Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1977-87)
- Dennis Pash -- vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion,
- Kevin Sanders -- vocals, guitar
line-up 2 (1987-)
NEW - James Bordy -- guitar, vocals
NEW - Dennis Bouch -- drums, percussion
NEW - Ross Inden -- bass, guitar
- Dennis Pash -- vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, harmonica
NEW - Roy McDonald -- drums, percussion
NEW - Ray Symzcyk -- lead guitar
supporting musicians: (1987)
- Richie Rubini -- drums
- Et Cetera String Band (Dennis Pash)
- The Kontroversy (Kevin Sanders)
- The Ragtime Skedaddlers (Dennis Pash)
- Things (Roy McDonald)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Kansas City Slickers
Country/State: Kansas City, Kansas
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 5125
I was at a party and a hardcore collector friend played this album without telling anyone who the band was. My immediate thought was Ray Davies and the Kinks, though I didn't have a clue what LP I was listening to. Most of the guests didn't care one way or the other, but being the anal fool that I am, imagine my surprise learning it was Kansas City's The Leopards ...
Skip forward a couple of weeks later when I had time to check out some reviews and information about the band. Turns out virtually every other article made the same Kinks comparison.
Showcasing the talents of Dennis Pash and Kevin Sanders and apparently initially a studio entity, The Leopards are simply a lost treasure. Released on their own Moon label (and sounding surprisingly good for a collection that was recorded in the basement of Dennis Pash's boyhood home), 1977's "Kansas City Slickers" found the pair managing to out-Kink Ray Davies and The Kinks. Mind you I'm not talking mid-1970s comeback Kinks, rather mid-1960s primetime Kinks! These guys managed to nail Ray Davies and company's magical mid-1960s sound without coming off like mindless clones. Their energy and enthusiasm for this material simply exploded across the album. Showcasing all original material (penned by Pash and Sanders), tracks like 'Mind of My Own', '57 Chevy' and 'Bugle Boy' were catchy, clever, and effortlessly evoked Davies at his creative best. For cryin' out loud they even managed to capture The Kinks' very English delivery including music hall influences ('It Must Be Love'). Don't believe it? Check out the opener 'Road To Jamaica' or 'Dancing in the Snow'. And they were from Kansas City to boot ... This is one of those albums where it's simply hard to pick a favorite performance, but if pushed into a corner I'd give the nod to 'Recess' or the pretty ballad 'I Wonder If I'll Ever See You Again'.
City Slickers" track listing:
1.) Road To Jamaica (Dennis Pash) - 3:17 rating: *** stars
It sounded like it had been recorded in a telephone booth, but 'Road To Jamaica' was strange, quirky, and somehow fascinating for it ... Pash's faux-English accent was hysterical. Ray Davies and the Kinks meet Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers ? YouTube has a fascinating live version of the song at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taaGdDcWs6s
2.) Mind of My
Own (Kevin Sanders) - 2:48
3.) Dancing In the Snow (Dennis Pash) - 3:12 rating: **** stars
One of the songs I could have sworn was Ray Davies ... c'mon, tell me you didn't think the same thing? Serious "Muswell Hillbillies" vibe going on here ... winter is on the way.
4.) 57 Chevy (Dennis Pash) - 2:23 rating: **** stars
Yeah, it seems unlikely Ray Davies would know what a 57 Chevy was were it to run him over, but if he did know what one was, this is the kind of love song he would have crafted for it. (For hardcore fans, Kevin Sanders post-Leopards project The Kontroversy recorded kind of a continuation of the song: 1984's 'I'll Get Back My 57 Chevy'.)
5.) Bugle Boy (Kevin Sanders) - 1:53 rating: *** stars
I suspect a mid-'70s band Like The Leopards trying to sell Toytown-esque tunes like 'Bugle Boy' made for some hard slogging.
6.) I Wonder If I'll Ever See You Again (Dennis Pash) - 2:28 rating: **** stars
One of the album's most commercial efforts, 'I Wonder If I'll Ever See You Again' was a glistening slice of power-pop that should have provided the band with a major hit. The track was tapped as a single, but vanished without a trace.
- 1976's - 'I Wonder If I'll Ever See You Again' b/w 'It Must Be Love' (Moon catalog number 102 A/B)
For anyone interestedm YouTube has a nifty 1987 acoustic live performance of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4gHev-elWk
One of my favorite performances, the mid-tempo 'Recess' managed to capture teen frustration with a melody that will simply not leave your head once you've heard it. The guitar runs are amazing.
2.) It Must Be Love (Dennis Pash) - 2:33 rating: **** stars
If Tiny Tim had been blessed with any talent, this is what he would have sounded like. Goofy as all, but insanely charming. Another one that you'll find yourself humming.
3.) I'm On My Way (Dennis Pash) - 2:06 rating: *** stars
Hum, must have really loved this woman if they were willing to drive to Pittsburgh ... Course the fact he apparently didn't know who this woman was might have been an indication of a stalker issue. Another slice of power pop, with a hint of Kinks-meet-new wave jitteriness.
4.) Raggedy Andy Raggedy Ann (Dennis Pash) - 3:16 rating: *** stars
Remember how Paul McCartney used to throw out catchy pop melodies without breaking a sweat ? Well Pash seemed to have the same knack, though this time out he added a mix of country and bluegrass influences to the mix.
5.) Summer's Gone (Kevin Sanders) - 2:25 rating: **** stars
Another stellar slice of pop, this one had some wonderful end-of-summer lyrics, couple with a great melody and some harmonies that should make you breakout into a big smile.
Is this album going to appeal to everyone ? Of course not - especially if you're not a Kinks fan. On the other hand, if you liked the Kinks this will be a treasure. (Reportedly only 1,000 copies of the LP were pressed.)
I've never seen or heard them (looking for copies), but there were also a series of Moon 45s. I'm aware of three, but there may be more:
- 1978's 'Don't Go Away' b/w 'The Only Girl for Me' (Moon catalog number 100)
- 1978's 'They All Play Loud' b/w 'I'm Living In a Jungle' (Moon catalog number 101)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Magic Still Exists
Country/State: Kansas City, Kansas
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 5136
If you think finding a decent copy of The Leopard's 1977 debut is hard, then try looking for an original copy of the band's sophomore LP.
left to right: Ross Inden - Dave Pash - Dennis Bouch - Ray Symzcyk
After the release of The Leopards' 1977 debut the band relocated to Los Angeles, but couldn't make a go of it, subsequently returning to their native Kansas City. A second shot at L.A. proved equally unsuccessful. In the early-1980s front man Dennis Pash finally moved to L.A. full time where he put together a new Leopard's line-up, recording a series of demos while trying to interest a record label in his wares Unfortunately in an era of new wave and disco madness, interest in Pash's English inspired power pop was non-existent. Luckily Pash's persistence paid off. Having sent Los Angeles DJ Rodney Bingenheimer copy after copy of a 12 track demo tape they'd recorded, Bingenheimer took an interest in the song 'Psychedelic Boy'. The resulting airplay caught the attention of the Greg Shaw's Voxx label which promptly released the song as a single:
- 'Psychedelic Boy' b/w 'If You Come Back' (Voxx catalog number 16)
Encouraged by the single's local success Voxx agreed to finance 1987's "Magic Still Exists". Coming a decade after the band's debut, the self-produced LP was every bit as good as the debut. Exemplified by Pash-penned material such as the autobiographical career retrospective 'Back On the Track', 'Last Night' and the earlier single (a sly stab at the Paisley Underground scene) Pash's long-standing Kinks fetish remained firmly in place, though this time around he tempered it with a selection of out-and-out rockers (the lead off 'Block Party' and 'I'm Drowning') and equally enjoyable Paisley underground/new wave influenced numbers ('Harlean's House' and ''Maggie Lane). Personal favorites included the should've been a hit 'It Can Happen To You' and the goofy 'Chief Red Scar's World Famous Herbal Cure Show'. Fun through and through you had to shake your head and wonder why this wasn't a mammoth commercial hit for the band.
Still Exists" track listing:
1.) Block Party (Dennis Pash) - rating: **** stars
Tougher rocking than anything on the debut, 'Block Party' managed to graft a snarling punk edge on to some wonderful '60s pop and surf moves. Great track to open the album and a must-play if you ever sponsor a block party.
2.) Back On the Track (Dennis Pash) - rating: **** stars
Trotting out his best Ray Davies voice, the bouncy 'Back On the Track' underscored Pash's fascination with The Kinks was still firmly embedded in his persona. The song had a killer hook that should have generated some radio airplay (well, if this had been 1967).
3.) Empty People (Dennis Pash) - rating: *** stars
Hum, Pash and company dipping their toes into social commentary ... Oh well, at least it was accompanied by a bouncy, carefree melody and new lead guitarist Ray Symzcyk turned in a tasty solo. Probably not a direction they wanted to pursue on a regular basis.
4.) Last Night (Dennis Pash) - rating: **** stars
Ah, the jangle rocky 'Last Night' was an enjoyable nod to their Ray Davies roots. The funny thing is the effect was even more enjoyable when heard in moderation. One of the album highlights and would have been a massive hit had they released it in 1964.
5.) Harlean's House (Dennis Pash) - rating: **** stars
More Kinks and even better than 'Last Night' ... darn, these guys knew how to churn out some nice harmonies. For anyone interested, YouTube has a low tech live recording of the tune at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDTL4hHSX6E
6.) Psychedelic Boy (Dennis Pash) - rating: *** stars
As mentioned, the pseudo-Vaudevillian 'Psychedelic Boy' was the tune that caught the interest of Voxx Records. I'm guessing the song's Paul McCartney-styled melody was what caught the label's attention, leading them to release it as a single. It's cute in a goofy kind of way, but far from great and pales compared to some of the other tunes on the album. YouTube has a clip of the band performing the song at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9NpknvEHTo
Full of jangle rock guitars and what had to be the year's oddest title, 'Chief Red Scar's World Famous Herbal Cure Show' was a blast from the start to the end. No idea what the hell the song was about ...
2.) It Can Happen To You (Dennis Pash) - rating: **** stars
With a glistening Merseybeat melody, 'It Can Happen To You' was probably the album's most straightforward pop effort and would have been a major hit had it been released in 1965.
3.) I'm Drowning (Dennis Pash) - rating: **** stars
Great tune, hysterical lyrics, and one of the few songs that gave you a hint that they might actually have a unique sound separate and apart from their '60s influences. Great harmonica solo to boot.
4.) Waiting (Ross Inden) - rating: *** stars
Bassist Inden's lone contribution, 'Waiting' was a decent mid-tempo rocker, slightly marred by Inden's flat voice.
5.) Crying (Dennis Pash) - rating: ** stars
The album's only real disappointment, 'Crying' sounded tired, formulaic and was instantly forgettable.
6.) Dusty Treasures (instrumental) (Dennis Pash) -
Great slightly surf-ish melody that left you wondering what this would have been like with a bit more time and effort.
7.) Maggie Lane (Dennis Pash) - rating: *** stars
You had to scratch your head and wonder how a guy from Kansas City managed to churn out such an English sounding song. Nah, it wasn't their finest moment, but it was still a nice way to close the album.
Sanders reappeared as a member of power pop band The Kontroversy.
As far as I can tell Pash is still an active musician, though his interests seem to have turned to ragtime.
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