Eli Radish

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968-70)

- Tom Foster (RIP 2018) (aka The Foss) -- lead guitar, 

  pedal steel guitar

- Ken Frak (aka The Reverend) -- vocals

- Skip "Omit" Heil (aka Skip Towne) -- drums, percussion

- Eva Karasik -- violin

Danny Sheridan (RIP 2016) -- bass


  line up 2 (1970-72)

NEW - David Allan Coe -- vocals 

NEW - Gary Dixon -- guitar (replaced Tom Foster)

- Ken Frak (aka The Reverend) -- vocals

- Skip "Omit" Heil (aka Skip Towne) -- drums, percussion

- Eva Karasik -- violin

Danny Sheridan (RIP 2016) -- bass


  line up 3 (1972-73)

- Ken Frak (aka The Reverend) -- vocal s

- Skip "Omit" Heil (aka Skip Towne)-- drums, percussion

- Eva Karasik -- violin

NEW- Rick "Muskrat" Kennedy -- guitar (replaced Gary Dixon

NEW - John Koslin -- vocals (replaced David Allen Coe)

Danny Sheridan (RIP 2016) -- bass


  line up 3 (1973)

NEW- Tom Foster (RIP 2018) (aka The Foss) -- lead guitar, 

  pedal steel guitar

- Skip "Omit" Heil (aka Skip Towne)-- drums, percussion

- Rick "Muskrat" Kennedy -- guitar

- Barbara Merrick -- vocals

Danny Sheridan (RIP 2016) -- bass

NEW -- Starr Smith -- vocals


- Apollo Chamber Orchestra (Eva Karasik)

- Bandaloo Doctors (Danny Sheridan)

- David Allan Coe (solo efforts)

- Hollywood Hillbillies (Gary Dicckson)

- Keith Joe Dick and the Goners (Gary Dickson)

- Rick "Muskrat" Kennedy (solo efforts)

- San Francisco Opera Orchestra (Eva Karasik)

- Spontaneous Corruption (Danny Sheridan)

- Whirleybirds (Gary Dickson)





Genre: country-rock

Rating: 1 star *

Title:  I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier

Company: Capitol

Catalog: ST-244

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $15.00


No matter what you think of their 1969 album "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier", Cleveland's Elis Radish deserve some credit for being early advocates and practitioners of what is today know as country-rock.  


Former Spontaneous Corruption bassist Danny Sheridan was the band's creative mainstay. By the time the band was spotted by former Spontaneous Corruption/The Outsiders manager Roger Karshner the line-up featured Sheridan along with guitarist Tom Foster, singer Ken Frak, drummer Omit Heil and violin player Eva Karasik.


With Karshner's help in 1969 the band signed a recording deal with Capitol Records.  Produced by Karshner, their debut reflected an unorthodox concept album.  Aware of the band's anti-war sentiments Karshner suggested the group learn a series of classic anti-war songs.  Karshner provided the band with sheet music and while living in LA, they spent several months learning and rehearsing their unique takes on the material.  The resulting album featured a collection of ten patriotic songs related to America's military history.  While the songs were not in historical chronology, they covered the American Civil War ('When Johnny Comes Marching Home'), up through Vietnam (Barry Sadler's 'The Ballad of the Green Beret').  Admittedly, exemplified by Alfred Bryan's title track, not all were originally penned as anti-war statements, but they were all given an updated country-rock arrangement.  A word of warning.  country-rock is a large niche and their arrangements of tracks like 'Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition' and 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' had more in common with Asleep at the Wheel and Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen than Poco, or The Eagles.  And that leads to this album's biggest problem.  While their collective hearts may have been in the right place, the band lacked much in the area of finesse.  At best lead singer Frak was an acquired taste.  Most of the time he was simply awful.  Check out his performance on the single 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' where you were left to wonder whether he would actually make it through the song. The band weren't much better, mistaking being loose, sloppy and loud with being good,  They frequently came off as a the aural equivalent of a poorly planned artillery barrage - lots of noise and lots of unintended damage.


The album's blatant anti-war stance didn't sit well with Capitol Records which did little to promote it.  The band started touring, but focused on non-traditional events such as Black Panther fund raisers, or campus protests - they played at Kent State the night of the police and National Guard shootings.  Sheridan managed to get arrested on inciting to riot charges.  The album also failed to find favor with the buying public.  The band began recording material for a sophomore album, but Capitol dropped them from their recording contract.  


"I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be  a Soldier" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier (Alfred Bryan - Al Piantadosi) - 3:30    rating: * stars 

Kudos to the group for having the courage to cover 'I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier.'  Written in 1915 and sung here by the Peerless Quartet, the song stands as the first commercially successfully anti-war record.  Unfortunately their country hoedown arrangement was sloppy (apparently recorded that way on purpose) and irritating.  Go with the 1915 original.

2.) Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition (Frank Loesser) - 2:37   rating: * stars 

There's something very disconcerting hearing the bouncy country hoedown arrangement and the song's dark and disturbing lyrics. Eva Karasik's violin was spotlighted on the track.

3.) When The Lights Go On Again (All Over The World) ( Bennie Benjemen - Eddie Seiler - Sol Marcus) - 3:59 

Well at least the tempo  and the drunken country band contents were raised.  With this one I started to understand Robert Christgau's review: "The packaging implies that this indifferent collection of patriotic songs is an anti-war record. Maybe I'm missing something, but it can't be worth four bucks. E+"

4.) Comin' In On A Wing And A Prayer (Jimmy McHugh - Harold Adamson) - 2:38   rating: * stars 

Apparently inspired by a B-17 (Southern Comfort) badly damaged on a raid over Europe, I have to admit I'd never heard this one.  Once again, I'd suggest you check out the 1943 original recorded by The Song Spinners.

5.) Johnny Zero (Vee Lawnhurst - Mack David) - 2:31   rating: * stars  

Another one I knew nothing about.  Originally titled 'Johnny Got a Zero', this one was inspired by John D. Foley.  A poor student, Foley ended up as a tail gunner in the US Army Air Force.  This was another one originally recorded by The Song Spinners.  The Eli Radish cover redoes the song as a drawling, easy-going country ballad. 


(side 2)
The White Cliffs Of Dover (Walter Kent - Nat Burton) - 2:58   rating: * stars

Geez, how much country-hoedown can anyone take?  I never liked the Vera Lynn original, but withit's message of hope for tomorrow, compared to this cover it's magical.

2.) Over There (George M. Cohan) - 2:14   rating: * stars

Geez, even by their standards this cover of George Cohan's 'Over There' was ragged.  Frak sounded like he had just rolled out of bed after a week long bender.  The distorted vocals sounded like the mic had been shoved down his throat and the kazoo was just plain irritating.

3.) Johnny Doughboy (Found A Rose In Ireland) (Al Goodhart - Kay Twomey) - 2:42   rating: * stars  

There are dozens of versions of this one, but Bing Crosby's take is the one I was aware of.  There cover was interesting for one reason - violinist Eva Karasik handled the lead vocals.  Poor woman.  Out of tune, you could tell she wasn't thrilled to be put in the spotlight.  Wonder if this is one of the reasons shw left the band?

4.) When Johnny Comes Marching Home (Louis Lambert) - 3:20   rating: * stars 

Given a sloppy country-blues arrangement, 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' sounded like the band had overdosed on Dr. John albums.  That comparison was underscored by Frak's husky, slurred vocals.  Whenever I listen to the track I find myself wondering if Frak's actually going to make it through the song before collapsing.  Gawd only knows why, but Capitol tapped the song as a single:





- 1969's 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home ' b/w 'I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier' (Capitol catalog number P-2504







5.) The Ballad Of The Green Berets (Barry Sadler - Robin Moore) -  2:56    rating: * stars 

The most contemporary song, 'The Ballad Of The Green Berets' gets the same hoedown thrashing as all the other tunes.  The melody was actually recognizable this time around ...  



There are a couple of Facebook pages dedicated to the band:

Eli Radish Band (Official) | Facebook

Danny Sheridan | Facebook