Filet of Soul
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1964-67) as Atilaa and the Huns
- Barry Berdal -- bass
- Doug Deuel -- rhythm guitar
- Mike Pease (aka Mike Peace) -- vocals, lead guitar
- Walter Staniec -- drums, percussion
line up 2 (1967-69)
NEW - Rich Legault -- drums, percussion, vocals
(replaced Walter Staniec)
NEW - Denny Lewan -- bass, vocals (replaced Barry Berdal)
- Mike Peace (aka Mike Peace) -- vocals, lead guitar
NEW - Ben Wiesneiwski -- rhythm guitar, vocals
(replaced Doug Deuel)
line up 3 (1969-74) as The Filet of Soul
- Rich Legault -- drums, percussion, vocals
- Denny Lewan -- bass, vocals
- Mike Peace (aka Mike Peace) -- vocals, lead guitar
- Ben Wiesneiwski -- rhythm guitar, vocals
- Attila and the Huns
- The Huns of Time
- The Filet of Sound (Rich Legault, Denny Lewan , and Mike Peace)
- Mike Peace (solo efforts)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Country/State: Thorp, Wisconsin
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 4916
Barry Berdal, Doug Deuel , Mike Pease (aka Mike Peace, and Walter Staniec met in high school where they discovered a common interest in music and decided to form the band Attila and the Huns. Formed in 1964, the band became quite popular on the Central Wisconsin dance and club circuit, eventually releasing a self-financed 45 dedicated to a dead classmate on the Sara label.
- 1967's 'Cheryl' b/w 'The Lonely Huns' (Sara catalog number J65111)
Personnel changes saw the Huns line-up morph to reflect singer/guitarist Peace, drummer Rich Legault, bassist Denny Lewan, and rhythm guitarist Ben Wiesneiwski. In 1967 the band placed second in a local battle of the bands contest and caught the attention of businessman/manager/producer Lennie LaCour.
Singer/guitarist Mike Peace picks up the narrative: "Lennie was a gimmick kind of guy, who had his success in show biz due to an Orange Crush commercial that he sang vocals on as an artist know as the "Big Rocker". He was always trying to catch a trend or some bandwagon to ride along with it. The Hula Hoop was enjoying a big come back around 1968 so... the first release he did with us while were were still working as Attila and the Huns was a song called 'Hula Shake' which he wrote about a "new dance sensation that was sweeping the nation called the Hula Shake". It was such a contrived concept that it didn't stand a chance in the marketplace. I wrote the flip side 'Hurry Back', but Lennie didn't give me any writer credit for it. The 45 only shows his name as writer. This was by far the better of the two songs but it wasn't the push side of the record.
- 1967's 'Hula Hake' b/w 'Hurry Back' (Magic Touch catalog number 84TM 2009)
LaCour managed to get Chess Records interested in Attila and the Huns. Under his tutelage the company financed some recording sessions in the Chess Studio and even prepared cover art for a projected album, but nothing came of the deal.
Chess wouldn't release the album so Lennie had to buy the license rights to his own production. This was the original cover that was designed for Chess, but since they did not want to release it at the time, Lennie bought the license rights from Chess. The cost of a color cover was above his budget and he convinced us to change our names to The Filet of Soul so the cover was made black and white and the new name tacked on top of the old picture. This photo won a photographers blue ribbon at the Indian Head Photographers Convention around 1971. I set up a camera and shot the photo on an auto time shutter release setting.
Released by LaCour's Dynamic Records label 1969's blue-eyed soul single 'Sweet Lovin'' b/w 'Do Your Own Thing' (Dynamic catalog number 1002) was Lennie's next release for us and served as our debut under the new name 'Filet of Soul' - also Lennie's idea.
This one was an immediate local Wisconsin hit. I remember driving to a gig and hearing 'Sweet Lovin'' playing on my car radio. I had my radio buttons tuned for three local stations that I knew had our record. I was driving alone and out of curiosity I switched to WSTP Stevenspoint to discover they were playing it at the same time. WMRL Merril was the other station so I pushed that button to find it was also playing the song. I was bouncing up and down on my car seat and was so excited that I had to pull off the road, honk my horn and scream at the top of my lungs. I was sure that we would be appearing on the Ed Sullivan show next but it turned out that Lennie hadn't bothered to secure any kind of record distribution deals so record sales simply didn't happen. Turns out that Lennie believed that if a song was "hot" enough the distributors would contact him. But bigger stations were extremely reluctant to play records that didn't have distribution agreements since sales were what showed a song was hot. He had good intentions but not enough marketing savvy to help The Filet of Soul make it.
While the single did outside of the local area, LaCour signed the band to his own Magic Touch label, financing another Attila and the Huns single:
- 1969's 'The Vinyards of My Time' b/w Here's Where I Get Off' (Magic Touch catalog number 2071
That was followed by the first Filet of Soul 45:
- 1969's 'Proud Mary' b/w (Get Out, Get Out) We Want Peace' (Magic Touch catalog number 2078)
Like the earlier 45s, 'Proud Mary' did nothing commercially, but manager LaCour continued to support the band, financing an album on his small Chicago-based Moniquid Records. Produced by LaCour (he also contributed a couple of songs), 1970's "Freedom" was different from a lot of era albums in that it showcased a largely original set of material. Most of the material was penned by Peace, reflecting a mixture of previously recorded and released and new studio tunes. There were also three covers, even though it was shown as an original composition, 'Treat Her Right' was a cover of the Roy Head hit. Musically the aalbum showcased an interesting mix of blue-eyed soul ('Sweet Lovin''), top-40 pop ('Here's Where I Get Off'), and tougher rock material ('Come To Me'). As lead singer Peace had a great blue-eyed soul-styled voice that was more than capable of handling the band's diverse repertoire. It was all performed with the kind of naive enthusiasm that more than compensated for whatever performance shortcomings the band had and for the somewhat low-fi sound and production. Interestingly virtually every one of the twelve songs had commercial potential, but these guys were at their best when playing straight ahead rock - the wah-wah guitar propelled title track, 'Big City U.S.A.', the fuzz-driven 'Standin At the Wrong Machine' and the raging garage screamer 'Steppin Into You Fire'. There was also a nice cover of The Zombies' 'Tell Her No'. The results were even more impressive when you consider most of the new songs were written in one evening and the entire album completed in a single twelve hour recording session. Certainly not the most original album you've ever heard, but thoroughly charming and one that I continually spin.
"Freedom" track listing:
1.) Freedom (Mike Peace) - 4:02 rating: **** stars
Opening up with Mike Peace's wah-wah guitar and his nifty blue-eyed soul voice, 'Freedom' offered up a near perfect mix of garage, topical lyrics, and psych influences. Throw in Rich Legault's tribal drums and this was an awesome tune that would have sounded great on FM radio.
2.) Come To Me (Mike Peace) - 2:04 rating: **** stars
'Come To Me' has always reminded me a bit of Johnny Rivers' 'Secret Agent Man'. Not that the songs sounded alike, rather they embraced the same garage rock ethos and shared a slightly ominous feel. In fact, this one would fit well on the list of "stalker songs" (think along the lines of The Police and 'Every Breath You Take'). The track sported one of Peace's most impressive vocals and a killer surf guitar solo.
3.) Here's Where I Get Off (Mike Peace) - 2:45 rating: **** stars
Having previously been released as the "B" side on the last Attila and the Huns single, 'Here's Where I Get Off' was a sweet ballad showcasing Peace's plaintive lead vocals and the band's wistful backing harmonies. Commercial in the extreme, if this had been released a couple of years earlier, it would have made a dandy single. I would die happy if I could learn the solo Peace played on this one.
4.) Tell Her No (Rod Argent) - 2:00 rating: *** stars
One of three covers, 'Tell Her No' showed the band had good taste when it came to outside material. The song had previously been part of the band's live repertoire with Peace and bassist Lewan handling vocals. Their cover was fine, though basically a rote cover of The Zombies original.
5.) Sweet Lovin' (Mike Peace) - 2:57 rating: **** stars
Previously released as a single, 'Sweet Lovin'' was a nifty slice of Rascals-styled blue-eyed soul. Should have been a massive hit for the group. Here's what Peace had to say about the song: "I wrote a song 'Good Lovin'' with great lyrics, a nice medley (sic) and wanted to add it to the album that we were recording that day. We have been playing this song for more than a year. We heard that The Rascals had a song with the same title that was a number one hit single on Billboard Charts. What can we so, so Lenny LaCour says, make it 'Sweet Lovin'' making it a different song - perfect. This song was number 12 on the radio in Wisconsin. I remember the first time I heard out song on the car radio. I was driving and 'Sweet Lovin' came on WRIG Wassau, WI. OMG. I switched to another station and it was also playing on WMZK Merrill, WI. Also Stevens Point, WI - WSPT was playing 'Sweet Lovin''. What a shock that three stations were playing our song." It was that good. I'd argue the breezy melody was even better than The Rascals' hit.
- 1969's 'Sweet Lovin'' b/w 'Do Your Own Thing' (Dynamic catalog number 1002)
6.) Treat Her Right (Mike Peace - Lenny LaCour) - 2:11 rating: *** stars
I'm not sure why 'Treat Her right' was credited as a Peace-Lacour original, since if was actually a cover of the Roy Head hit. Nice enough performance, but it was also a note-for-note remake of the original.
The lone contribution by drummer Legault, 'Big City U.S.A.' found the band dipping their collective toes into James Brown-styled funk. Hard to imagine a bunch of guys from Wisconsin turning in such a killer track.
2.) Standing At the Wrong Machine (Lenny LaCour) - 2:32 rating: **** stars
In addition to having a wonderful title, 'Standing At the Wrong Machine' demonstrated these guys could easily handle a much tougher, blues-rock sound. Kicked along by some blazing Peace fuzz guitar and anonymous harmonica, this one had a bit of Jim Morrison and The Doors influence scattered across the grooves. Another album highlight.
3.) Get Ready (William Robinson) - 2:42 rating: *** stars
Standard cover of the Rare Earth hit. I'm guessing this had been a song in their Attila and the Huns live set. Peace brought a nice edge to the vocals.
4.) Steppin Into You Fire (Lenny LaCour) - 3:37 rating: **** stars
Kicked along by Peace's fuzz guitar, 'Steppin Into You Fire' found the band toughening-up their sound with the album's most rock oriented performance. Wasn't expecting them to sound so convincing in this genre. Little bit of Hendrix influence in Peace's guitar work on this one ?
5.) Learn How To Love (Mike Peace) - 3:20 rating: *** stars
Returning to a simpler song structure and breezy, blue-eyed soul sound, 'Learn How To Love' sounded like another Attila and the Huns tune that had been resurrected for the album. Kudos to Denny Lewan for the melodic bass pattern.
6.) Do Your Own Thing (Lenny LaCour) - 2:06 rating: *** stars
'Do Your Own Thing' was another James Brown-styled stomper and had previously appeared as the "B: side to their 'Sweet Lovin'' single.
There's at least one other Filet of Soul 45:
- 1970's 'But I'll Try' b/w 'Movin To the Country' (Z.A.P. catalog number SP-001)
In the mid-1970s the band changed their name to Filet of Sound, recording a pair of albums and a string of singles.
Starting in the early-1980s Peace went on to record as a solo act and has an interesting website at: www.1peaceband.com
There are at least two other bands with the same name. There's a mid-1970s outfit that recorded for Mercury featuring guitarist Joe Lynn Turner and a late-1990s Athens, Georgia based folk-rock outfit.
Thanks again to Mike Peace for all of the additional information on the band.
I don't even have a copy of the album myself anymore. Lenny LaCour gave us about 100 and kept the rest of them all in a safe someplace. We sold our 100 in a few weeks playing club dates and then could not get anymore. Is your copy autographed? Most of the ones we sold were signed by the band members.
Lenny wrote some of the lyrics but the band did all the music. We also wrote a few of the lyrics but Lenny as producer got credit for them as well.
Looking back at what we had done it really wasn't all that bad. 90% of the songs were written in one evening and recorded in the studio the next day in about 12 hours. Using studio B which was just 4 tracks, we played all the instrument tracks first then went back and added the vocals. Dave Purple was the engineer and he was fantastic. He later went on to receive a Grammy for engineering the music for the movie "Shaft"
Mike Peace (January 2006)
Peace has a web presence at: http://www.michael-peace.com/index.html
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