Onion


Band members                             Related acts

- Dan Chapman -- vocals, keyboards, harmonica, flute

- Dennis Wilkinson -- vocals, guitar

 

 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Made for Plate

Company: Tiger Lily

Catalog: TL 14040
Year:
 1976

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small cut out hole top right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6310

Price: $1,000.00

 

So where to start with this one ...  Morris Levy's Tiger Lily tax scam label has more than its share of high priced obscurities, but here's one of the rarest of the rare.  In fact Onion's "Made for Plate" is so obscure it doesn't show on any Tiger Lily discography I've seen.  It doesn't show in Patrick Lundborg's The Acid Archives, Vernon Joynson's Fuzz, Acid and Flowers, Popsike.com. or any other hardcopy of online reference work I've researched.   I've looked and looked and can't find a single reference to it online, let alone another copy for sale.  Yeah - this LP isn't something you're going to stumble across every other day.

 

In typical tax scam fashion, 1976's "Made for Plate" is a thorough mystery.  There were no performance, or production credits.  Other than writing credits (four separate names), the track listing and a reference to the publishing company Koppelman - Bandier/Hoblong Music BMI, there were no liner notes.   I do know that Charles Koppelman was an executive with CBS Records and in the mid-1970s he quit forming his own company with lawyer Martin Bandier.  As The Entertainment Company (great name), the company became heavily involved with administering song catalogs, placing material with artists, and production work.  So how'd they cross paths with Morris Levy and Tiger Lily ?   Someone out there certainly has the answer ...   Just speculation on my part, but the album didn't really sound like the product of a unified, self-contained band.  The multiple songwriters, different singers, and varied musical styles left me with the impression these eight songs might have been pulled from various demos the company acquired and then were haphazardly stitched together into a throwaway package.  As a tax scam release there obviously wasn't any interest in promoting the collection (let alone pressing many copies of the album), so who would have cared if Tiger Lily did something like that ...

 

"Made from Plate" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Colorado  (C. Weylon) -   rating: *** stars

As you might have expected from the title, 'Colorado' was a pretty country-rock number.  The anonymous lead singer had a pleasant, somewhat forlorne voice that actually sounded a bit like a more melodic version of Neil Young.  The song itself had a nice acoustic guitar-propelled melody that would have sounded right at home alongside mid-1970s Firefall, Loggins & Messina, or Poco songs.  Speeding the track up a notch and ditching the irritating female backing vocalists wouldn't have hurt.   

2.) Black Cloud  (C. Weylon) -    rating: **** stars

'Black Cloud' opened up with some tasty jazzy guitar and quickly morphed into dark, disturbing diatribe against oppression of the American Indian.   Imagine CSN&Y deciding to take on the topic and you'll have a feel for what this one sounded like.   Kicked along by some raw fuzz guitar and one pissed off vocal from the anonymous singer, the track was quite impressive.   

3.) Children Hold On   (Jim Bucke) -   rating: *** stars

'Children Hold On' was a beautiful pop number with one of those uplifting mid-1970s lyrics that may induce a diabetic coma for the unwary.   

.) My, My, My, My   (Dennis Wilkinson) -   rating: *** stars

Based on the raw, unpolished sound quality, 'My, My, My, My' sounded like a demo.  Musically it was a pop number with a quirky, pseudo-English feel.  Imagine something out of Badfinger's late-inning catalog, or perhaps something Emmitt Rhodes my have recorded and you'll have a feel for the sound.   Even as a raw demo the song was enjoyable.  Interesting to imagine what the finished product might have sounded like.  

 

(side 2)
1.) Believe Me   (Dennis Wilkinson) -   rating: ** stars

Hum, 'Believe Me' opened side two  with the album's first disappointment - a spare, acoustic slice of singer/songwriter angst,  Yeah, the flute accompaniment didn't help much.

2.) When Something's Wrong   (Dennis Wilkinson) -    rating: **** stars

 'When Something's Wrong' was an interesting slice of dark pop with some surprisingly and unexpected changes in tempo and melody.  The multi-track lead vocals were also kind of intriguing.

3.) A Lovely Day   (Steve Wilson) -    rating: **** stars

A glistening slice of Anglo-pop complete with a shimmering melody and some sumptuous harmony vocals, 'A Lovely Day' made it clear that songwriter Steve Wilson had been listening to more than his share of Paul McCartney and beach Boys tunes.  A near perfect slice of summer pop ... hard to see how radio could have missed this one !  Oh yeah, radio had no idea this song existed.   

4.) Thanks To All of You   (Steve Wilson) -    rating: **** stars

Another slice of McCartney influenced pop, 'Thanks To All of You' found songwriter Wilson borrowing a page from the McCartney-taps-into-English-music-hall textbook (think about a less gimmicky 'Rocky Raccoon' and you'll have a feel for the general sound).   Not quite as good as 'A Lovely Day', but still highly commercial and radio friendly

 

Not exactly a lost monster, but song for song this one was pretty good; certainly one of the better tax scam releases I've heard.

 

 

 

It's always interesting to hear from folks involved with these projects.

 

Hi Scott,


I tried calling yesterday and left a message on your answering service.
 
My name is Dan Chapman and my songwriting partner is Dennis Wilkinson. I was just informed this week by Dennis that our songs from the early '70s were on an album released on vinyl by Tiger Lily records.

A collector from Switzerland contacted Dennis, inquiring about the album that the collector has. We were astonished, because we had no idea that there ever was such an album made. He mentioned the 3 tracks below, that we wrote and recorded when we were young guys, apprx 1970 at a recording studio in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.

 

We are now trying to locate this album, and primarily want to hear our songs for the first time in 43 years. If you could shed any light on this for us, it would be greatly appreciated. I did some Google searching yesterday and found your site and found out for the first time the name of the album, ONION. And that it is rare. Let me know if you'd like some details about our part of the album. I don't know the other writers credited, but Dennis and I co-wrote the three songs below.

 
Dennis Wilkinson and I wrote the following songs, which we have confirmation on: "My, My, My, My", "Believe Me" and "When Something's Wrong." If there is any way you could get us a copy of these recordings, I would be so very grateful. We haven't heard them since 1970, when we thought we were going to be the next Beatles. :) Thanks for your consideration.
 
 

 

Dennis Wilkinson and I were 19 and had been in a pretty successful high school band, named The Vanilla Rain for several years. We started it when we were 14. When the band broke up, we decided to write original songs together and somehow were introduced John McCauley, who wanted to produce our music. John was older and was pretty cool and he seemed pretty successful. We trusted him and AFAIR signed a contract for him to produce our stuff. He brought us into The Recoding Studio, where we went in every day (or at least pretty regularly) to create original songs. There was never any compensation.


We were pretty excited to be working on our material and hoping for that recording contract with a major label. It was a pretty cool environment for us 19 year olds to be in. They must not have had many other acts there at the time, because we didn't feel too much time pressure to create our music. We felt pretty lucky to have a professional studio at our disposal.

McCauley took some pictures of us. The only thing I have left from those times (besides my continuing friendship with Dennis) is an old proof sheet from the photo session (see jpeg attached, that's me on the left). Everyone there loved the songs and we thought we were headed for a successful recording deal.

I'm not sure how it all ended. I cut my hair and decided I wanted to become a monk at SRF (Paramahansa Yogananda's Self Realization Fellowship). Since I was under age, my parents had to sign the entry forms, but the swami in charge of acceptance there told me I should first go to school, learn a trade and then come back with something to bring to the organization. I'm very glad he did that. I soon enrolled at Cal State Northridge as a music major, switching to an art major when I realized that most of the music students could read music a lot better than I could.
 

cheers,

Dan Chapman (May 2013)

 

Dan also got around to putting some material about the group on his Facebook page.  Well worth a read:  https://www.facebook.com/chapdan/media_set?set=a.10201411765071728.1073741825.1102711155&type=1&l=3927cb29dc

 

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