January Tyme


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969)

- William Brancaccio -- rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

- Steve Ciantro -- bass

- Allan Cooley -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Anthony "Mony" Izzo -- lead guitar, vocals

- January Tyme (aka January Kurta) -- vocals, percussion,

   keyboards

 

 

 

 

- January (January Tyme)

 

 

 


 

Genre: blues-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  First Time From Memphis

Company: Enterprise

Catalog: ENS 104
Year:
 1969

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: punch hole lower right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $50.00

 

Little known Brooklyn, New York based outfit ...  They were a blues-rock based band built around the talents of lead singer January Tyme (aka January Kurta). In addition to namesake Tyme, by the time the group was signed to Stax's Enterprise subsidiary the line-up featured keyboardist/rhythm guitarist William Brancaccio, 16 year old bassist Steve Ciantro, drummer Allan Cooley and lead guitarist Anthony Izzo.  How a Brooklyn-based band came to the attention of Stax is a mystery to me, but given he was thanked on the liner notes, Stax executive Al Bell likely played a role in the deal.  Recorded at New York's Peer-Southern Studios, 1969's "First Time from Memphis" teamed the band with producer Billy Fox.  Musically the majority of the album featured a distinctive West Coast psych/blues sound.  Tracks like 'I Could Never Love You' and 'Ancient Babylon' reminded me of Big Brother and the Holding Company and The Jefferson Airplane.  While the album was short on originality, original compositions like 'Rainy Day Feeling' and 'The Music' were energetic, well played and highlighted Tyme's vocal strengths.  For her part, Tyme was clearly influenced by Janis Joplin and to a lesser extent Grace Slick. Tyme had a powerful voice and that was good and bad given (like Joplin and Slick), she occasionally confused powering her way through a song with talent.  Perhaps a result of being signed to a Southern-based label, 'Hold Me Up To The Light' and a couple of the performances reflected a mild soul tinge.  Kind of a Delaney and Bonnie vibe.  It was just an odd musical niche for a Brooklyn-based band.  Shame Tyme didn't let more of her own sound come through and the album wasn't a little more consistent.

 

I'm tempted to dock it a start for the awful back cover.  Tyme had that index finger pretty far up that nostril ...  It may have been funny to a five year old boy.  Otherwise it was just a poorly thought out move.

 

"First Time from Memphis track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Rainy Day Feeling  (Steve Ciantro - Valerie Cuccia) - 3:13  rating: **** stars

In spite of the needless studio chatter, the opener 'Rainy Day Feeling' was one of the album's more commercial tracks.  Offering up a friendly melody and a touch of West Coast psych (check out Anthony Izzo's squealing lead guitar) the track served as a nice introduction to Tyme's Joplin-styled vocals.  Bass player Ciantro posted some comments on FaceBook to the effect the song had been released as a single, but I've never seen evidence that was the case.  Anyone know for certain?

2.) The Music (Bill Broncachio - Steve Ciantro - Valerie Cuccia) - 3:47  rating: **** stars

There were times I found Tyme's brash voice irritating, but 'The Music' wasn't one of them.  Perhaps the album's best example of the band's West Coast psych fixation, you couldn't blame casual listeners for mistaking these guys as a San Francisco-based psych band.  One of Tyme's best performances and be sure to check out then-16 year old Ciantro's hyperactive bass line.

3.) Sleepy Time Baby (Steve Ciantro) - 3:13 rating: ** stars

While I was okay with the soul-tinged ballad 'Sleepy Time Baby' this was one of those tracks where I found Tyme's vocals cloying.  There was just something about her delivery that grated on me.  Hard to describe, but there was a nasally edge to her voice and she came off sounding like she was trying too hard.  Bad Joplin-esque effort.

4.) Ancient Babylon (Anthony Izzo) - 3:48 rating: *** stars

One of two Izzo compositions, 'Ancient Babylon' exhibited a clear Jefferson Airplane influence (Paul Kantner would have approved of the goofy lyrics).  The track also found Tyme trotting out her best Grace Slick delivery.

5.) Hold Me Up To The Light (Billy Fox - January Tyme - Justin Tyme) - 4:50  rating: **** stars

'Hold Me Up To The Light' added a touch of southern soul to the mix - an interesting choice for a band that had never been south of the Mason-Dixon line.  The refrain was catchy and the change of pace pleasant with Tyme keeping her vocal excesses largely under control.

 

(side 2)
1.)
Love Is Blind (Bill Broncachio - Steve Ciantro - Valerie Cuccia)  - 2:45  rating: *** stars

Well the refrain makes me smile "love is blind, but the neighbors ain't".  Otherwise 'Love Is Blind' was a forgettable blues-rocker.

2.) Are You Laughing (Steve Ciantro) - 2:55   rating: **** stars

The bluesy 'Are You Laughing' was one of the album's strongest performances and would have been even better had Tyme toned down her vocals.  Good example of where less is more.  And in spite of her efforts to power through the tune, it was one worth hearing again.

3.) Down To The River (Steve Ciantro) - 4:06  rating: ** stars

The sweet, smooth, laidback opening vocals on 'Down To the River' simply didn't sound like Tyme. Unfortunately, about a minute into the song she reverted to her usual "power" vocals.  Imagine a bad Bonnie Bramblett performance.     

4.) I Could Never Love You (Anthony Izzo) - 3:29 rating: *** stars

Funky ... Yeah, 'I Could Never Love You' actually started out sounding a bit funky but then swept into Grace Slick and Airplane territory.  Once again bassist Ciantro's melodic playing proved to be the band's secret sauce.

5.) Take This Time (Bill Broncachio - January Tyme) - 2:53  rating: *** stars

Double tracked, 'Take This Time' came off as cluttered and ill-focused.  Izzo's wah-wah guitar solo was probably the song's highlight,

6.) Love Surrounds Me (Billy Fox - January Tyme) - 3:30  rating: *** stars

The ballad 'Love Surrounds Me' bounced between great and irritating.  The melody wasn't anything special, but parts of Tyme's performance were quite likeable.  Unfortunately slapping cheesy, psych-tinged echo effects undermined the performance, as did the sections where she shifted into vocal overdrive.

 

 

 

Released by Enterprise Records all but ensured the album would be a commercial non-entity.  The band undertook a couple of performances in support of the album; notably an odd pairing opening for Isaac Hayes at Constitution Hall.  Within a couple of months they had called it quits.

 

 

 

Tyme briefly continued her songwriting partnership with producer Fox, scoring a hit when Three Dog Night recorded on of their compositions - 1970's "One Man Band".    She placed material with other groups including the soul outfit Swiss Movement.  In the mid-'70s she tried to reactivate January Tyme.  The group managed to release a 1978 single on the Ohio-based Fraternity label:

 

- 1978's 'Love Music' b/w 'Baby Blue Morning' (Fraternity catalog number 3470 A/B)

 

 

 

 

Credited with co-writing three of the songs (she apparently also provided backing vocals on the album), Valerie (aka Valarie) Cuccia disappeared under mysterious circumstances in May, 1974.   Attending a party at Brooklyn's Mustard Seed disco she was seen talking to a pair of men who were later seen forcing her into a car with Massachusetts license plates.   She was never seen again.  You can find more information on Cuccia's disappearance at The Charlie Project: Valerie Lorraine Cuccia The Charley Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

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