The Kaplan Brothers


Band members                             Related acts

- Jeff Czech -- bass (1968)

- Ed Kaplan -- percussion, flute (1968-)

- Larry Andies -- bass

- Richard (Dick) Kaplan -- vocals, bass (1968-)

- Scott Klynas -- guitar (1968)

 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: bizarre / real people

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Universal Sounds of the Kaplan Brothers

Company: Kap Records

Catalog: none

Year: 1968

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4715

Price: $180.00

Cost: $66.00

 

Being addicted to vinyl is difficult enough to admit in a public forum, but the added fact that I own all three Kaplan Brothers LPs is one of those things I'm reluctant to readily admit in a public forum ...

 

Where do you even begin with something like this ...  Ed and Richard Kaplan simply epitomize the concept of a Holiday Inn lounge act trying to go hip.  One spin makes it clear why these guys are so popular amongst collectors.

 

Released on their own Kap Records, 1968's "The Universal Sounds of the Kaplan Brothers" is the first of their highly sought after albums.  Musically it offers up a mix of originals, popular MOR hits and the truly bizarre (c'mon, can you imagine the crowd bopping along to 'Hava Nagilia'?).  Backed by bassist Jeff Czech and guitarist Scott Klynas, the album starts out with a bang.  The self-penned instrumental 'Running Scared' sounds like the brothers had been listening to a lot of Enrico Morricones spaghetti western soundtracks while stoned out of their minds (love the whistling segment).  Their popular covers are equally fascinating.  Bobby Hebb's 'Sunny' makes a congas propelled appearance that is as wrong spirited as you can get.  Their dark and pained cover of 'A Taste of Honey' is equally wrong-headed though it sports some killer fuzz guitar (courtesy of Kylnas).   Elsewhere 'Malaguena Solorosa' offers up a bizarre mixture of Spanish and Balkan influences, while Jimmy Webb's'Gentle On My Mind' is reworked to give it a lounge edge that has to be heard to be believed.  These guys must have been a blast to hear live (particular after a couple of beers).  Love the album's back cover.  The 'genre' pictures are hysterical.

 

"The Universal Sounds of the Kaplan Brothers" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Running Scared (instrumental)   (Ed Kaplan - Richard Kaplan) - 

2.) Green, Green Grass of Home

3.) Sunny   (Bobby Hebb)

4.) Malaguena Solorosa

5.) A Taste of Honey

 

(side 2)
1.) Gentle On My Mind   (Jimmy Webb) -

2.) Gone     (Ed Kaplan - Richard Kaplan) - 

3.) This Guy's In Love with You   (Herb Alpert) - 

4.) Yellow Bird

5.) Hava Nagilia

 

 

 

 


Genre: bizarre / real people

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Electric Three Man Hebrew Band

Company: Kap Records

Catalog: none

Year: 1969

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available :1

Catalog ID: 4715

Price: $175.00

 

I'm not sure what the history is on "Electric Three Man Hebrew Band".  The track listing is identical to their "The Kaplan Brothers" release.  The generic cover and revamped title make me wonder if it's a bootleg (raising the question of why anyone would bother), or perhaps reflected a self-financed promotion release.

 

"Electric Three Man Hebrew Band" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) More Today Than Yesterday

2.) How Can I Mend a Broken Heart   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 

3.) Free and Easy (Kaplan Brothers)

4.) Because and Something Medley   (George Harrison) - 

5.) Hava Nagilia

 

(side 2)
1.) Happy (Kaplan Brothers)

2.) Eleanor Rigby   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 

3.) You Lost That Loving Feeling

4.) Sunshine Medley

 


Genre: bizarre / real people

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Kaplan Brothers

Company: Kap Records

Catalog: none

Year: 19??

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened); yellow label variant

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4825

Price: $250.00

Cost: $150.00

 

Having expanded the line up to include a third Kaplan Brother (anyone know his name?), the cleverly titled "The Kaplan Brothers" found the trio kicking the art of lounge music to a new threshold.  A mix of popular hits with a couple of group originals thrown into the mix, the results were so goofy and cheesy that I can't help but start to smile and sing along every time I hear the album.  The brothers were actually pretty good singers with a knack for close vocal harmonies.  Luckily what distinguished them from so much of the competition were their apparent self-confidence and unique sense of Holiday Inn-styled schmalz which reflected lots of congos and an affection for Ennio Morricone-styled whistles.  Highlights included the original 'Free and Easy' which attempted to blend a socially relevant lyric with a bubblegum melody, the second percussion-crazy original 'Happy' and an epic 'Hava Nagilia'.  The latter brought it all together.  It's simply impossible to adequately describe the song's weird charm.  You also get the brothers three totally strange Beatles covers.  Their take on 'Eleanore Rigby' is simply amazing. 

 

Oh, don't let me forget the liner notes:  "Three funky cats, all brothers, having just as much fun on stage as their audience.  Fun is the only way to go when you're with THE BROTHERS.  The Kaplan brother have entertained Lady Bird Johnson and have been the hosts of a one hour nation-wide television show sponsored by the San Antonio World's Fair.  Their diversity and attractiveness have resulted in appearances at concerts with Tiny Tim, The Grassroots, Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph, Serendipity Singers and the Les Elgart Orchestra.  During the last four years, the Kaplans have been playing in such leading rooms as the Pioneer Yacht Resort, Chicago's Marriott Hotel, Chateau Louise Resort, Tobo's of Manhattan, Chicago's Sheraton O'Hare and the Back Room on Chicago's Rush Street.  What kind of sound do the Kaplans have???  Three parts of harmony coming together with a new contemporary sound as well as a healthy golden Oldie Show.  Interwoven voices along with guitar, congo drums and bass blend together in a crisp fresh sound of today that doesn't forget the best of yesterday.  Truly and entertaining show."      

 

 "The Kaplan Brothers" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) More Today Than Yesterday

2.) How Can I Mend a Broken Heart   (Barry Gibb - Robin Gibb - Maurice Gibb) - 

3.) Free and Easy (Kaplan Brothers)

4.) Because and Something Medley   (George Harrison) - 

5.) Hava Nagilia

 

(side 2)
1.) Happy (Kaplan Brothers)

2.) Eleanor Rigby   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 

3.) You Lost That Loving Feeling

4.) Sunshine Medley

 

 


Genre: bizarre / real people

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Nightbird: Electric Symphony

Company: Quinton Records Co.

Catalog: none

Year: 1978

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes signed promo photo

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $250.00

Cost: $145.00

 

Wow, even without playing this album the overwrought liner notes ("Nightbird a desperate nocturnal Spirit seeking any fragment of warmth and compassion it can find.  Nursing the broken wings of love, rage and fury.  Nesting anywhere it can find comfort and strength t restore a song from the wounds of its love so that once again the Spirit can pursue the relentless and dedicated search for the love of life and the life of its love") let you know that this is going to be something different ...  It also poses a major problem in trying to give it a fair grade.  Unless you're a 'real person' fan, or willing to give the Kaplan Brothers credit for their sheer bravery in recording this set, then you probably won't get it.  On the other hand, if your tastes include the bizarre and weird, the four star rating will probably make sense.  Fair warning, this ain't going to be for everyone !!!

 

The third Kaplan Brothers album, 1978's "Nightbird: An Electric Symphony" is in fact one of the holy grails in 'real people' collecting.  Having listened to this album dozens of times, It's simply hard to know where to start ...  If you can imagine actor Richard Harris (of 'McArthur Park' infamy') having consumed a case of burbon and then deciding to stumble into a recording studio to cut a concept album, you'll get the general feel for this collection.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the nine tracks come wrapped in some of the most hysterical mellotron moves you'll ever hear.  The fact the Kaplans were clearly intent on making a big statement makes the results even more bewildering ...  just check out the 'la la la' lyrics that open up 'Vodka and Caviare' (their spelling, not mine).  Barely in-tune (but pompous) vocals, world class lounge act arrangements, way too much whistling, scattered goofy sound effects and those dreadful mellotrons make for an album that can only be described as 'special'.  I'll also tell you that picking the standout track is tough.  Their stab at King Crimson's 'Epitaph' is pretty much beyond description (talk about gumption).  Also in the running is their stone faced cover of The Cascades' 'Listen to the Falling Rain'.  How anyone could turn this piece of pop fluff into a dark and depressing epic is beyond me.  The Kaplans some manage to do it.  Opening with a cheesy rain sound effect, their cover version manages to included nursery rhyme lyrics, a thunder storm segment, a ten second snatch of Edvard Grieg's 'Hall of the Mountain King' and what sounds like a snippet of Yes' 'Roundabout'.  Another possibility for best of show, the spaghetti western-influenced 'Life and Me'.  Regardless, trying to picture the reaction of a Holiday Inn happy hour crowd to this epic (especially if they ever tried to play it live), is truly mind boggling.  'Honey, let's go up and buy a copy of the album during the intermission ...'   (PS - The album includes a signed black and white publicity photo, but if you look at the bottom of the photo, their name is misspelled as 'The Kapan Brothers'.)

"Nightbird" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ode to Life
2.) Vodka and Caviare
3.) Epitaph
4.) Listen to the Falling Rain
5.) Life and Me 

 

(side 2)
1.) Love is Life
2.) Night Bird  
rating: **** stars

Geez, imagine hearing a bizarre mixture of Bill Murray lounge act and a not all that subtle ripoff of David LaFlame's White Bird' ..   Strange and fascinating. 
3.) Happy
4.) He

 

Anyone know the details on these guys?  Some references say they were from California, others Chicago.  Many references say they were a duo, but the cover art and the promo photo that came with the LP show they were a trio.

 

Having asked the question, lo and behold, someone had some information on The Kaplans.

 

 

I found your site some months ago while searching the Kaplan Bros. I then bought their third record which I didn't know existed.  My copy of the second recording has a different cover, just white with the name in black. I bought it from them directly just after it was made. 

 

We were "Adult Groupies" and followed them for several years in the 70's when they played the midwest. When they left for the West Coast, we lost track of them. First saw them when they played at the "Fife and Drum" restaurant in DeKalb Illinois, our hometown. Subsequently followed them when ever we could in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin. I recorded them whenever I could with a very basic two track setup on cassette. One channel plugged directly into their amp, the other a live mike. Eventually I had 20-25 hours on tapes.   

 

When they were on the road, Dick had a travel trailer. On several occasions when they were playing DeKalb, he parked it at our place. Dick was a bachelor and a "ladies man". Ed was married to Vicki (a school teacher) and they had a trailer in Displaines, Il. 

 

When we followed them, they were a trio. Dick played guitar and was the lead vocal, Ed played bongo drums and some flute. The third member was not related to them, his name was Larry Andies. Larry played electric bass and sang falsetto harmony. He was also the composer of most of their original music; "Night Bird' was his. On one occasion Larry came to our place and during the evening played some of his music that the band wasn't using, it was (in my opinion) quite good. 

 

As I said previously, we followed them all over. Our kids were teens at the time so we could pickup and go at a moments notice. We would drive to where they were playing, and after the sets go out with them and have a late night meal, then drive home.

 

One summer when they were working a resort in Wisconsin, we joined them for a long weekend and got to stay at the resort gratis as  "guests of the band". 

 

They kept their "book" updated, introduced new material constantly, Toward the end of our contact with them they were doing more and more of their own (Larry's) material.

 

Our last contact with them was in March of 1974 when they played at a place called the Yardarm in Ames Iowa. We drove out there for their last night (a Saturday) when they finished that engagement they were leaving for California.  After that we lost track of them. 

 

 Just thought you might like to know, especially about Larry the third "Kaplan Brother". 

 

James Webster August 2011

 

 


 

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