Town Criers


Band members               Related acts

- Skip Brooks -- keyboards, rhythm guitar

- Benny Joe Devine -- percussion

- Ron Stephenson -- bass

- Ed Wing -- lead guitar

 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  

Company: Town Criers Records

Catalog: none

Year: 1971

Country/State: Louisville, Kentucky

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: signed by all four members on back cover

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5367

Price: $75.00

 

This one's a complete mystery to me.  That's compounded by the fact there are at least five outfits out there with the same name including 1960s bands from Australia, California, and Texas.  Unfortunately I couldn't find anything about this particular band in the hardcopy references I own, nor through web searches ...   Still there must be some kind of information on these guys out there.  

 

Given those limitations the only bibliographical tidbits I can report come off of the LP liner notes:

 

- Band members were keyboardist Skip Brooks, percussionist Benny Joe Devine, bassist Ron Stephenson, and lead guitarist Ed Wing.

- The album was recorded at Louisville's Sambo Sound Studios (standing for Sanders-Allen-Martin Booking Organization - poorly chosen acronym there guys).

- The LP was engineered by former Chessmen drummer Wayne Veach - no production credits.

- Apparently a vanity project, the album was released on their own Town Crier label

 

Yeah, I'll readily admit there's not a lot of detail there.

 

So what's 1971's "4 " sound like?  Musically the collection offered up a mixture of original material (penned by keyboardist Brooks) and FM rock covers.  The lead off medley of Joe Cocker's 'Somethin' Coming On' and Chicago's 'Does Anybody Know What Time It Is' served to characterize their sound - a strange, but intriguing mixture of southern pop, with occasional nods to English rock and progressive genres.  The inclusion of two King Crimson covers ('Talk To the Wind' and 'Peace/Theme') underscored their penchant for progressive material, though their takes were substantially smoothed over compared to the originals.  While the lead singer wasn't credited, he had a nice, radio-friendly, if somewhat anonymous voice (easy to picture him doing radio commercials in his spare time), while the rest of the band were competent players and contributed some nice backing group harmonies to the ten tracks.  Imagine a weight lifting version of The Association had they been from the South and you'll get a feel for what tracks like 'Bye and Bye' and 'Peace/Theme' sounded like. Other highlights included the Brooks originals 'Hey Brother' and 'Corry'.  The latter was a major surprise to me.  Normally overly sensitive singer/songwriter ballads don't do much for me, but this was one of those exceptions.  Beautiful song.  Sure the album wasn't perfect.  The mandatory Beatles cover 'Lady Madonna' was forgettable, the political commentary in the country-ish 'J. Edgar Swoop' hasn't dated well, their cover of The Hollies' 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' added nothing to the original and the poem 'Poems' wasn't the least bit funny..  Still given my low initial expectations (and one of the worst album covers I've ever seen), I have to admit that I found the album to be a major charmer.  

 

"4" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Somethin' Comin' On   (Chris Stainton - Joe Coker) / Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?   (Robert Lamm) - 

2.) Lady Madonna   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 

3.) J. Edgar Swoop   (M. Williams) - 

4.) Talk To the Wind   (Ian MacDonald - Pete Sinfield) - 

5.) He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother   (B. Scott - B. Russell) - 

 

(side 2)
1.) Hey Brother   (Skip Brooks) - 

2.) Corry   (Skip Brooks) - 

3.) Poems   (M. Williams) - 

4.) Bye and Bye   (Skip Brooks) - 

5.) Peace/Theme   (Pete Sinfield - Robert Fripp - Brian Eno) - 

 

Well the internet again shows its value as a research tool.  I tracked down engineer Wayne Veach who was kind enough to share a little information on the band.

 

All I remember about the band is that they were very talented musicians and lots of fun to work with.  I think the album you have was recorded in 1970 or 1971 in Jeffersontown (near Louisville) Kentucky.  I don't remember exactly where the band was from, but I do remember that they traveled in an RV.   I also seem to recall that they were friends of one of the owners of the recording studio.  His name is Hardy Martin.  I have not spoken to Hardy in years.  I don't even know if he is still alive. There were other albums, but I don't recall their names.  

 

Wayne Veach

February 2008

 

 

 

 

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