Band members Related acts
- Bernie Schwartz (aka Don Atello, Bernie Ballentune,
Adrian Pride)-- vocals
- Kenny Edwards (RIP 2010) - - guitar, bass, backing vocals
- Gene Garfin -- drums, percussion
- Grant Johnson --
- Kevin Kelly --
- Bill Lincoln -- bass, guitar
- Wesley Watt
- Don Atello
- Bernie Ballentine
- Bryndle (Kenny Edwards)
- The Comfortable Chair (Bernie Schwartz - Gene Garfin)
- Kenny Edwards (solo efforts)
- Adrian Pride
- The Stone Ponies (Kenny Edwards)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: The Wheel
Grade (cover/record): VG/+/VG+
Comments: minor ring wear
Catalog ID: 4198
For some reason I wasn't surprised to discover that Bernie Schwartz was born and raised in Los Angeles (Hollywood).
By the time Schwartz was a teenager he'd become an accomplished sessions guitarist. He'd also struck up a friendship with songwriters Dale Bobbitt and Sharon Sheeley and begun writing material with them.
Under the stage name Don Atello, he released an instantly obscure, Roy Orbison-styled ballad for the small Tide Records:
1963's 'She'll Break Your Heart' b/w 'Forever Please Be Mine' (Tide catalog number T-45-1009 A/B)
Released under his given name, a sophomore 45 was no more successful:
- 1964's 'Questions I Can't Answer' b/w 'It Isn't Right' (Tide catalog number 2002)
1965 saw Schwartz signed by Warner Brothers, where a collaboration with Phil Everly was also commercially stillborn:
-1965's 'Baby Bye Bye-Oh' b/w 'Something's Wrong' (Warner Brothers catalog number 5651).
Credited to Adrian Pride 'Her Name Is Melody' b/w 'I Go To Sleep' (Warner Brothers catalog number 5867), continued his losing streak.
By the mid 1960s Schwartz shifted his attention from performing to writing where he began to make a name for himself; placing material with The East Side Kids, Power and The Yellow Payges. The resulting publicity allowed him to return to recording via the short-lived band The Comfortable Chair. Unfortunately, the band broke up after one poor selling album ("The Comfortable Chair"). Things didn't improve when Uncle Sam served Schwartz with an induction notice. Claiming conscientious objector status, he began working for Goodwill Industries, in his spare time continuing his collaboration with Sheeley who had recently signed a writing deal with Pierre Cosette and Burt Sugarman's newly formed, MGM-affiliated CoBurt Records.
A series of demos saw Cosette and Sugarman sign Schwartz to a recording contract, resulting in the release of 1970's "The Wheel". Produced by Schwartz and Euphonic Productions, the album featured an intriguing group of collaborators, including Comfortable Chair cohort Gene Garfin, former Stone Ponies guitarist Kenny Edwards and Euphoria's Bill Lincoln and Wesley Watt (the album included a cover of Euphoria's "Sunshine Woman"). Showcasing a mixture of original songs and interesting covers (Fred Neil, Randy Newman and Neil Young), musically the set was equally intriguing, spanning the spectrum from the pretty country-rock-flavored title track to light psych ( a cover of Kenny Edwards' "Follow Me"). So what were the highlights? Well, I'll cast my vote for the rocking cover of Fred Neil's "Candy Man" (check out the meltdown guitar solo) and the Euphoria cover "Sunshine Woman". A little too unfocused to be a classic album, but all told, one of my favorite recent discoveries and well worth the price of admission ...
"The Wheel" track listing:
'Where Can I Hide' was an awesome country-rock tune that would have sounded right at home on a late inning Byrds set, or an early Poco album. I can feel my blood pressure dropping several points whenever I hear this one. CoBurt tapped it as a promotional single, but seemingly never released a stock copy.
1970's 'Where Can I Hide' b/w 'Peace On Earth' (CoBurt catalog CPK-1001)
2.) Candy Man (Rose - Fred Neil) - 2:59 rating: **** stars
Frankly, after the opener, I simply wasn't expecting something as rocking and funky as 'Candy Man'. There were a couple of nice meltdown guitar solos on this one.
3.) Lost My Wings (Gene Garlan) - 2:59 rating: ** stars
I'm simply not a big country fan so 'Lost My Wings' did nothing for me.
4.) Round and Round (Neil Young) - 2:48 rating: *** stars
Well, give Schwartz credit for having good taste in outside material ... I'm thinking Neil Young was still a rather daring choice for source material in 1970. Pretty cover, though it wasn't going to make you forget the original song.
5.) Follow Me (Kenny Edwards) - 2:24 rating: **** stars
Written by former Stone Ponies member Kenny Edwards, 'Follow Me' was the album's niftiest tune. Hard to aptly describe, the song was jazzy, but simultaneously rocked out with a surprisingly ferocity. Add in a mile-a-minute stream of lyrics (Dylan would have approved), and a blazing guitar solo and this was one of the album highlights.
Not the most sophisticated social statement you've ever heard, but what it lacked in polish Schwartz made up for with a clear sense of belief. There was almost a childish sense of wonder and hope in these groups. Shame more of us don't feel the same way. Wonder what his view of the world is like today ... The song appeared in the obscure film "The Magc Garden of Staley Sweetheart".
2.) Sunshine Woman (Bill Lincoln - Wesley Watt) - 3:12 rating: *** stars
Nice cover of Euphoria's 'Sunshine Woman'. Euphoria's Wesley Watt provided the dazzling freak-out guitar at the end of the song ... Interesting to hear Schwartz toughen up his vocals on this one.
3.) Don't Make It Bad (Bernie Schwartz) - 1:56 rating: *** stars
Nice, blues-rocker that would have benefited from a slightly longer arrangement
4.) Think It's Gonna Rain Today (Randy Newman) - 2:31 rating: *** stars
Hum, I doubt many folks would have thought to take a Randy Newman tune and turn it into a Buffalo Springfield-styled folk-rocker.
5.) Can't Go On (Bernie Schwartz) - 2:49 rating: **** stars
For years the opening has reminded me of another song and I've never been able to pin it down ... Pretty, big ballad that showcased just how powerful Schwartz's voice was. Nice way to end the album.
Schwartz dropped out of music, supposedly focusing his efforts on writing a series of self-help books.
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