Band members Related acts
- Richard Belsky -- lead guitar
- Lyne Bunn (aka Joey Bunn) -- vocals, percussion
- John Fragos -- drums, percussion
- Jim Monahan -- vocals, guitar
- Tom Rubino -- bass
- Paul Venier -- vocals, keyboards, percussion
- Salty Dog (John Fragos and Paul Venier)
- V (Paul Venier)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Stark Naked
Company: RCA Victor
Country/State: Levittown, New York
Grade (cover/record): VG+ /VG+
Comments: original inner sleeve
GEMM catalog ID: 4855
This is one that's just waiting to be discovered ... In fact, had this been released on a small, no-name label it would already be a sought after, high priced collectable. That said, I'll admit that the first couple of times I played the album it just didn't do much for me, but after investing a little time, its become one of my recent favorite finds.
I haven't found much about this short-lived outfit. They were apparently from Long Island, New York and by the time the recorded their self-titled 1971 album, the line up consisted of led guitarist Richard Belsky, singer Joey Lyne (aka Lyne Bunn), drummer John Fragos, guitarist Jim Monahan, bass player Tom Rubino and multi-instrumentalist Paul Venier.
RCA promo material
Signed by RCA Victor, their 1971 debut "Stark Naked" was recorded in New York with Joey Day producing. The results are killer. With all six members contributing material, the collection showcased a sense of confidence and maturity that was surprising for a group of folks who couldn't have been much older than their early 20s. Musically the set's been widely described as progressive. Unfortunately that can be a deadly description and while there are certainly progressive influences throughout the set including 'Look Again' and the stunning eight minute lead off track ''All of Them Witches, the overall album was much more varied, including more than it's share of hard rock. As an example, co-written by lead guitarist Belsky and singer Lyne, the bass-propelled 'Sins' rocks harder than anything I've ever heard from a Long Island band (including The Vagrants). Great melodies, nice vocal performances from both Lyne and Venier (their harmony work kicked the crap out of competitors like The Jefferson Airplane) and suitably dark and haunting lyrics made for a combination that was simply irresistible to my ears. It all came together on the ballad 'Wasted Time'. Elsewhere RCA tapped the pretty ballad 'Done' b/w 'Sins' as an instantly obscure single (RCA Victor catalog number 74-0588).
Unfortunately that seems to be all this outfit did. Dreaded 'management issues' in the form of a crooked business manager who grabbed the money and ran spelled the end of the road. Drummer Fragos and multi-instrumentalist Venier subsequently continued their musical collaboration in the New Jersey based Salty Dog.
Naked" track listing:
1.) All of Them Witches (Paul Venier - Paul Monahan - John Fragos) - 8:50
2.) Done (Paul Venier) - 5:47
3.) Sins (Lyne Bunn - Richard Belsky) - 4:43
2.) Wasted Time (Paul Venier - Jim Monahan) - 4:44
3.) Iceberg (Paul Venier - John Fragos - Tom Rubino) - 5:08
I'm not sure if it's a legitimate project, but the Fallout label has reissued the LP in CD format (Fallout catalog number FOCD2012).
This was one of the first album reviews I posted on my website and this was one of the first LPs that I sold on the web, so I have to admit I hadn't thought of the group in a couple of years. Lo and behold, frontman Paul Venier was kind enough to drop me a note:
Some of the members of Stark Naked grew up together. Jimmy Monahan, John Fragos, Richard Belsky and myself knew each other since we were 5 years old. We played baseball together and then music as we got older. I only see John Fragos once in a while and Rich Belsky. I don't know what happened to the others but I know they all still live in NY. Rich opened a tiffany light and lamp company called Naked Lights and has been doing that ever since, John is a computer whiz and has been doing that since those days and I, as you know, am still in the business doing comedy shows throughout the country and still recording my own music, doing scores, jingles, theme songs, etc..
Anyway, you can more information about me from that website and if you have any more questions about myself or anyone else that was in that band I would be happy to fill in the blanks. Thanks again for the nice things you wrote about the music, it is truly appreciated immensely. We were all only in our teens back then and it was a terrific time of our young lives.
Sincerely, Paul Venier
Turns out Lyne Bunn is also still out there, witness this email he sent to a group that was offering free Stark naked downloads:
So Glad you like the Album-
I just ran across your website and read your really heartfelt 'review'. I'm Joey Lyne (Formerly known as Lyne Bunn) and I did those fun harmonies with Paul Venier and Jim Monahan in "Stark Naked." First, I would like to say thank you so much for your kind recognition and great comments! It's pretty uplifting to hear that our creative, musical efforts are being appreciated with the re-release on Fallout Records/Forced Exposure Distribution. I have been in touch with Paul and try to stay up on his musical endeavors, as he is one of the most talented singer/musician, writer/arrangers I've had the grace to work with.& nbsp; We really did have a great time back then writing together, touring, radio interviews, and performing at clubs, Concerts, and Festivals. If we were able to stick it out, I know that second album would have been a killah! We had the songs, arrangements, and vocals ready as we were negotiating between several labels for the best 'deal' (with the support of Chuck & Marsha Rubin and Jay Black (*lead singer in "Jay and the Americans").
An internet search shows that Belsky went on to enjoy a successful career as a decorative glass designer. He still lives of Long Island. No luck tracking down the other band members.
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