thisOneness


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1974-75)

- Gregg Inhofer -- vocals, keyboards, guitar percussion

- Robyn Lee -- flute, sax, keyboards, synthesizers, vocals

- Douglas Nelson (RIP 2000) -- bass, percussion, vocals

- Bernard Pershey -- drums, percussion, vocals

- Dale Strength -- vocals, guitar, percussion

 

  supporting musicans: (1975)

- John Ebert -- percussion

- Steve Kimmel -- percussion

- Prudence Madison -- backing vocals

- Gwen Matthew -- backing vocals

- Deb Oldenwald -- backing vocals

- RIchard Olsen -- backing vocals

- Bob Strength -- percussion

- Terry Tilley - percussion

- Michael Tompkins-- backing vocals

- Robert Vandell -- backing vocals, percussion

 

  line up 2 (19??)

- Gregg Inhofer -- vocals, keyboards, guitar percussion

- Douglas Nelson (RIP 2000) -- bass, percussion, vocals

- Bernard Pershey -- drums, percussion, vocals

- Dale Strength -- vocals, guitar, percussion

 

  line up 3 (19??)

- Gregg Inhofer -- vocals, keyboards, guitar percussion

- Bernard Pershey -- drums, percussion, vocals

- Dale Strength -- vocals, guitar, percussion

NEW - Jay York -- bass (replaced Douglas Nelson)

 

 

 

 

- The Dickins

- The Goldstreet Connection

- Gregg Inhofer (solo efforts)

- Pepper Fog (Gregg Inhofer and Dale Strength)

- White Lightening (Bernard Pershey)

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: progressive

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Surprize

Company: Oz Records

Catalog: CHS-7323A
Year:
 1974

Country/State: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $75.00

 

Known as This Oneness, the Minneapolis, Minnesota based band featured a line-up of vocalist/guitarist Gregg Inhofer, keyboard/woodwind player Robyn Lee,  bassist Douglas Nelson , drummer Bernard Pershey and guitarist Dale Strength.  Inhoffer and Strength had previously worked together in the psychedelic group Pepper Fog.  This is a weird one, but after struggling to gain attention on the local club scene tthe group got their initial break when Newton John hired multi-instrumentalist Robyn Lee to join her on an American tour.  Lee brought friend/band member Dale Strength to one of the rehearsals where Newton John noticed Strength's cowboy boots and asked him if he played country music.  His father had been in a country band and so Strength said he did.  Newton John was about to begin an American tour, but was not happy with her supporting band.  She promptly fired them, bring on Lee, Strength and the rest of This Oneness.  The band bought a copy of Newton John's debut lbum; listened to it for six hours and then hit the road with her on her 1974/75 tour.  You can actually see them on various YouTube clips supporting her up during a May 1974 appearance on The Midnight Special television program. 

 

A self-financed vanity project, 1975's self-produced "Surprize" was recorded at Minneapolis' Cookhouse Recording Studios with John Calder serving as the recording engineer.  Released on their own Oz label, just speculation on my part, but it is hard to imagine that more than 1,000 copies were pressed.  Musically these guys were quite talented, but their album was highly diverse; even erratic.  They couldn't seem to decide if they want to be progressive rockers (the Ambrosia-styled 'Radio Free Ameriak'), jazz-fusioneers ('In Out In Out') or a pop band (the ballad 'Song for Olivia').  On the title track and the closer 'Go In Peace' you got a little of each genre mixed together.  I'm not a big jazz-rock fusion fan so it was only natural tracks like the instrumental 'Merging Diversions' were the ones that held little appeal to me.  Yeah, Inhofer's hyperspeed synthesizer runs and Strength's spacey guitar definitely recalled the likes of John McClaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, or any of the scores of English bands who worshiped at the early-'70s Canterbury scene school of jazz-rock (bands like Egg, Hatfield and North, National Health and The Soft Machine readily come to mind).  It just didn't scratch my musical itches. With the exception of 'Please Let the Sunshine' it was hard to call any of these nine tracks commercial, but exemplified by tracks like 'Song for Olivia', 'Radio Free Amerika' and parts of the closer 'Go In Peace' I gravitated to those more conventional compositions. Nah, it wasn't something I was going to play on a regular basis, but it had its share of interesting moments.

 

"Surprize" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Can't Do That! (instrumental) (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength) - 1:45  rating: *** stars

What in the world?  The instrumental 'You Can't Do That!' sounded like a collision between Return To Forever and George Clinton and Funkadelic.  Yes, it was bizarre; part of the reason being the track reflects a 7/4 time signature.

2.) Surprize (instrumental) (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength) - 3:52 rating: *** stars

Opening up with a bunch of bells, percussion effects and the sound of someone's Atari running out of control, the title track opened up sounding like a slice musique concrete.  That's not a good thing to my ears.  It got a little better when the band started playing what turned into a rather rollicking melody with plenty of opportunitities for the members to solo.  

a.) Lunar Sunrise  (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength)

b.) Overture (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength)

3.) Please Let the Sunshine ( (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength - Bob Strength - Ron Merchant- 5:36  rating: **** stars

For a band that's regularly billed as progressive and jazz-rock, 'Please Let the Sunshine' struck me as being a surprisingly conventional pop ballad.  Not sure why, but I even detect a touch of Southern rock on this one - the vocals remind me a touch of The Marshall Tucker Band.  Yes, there were even some Gospel elements in this one and while the lead vocalist stretched to hit the upper notes, it would not have been hard to picture this one on FM radio. 

4.) Song for Olivia (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength) - 3:09 rating: *** stars

Hum, imagine how a progressive band would envision a top-40 ballad ...  Hard to believe, but the late Olivia Newton-John was apparently the song's inspiration.  As mentioned above, the band supported her during a 1974/1975 American tour.  The lyrics were quite sweet (they clearly held her in high esteem) and while the melody was sweet, it was also suitably twisted.  You can see This Oneness backing Newton John on a 1975 appearance on The Midnight Special: Olivia Newton-John - The Midnight Special (1975) - YouTube  (You can pick out Robyn Lee on flute at the two minute mark.)

5.) In Out In Out (instrumental) (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength) - 4:06 rating: ** stars

No idea what the nonsensical opening lyrics were about, though it was more fun than the scat singing sections that popped up.  Moreover I can't say I was knocked out by the Canterbury-flavored jazz-rock moves that propelled the instrumental 'In Out In Out'.  Yeah Dale Strength, Douglas Nelson and Bernard Pershey showed off their virtuosity on guitar, bass and drums, but Robyn Lee's squealing sax just left me cold.  Geez, let me listen to a Jeff Beck album instead.

 

(side 2)
1.) Radio Free Amerika
(Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength) - 7:13 rating: **** stars

'Radio Free Amerika' has always reminded me of an Ambrosia track.  Like some of Ambrosia's better tracks it mixed progressive instrumental sections with surprisingly catchy segments that reflected a slightly dark and ominous edge - admittedly the vocals weren't as sweet as David Pack.  The track also gave various members a shot at the solo spotlight.

2.) Merging Diversions (instrumental) (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength) 8:44 rating: ** stars

Well, the instrumental 'Merging Diversions' found the band abandoning commercial moves in favor of an extended slice of hardcore experimentation and jazz-rock fusion.

3.) Surprize (Reprise) (instrumental) (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength) rating: ** stars

Showcasing Inhofer's piano work, the title track reprise wasn't going to change your mind with respect to whether your liked it or not.  

4.) Go In Peace (Gregg Inhofer - Robyn Lee - Douglas Nelson - Bernard Pershey - Dale Strength) - 3:45 rating: *** stars

'Go In Peace' was a mash-up of all of their influences balancing bouncy, uplifting group vocals with progressive moves and a jazz-rock ending.

 

 

 

 

With minor personnel changes the band recorded two additional albums, but neither saw a release until 2021 when Inhofer pulled out the tapes and released the 3-CD "The Story of thisOneness" RockSteady Records/CD Baby catalog number B0BSHBDBYY) .  In addition to remixing "Surprize" the package included the missing albums.

 

Inhofer has an interesting website at: Gregg Inhofer - News

 

He also has a Facebook page: Gregg Inhofer | Facebook

 

And these is a This Oneness website (though it was under construction as of February 2023): thisOneness

 

 

 

"Amalgamated Funk

1.) Amalgamated Funk - (6:50

2.) Punky - 7:42

3.) Searching - 5:47

4.) Transporter - 6:51

5.) Booze in F - 6:46

6.)  Magik - 3:06

 

 

"Sonic Geometry"

1.) Sonic Geometry Opening (& or Closing) - 

2.) Venusian Blinds - 9:06

3.) Sweet Pea - 5:43

4.) Whose Nose - 8:04

5.) The Light (6:56) Pittsburgh Pie - 5:52

6.) What am I Looking For? - 2:34)

7.) For That This Is - 5:57

8.) Ostinato - 4:00

9.) Kamau - 5:20

10.) The Big U - 8:34

 

 

 

 

 

 

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