Former Members of the New York Ensemble
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1972-74)
- Marty Fulterman (aka Mark Snow) -- drums, percussion, oboe
- Clifton Nivison -- vocals, guitar, percussion
- Mark Snow (solo efforts)
- The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble (Marty Fulterman and
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Former Members of The N.Y. Rock Ensemble
Country/State: New York, NY
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: sealed copy
Catalog ID: 5818
So here's a tax scam release where a little of the corporate history is known.
Between its formation in 1967 and 1972 The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble managed to release a series of five albums.
Following the release of 1972's "Freedomburger" (don't ya just love the title), the band broke up into two factions. The late singer/keyboardist Michael Kamen and multi-instrumentalist Dorian Rudnystsky plodded on with the band New York Rock. For their part, frustrated with The Ensemble's inability to break commercially, singer/guitarist Clifton Nivison and drummer Martin Fulterman bailed, continuing their business and creative partnership by signing a deal with the Scepter Records affiliated Opal Productions.
Working for Opal, over the next two years Nivison and Fulterman undertook a broad array of assignments, including writing material for other artists, preparing and recording demos, recording tracks under various aliases, and producing material. Once again frustrated with the lack of recognition, Fulterman quit Opal in 1974, relocating to Los Angeles where he found work scoring music for television and film. Regardless of whether they had legal rights to the material, at some point in the mid-1970s Opal management sold the Nivison and Fulterman material held in its vaults to the Tomorrow label. Even though the relationship was somewhat tenuous, Tomorrow management was clever enough to exploit the pair's connection with The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble. So in an odd way Tomorrow actually deserved some credit for truth in advertising (at least this time out), since the material literally represented work by 'former members' of The New York Rock Ensemble.
So what did the Nivison and Fulterman written and produced "Former Members of The N.Y. Rock Ensemble" actually sound like? For some reason my initial expectations were that this would sound something along the lines of their earlier work with Michael Kamen and company - kind of a pre-Electric Light Orchestra muddle of pop, rock and classical influences. So much for my keen insight. Imagine an American version of 10cc (at least the Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart part of the band), and you'd be far closer to the mark !!! By the way, that was meant as a compliment since I'm a big 10cc fan. On reflection the material's varied pop orientation made a lot of sense given these guys had been recruited as hired guns with the aim of creating hits.
In spite of a couple of disappointments this was one darn good pop album which should have been a major hit ... Good luck finding another copy.
Members of The N.Y. Rock Ensemble" track listing:
1.) Monkey Jungle (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: **** stars
At least to my ears, 'Monkey Jungle' bore an uncanny resemblance to the clever mid-1970s pop 10cc was generating. The African motif, unique recording sound, and even the vocal delivery recalled Eric Stewart and company.
2.) Ain't It Crazy (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: **** stars
'Ain't It Crazy' was the massive radio hit The Raspberries never had. Literally three minutes of pop bliss. I dare anyone to listen to this one and not find themselves humming the stupid thing. Would have been an amazing single had anyone been thinking straight.
3.) On My Own (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: *** stars
'On My Own' was a stark, keyboard driven ballad. Sporting a pretty melody, a nice electric guitar solo, and standard I'm-a-heartbroken-loser-teenager lyrics, imagine a good Eric Carmen song and you'd know what to expect.
4.) Sharpshooter (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: **** stars
Sounding like something out of the Chapman-Chinn bubblegum catalog, sporting a vaguely Caribbean-flavored melody Sharpshooter' was a perfect summer radio hit. Meaningless pop fluff with one of those melodies that you instantly hated, but simply couldn't shake out of your head. Nice lyrical nod to the Fab Four.
5.) Hey Ho (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: *** stars
With it's bouncy melody 'Hey Ho' was clearly written with radio play in mind, but on this one they pushed the boundary so far that the results came off as more suitable for a radio or television commercial than the pop charts. The lyrics were actually kind of funny.
Primarily because it had one of those calculated country-cute sounds, 'It's A Nice Day For Picking' was the first track that didn't work for me. Sheez, this one actually reminded me of The Starland Vocal Band.
2.) Tell Me Why (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: **** stars
'Tell Me Why' showed these guys had some rock credentials; well at least as much as a band like Badfinger, or The Rapsberries had. Again, that was meant as a compliment. Easily the album's standout performance, this one had everything going for it. Great melody, irresistible hook, excellent slide guitar solos ... Another one that should've been a massive hit..
3.) Riding High (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: *** stars
'Riding High' offered up another calculated slice of bubblegum pop. Very AM radio friendly, though a slice too much like musical product for my tastes.
4.) Mr. Sadness (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: **** stars
From a purely technical standpoint 'Mr. Sadness' was better than 90% of the crap you would have heard on mid-1970s radio. A made-for-airplay track, it's mind boggling this wasn't a hit. Mind you I found this one kind of irritating, but it sure was catchy.
5.) A Little Bit Of Love (Marty Fulterman - Clifton Nivison) - rating: ** stars
'A Little Bit Of Love' offered up more calculated pop. In spite of the catchy hook this one lacked the charm found elsewhere.
There are a couple of Fulterman/Snow websites out there. Though there's no mention of this release and it's no longer active, but one of the more interesting ones is located at:
Every now and then I'll hear from someone connected with one of the band's I've reviewed and that's the case here. I have no idea how he stumbled on to my write-up, but Clifton Nivison did and was gracious enough to drop me a line with some interesting information on the LP.
Hello Scott, Iím Clif Nivison. Wow. This is amazing. How did you find out so much about when Marty and I were at Opal Productions. Your information is right on. By the way itís Scepter Records (thanks for spotting the typo). Here is a little known fact. I knew nothing about this album until the mid 1980ís. Neither did Marty. This was a group of mostly demoís. After we left Opal they decided to sell our recordings. We were never consulted, never paid, no royalties, nothing. Mid 1980 a record dealer from San Francisco called me and asked if I would like a copy of Former Members of. I said ďWhat the hell is that?Ē This album was also released on Vibration Records. I have a sealed copy. Anyway it was a real kick to read your reviews. Itís hard to believe people still know about us. If I can answer any questions or if you just wanna chat my email is ...
Regards, Clif Nivison June 2012
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