and in spite of an appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, without marketing support, their initial successes quickly stalled out.

 

With the debut single hitting the lower reaches of the top-100 pop charts, Enterprise went ahead and released a supporting album - 1970's "Caboose".  Produced by Larry Rogers, the album repackaged the earlier single along with a collection of Ramsey-penned original pop and rock tracks. Musically these guys didn't have a particularly distinctive sound.  The opener 'Great Balls of Fire' was a "rocked up" remake of the Jerry Lee Lewis hit.  'You're Still My Only Lover' and 'After the Fair' were overly arranged pop ballads that came awfully close to lounge act terrirtory.  'What Can I Call My Own' found the band delving in to Otis Redding-styled ballad territory.  Better, but still nothing special, 'You're Buying All My Trouble' had a nice jazzy vibe, while the second single 'Recipe' sported a bubblegum--ish pop falbor.  Nothing here was particularly distinctive, the real draw on these tunes coming in the form of John's growling voice. 

 

"Caboose" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Great Balls of Fire  (Jack Hammer - Otis Blackwell) - 2:25   rating: *** stars

Starting an album with a Jerry Lee Lewis remake, no matter how much you tried to "heavy" it up, probably wasn't a great idea.  It certainly gave you a distorted idea as to what to expect from these guys.  Powered by John's voice and a nice Cook guitar solo, call it competent and move on ...

2.) You're Still My Only Lover   (Walter Ramsey Jr.) - 3:35   rating: ** stars

Opening up with some nice Ramsey keyboards, the ballad 'You're Still My Only Lover'  was interesting for featuring Ramsey on lead vocals.  To my ears the tune would have been far better without Bergan White's sappy string arrangement.  For some reason the song was tapped as a single in Germany:

- 1970's 'You're Still My Only Lover' b/w 'Oh, Freedom' (Stax catalog number 2025 022)

3.) You're Buying All My Trouble  (Walter Ramsey Jr. - Gary Johns) - 3:50   rating: **** stars

With a jazzy keyboard arrangement and some cool feedback guitar,  'You're Buying All My Trouble' was one of those tracks that was made by Johns' voice.  

4.) What Can I Call My Own  (Larry Rogers) - 3:44   rating: *** stars

Written by producer Rogers, the Gospel-tinged ballad 'What Can I Call My Own' found Johns and the band trotting out their best Otis Redding impersonation.  Mildly entertaining, but if you really wanted to hear this genre, I suggest you go buy a Redding album.

5.) Black Hands, White Cotton  (C.P. Reeves - David Bell - Ken Bell) - 3:57   rating: *** stars

Anyone who thought Alex Chilton had a deep, growling voice that sounded like a 70 year old blues artist, should check out Gary Jones' chops.  Yeah, the fake audience sounds were simply dumb and while it may just be me being overly sensitive, there was something strange hearing a young group of wanna-be hippies singing a Gospel-tinged song about racial harmony and black empowerment.  Admittedly it took some real fortitude for them to record the song and for Stax to release it as a single, but it certainly made for an odd sound.   YouTube has a clip of the band clearly lip-synching the tune for an appearance on George Klein's Talent Party television show.  Johns seemingly had the look and stage presence of a younger Joe Cocker.  

 

(side 2)

1.) Day After Day   (Walter Ramsey Jr.) - 3:08   rating: *** stars

Complete with Latin-esque percussion, Ramsey's Hammond B3 fills and some nice Cook fuzz guitar, 'Day After Day' was the album's most pop oriented tune.  That's not to say it was particularly memorable.

2.) After the Fair   (Walter Ramsey Jr.) - 2:35   rating: *** stars

With kind of  a Mark Lindsey feel, 'After the Fair' was another pleasant, but anonymous radio-ready top-40-ish ballad.

3.) Recipe   (Walter Ramsey Jr.) - 2:33   rating: **** stars

With an Archies' bubblegum flavored melody and delivery , frankly 'Recipe' would have been a better choice as a single than 'Black Hands, White Cotton'.  Not that it mattered since by the time it was tapped as the album's follow-on single, radio stations had all but forgotten about Caboose'.  

- 1970's 'Recipe' b/w 'What Can I Call My Own' (Enterprise catalog number ENS 9024)

4.) It's All for Me   (Walter Ramsey Jr.) - 3:12   rating: * star

Geez, why'd they decided to delve into Holiday Inn cocktail lounge act territory.  Awful.

5.) A Winter Song   (Walter Ramsey Jr.) - 2:55   rating: ** stars

'A Winter Song' was another lounge act ballad only saved from oblivion by Johns' voice.  Again, far from a great tune, but at least it was something you could sit through without having to get up an move the stylus.

6.) Oh Freedom   (Walter Ramsey Jr.) - 3:00   rating: *** stars

Crafted out the same cloth as 'Black Hands, White Cotton' found the band jumping aboard the Delaney and Bonnie country blues-rock locomotive (get the train reference).  Again, powered by Johns' gritty voice, it made for one of the album's better tracks, but just lacked that certain ingredient requried to kick it up a notch.

 

 

With Stax under increasing financial pressure, the band received little promotional support.  They signed to a new manager in Tom Karr (married to their singer Pat Karr) and did a little bit of touring, opening for the likes of The 1910 Fruitgum Company, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, and a show for The Rascals.  By 1971 the wheels had come of their careers.  Singer Johns quit and was replaced by David Mayo, but by the end of the year the group was history.  Mayo and drummer Williams quickly joinedd the Memphis band Edgewood.

 

And then what?

 

Bassist Cathey reappeared in a series of bands including Alamo, Omaha, and Target.  He was also a member of the Christian rock band DeGarmo and Key.  He has a small website at: https://www.tommycathey.com/ 

 

Guitarist Cook became a sessions player, including a stint in Roy Orbison's touring and recording band.  He now lives in Nashville running Song Cellar Productions: http://songcellar.com/wp/bio/ 

 

Johns recorded a solo single for Enterprise before disappearing.  He seems to still be active singing in various local jazz outfits.

 

Pat Karr got divorced; remarried, returned to school, getting a law degree, eventually working for the US Postal Service.

 

Walter Ramsey turned his attention to writing.

 

 

 

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