Holy Ghost Reception Committee # 9

Band members              Related acts

- Dennis Blair -- guitar (1967-69)

- Rich Esposito -- guitar (1969)

- Larry Johnson -- bass, guitar keyboards (1967-69)

- Bob Kearney -- rhythm guitar (1967-69)

- Mark Puleo -- lead guitar, harmonica (1967-69)



- Dennis Blair (solo efforts)

- Justice (Dennis Blair)





Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Songs for Liturgical Worship

Company: Paulist

Catalog: P-04425

Year: 1968

Country/State: New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: includes the rare lyric insert

Available: SOLD

GEMM catalog number: SOLD

Price: SOLD


Dennis Blair, Larry Johnson, Bob Kearney and Mark Puleo met while attending New York's Regis Jesuit High School.  Apparently bored out of their collective minds, they started writing and playing their own music at daily Catholic masses.  Somehow convincing Jesuit Anthony Myers and school administrators to support their rock star visions, they ended up with a recording contract with the Catholic Paulist Press (which was better known for publishing religious tracts than selling rock albums).  


One of the things that's always interested me regarding this LP are the divergent descriptions.  Some of the reviews we've seen label it as throwaway pop, while others describe it as a lost psych classic.  Well, I'll try to set you straight by telling you it's neither.  


Produced by Richard Alderson, 1968's "Songs for Liturgical Worship" was recorded at New York's Impact Studios.  Musically the album featured twelve original numbers, though roughly half of the tracks were apparently written by non-band member fellow class members - Edward Donion, John Goeke, Steve Mader, Joseph Piecora and Joseph Sclafani.   As you'd expect given the circumstances it was recorded under, lyrically and thematically all twelve songs reflected a deeply religious orientation.  Though some listeners might be bothered by the set's overt religious orientation, to my ears one of the biggest surprises stemmed from how progressive selections such as 'Day After Day' and 'Pray' came off as.  Sure, there's lots of God references, but for the most part the sentiments were subtle, rather than in-your-face obnoxious.  Musically the collection was also surprisingly impressive.  Given all four members were still in their teens, they played with considerable confidence - the addition of "guest percussionist" Norman Grossman certainly helped.  Elsewhere, exemplified by tracks such as 'Hand On Your Shoulder', 'Step Into the Wind' and 'That Day', the band's affection for Byrds-styled folk rock was quite apparent.  Among my favorites, the rocking 'The Magic Ice Cube', 'There's a Voice Inside' and 'Pray' which sported a nice social commentary lyric and psych-ish feel to it.  Sure the results weren't perfect (witness the out of tune vocals on 'The Resurrection'), but the set's sense of innocence and raw sound were quite quite appealing.  


"Songs for Liturgical Worship" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) The Resurrection   (Joseph Sclafani) - 

2.) Day After Day   (Steve Mader)

3.) Psalm 22  (Joseph Sclafani) - 

4.) Step Into the Wind   (Dennis Blair) - 

5.) Pray   (John Goeke) - 

6.) That Day   (Edward Donion) - 


(side 2)

1.) The Magic Ice Cube   (Joseph Piecora) - 

2.) Hand On Your Shoulder   (Robert Campbell) - 

3.) There's a Voice Inside   (Mark Puleo) - 

4.) Who  (Joseph Sclafani) - 

5.) Hymn To a Sad Lady   (Joseph Piecora) - 

6.) He's a Christian   (Mark Puleo) - 




Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Torchbearers

Company: Paulist

Catalog: P-04426

Year: 1969

Country/State: New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

GEMM catalog number: 5112

Price: $400.00


Like the debut, the group's second and final release "The Torchbearers" was recorded at New York City's Mastertone Studio with Elmer Jared Gordon producing.  Their sophomore release again featured all original material submitted by the band and fellow Regis High School students.  Tracks like fuzz guitar propelled 'Know They're You', the title track and 'Rise Up' showcased an array of subtle and non-so-subtle religious and social commentary overtones, but this time around the band (all still in their teens) sounded more comfortable and confident in their studio surroundings, opening up and giving the album a more musically diverse and appealing sound.  The leadoff rocker 'Walk Across the Waters' and 'You Think Differently' were wonderful Byrds-esque jangle-rock tunes.  'Hey Lord' may be the best garage rocker ever dedicated to Jesus Christ', while 'Magnifcat ' 70' sported a surprisingly psychedelic sound (you have to wonder what the Jesuits thought about that one).  Other highlights included the anti-segregation themed 'Them's-a-Comin'' and the outright bizarre 'Jesus H. Clown'.  The fact these guys were only 15 - 16 made the results even more impressive.  (Looking at the back cover it should make you laugh (or perhaps cry) knowing that in 1969 you could buy a copy of their debut album for $4.95.)


"The Torchbearers" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Walk Across the Waters   (Mark Puleo) - 2:20

2.) Know They're You   (Bob Campbell) - 3:15

3.) You Think Differently   (Mark Puleo) - 3:20

4.) Them's-a-Comin'   (Mark Puleo) - 2:48

5.) The Torchbearers   (Dennis Blair) - 3:20


(side 2)

1.) Hey Lord   (Mark Puleo) - 2:32

2.) Magnifcat '70  (Joseph Sclafani) - 4:07 

3.) Jesus H. Clown   (Joseph Piecora) - 3:18

4.) What Do You Ask of Me?   (Dennis Blair) - 4:10

5.) Rise Up   (Dennis Blair) - 2:35


Since they never toured or promoted either album, this one marked the end of their recording career.


A couple of years ago I tracked Brown down and exchanged a couple of emails with him.  He seemed friendly enough and somewhat amused that his old group was attracting attention, but really didn't have a great deal to shed on the band.  He subsequently did an interview with The Lancet which similarly didn't shed a great deal of light on the band. In his personal life Brown went on to some success as a stand-up comedian and has a web presence at:  




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