The Classics IV


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1965-68)

- J.R. Cobb -- lead guitar 

- Wally Eaton --  bass, rhythm guitar

- Joe Wilson -- keyboards

- Dennis Yost (RIP 2008) -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

  line up 2 (1968)

- J.R. Cobb -- lead guitar 

- Wally Eaton --  bass, rhythm guitar

NEW - Kim Venable -- drums, percussion (replaced Dennis Yost)

- Dennis Yost (RIP 2008) -- vocals

- Joe Wilson -- keyboards

- Dennis Yost (RIP 2008) -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

  line up 3 (1968)

- J.R. Cobb -- lead guitar 

NEW - Dean Daugherty -- keyboards, guitar (replaced Joe Wilson)

- Wally Eaton --  bass, rhythm guitar

- Kim Venable -- drums, percussion 

- Dennis Yost (RIP 2008) -- vocals

- Dennis Yost (RIP 2008) -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

  line up 4 (1968-69)

NEW - Auburn Burrell -- lead guitar (replaced J.R. Cobb)

- Dean Daugherty -- keyboards, guitar

- Wally Eaton -- bass, rhythm guitar

NEW - Lawrence Shaul -- keyboards

- Kim Venable -- drums, percussion 

- Dennis Yost (RIP 2008) -- vocals

 

  line up 5 (1969)

- Auburn Burrell -- lead guitar 

- Dean Daugherty -- keyboards, guitar

NEW - Billy Gilmore -- bass (replaced Wally Eaton)

- Lawrence Shaul -- keyboards

- Kim Venable -- drums, percussion 

- Dennis Yost (RIP 2008) -- vocals

 

  line up 6 (1969-70)

- J.R. Cobb -- lead guitar  (replaced Auburn Burrell)

- Dean Daugherty -- keyboards, guitar

NEW - Billy Gilmore (RIP) -- bass (replaced Wally Eaton)

NEW - Mike Huey -- drums, percussion (replaced Kim Venable)

- Lawrence Shaul -- keyboards

- Dennis Yost (RIP 2008) -- vocals

 

 

 

 

Atlanta Rhythm Section (J.R. Cobb and Dean Daughtry)

- The Candymen (Dean Daughtry)

- The Dalton Gang (Aurburn Burrell)

- The K'Otics (Kim Venable and Lawrence Shaul)

- Mylon LeFevre (Aurburn Burrell, Lawrence Shaul, and 

  Kim Venable) 

- Lawrence Shaul (solo efforts)

- Lawrence Shaul & the Aristocats

- Dennis Yost (solo efforts)

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Spooky

Company: Imperial

Catalog: LP-12371 (mono)

Year: 1968

Country/State: Jacksonville, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2031

Price: $9.00

 

You have to feel kind of bad for The Classics IV.   They were an immensely talented outfit who never got the creative, or financial support that could have turned them into major contenders.  Today they're remembered for a handful of classic '60s hits, but little more than that.

 

Like every other American city, the early 1960s saw Jacksonville, Florida churn out more than it's share of local rock bands.  Among those products were The Echoes (featuring drummer Dennis Yost) and the successor band Leroy & the Moments (showcasing Yost, along with lead guitarist James Cobb, bassist Wally Eaton, and keyboardist Joe Wilson.  By the mid-1960s the group were playing as The Classics (the name lifted from Yost's drum kit) and had dropped their Ventures-styled surf roots in favor of a more contemporary top-40 cover band sound.  Powered by Yost's versatile voice, the group became quite popular on the local club scene, but in 1966 they decided to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia where they found a mentor in the form of Bill Lowrey.  Under Lowrey's arm the group cut a couple of demos, eventually releasing a single for Capitol :

- 1966's 'Pollyana' b/w 'Cry Baby' (Capitol catalog number 5710).  

 

Written by a young Joe South, the song was a complete knockoff of The Four Seasons with Yost turning in a startling Frankie Valli impersonation.  Adding to their problems, the band was forced to adopt a name change when notified a Brooklyn-based outfit was already plying the waters as The Classics.  Fearing a lawsuit from the other group, Capitol basically stopped all promotional efforts, though the 45 just missed hitting the top-100 pop charts.   Morphing into The Four Classics, the new tag was apparently deemed too retro and by late 1966 they'd become The Classics IV.  Sticking with the same Four Seasons-styled sound,  the band's Joe South produced sophomore single vanished without a trace.

 

- 1967's 'Little Darlin'' b/w 'Nothing To Lose' (Capitol catalog number P-5816).    

 

More demos followed; one of those tracks being a cover of Mike Sharpe's instrumental 'Spooky'.  Producer Buddy Buie and guitarist Cobb added lyrics to the track and the band quickly found themselves signed to a recording contract by Imperial Records.  Released as a single 'Spooky' b/w 'Poor People' (Imperial catalog number IR:66259) promptly hit # 3 on the charts.  At the same time, in order to allow Yost to focus on vocals, the line-up was expanded to include former K'Otics drummer Kim Venable.

 

As was standard marketing procedure, Imperial rushed the group into the studio to record a supporting album.  Produced by Buie, 1968's cleverly titled "Spooky" should have been a miserable exercise in flat out capitalism - sell records to take advantage of the unexpected title track hit.  While far from perfect, the album was actually surprisingly enjoyable and with a couple of stylistic changes, could have been a killer.  Following a standard marketing formula, the album offered up a mixture of then-popular covers with most of the band originals (penned by Buie and Cobb), relegated to the flip side.  While not the year's most original selection of covers, with the exception of Jimmy Webb's ever-lame 'By the Time I Get To Phoenix', the cover performances were all pretty good, with the standouts being a James Brown-styled rave up on 'You Are My Sunshine' and their arrangement of The Hollies' 'Bus Stop'.  Credit Yost's attractive voice (though a couple of tracks sound like they were handled by a different singer), and the band's penchant for blue-eyed soul arrangements for making them as enjoyable as they were.  Three of the four band originals were also pretty good, though there was no way to avoid the fact 'Poor People' was dreadful).  In spite of the dumb title, 'Mary, Mary Row Your Boa'  and 'Just Between You and Me' were both nice slices of top-40 pop, while 'Book a Trip' sported a lite-psych/blue-eyed soul feel.                

 

"Spooky" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Daydream Believer   (John Stewart) - 2:17

To be honest, after a couple of beers you'd probably be hard pressed to tell the different between this version and the better known Monkees version.  There are a couple of differences; Dennis Yost and company pair down the bubblegum factor; the refrain doesn't "pop" as much, and Wally Eaton's bass is way more prominent on this version.   Decent, but not essential.   rating: *** stars

2.) You Are My Sunshine   (J. Davis - Chad Mitchell) - 3:00

Geez, did I put on a James Brown album by mistake ...  How in the world did Yost get his voice that raw and ragged ?   Swallow sandpaper ?   If you thought Alex Chilton and the Box Tops had the corner on blue-eyed soul, you simply have to head this track.  rating: **** stars

3.) The Letter   (Wayne Thompson) - 1:54

Speaking of The Box Tops, like the opener, their cover of this hit wasn't all that different from the original.  Once again Yost sounded like he'd shredded his voice to get the ragged sound.  Kudos to producer Buie for at least having good taste when it came to cover material.  Shame they didn't follow this taunt blue-eyed soul attack in follow-on releases.   rating: *** stars

4.) By the Time I Get To Phoenix   (Jim Webb) - 2:16

Unfortunately their MOR-ish cover of Jim Webb's 'By the Time I Get To Phoenix' was an indicator of their future direction.  The interesting thing about this one is the vocal sounds more like Joe South than Dennis Yost.  Guess its just my ears ...   rating: ** stars

5.) Going Out of My Head   (T. Randazzo - S. Weinstein) - 2:19

Slapping their patented pseudo-jazzy sound on the old Little Anthony and the Imperials hit wasn't nearly as bad an idea as you might have expected.  Worth listening just to heard Easton's fuzz bass.   rating: *** stars

6.) Mary, Mary Row Your Boat   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:04

In spite of the title, 'Mary, Mary Row Your Boat' was a nice Tony Joe White-styled swamp-rocker. Always liked the combination of Yost's lead with the whispered backing voices.   Would have made a nice 45 on its own.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Bus Stop   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:28

Another cover that was far better than you would have expected.  They really didn't mess with the song's melody, or structure so you'll readily recognize it, but the blue-eyes soul vibe was kind of nifty.  Interestingly this was another tune where the vocal didn't sound like Yost.   rating: *** stars

2.) Just Between You and Me   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:25

One of the strangest songs the group ever recorded ...   'Just Between You and Me' offered up this strange mix of English folk, folk-rock, and psych moves.  Complete with a cool song structure,  J.R. Cobb's jangle guitar; Eaton's thunderous bass, bells, it was just one of those songs you couldn't accurately describe -  Fantastic tune that has consumed way too much of my time.   rating: **** stars

3.) Poor People   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 3:00

Toytown psych ...   If you want to hear a song that screamed mid-'60s summer of love, this would certainly be in the running.  Ah, to be young and carefree, full of la-la-la-las.   rating: *** stars

4.) Book a Trip   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:20

Hum ...  in spite of the daring title, this was actually a rather innocuous tune ...  consider it a slice of psych for grandma.   That wasn't meant as a criticism since I actually loved  this song.   Kicked along by Kim Venable's frantic drums, Joe Wilson's freak-out keyboard solo, and Yost's treated vocals, this was  one of the coolest tunes they ever recorded.  Shame it was released as a single.   rating: **** stars

5.) Spooky   (H. Middlebrook - Mike Sharpe) - 2:50

A true '60s classic, there's simply not a great deal to say about the tune.  It's instantly recognizable and deserving of all that fame.  Having heard sax player Mike Shapiro's jazzy instrumental version, guitarist J.R. Cobb brought the song to the band's attention.   Shapiro supposedly played the sax solo on the original Classics IV track.

 

- 1967's ' 'Spooky' b/w 'Poor People' (Imperial catalog number IR:66259)   YouTube has an amazing clip of the late Buddy Buie and J.R. Cobb talking about and performing the song at a 2010 concert.    rating; ***** stars

 

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Mamas & Papas/Soul Train

Company: Imperial

Catalog: LP-12407

Year: 1968

Country/State: Jacksonville, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2030

Price: $9.00

 

 

Overlooking the goofy title (which probably left lots of consumers wondering it this was a Mamas & the Papas release), from a marketing perspective 1969's "Mamas & Papas/Soul Train" stood as a clear attempt to increase the band's 'hip' quotient - check out their Beatlesque haircuts.  Unlike the cover heavy debut, this time around the band was allowed to focus on more contemporary material - producer Buddy Buie and guitarist J.R. Cobb turning in the majority of the eleven tracks.  Musically the sound wasn't a major change from their debut, with Dennis Yost and company turning in a modestly entertaining mix of top-40 pop and blue-eyed soul moves.  Ensuring continued commerciality was clearly a major part of the game plan with the single 'Soul Train' actually sounded like 'Spooky Part II'.  Unfortunately, like the debut, Liberty's insistence on including radio friendly MOR material like 'Waves' served to dilute the band's considerable talent and undermine whatever credibility they might have had among rock fans.  Gifted with an attractive and versatile voice, Yost's talents were well framed on the band's blue-eyed soul numbers like the atypical rocker 'Bed of Roses' and '24 Hours of Loneliness'.   Even better was the band's isolated foray into tougher rock material - the moody, sitar-propelled 'Strange Changes'.  Sure, it was commercial, but the album's other highlight came in the form of the classic single 'Stormy'.  Like the debut the album was frustratingly inconsistent and could have been a monster with a couple of minor changes.  As is, this is probably their most consistent and enjoyable set, showing what they could have accomplished with a bit more support from management and their label.

 

"Mamas & Papas/Soul Train" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Soul Train   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:40

As mentioned, 'Soul Train' was basically an upbeat, blue-eyed soul  remake of 'Spooky' with a touch of Motown thrown in for good measure.  The bass line seemed like it copped directly from 'Spooky'.  Hardly their most creative venture, but Yost turned in one of his most soulful performances and a I guess you couldn't blame songwriters Buie and Cobb for going back to the source material since that tune was such a classic effort.  Imperial tapped  as the album's second single:

- 1968's 'Soul Train' b/w 'Strange Changes' (Imperial catalog number IR-66293rating: **** stars

2.) Bed of Roses  (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb - J. Adkins) - 2:12

For a band known for their patented brand of soft pop 'Bed of Roses' was almost revolutionary - a Joe South, or Tony Joe White slice of swamp-rock ...   Wonderful and you simply had to wonder why the band didn't do more stuff along there lines.   rating; **** stars

3.) Strange Changes   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:22

While 'Strange Changes' wasn't one of my favorite Classics IV ballads, it had a couple of things going for it - that patented classic Classics IV sound, coupled with Auburn Burrell's cool electric sitar fills, a nice adult contemporary sax solo, and one of Yost's most impressive vocals.   rating: **** stars

4.) Ladies Man   (Buddy Buie - J. Adkins) - 2:15

The band apparently only knew one guitar riff, but they put it to good use on the bouncy, up-tempo 'Ladies Man'.  A touch to cutesy for their own good, but a fun tune with the band displaying some nice harmony vocals.   rating: *** stars

5.) Waves   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:14

For some reason the though of two Georgia-based guys writing this tune has always made me smile.  It certainly wasn't a great song, but Yost's double tracked vocal, a killer Wally Eaton bass line, and the song's sweet melody made it a guilty pleasure.  rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Stormy   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:45

One of their biggest hits and a true '60s classic that's probably lost some of its charm through sheer over-exposure ...   I probably like it even better than the some goofy 'Spooky', but the two songs aren't all that different. YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the tune for an unknown television show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18Sua_QTDs0

-1968's 'Stormy' b/w '24 Hours of Loneliness' (Imperial catalog number IR-66328 rating: ***** stars

2.) Mama's and Papa's   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:06

The title track was another atypical tune; sounding more like a slice of Kasenetz-Katz styled bubblegum pop than their normal sound.   That wasn't meant as a criticism since the results were quite enjoyable - always liked Lawrence Shaul's bouncy organ fills. This one was also tapped as a single:

- 1969's 'Mama's & Papa's' b/w 'Waves' (Imperial catalog number IR-66304)    rating: **** stars

3.) Pity the Fool   (Buddy Buie - Bobby Goldsboro) - 2:08

Church organ opening ... one of their nicer blues-tinged ballads.   rating: *** stars

4.) It Ain't Necessarily So   (George Gershwin - Ira Gershwin) - 1:45

At least this was short ...   rating: ** stars

5.) 24 Hours of Loneliness   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:05

Nice blue-eyed soul rocker ...   Wish they'd done more of this kind of stuff.   rating: **** stars

6.) The Girl form Ipanema (Garota De Ipanema)   (Antonio Carlos Jobim - Normal Gimbel - Vinicus De Morases) - 2:25

I remember seeing 'The Girl form Ipanema' on the liner notes and wondering why they would ever have agreed to cover it., but to their credit, they somehow managed to turn it into something not totally horrible.  Opening and closing the tune, Kim Venable's funky drums were a gas. Similarly Wally Easton provided a mesmerizing bass line, while Lawrence Shaul's treated organ solo added an interesting midsection.   And Yost gave the tune his all.   rating: **** stars

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Traces

Company: Imperial

Catalog: LP-12429

Year: 1969

Country/State: Jacksonville, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut top right corner; small name in ink on back cover 'Jones')

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2029

Price: $9.00

 

 

Changes in band billing are usually not a good thing.  As such, the release of 1970's "Traces" billed as 'The Classics IV, featuring Dennis Yost' was clearly something to be concerned about.  In spite of the mod cover (longer hair, striped pants, etc.), the album found the band sliding towards a distinctive MOR sound.  Exemplified by their successes on the singles chart, the results were quite commercial making for their biggest selling album, but that commercial success also increasingly undermined their creative reputation, to say nothing of delivering an album that was not particularly memorable.  The major problem with this set was the dominance of ballads.  Of the ten songs, the only up-tempo numbers was a marginal cover of the Mac Davis-penned 'Traffic Jam'.   The fact of the matter was lead singer Dennis Yost's talents were largely wasted on MOR fluff  like 'Mr. Blue', a needless cover of Bobby Hebb's 'Sunny' and a sleep inducing 'Our Day Will Come'.  As for the rest of the band, they sounded as if they were on automatic pilot, which might well have been the case since producer Buie reportedly brought in scores of un-credited sessions players for the sessions.  So was their anything worthwhile here?  Well, Yost remained one of the generation's best, if most overlooked singers, capable of professional performances on even the lamest material.  'Traces' and 'Nobody Loves You But Me' may have been overly sentimental pap, but Yost sang the stuffing out of each song.   There were also a couple of strong, if atypical performances; the standout track being the moody Buddy Buie and J.R. Cobb ballad 'Free'.  Anyone hearing it today would be forgiven for thinking it sounded like something out of the Atlantic Rhythm Section catalog.  Nice song!  Too bad the rest of the album didn't pursue the same direction.

 

"Traces" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Everyday with You   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:34

This is one of their pop hits that tends to be forgotten by all but the hardcore.   Admittedly it's a bit on the MOR-ish side, but Yost's breathless vocals were quite good and the sax solo was almost silky.  Wonder how many folks have been married, or celebrated anniversaries to this one ...   Imperial tapped it as the album's leadoff single:

- 1969's 'Everyday with You' b/w 'Sentimental Lady' (Imperial catalog number IR-66378) # 19 US pop charts   rating: *** stars

2.) Mr. Blue   (DeWayne Blackwell) - 2:31

I'd love too say something nice about the band's cover of 'Mr. Blue' but simply wasn't the kind of tune a young and happening band should have recorded.  The song sounded old when The Fleetwoods recorded it back in 1959 and this "update" didn't improve it one bit.   rating: * star

3.) Sunny   (Bobby Hebb) - 2:40

Another cover, though this time around they opted for a more recent tune - Bobby Hebb's classic 'Sunny'.   Their version wasn't all that different, but slowing it down and giving it that little J.R. Cobb guitar riff almost pulled it off.   Nice cover.   rating: **** stars

4.) Free   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:27

It wasn't one of the hits, but to my ears 'Free' was easily the album's standout tune.   Kicked along by a great bass line and Cobb's economical guitar, the tune had a fantastic bluesy rock vibe (imagine early Atlanta Rhythm Section) and underscored Yost would have been even better given an opportunity to work in more of a rock environment.   rating: **** stars

5.) Traces   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb - Emory Gordy) - 2:45

Saccharine, MOR-ish pap ...  and totally engrossing.  A classic Classics IV ballad with one of Yost's best performances and all the ingredients that made the band so good.  I stumbled across this note from Yost's widow Linda:  "Traces was the only song Dennis recorded that he predicted would be a hit. The strings on that song are real, because he put up $25,000 against his future royalties to pay for the Atlanta Symphony String Section to play on the recording."   Neither the sound, nor video quality are very good, but YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the tune on television: https://www.youtube.com/watch=gyxpQO0YYQo

- 1969's 'Traces' b/w 'Mary, Mary Row Your Boat' (Imperial catalog number IR-66352)

 

(side 2)
1.) Something I'll Remember   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:30

Unlike the title track, 'Something I'll Remember' was overly sappy and almost contrived.   Totally forgettable.   rating: ** stars

2.) Our Day Will Come   (Mort Garson - Bob Hillard) - 2:12

Other than J.R. Cobb's jazzy opening guitar segment, their cover of 'Our Day Will Come' had nothing going for it.  True slice of lounge act material and didn't do their reputations any good ...  rating: ** stars

3.) Traffic Jam   (Tommy Roe - Mac Davis) - 2:18

First the writing credits were wrong - the song was written by Mac Davis and Fred Weller, who sold it to The Classics IV first and then convinced Tommy Roe to cover the tune (it appeared on Roe's 1970 album "We Can Make Music").  To be honest, neither version was particularly impressive - too contrived for either artist.   rating: *** stars

4.) Sentimental Lady   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:24

Another ballad with Yost using his most earnest delivery. Yeah, the heavily orchestrated melody was marginally pretty, but this could have been a Mark Lindsey tune for all it mattered.   rating: *** stars  

5.) Nobody Loves You But Me   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 3:11

So why not close the album out with a heartfelt ballad?   That would make for a nice change of pace ...   Seriously, by my count nine out of the ten tunes were ballads.  'Nobody Loves You But Me' may have been one of their best ballads, but by this point the average listener probably just didn't care ...   You can only take so much heartbreak in one sitting.   rating: *** stars

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Golden Greats, Volume 1

Company: Imperial

Catalog: LP-16000

Year: 1970

Country/State: Jacksonville, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2029

Price: $5.00

 

 

With the band quickly running out of creative and commercial steam, Imperial wasted no time bringing out a 'best of' retrospective.  So what do you need to know about "Golden Greats, Volume 1"?  Note the subtle name change to 'Dennis Yost and the Classics IV'.  Other than that, the track listing pretty much spelled it out.  Two tracks from the "Spooky" debut; five from the sophomore LP "Mamas & Papas/Soul Train", two tunes from "Traces", and the non-LP 1969 single 'Change of Heart'.  Oh, and they were now shown as being a racially integrated band, though Dennis Yost was the only member mentioned in the brief liner notes.

 

"Golden Greats Volume 1" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Everyday with You Girl   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:34

This was one of their pop hits that tends to be forgotten by all but the hardcore.   Admittedly it's a bit on the MOR-ish side, but Yost's breathless vocals were quite good and the sax solo was almost silky.  Wonder how many folks have been married, or celebrated anniversaries to this one ...   Imperial tapped it as the leadoff single of the "Traces" album.     rating: **** stars

2.) Spooky   (Mike Sharpe - Middlebrooks - Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:50

A true '60s classic, there's simply not a great deal to say about the tune.  It's instantly recognizable and deserving of all that fame.  Having heard sax player Mike Shapiro's jazzy instrumental version, guitarist J.R. Cobb brought the song to the band's attention.   Shapiro supposedly played the sax solo on the original Classics IV track.   rating: ***** stars

3.) 24 Hours of Loneliness   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:05

Nice blue-eyed soul rocker ...   Wish they'd done more of this kind of stuff.   rating: **** stars

4.) Mary, Mary Row Your Boat   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:04

In spite of the title, ' Mary, Mary Row Your Boat' was a nice Tony Joe White-styled swamp-rocker. Always liked the combination of Yost's lead with the whispered backing voices.   Would have made a nice 45 on its own.   rating: **** stars

5.) Something I'll Remember   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:30

Unlike the title track, 'Something I'll Remember' was overly sappy and almost contrived.   Totally forgettable.   rating: ** stars

6.) Change of Heart   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:30

Originally released as a 1969 non-LP single, 'Change of Heart' was a standard MOR-ballad salvaged by Yost's excellent vocal.   rating: *** stars

- 1969's 'Change of Heart' b/w 'Rainy Day' (Imperial catalog number 66393)

 

(side 2)
1.) Stormy   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:45

One of their biggest hits and a true '60s classic that's probably lost some of its charm through sheer over-exposure ...   I probably like it even better than the some goofy 'Spooky', but the two songs aren't all that different. YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the tune for an unknown television show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18Sua_QTDs0   rating: ***** stars

2.) Traces   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb - Emory Gordy) - 2:45

Saccharine, MOR-ish pap ...  and totally engrossing.  A classic Classics IV ballad with one of Yost's best performances and all the ingredients that made the band so good.  I stumbled across this note from Yost's widow Linda:  "Traces was the only song Dennis recorded that he predicted would be a hit. The strings on that song are real, because he put up $25,000 against his future royalties to pay for the Atlanta Symphony String Section to play on the recording."   Neither the sound, nor video quality are very good, but YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the tune on television: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyxpQO0YYQo     rating: **** stars

3.) Sunny   (Bobby Hebb) - 2:40

Another cover, though this time around they opted for a more recent tune - Bobby Hebb's classic 'Sunny'.   Their version wasn't all that different, but slowing it down and giving it that little J.R. Cobb guitar riff almost pulled it off.   Nice cover.   rating: **** stars

4.) Strange Changes   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:22

While 'Strange Changes' wasn't one of my favorite Classics IV ballads, it had a couple of things going for it - that patented classic Classics IV sound, coupled with Auburn Burrell's cool electric sitar fills, a nice adult contemporary sax solo, and one of Yost's most impressive vocals.   rating: **** stars

5.) Waves   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:14

For some reason the though of two Georgia-based guys writing this tune has always made me smile.  It certainly wasn't a great song, but Yost's double tracked vocal, a killer Wally Eaton bass line, and the song's sweet melody made it a guilty pleasure.  rating: *** stars

6.) Soul Train   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:40 

'Soul Train' was basically an upbeat, blue-eyed soul  remake of 'Spooky' with a touch of Motown thrown in for good measure.  The bass line seemed like it copped directly from 'Spooky'.  Hardly their most creative venture, but Yost turned in one of his most soulful performances and a I guess you couldn't blame songwriters Buie and Cobb for going back to the source material since that tune was such a classic effort.  Imperial tapped  as the album's second single.   rating: **** stars

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Song

Company: Imperial

Catalog: LST-11003

Year: 1970

Country/State: Jacksonville, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2028

Price: $9.00

 

 

In spite of the inner sleeve photos, by the time 1970's "Song" was released, The Classic IV were no longer a band, rather little more than a vehicle for front man Dennis Yost (who'd been smart enough to make sure he owned The Classics IV nametag).  Think the album cover was a give away ?  As on earlier releases, producer Buddy Buie and guitarist J.R. Cobb remained the creative mainstays behind Yost and company, responsible for penning eight of the eleven selections.  With that creative backing it shouldn't have come as a major surprise that musically the album wasn't a major change in direction.  Yost remained a gifted singer, but tracks like 'Where Did All the Good Times Go', 'The Comic' and 'God Knows I Love Her' continuing his slide towards MOR oblivion.  The heavy emphasis on slick ballads made this stuff too bland to generate more than passing interest.   Underscoring the problem, the decision to smother him in ever more elaborate string arrangements wasn't exactly a step in the right direction.  Giving credit where due, exemplified by 'Midnight', 'Most of All' , and 'Nobody Loves You But Me' Buie and Cobb were still capable of turning in a pretty melody.  Inexplicably, the best song on the album 'Cherry Hill Park' (co-written by future Atlanta Rhythm Section member Robert Nix) was reduced to a bland 'Stormy' wannabe.   Really disappointing collection ...

 

"Song" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Where Did All the Good Times Go   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:35

As a big Joe Simon and Tony Joe White fan, this slice of '70s country-pop hit the spot.  Yost sounded great on the tune, though the MOR sax solo was kind of an out-of-place surprise.   Dee Clark recorded the song with an amazing soul edge that's even better than the Classics IV version.   The track was released as a single:

- 1970's 'Where Did All the Good Times Go' b/w 'Ain't It the Truth' (Liberty catalog number 56200)   rating: *** stars

2.) The Comic   (Jack Z. Elliott - Larry Kusik - Eddie Snyder) - 2:22

Dull MOR-ish ballad that was featured in 1969's Carl Reiner direct film "The Comic".   rating: ** stars

3.) Cherry Hill Park   (Robert Nix - Bill Gilmore) - 3:13

Their cover of the Billy Joe Royal hit actually started out sounding like a remake of 'Stormy'; complete with the same sax solo.   A serious strange arrangement sounding like it had been recorded in an echo chamber, but the dark and haunting pseudo-jazzy vibe actually crept into your head and wouldn't leave you alone.  Imperial released it as the album's third single:

- 1970's  'Cherry Hill Park' b/w 'Pick Up the Pieces' (Liberty catalog number 50805)  rating: **** stars

4.) Pick Up the Pieces   (Robert Nix - Bill Gilmore) - 3:05

Exemplified by 'Pick Up the Pieces' Yost and company had a penchant for sappy, over-orchestrated ballads.  The performance was fine with Yost turning in a nice vocal, but the song was just ...  dull.   For goodness sakes, even the patented sax solo was predictable.   rating: ** stars

5.) We Miss You   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:20

Another ballad, though this one managed to rise above the background noise with one of their prettier melodies.  Probably would have been a better single than their cover of 'Cherryhill Park'.   rating: *** stars

6.) God Knows I Love Her   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:58

Many Classics IV fans put this one in the same category as the band's mega hits, but I don't get it.  To my ears it's a heavily orchestrated, but sappy ballad.   About the nicest thing I can say is the arrangement was so overwhelming Yost was forced to power his way through the ending (showing what a powerful instrument he had).

- 1970's 'God Knows I Love You' b/w 'We Miss You' (Liberty catalog number 56182)  rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Midnight   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb - Emory Gordy) - 2:55

Hard to describe it, but 'Midnight' had that classic Classics IV sound that is instantly recognizable ...  At least part of the recipe included a great, slightly jazzy melody; Yost's impeccable and cool voice, a sterling sax solo, and those haunting background vocals.   The album's best song, Imperial tapped it as the lead single:

- 1970's 'Midnight' b/w 'The Comic' (Imperial catalog number IR-66424)

2.) Most of All   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 3:00

It took me a couple of years to figure out what made 'Most of All' the album's sleeper cut - Sure, Yost's seductive vocal was part of the answer, but the secret sauce was the little riff J.R. Cobb played throughout the song.  When it get's in your head it won't leave ...   rating: **** stars

3.) Ain't It the Truth   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 3:43

Hum, Yost and company taking a stab at Gospel/blues ...  well Gospel/blues with a very pop feeling.   Quite different for the group which made it mildly interesting.   rating: *** stars

4.) The Funniest Thing   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:34

Another guilty pleasure that I probably would not readily admit to enjoying, but it had such a great melody and a lyric that many of us can identify with.  The song was tapped as the album's third and final single:

- 'The Funniest Thing' b/w 'Nobody Loves You Like Me' (Imperial catalog number IR-66439) # 59 pop charts   rating: *** stars

5.) Nobody Loves You But Me   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 3:14

'Nobody Loves You But Me' was a good example of Yost's strengths and weaknesses.  His vocal was first rate and the song had a beautiful melody, but those facets were all but overwhelmed by the heavy orchestration, which essentially reduced this one to background music.   Shame, since it could have been a killer performance with a sparer arrangement.  rating:*** stars

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Dennis Yost and the Classics IV

Company: MGM South

Catalog: MSH-702

Year: 1973

Country/State: Jacksonville, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2027

Price: $10.00

 

 

After five years and four album for Imperial, Dennis Yost and the Classic IV's partnership with the label came to an end in 1972.  Signed by MGM's newly established MGM South affiliate, in spite of the nameplate, "Dennis Yost and the Classics IV" was a Dennis Yost solo set.  Recorded in Atlanta's Studio One, with backing from former Classics IV members J.R. Cobb and Dean Daughtry and the rest of The Atlanta Rhythm Section,  the album found Yost pursuing an adult contemporary pop format.  While that may not have sounded particularly promising, the results were far more impressive than his previous couple of releases.  Interestingly, part of the credit may have been a result of the fact ARS's trademarked sound clearly came through on several of the songs, including a pair written by ARS members - the moody 'All In Your Mind' and the pretty closing title track ballad.  Those also happened to be the two standout songs.  Heavy on ballads and mid-tempo numbers, taken individually most of these songs weren't half bad.  Unfortunately when strung together they kind of blurred into one another.  Also interesting was the fact Yost's voice seemed to have undergone a major change over the previous year.  While still pleasant, his performances were much deeper and rougher than on earlier records.  Personally I liked his darker, rougher sound.  Pleasant and professional, but ultimately nothing special, though it made you wonder what would have happened had Yost continued working with ARS ... 

 

"Dennis Yost and the Classics IV" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Make Me Believe    (Buddy Buie - Ronnie Hammond - Robert Nix) - 2:29

To be honest, there were imply too many ballads on this album, but 'Make Me Believe' was one of the better ones.  Always liked the cheesy '70s synthesizer solo.   The track was released as the album's third single:

-1973's  'Make Me Believe' b/w 'Save the Sunlight' (MGM South catalog number S 7016)

2.) Save the Sunlight   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb - Lee) - 2:50

With a breezy, slightly bossa nova-tinged melody, 'Save the Sunlight' was a decent slice of adult contemporary pop.  Perfect tune to listen to while you were sitting on the deck watching the summer son set.   rating: **** stars

3.) Sweet Surrender   (David Gates) - 2:42

Yost and company did little to tamper with David Gates' original melody or the song structure.  Since most folks are intimately family with the  Bread original, you were left wondering why they bother with this version.   rating: ** stars

4.) All In Your Mind    (Buddy Buie - Robert Nix) - 3:02

With backing from The Atlanta Rhythm Section, 'All In Your Mind' was the album's highlight and the tune that came the closest to capturing that special Classics IV magic.  Sporting a dark, slightly ominous vibe, the tune gave Yost an opportunity to cut lose and show he hadn't lost any of this vocal abilities.  Come to think about it, the song wouldn't have sounded bad on an ARS album.      rating:**** stars

5.) Rosanna   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 2:30

Pretty acoustic ballad ...   'Rosanna' was clearly written with an ear to top-40, but ultimately it was just kind of ...  well, bland came to mind.  Released as a single it managed to hit the Billboard top-100 singles charts, providing the "band" with their final chart entry:

- 1973's 'Rosanna' b/w 'One Man Show' (MGM South catalog number S 7012) # 95 pop charts  rating: ** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Help Me Help Myself    (Robert Nix - Paul Goddard - Dean Daughrty) - 2:20

Another ARS contribution, 'Help Me Help Myself' underscored the band's ability to craft material that was adult contemporary oriented, but at the same time, managed to avoid the genre's most cloying tendencies.  It was another track where Yost demonstrated he could wail.   rating: *** stars

2.) The Days of Our Lives   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb - Barry Bailey - Robert Nix) - 3:00

From the opening chords, the dark 'The Days of Our Lives' sounded like an ARS tune.  Stylistically this mid-tempo rocker was a perfect setting for Yost.  Shame it wasn't a direction he pursued.  Would have been far better than the faceless pop he churned out later in his career.  rating: **** stars

3.) It Never Rains In Southern California   (Albert Hammond - Lee Hazlewood) - 3:40

I never liked the Albert Hammond original and for a long time  this cover didn't do much for me. That said, I have to admit that over time this one's grown on me.  I've tried to figure out what makes this version better and I've reached the conclusion it was Yost's vocals.  Musically this version wasn't much different than the original, but unlike Hammond's almost pleading delivery, Yost seems matter of fact in his position.   rating: *** stars

4.) One Man Show   (Sam Traina) - 3:20

Country-tinged ballad that was saved by one of J.R. Cobb's most melodic solos.   rating: ** stars

5.) What Am I Crying For?   (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb) - 3:00

Pretty, late-inning ballad with that unique Classics IV sound (check out the harmony vocals), and featuring  J.R. Cobb on acoustic guitar.  The tune was released as the album's leadoff single:

- 1972's 'What Am I Crying For?' b/w 'All In Your Mind' (MGM South catalog number S 7002)   rating: **** stars

 

 

One last non-LP single for MGM South 'My First Day without Her' b/w 'Lovin' Each Other' (MGM catalog number K-14785) and the group called it quits.  

Following the band's official breakup Yost embarked on what proved to be a sporadic solo career. While Yost had the foresight to ensure ownership of  the Classic IV nameplate, under questionable circumstances Yost's manager sold the trademark to a New York- based group who turned the imprint into a doowop format.  For over a decade Yost was not allowed to use The Classics IV name, or even mention the name for fear of a lawsuit, making it difficult to get work.  By the time Yost recovered rights to the name his health had begun to deteriorate and the nameplate had lost much of it's commercial value.

Unfortunately, in July 2006 Yost fell down stairs in his Cincinnati, Ohio home.  He suffered a severe head injury that left him unable to perform and in need of extensive rehabilitation.  He never recovered from those injuries and died in December 2008.  Yost was only 65 years old.

There's a nice Yost/Classics IV website at: www.theclassicsiv.com.  The site includes a link to Linda Yost's Dennis Yost Brain Trauma Foundation: http://www.theclassicsiv.com/dennisyostfoundation.html

 

 

 

 

 

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