David Peel & the Lower East Side
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1967-69)
line up 2 (1969)
- Harold C. Black -- tambourine, backing vocals
- George Cori
line up 3 (1969-71)
supporting musicians: (1970)
- Tony Bartoli -- drums, percussion
Bushler -- bass
line up 4: (1971-)
- Tommy Doyle -- bass
- Rank Lanci --
- Billy Minelli --
- David Peel (aka David Michael Rosario) --- vocals, guitar
line up 5: (1977)
- Michael Angelo -- backing vocals
- Scott Bailey -- drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Tom Doyle -- bass
- Leslie Fradkin -- acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards,
percussion, backing vocals
- Jeff Gillman -- lead guitar
- Fred Kramer -- drums, percussion
- Danny Lipman -- percussion
- Mike Murray -- bass
- Andy Pierce -- lead guitar
- Sal Spicolla - sax
- Paul Thorton -- backing vocals, percussion
- Teenage Lust (Harold C. Black and Billy Joe White)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: The American Revolution
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Namesake David Peel started out as a New York City street musician. With backing from assorted friends and hanger-ons, Peel somehow attracted the attention of Jac Holzman's Elektra Records.
Produced by Peter Siegel, the group's sophomore album "The American Revolution" came out in 1970. Unlike their live debut, the second collection was a studio project that underscored Peel's four main interests - drugs ('Legalize Marijuana'), sex ('Girls, Girls, Girls'), social activism ('Hey, Mr. Draft Board'), and drugs ('I Want To Get High'). As a live document, 1969's "Have a Marijuana" always struck me as being pretty lame, but this album had a much tougher rock sound. Admittedly Peel sounded like he was singing with a clothes hanger covering his nose and marbles in his mouth. The rest of the band were only borderline proficient. Okay, bassist Herb Bushler was actually pretty good. That said, these guys managed to generate a surprisingly intriguing mixture of garage and punk moves. Seriously, these hippies managed to sound tougher than a host of late-'70s punk bands - check out the blazing 'I Want To Kill You'. Loud, aggressive, counter-culture, marginally threatening (at least in 1970). MOR America clearly wasn't ready for Peel and company. The funny thing is lyrically this thing was pretty much a mess. I guess it was a case of you had to be there to get it., or to understand why it was threatening. Listening to it some forty years later, I'll simply say much of the album hasn't dated all that well with whatever ominous edges that may have existed, having faded away. So was this album terrible ? Nope. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. Call it a timepiece and you'd have the right framework to compare it to. Remember that aging uncle who came to holiday dinners and claimed he was at Woodstock ? Well, treat this album with the same mixture of bemusement and pity and you'll set off with the right expectations.
American Revolution" track listing:
1.) The Lower East Side (David Peel) - rating: *** stars
Geez, now you know where The Clash copped some of their musical influences and snarling, up-yours attitude from. Seriously, Peel and company came off as a bunch of proto-punks on this surprisingly hard edged rocker. More cowbell please ... LOL
2.) The Pledge of Allegiance (David Peel) - rating: ** stars
Stupid then and still stupid now ...
3.) Legalize Marijuana (David Peel) - rating: *** stars
More of a chant than a song ... it's amazing that Elektra allowed this one to actually get recorded. Imagine a bunch of badly behaved kindergartners screaming for longer recess periods and you'd get a feel for what this one sounded like. Hum, Peel was simply 44 years too early and living in the wrong state - New York, rather than Colorado.
4.) Oink Oink (David Peel) - rating: ** stars
About all I can say is that even for the early-'70s this one was a bit heavy handed. Lots of oinks in the lyrics.
5.) I Want To Get High (David Peel) - rating: *** stars
Well, the lyric was sophomoric, but the melody was actually one of the album's stronger compositions.
I have no idea why. The lyrics were simplistic, if not outright stupid and occasionally brutally offensive. That said, the song actually rocked out (ignoring the needless sound effects), and Peel's limited voice sounded pretty good on this one. There was something highly amusing in hearing Peel scream he wanted to kill you while being backed by a sweet chorus.
2.) Girls, Girls, Girls (David Peel) - 3:55 rating: *** stars
Ah, the softer side of Peel and company ... Is it just me or did he sound like he was about to hack up a lung ?
3) Hey, Mr. Draft Board (David Peel) - 3:42 rating: **** stars
I have to admit this one always makes me smile. It was also one of the few tracks where Peel's anti-establishment rant made sense and you really couldn't argue with the "I don't want any more wars" sentiment.
4.) God (David Peel) - 2:23 rating: *** stars
Yeah, his voice was best described as a train wreck, but there was something charming in the acoustic ballad 'God'. Maybe Peel wasn't the complete dunce so many originally thought.
Peel and company actually toured in support of the album, but the following year Black and White (snicker)), left to form the band Teenage List
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Bring Back the Beatles
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: Czech reissue
Catalog ID: 3317
Credited to David Peel and the Apple Band (released on Peel's own Orange Records), 1977's "Bring Back the Beatles" was seemingly intended as a heartfelt tribute to The Fab Four. ( Recognize that "heartfelt" is a relative term for any David Peel project.) Musically this was pretty much a hot mess. Peel's singing voice remained a challenge and his ability to craft a memorable, let alone coherent song was definitely strained across these two sides. While tracks like 'Bring Back the Beatles' and 'Apple Beatle Foursome' displayed Peel's childish sense of affection for The Fab Four, that sense of enthusiasm only carried the listener so far. Songs like the opening spoken word 'The Beatles Pledge of Allegiance', 'Turn Me On', and 'The Wonderful World of Abbey Road' were just crappy (no matter how heartfelt). And just when you thought I was going to thoroughly trash the album, let me surprise you by telling you there was one good song and a couple that didn't completely suck. I have no idea how it fit into The Beatles theme, but 'Coconut Grove' was one of the most coherent things Peel ever recorded. Reinterpreting Lennon's classic 'Imagine' as a punk-reggae tune probably pissed off most Beatles fans, but the results were actually mildly entertaining. Similarly, recasting 'With a Little Help from My Friends' as a Wings tune was different. Not sure it was a great idea, but it did capture your attention.
I guess Peel's friendship with John Lennon stopped Apple from filing a lawsuit over the "Let It Be" appropriated cover.
Back the Beatles" track listing:
1.) The Beatles Pledge of Allegiance (David Peel) - 0:16 rating: * star
Seriously, Peel and company literally spewed out a mindless pledge to the Fab Four. Your four year old could have come up with something more original.
2.) Bring Back the Beatles (David Peel) - 2:50 rating: ** star
Well it had a melody, but the lyrics weren't sophisticated enough to be labeled childish. Add the fact Peel sounded like he was signing with a life threatening nasal infection and you just wished this mess would quickly come to an end. Gawd only knows why, but this track was actually released as a single:
- 1977's 'Bring Back the Beatles' b/w 'Imagine' (Orange Records catalog number OR 1001A/B)
3.) Coconut Grove (David Peel) - 3:40 rating: **** stars
Giving credit where due, the bouncy 'Coconut Grove' was an unexpected surprise - namely it was a halfway decent song and the performance wasn't bad. Admittedly I didn't have a clue how it tied into the overarching Beatles concept, but then this was a David Peel project ... Hearing this one, I've always wondered if Peel had a lisp ...
4.) Imagine (John Lennon) - 3:48 rating: *** stars
Well, most folks would be hard pressed to recognize this as the classic John Lennon tune. That's probably a good thing since this punk and reggae-tinged remake was rather strange. I guess Peel's heart was in the right place and I'll give him credit for coaxing a smooth, highly professional sound out of his ragtag Apple Band. That's not to imply the remake was good ... The video and sound quality are poor, but YouTube has a rehearsal clip of the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0_PvTl8JrQ
5.) Turn Me On (David Peel) - 2:20 rating: ** stars
David, David, David ... you poor man. Hearing Peel seemingly playing it straight was simply painful. Where was the buffoon Peel when you really needed him?
6.) Lollipop Fish (David Peel) - 3:28 rating: *** stars
Well the title certainly recalled "Magical Mystery Tour" era Beatles ... And while it sounded like it had been recorded in a high school shower room, the nonsensical 'Lollipop Fish' was actually mildly entertaining.
7.) The Wonderful World of Abbey Road (David Peel) - 3:30 rating: ** stars
Geez, have you every wanted to hear a bunch of stoned New York buskers trying to fake English accents? No, me neither. I've listened to this one dozens of times and still don't have a clue what the hell it's about. Does every David Peel song include a la-la-la segment ?
8.) Apple Beatle Foursome (David Peel) - 3:04 rating: ** stars
With a bland sing-along melody, and a segment dedicated to each band member, 'Apple Beatles Foursome' was another track where Peel's childish affection for the band allowed you to overlook how bad the song really was. At least the la-la-las were short and sweet.
1.) The Ballad of James Paul McCartney (David Peel) - 5:18 rating: *** stars
Wouldn't you love to know if McCartney ever hear this one and, if so, what he though of it ? Set to a bouncy melody, the lyrics were simply hysterical. You didn't need to be a McCartney scholar to get a laugh out of these five minutes. Having apparently run out of lyrics, of course there was a la-la-la segment.
2.) With a Little Help from My Friends (John Lennon - Paul McCartneyl) - 3:16 rating: *** stars
Geez, what in the world happened here ? Peel took a classic Beatles tune and recast it as a throwaway, mid-'70s Wings tune ... It really sounded like something that McCartney might have written for "Band On the Run" ...
3.) My Fat Budgie (John Lennon) - 2:46 rating: ** stars
'My Fat Budgie' first appeared in Lennon's 1966 collection of poetry "A Spaniard In the Works". I'm not sure how it morphed into a song, but Peel should have left it alone.
4.) Keep John Lennon In America (David Peel) - 8:47 rating: ** stars
I'm not sure if this little ditty would have helped, or hurt Lennon's mid-'70s efforts to avoid deportation. Personally, if it would have shortened the song, I would have voted for deportation. Good luck sitting through almost nine minutes of "keep John Lennon in America" repeated over and over and over and over ... Could they have deported Peel instead ? Yes, there were lots of la-la-las in this one.
5.) The John Lennon Interview (David Peel) - 2:06
6. B-E-A-T-L-E-S (David Peel) - 1:39 rating: * star
And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse ... well it did. C-R-A-P-P-Y !!!
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