Fantastic Puzzle, The

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1973)

- Frank Domenico -- keyboards, synthesizers, accordian, sax, vocals

- Ron Foreman -- drums, vocals

- Rick Foreman -- keyboards, synthesizers, bass, sax, vocals

- Bob Johnson -- bass, accordian, vocals

- Fred Mole -- vocals, guitar

- Mike Notartomasco --  drums, bass, banjo




- none known





Genre: pop

Rating: 1 stars *

Title:  The Fantastic Puzzle

Company: Puzzle

Catalog: TC 1105

Country/State: Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: pop

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 854

Price: $25.00


The Fantastic Puzzle were a six piece,  band showcasing multi-instrumentalist  Frank Domenico, drummer Ron Foreman, keyboardist Rick Foreman, bass player Bob Johnson, guitarist Fred Mole, and drummer Mike Notartomasco,  They were apparently from Southern Florida and somehow signed with former Starfires' member Eric Schabacker's Bee Jay label.  


One quick look at the cheesy cover that adorned 1973's "The Fantastic Puzzle", or the bizarre track listing should have screamed lounge act to most folk ...  If not, the back cover liner notes certainly drove the point home: "In response to many requests from friends and fans throughout the country, The Fantastic Puzzle is happy to present their first album.  We have tried to reproduce as faithfully as possible the sound of The Fantastic Puzzle playing the selections uopu have most requested at our live performances.  Also included in the album are three originals including out first national release, 'Headin' South'.   Many thanks to Eric Schabacher and Bill Vermillion of Bee Jay studios and all of the beautiful people who have made this album possible."  


I'll be brief with this one - simply one of the worst albums I've ever heard.   The only nice things to say were:


1.) The album was short

2.) The opening original tune 'Headin' South' wasn't half-bad; especially compared to the rest of the album..

3.) Their cover of The O'Jays was so wrong-headed as to be a hoot.

4.) The country bumpkin-ish 'You Stepped On My Heart' was one of those songs that was so bad, you could clear a party out with it.  Not sure I've ever given a song a zero stars rating before ...


"The Fantastic Puzzle" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Headin' South

One of three original tunes, in spite of some needless horns and flute, 'Headin' South' wasn't nearly as bad as one might have expected.   Imagine late inning Mark Lindsey, or Joe South and you'd have a feel for what this bouncy pop tune sounded like.   rating: *** stars

2.) Mr. Bojangles   (Jerry Jeff Walker) - 

Pretty much a rote cover of The Nitty Gritty Dirt band hit.   Needless, but easy to see why it was in their repertoire.   rating: ** stars

3.) Speak Softly Love   (Larry Kusik - Nina Rota) -  

Geez, if you thought the Andy Williams version was painful, then check this one out.  Perhaps one of the worst lounge performances I've ever encountered.  Seriously painful.   rating: * star

4.) Diamond Girl  (James Seals - Dash Crofts) - 

Not only did this one sound like it had been recorded in a telephone both, but in spite of sticking to the original melody, they somehow managed to lose what minimal appeal the Seals & Crofts original had.   Another painful experience.  Okay, okay, I should strive to say something nice about this one ...   it was short and guitarist Mole showed a couple of nice moves on the song.    rating: * star

5.) You Stepped On My Heart

I'm not sure I've ever given a song a no-stars rating ...   Regardless, this one is so bad it deserves that recognition.   Imagine these guys trying to play country hick cute, but coming off as totally incompetent.  Yup.  That about covers it.   rating: no stars

6.) American Trilogy (traditional)

Easy to imagine them playing this melody of 'Dixie', 'Glory Glory Hallelujah' and some unknown piece for drunken German tourists staying at a local Florida Holiday Inn.   The combination of hyper-sensitivity vocals and cheesy synthesizers made this unlistenable.   rating: * star


(side 2)
1.) Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy

Hum, just when you didn't think it could get much worse, along came the hideous 'Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy'.  Clearly intended as a shot at commercial success, it was bouncy and thoroughly irritating.  rating: * star

2.) Goin' Out of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off of You   (Teddy Randazzo - Bobby Weinstein / Bob Crewe - Bob Gaudio) -

Geez, I never thought I'd look forward to hearing the Little Anthony and the Imperials and the Frankie Valli originals, but you will after hearing these lame covers.   rating: ** stars

3.) Forever  

Since there were no writing credits I can only guess that the lame ballad 'Forever' was one of the three originals.  With the lead singer struggling to hit the song's poorly chose key, this one was another painful listening experience.   rating: * star

4.) Tie a Yellow Ribbon   (Irwin Levine - L. Russell Brown) - 

Their cover seemed to speed up the arrangement which might indicate they realized how much this song sucked.  Another one that must have been included for the benefit of drunk foreign tourists.  Should have done it as a polka ...   rating: * star

5.) Hall of the Mountain King (instrumental)   (Edvard Grieg) -

Well at least this one was an instrumental powered by some extremely cheesy sounding synthesizers, though I suspect a talented middle school music class could have come close to the results.  rating; * star

6.) Love Train   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 

So, I'll give them kudos for their O'Jays cover.   No, the cover wasn't particularly good - the lead singer sounded like he was about to cough up a lung (imagine Eddie Money with a nasty head cold).  Regardless, they at least played the song with some energy and enthusiasm (I liked guitarist Fred Mole's wicked little fill), which I can appreciate.   rating: *** stars





TC-1059...The Fantastic Puzzle: "One Lovin' Year" b/w "Raining in My Heart" 7" (Tener, 1971?)