Band members Related acts
- Vilo Perry (aka Phil Laperi, aka Phil Perry) -- vocals
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Standing Room Only
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)
Catalog ID: 5948
Here's one of the Guinness tax scam releases that falls somewhere in the middle ground in terms of quality, enjoyment and rarity... Curiously, as far as I can tell there isn't a single review of the album to be found on the web ...
Vilo Perry was apparently an alias for Pittsburgh-based singer Phil Laperi; aka Phil Perry. I haven't been able to find a lot of information on Laperi/Perry, but he seems to have kicked around the Pittsburgh music scene throughout the '60s and '70s recording for a string of small local labels; many connected to promoter/label owner Lou Guarino. From what I've been able to piece together Laperi/Perry's recording catalog traces back to the early-'60s when he released a 45 with The Chuck Edwards Band:
credited to Phil Laperi and the Chuck Edwards Band
- 1962's 'Please Come Back' b/w 'Later for You My Carling' (Rene catalog number 45-1151)
credited to Phil Laperi
- 1972's 'A Different Place and Time' b/w 'I Came Up Singing' (AM/FM catalog number 11379)
credited to Vilo Perry
- 1974's 'Highway - 79' b/w 'Highway - 79' (North American Music Industry catalog number N 2016
"A" side credited to Pound of Flesh, "B" side credited to Phil Perry
- 1974's 'Funky March' b/w 'Standing Room Only' (North American Music Industry catalog number N 2027)
- 1975's 'Put A Smile On Your Face' b/w (North American Music Industry catalog number NDJ 2031)
credited to Philip Laperi
- 'The Devil Himself' b/w 'Gotta Be Free' (A&L catalog number AL1 MIL)
This is nothing more than speculation on my part, but in the mid-'70s Guarino was running the North American Music Industries label and Perry was one of his acts, releasing a series of three singles for the label. I would not be surprised if Perry recorded considerably more material for the label and when NAMI collapsed Guarino passed the resulting tapes to Guinness Records.
Produced by Guarino (whose fingerprints are found on a number of other tax scam releases), the brief descriptions I've seen for "Standing Room Only" have always labeled it as funk, or jazz-funk. Imagine my surprise to discover those tags weren't even close. With all ten tracks credited to Phil Laperi, namesake Perry actually had a nice voice. Quite commercial, if somewhat anonymous, Perry was blessed with a voice that was quite versatile, allowing him to handle a number of different genres including country-rock, pop, rock and even a stab at disco-flavored soul. He did it all without breaking a sweat. 'Course he could have been selling chewing gum on some of these tunes ... In fact the album was so diverse you had to wonder if it was a songwriter demo, or a demo intended to showcase Perry's very diversity. And that was the problem with most of the album - the material was so poor. Much of it appeared to be written to cash-in on whatever popular trend happened to be coming down the pike - previously released as a single, 'Highway 79' seemed to take inspiration for C.W. McCall's 'Convoy'. 'Uptown Lady' seemed to be a throwaway effort to cash-in on disco-soul. Of the ten tracks only swamp-rockers 'The Devil Himself' and 'Gotta Be Free' passed muster.
If you could get over the fact it wasn't a funk, or jazz-funk effort the album wasn't half bad. Not even close to the lost classic you might have hoped for, but all told probably better than half of the Guinness catalog. And like most tax scam releases, another one I'd love to know more about ...
Room Only" track listing:
1.) Only Me and You (Phil Laperi) - rating: ** stars
For his part Perry didn't sound all that comfortable on the opening track 'Only Me and You', seemingly uncertain whether it was a pop song, a country-rocker, or a conventional rock song. The song itself was an undistinguished mishmash of the genres which wasn't exactly helped by the heavy orchestration. Forgettable.
2.) Rhythm & Blues, Blues (Phil Laperi) - rating: ** stars
The title 'Rhythm & Blues, Blues' provided a pretty apt description of this country-rocker. The song wasn't bad if you enjoyed Eddie Rabbit-styled top-40 material like the ghastly 'I Love a Rainy Night'. Otherwise forget about it ...
3.) Highway 79 (Phil Laperi) - rating: ** stars
As you probably guessed from the title, 'Highway 79' was one of those country-flavored trucker tunes that were all the rage in the mid-1970s ... Think C.W. McCall. Too country and cute for my tastes, though there was a nice touch of wah wah guitar at the start of the song. The track had previously been released as a single on the North American Music Industry label.
4.) Standing Room Only (Phil Laperi) - rating: ** stars
Compared to the rest of the album, 'Standing Room Only' was actually kind of funky ... Complete with drill sergeant sound effects (I'm not kidding) and chimes, it made for the album's funniest and most enjoyable track (how could you not like a song with a lyric like 'green berets looking mean'). Great song that actually had commercial potential. Would have been a blast to hear James Brown taking a shot at this one.
5.) Plastic Man (Phil Laperi) - rating: *** stars
'Plastic Man' was another atypical offering. Apparently meant to showcase Perry's rock credentials, the song actually sported a rock feel, but the kind of rock that you would have expected to hear from mid-1970s Elvis Presley. Come to think about it, the combination of the Perry's growling delivery, the female backing chorus, and the Vegas-styled orchestration sounded a little like a Presley outtake. By the way that was meant as a compliment.
Side two started with the album's biggest surprise - the disco-soul number 'Uptown Lady'. The first couple of times I heard the song it was so unexpected that I just laughed. Yeah, it was a throwaway number, but perhaps because it was a toss-off it had a certain second tier "love man" charm that was totally unexpected.
2.) The Devil Himself (Phil Laperi) - rating: **** stars
'The Devil Himself' was hysterical. Imagine surrounding Tony Joe White with a battery of the cheesiest synthesizers you've ever heard, putting a gun to his head and telling him to sing a dance number or his days would come to an end. Love this one !
3.) Gotta Be Free (Phil Laperi) - rating: **** stars
Speaking of Tony Joe White, the swampy 'Gotta Be Free' found Perry using the same kind of growl that White made famous. This one really was funky !
4.) Mr. President (Phil Laperi) - rating: ** star
A post-Watergate timepiece, the less said about 'Mr. President' the better.
5.) Poor House (Phil Laperi) - rating: ** star
On the basis of 'Poor House' Clarence Carter didn't need to worry being surpassed in the soul storyteller field. This one was so bad that it actually bordered on being good. Literally one of those songs you had to hear to believe.
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