Masters of the Airwaves


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1973-74)

- Jimmy Berick -- vocals, lead guitar

- Jon Flak (aka Jonathan Fredrick Boring) -- vocals

- David Rada -- drums, percussion

- Randy Rand (aka Randy Schuchart) -- bass

 

   line up 2 (1974)

- Jimmy Berick -- vocals, lead guitar

- Jon Flak (aka Jonathan Fredrick Boring) -- vocals

NEW - Charly Lyons -- drums, percussion (replaced David Rada)

NEW - Lee Nelson -- (replaced Randy Rand)

 

 

 

- Acejet and Heatray (Jimmy Berick and Jon Flak)

- Autograph (Randy Rand)

- Cold Steal (Jon Flak and Randy Rand)

- Man Up (John Flak)

- Silverhill (Jon Flak, David Rada, and Randy Rand)

- Trakstod (Jimmy Berick, Charly Lyons, and Lee Nelson)

- Wolfgang (Randy Rand)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Masters of the Airwaves

Company: Epic

Catalog: KE 33060
Year:
 1974

Country/State: San Anselmo, California

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: cut top right corner; demo copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2289

Price: $25.00

 

The short-lived Masters of the Airwaves was built around the talents of lead guitarist Jimmy Berick.  Berick had been kicking around the Northwest music scene playing in a number of local bands when his unique double-necked, 16 string, steel guitar caught the attention of Epic Records.  Signed to a contract in 1973, Berick turned around and recruited singer Jon Flak, who he'd previously worked with in the experimental band Acejet and Heatray.  At the time Flak was playing in the Oregon-based blues-rock band Silverhill.  Flak jumped at the opportunity, bringing Silverhill drummer David Rada and bassist Randy Rand along with him.

 

promo photo left to right: Dave Rada - Jimmy Berick - Randy Rand  - Jon Flak

 

Settling on the hopeful name Masters of the Airwaves, the quartet went into Sausalito's Record Plant studios with producers Jorman Kurban and Michael Sunday (who was responsible for signing Berick to Epic).   Released in 1974, "Masters of the Airwaves" featured a set heavy on originals written or co-written by Berick (including two tracks with the infamous Kim Fowley's fingerprints on them).  On the surface this was a fairly conventional mixture of mid-1970s AOR with occasional progressive nods,.  The album mixed the usual formulaic young-horny-guys-suffering-from-an-overdose-of-lust rock songs ('In It for the Thrill') with a couple of pop-tinged numbers ('Highway To Hell').  Flak was certainly a decent lead singer who seemingly picked up most of his cues from listening to the likes of Paul Rodgers and Robert Plant, though he had a tendency to turn shrill (think John Waite) whenever he pushed himself too hard.  About all I can say is that in the lead vocalist department you've certainly heard worse and you've certainly heard better.  To his credit, most of Flak's performance grew on you after awhile.  The band's rhythm section was more than proficient with bassist Rand turning in some impressive moves (check out his work on 'Light Up the Heavens').  Still, the band's not-so secret weapon and major draw was guitarist Berick whose 'rocked-up' steel guitar made for some unique and entertaining material - imagine the sound of a Hawaiian slat-key guitar fed through the biggest fuzz guitar pedal you've ever heard.  It probably doesn't sound all that promising, but the man certainly generated some interesting sounds hat should readily appeal to any Jimmy Page fan out there.

 

"Masters of the Airwaves" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) In It for the Thrill  (Jimmy Berick - Mars Bonfire) - 5:45   rating: *** stars

The opener 'In It for the Thrill' came off as fairly conventional AOR with Berick's guitar sounding like an amplified Hawaiian slat-key guitar.  Flak's vocals initially came off a bit tentative and sharp, but his performance and the song itself got better as it went along and Berick's guitar solo was intriguing.    

2.) I Believe in God   (Kim Fowley - B. Hobbs - L. Anderson) - 4:26    rating: *** stars

Opening up with some nice acoustic guitar and somewhat surprising religious lyrics (even more surprising consider they were co-written by Kim Fowley), 'I Believe in God' beat the crap out of anything one of those '80s Christian bands (think Stryper) ever came up with.  Once again, Berick's effects laden solo provided the highlight.   

3.) Stay Away From Mirrors   (Jimmy Berick - Kim Fowley) - 3:23   rating: *** stars

Probably the album's most commercial effort, 'Stay Away From Mirrors' had a reasonably memorable melody, while showcasing the band's likeable harmony vocals and once again Berick's stinging guitar - his playing literally sounded like a swarm of attacking bees.    

4.) Light Up the Heavens   (Jimmy Berick - M Checik) - 5:15    rating: **** stars

Progressive in the same fashion you might consider a band like Ambrosia, or Kansas to be progressive, 'Light Up the Heavens' didn't do a great deal for me the first couple of times I heard it, but it proved to be one of those songs that grew on you if given a chance.  The song started out sounding like a Zeppelin-esque clone with some of Berick's patented stinging guitar adding color.  The song then exploded into a much more multidimensional effort with some nice Randy Rand bass and one of Flak's better vocals.   

 

(side 2)
1.) Anna King Jamaica   (Jimmy Berick) - 3:40    rating: *** stars

The side two opener 'Anna King Jamaica' found the band dabbling with an interesting mix of reggae rhythms and hard rock.  Not something you'd expect to hear, but the results were quite striking and the song included one of Berick's best solos.    

2.) Back in '51   (Jimmy Berick - M Checik) - 3:35    rating: *** stars

'Back in '51' was a rather conventional, straight-ahead rocker.  Pleasant, but nothing spectacular.   

3.) Squeeze Me Positive   (Jimmy Berick)  - 2:35   rating: *** stars

There wasn't a single original note to be found on the track, but sounding like he'd been swallowing nails for lunch, the rocker 'Squeeze Me Positive' struck me as Flak's best performance.    

4.) Highway to Hell    (Jimmy Berick - M Checik) - 3:43   rating: *** stars

No this 'Highway to Hell' wasn't a cover of the AC/DC classic ...   Instead this was a mildly pop-ish number that actually sounded like something a band like Head East, or REO Speedwagon might have included in their repertoire.  Nice harmony vocals on this one ...   

5.) Gettin' Tight    (Jimmy Berick - Randy Rand - David Rada - Jon Flak) - 6:00     rating: ** stars

The lone band credited composition, 'Gettin' Tight' was another standard bar band rocker.  Yeah kicked along by Berik's slashing guitar, it had a mildly funky feel to it, but on the originally scale this one didn't even make a dint.  

 

The band toured in support of the album, including some  Midwest opening slots for the band Kansas, but sales were dismal.  Your typical personality conflicts subsequently kicked in and Flak was promptly kicked out of the band which quickly folded.

 

On first listen nothing special, but this is one of those albums that rewards a listener's patience.  Definitely worth the price of admission, if only to hear Berick's unique guitar.


 

Under his given name Randy Schuchart), Randy Rand played in he metal band Autograph.

 

Over the next two years Flak struggled on with a number of outfits including Redding, Acejet, Masters, and The Morgan Blackwood Group.  In 1976 he dropped out of music, got married, and joined the Air Force where he was trained to repair F-111 Aardvark electronic warfare boxes.  In an ironic move, he auditioned for a job singing with an Air Force band and closed out his tour of duty touring worldwide for the military.  He's still active in music, fronting a three piece named Man Up.

 

For anyone interested, Flak has a small web presence and provides a bit of autobiographical information about the band at:

http://jboring.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=1

 

 

 

 

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