The Hot Soup
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969)
- Willie Akridge (RIP) -- keyboards
- Frank Carillo -- bass
- Mario Castellano (aka M.C. Osso) (RIP 1998) -- vocals, lead guitar - Glenn R. Tappan -- drums, percussion
- Frank Carillo (solo efforts)
- Frank Carillo and the Bandeleros (Frank Carillo)
- Doc Holliday (Frank Carillo)
- Golden Carillo (Frank Carillo)
- Kooymans & Carillo (Frank Carillo)
- M.C. Osso (solo efforts)
- Treebo Jazz Band (Glenn R. Tappan)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: Rama Rama
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; minor ring wear; white promo inner label
Catalog ID: 5545
This one's largely a mystery to me - I've looked and looked, but found virtually no bibliographical information on the net, or any of the reference works I own. What little I can tell you about the band comes from the brief inner sleeve liner notes by producer Saul Mizrahi.
Here's an executive summary of Mizrahi's notes - The band consisted of keyboardist Willie Akridge, bassist Frank Carillo, singer/lead guitarist Mario Castellano and drummer Glenn R. Tappan. Born in Havana, Cuba and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, by the time he was a teenager Castellano was touring throughout the South as a member of The Pods who were apparently a Beatles influenced cover band. He met Akridge while playing a show in Dothan, Alabama and a couple of years later the two somehow crossed paths with Carillo and Tappan and began playing around New York City where they caught the attention of manager Billy Mann who helped get them signed to Hy Mizrahi's small Hollywood, California based Rama Rama Records.
Packaged in an extremely psychedelic looking cover, 1969's Mizrahi produced "Openers" looked pretty promising when I stumbled across it at a community yard sale. So much for judging bands by their album covers ... With Castellano and Carillo separately responsible for all twelve tracks, the cover was the most psychedelic feature here. Most of the album found the quartet splitting their time between blue-eyed soul and harder Vanilla Fudge styled rockers. Imagine a heavier and less talented version of The Young Rascals and you'd get a feel for songs like 'Gettin In My Way Again', 'He Answered My Prayers' and 'Why Do You Want To Hurt Me'. I'm a big Rascals fan so that comparison was meant as a compliment in my book. At the other end of the spectrum the fuzz drenched blues-rocker 'Ain't No Reason', 'You Took Me By Surprise' and 'Groovy Feelin' featured a much harder Vanilla Fudge/Frijid Pink edge. Other positives - Castellano had a nice and highly versatile voice while the band played with considerable energy throughout. Drummer Tappan was quite good on tracks like 'Groovy Feelin'.
And that was apparent the end of the story ... All told a pleasant discovery, though nothing to spend your next paycheck on.
"Openers" track listing:
1.) Gettin' In My Way Again (Frank Carillo) - 2:15 rating: *** stars
Powered by some tasty Willie Akridge organ moves, the album opened up with a surprisingly nice slice of blue-eyed soul in the form of 'Gettin' In My Way Again'. The tune was also tapped as the album's leadoff single:
- 1969's 'You Took Me By Surprise' b/w 'Gettin In My Way Again' (Rama Rama catalog number RR-7775)
2.) Baby's Wearing Blue (Mario Castellano) - 2:15 rating: ** stars
The quasi-Flamenco opening was nice, but from there 'Baby's Wearing Blue' sounded like a flat Paul McCartney tune. The song also had some of the lamest rhymes you'll ever hear.
3.) He Answered My Prayers (Mario Castellano) - 2:16 rating: *** stars
Thankfully 'He Answered My Prayers' found the band going back to garage / blue-eyed soul. Curiously the lyrics were rather secular, though the bouncy melody obscured that fact.
4.) Listen Now (Frank Carillo) - 2:02 rating: *** stars
Initially 'Listen Now' went by without leaving much of an impact, but after hearing it a couple of times Mario Castellano earnest, labored vocals and the song's slightly flat delivery demonstrated their charms.
5.) Why Do You Want To Hurt Me (Mario Castellano) - 2:34 rating: **** stars
Given Castellano Carribbean roots it was surprising 'Why Do You Want To Hurt Me ' was the first performance to reflect any sort of Latin feel. While you weren't going to mistake this for Santana, built on a tasty Castellano guitar riff and some nice percussion moves it was one of the album highlights.
6.) Groovy Feelin (Mario Castellano) - 3:09 rating: *** stars
Powered by Tappan's first rate drumming, 'Groovy Feelin' ended side one' with one of the album's hardest rocking tune. Complete with some nice Castellano fuzz guitar this was the track I would have pushed as a single. In fact the tune was released as a promo 45:
- 1969's 'Groovy Feelin'' b/w 'Farewell Sweet Papa' (Rama Rama catalog number RR-7785)
Kicked along by Castellano's fuxzz guitar, 'You Took Me By Surprise' was the album's toughest rocker. The earlier Vanilla Fudge/Frijid Pink comparisons were very apt on this one.
2.) You Got To Set Me Free (Mario Castellano) - 2:08 rating: *** stars
Back to blue-eyed soul ... Nice dance groove on this one.
3.) Oh No! Not Again (Mario Castellano) - 3:02 rating: *** stars
Totally unlike anything else on the album, 'Oh No! Not Again' was a restrained ballad. The sing-along title chorus was surprisingly catchy.
4.) Once Before (Mario Castellano) - 2:50
5.) Farewell Sweet Papa (Mario Castellano) - 3:15 rating: **** stars
Willie Akridge's Hammond gave 'Farewell Sweet Papa' a nice jazzy vibe and the laidback groove made a nice change from the band's typical manic delivery.
6.) Ain't No Reason (Mario Castellano) - 2:23 rating: *** stars
Showcasing Castellano's thick sustain fuzz guitar, 'Ain't No Reason' offered up a professional, but bland slice of electric blues. Yeah it grooved, but you'd heard these moves dozens of times before so it was hard to be all that enthusiastic.
Akridge's post-Hot Soup career found him playing in a number of bands including High Street Carnival, Cadillac Jack, The Woolvin James Band, and Quick. He apparently continued to play keyboards till the end of his life - he apparently died in the mid-1990s though I've never seen his obituary.
Carillo subsequently hooked up with the under-rated Doc Holiday and then enjoyed an extensive solo recording career and though it doesn't mention The Hot Soup, he has an extensive website at:
Tappan remained active in music operating GRT Unlimited Recording Studios in Florida and still plays and is a member of the Treebo Jazz Band.
Castellano reappeared with a 1974 album issued under the name M.C. Osso - "Umbra Penumbra" (Axe catalog number 2269). I've only heard snippets of the set, but it has kind of a Ritchie Havens folk flavor. In later years Osso turned his attention to art.
He died of cancer in 1998. https://www.msmokemusic.com/msr-artists
Available as a digital download, Johnny Pierre's Mind Smoke label also released an eleven track posthumous collection of Osso material - "American Zoom Anthology"
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