Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1971)
- Chuck Blackwell -- drums, percussion
- Ron Gilbert -- bass
- Claudia Lemnear -- vocals
- Ralph L. Scala -- vocals, keyboards
- Joey Stec -- guitar
- Tom Brumley -- pedal steel guitar
- The Blues Magoos (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec)
- Lee Mallory and Joey Stec
- Millennium (Joey Stec)
- Joey Stec (solo efforts)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Klatu Berrada Niktu
Company: United Artists
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 2004
So here's a largely unknown, short-lived band with an impressive pedigree. Bassist Ron Gilbert and singer/keyboard player Ralph L. Scala had been mainstays in The Blues Magoos. Joey Stec had been a member of The Millennium and recorded some solo material. As The Dependables, the line-up was rounded out by former Ikette Claudia Lemnear and drummer Chuck Blackwell.
Signed by United Artists, the group debuted with 1971's "Klatu Berrada Niktu". In case anyone was curious, the goofy name was seemingly inspired by the early-'50s science fiction movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still". I've always been interested by folks that don't follow the norms and with most of the early-'70s musical universe exploring country-rock, these guys decided to take the artistic road less traveled, setting their collective sites on a mixture of Band-styled Americana and Delaney and Bonnie styled blue-eyed soul. In fact, on a couple of songs including 'Loving You More' and 'Get It' they were lucky the The Bramletts didn't sue them for stealing their sound. It was certainly a noble goal, but they had a major shortcoming - neither Scala or Stec were particularly good singers. Imagine a third rate Felix Cavaliere and you'll get a feel for their capabilities. Virtually every one of these tunes suffered from strained vocals that frequently went over the abyss into shrill and irritating territory. They actually had a truly talented singer in Lemnear, but she was relegated to sharing an occasional lead vocal ('Get It, Get It') and backing vocals. Add to that, as the prime song-writers Scala and Stec seemed to have lost their ability to pen a truly memorable melody. Yeah, the opener 'Loving You More' and 'I've Got No Time' were nice Stax-styled rockers and 'Standing Here Alone' was a pretty good Band knockoff, but for the most part their songwriting efforts sounded like they were trying too hard. Shame, since I really wanted this to be a killer album.
Berrada Niktu" track listing:
1.) Loving You More (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec) - 2:49 rating: **** stars
Who would have expected this surprisingly enjoyable slice of Stax-styled soul from a pair of Blues Magoos survivors ? Great horn charts to boot. On the other hands, these guys were more than lucky that Delaney and Bonnie didn't sue them for literally stealing their sound. Probably the album's best performance, United Artists tapped it as a promo single:
- 1971's 'Loving You More' b/w 'Get It, Get It' (United Artists catalog number SP-56)
2.) Who Could You Get (To Love You) (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec) - 2:40 rating: *** stars
Hum, 'Who Could You Get (To Love You)' sounded like these guys had overdosed on tunes from The Band. I'm a big Band fan so that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. This time out the Stax-styled horns sounded distracting and the vocals were almost painful.
3.) Give Me Love (Ponci) - 3:06 rating: ** stars
One of three cover tunes, Vini Poncia's 'Give Me Love' was a forgettable slice of '50s-styled rockabilly. The band didn't seem particularly inspired by the track with Scala seemingly trying out his Little Richard impressions (not particularly inspiring). Screeching in the background, Lemnear was even worse.
4.) Standing Here Alone (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec) - 2:41 rating: *** stars
Thankfully 'Standing Here Alone' found them returning to their soul leanings. Nice jangle guitar, soul horns, and a decent Band-styled Stec vocal made this one quite enjoyable.
5.) Don't Blame Me (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec - Dillon) - 4:07 rating: ** stars
Complete with waves of Tom Brumley's pedal steel guitar, 'Don't Blame Me' was a straight-forward country ballad. A total miss to my ears.
6.) I Don't Know (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec - Chuck Blackwell - Ron Gilbert) - 3:00 rating: *** stars
'I Don't Know' was the album's lone band composition. It wasn't bad but ultimately missed greatness due to Scala's fragile and shrill vocal - imagine a less talented Robbie Robertson. He certainly gave it his all, but the poor man sounded like he was about to explode.
Scala and Lemnear shared lead vocals on a decent cover of Ike Turner's 'Get It, Get It.' Unfortunately it wasn't a fair fight. Lemnear simply destroyed Scala and you got the feeling she wasn't even breaking a sweat.
2.) Baby Don't Cry (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec) -2:39 rating: ** stars
Ouch, simply painful to listen to the shrill vocals on this one.
3.) To Do Me Right (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec) -1:45 rating: ** stars
Nice country-rocker that was simply destroyed by the shrill vocal.
4.) I've Got No Time (Ralph Scala - Joey Stec) - 3:39 rating: **** stars
The jam-styled opening section (with echoes of Steve Cropper's guitar) was promising ... and this wasn't a half bad little rocker with Scala turning in one of his better vocals. Yeah, he still sounded flat when trying to up the power, but the tune had a great little melody and Stec turned in one of the album's better guitar solos.
5.) I Take What I Want (David Porter - Issac Hayes - Hodges) - 5:10 rating: *** stars
It's hard to destroy a good song, particularly a good Stax tune, but they came close with their rote cover of 'I Take What I Want'. If you've heard the Sam and Dave original, or covers by the likes of Aretha, or even Rory Gallagher, you had to wonder why they picked this tune, let alone what anyone would bother listening to this version more than once. Okay, the guitar and Hammond solos weren't bad.
BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION