Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1967-68) as The Good Idea
- Bob Blank
(RIP) -- lead vocals
- David Linder
-- guitar, vocals
NEW - Bill Hallquist (RIP 2015) -- vocals, guitar (replaced
up 3 (1970-70)
NEW - George Magee -- keyboards (replaced John Meisen
- Mike Mankey -- lead guitar (replaced Bill Hallquist)
- Good Idea (Bob Blank, Bobby Hallquist, Rick Labraaten and
- The Litter (Dervin Wallin)
- Triad (Mike Mankey)
- The Whole Earth Rainbow Band (Terry Tilley)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Country/State: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: white label promo copy; DJ stamp on back cover
Catalog ID: 4963
I've always been amazed at how many great (and often unknown) bands spring from Minnesota. Must have something to do with the long, cold winters that force folks into indoor activities ... That said, this is an album where the isolated reviews I'd read really didn't say much of note - the effort was described as likeable, but extremely rare. Not much to go on ...
In terms of biographical information I know very little about this outfit. The late singer Bob Blank, guitarist Bob Hallquist, drummer Rick LiaBraaten and keyboardist John Meisen had been members of the St. Paul, MInnesota-based The Good Idea. Along with guitarist Dave Linder the group started out doing popular covers before starting to record original material. Through those original tunes they became early exponents of the Christian rock genre. The band played local dances and clubs, surviving long enough to travel to Chicago where they recorded and released an obscure self-financed 1968 single. Reportedly 400 copies were pressed.
- 'Patterns In Life' b/w 'Inside, Outside' (Good Idea catalog number 2889).
The 45's religious orientation caught some local attention, including a patron in the form of Reverend John Rigren who featured the single on his local radio program, but failed to sell. Guitarist Linder then decided to head off to college. Singer/guitarist Billy Hallquist was brought in as a replacement. Bass player Terry Tilley was also added to the line- up. The revamped band continued to play local clubs, their show including an early light show. They also started reworking some of their Good Idea material, culminating in recording a demo of their concept piece '1225.' A copy of the demo ended up in the hands of the New York-based Roulette Records which signing the group to a contract. There were a couple of catches with Roulette demanding several changes. First was a request the band shift to a secular catalog. Second was a name change. Goodbye to Good Idea and hello to the hipper Thundertre. Roulette subsequently added the final "e" to the name, e.g. Thundertree
In spite of flaws, "Thundertree" is one of those records that grows on you with each spin.
"Thundertree" track listing:
1.) Head Embers (John Meisen) - 3:20 rating: **** stars
always liked Bill Hallquist's
raw, sounds-live performance on 'Head Embers.' Admittedly this
low-tech sound won't appeal to everyone, but it found a niche with me.
More garage than psych, the real prize here was Terry Tilley's
awesome bass work.
I'm not a big jazz fan, but 'At the Top of the Stairs' managed to pair a
pleasant melody with some nice harmony vocals and a slightly jazzy
vibe. Again, Tilley's melodic bass was the song's secret sauce.
The song was also noteworthy for John Meisen's
early use of a Moog
synthesizer. There isn't much information to go with it and the sound
quality is a bit muddy, but YouTube has clip of the band performing the tune
at a June 2015 performance at the Town Green Amphitheater in maple Grove,
gears, 'Summertime Children' featured Halllquist on lead vocals and sported
one of the album's prettiest melodies with a goofy pop-psych vibe. The
bouncy backing vocals were a hoot. With a slightly different
arrangement it would have made a nice single.
the heels of their breeziest performance, the fuzz guitar powered 'In the
Morning' trotted out a taunt slice of radio-friendly hard-rock. Hallquist's
solo was awesome. Shame nobody was listening as this would have been
an awesome 45.
rocker 'Dusty Roads' found John Meisen's
stabbing organ taking the spotlight. The
Gospel segments were a total surprise; didn't really fit in the song
structure and didn't help make the song and better.
1.) 1225 (John Meisen - Bob Blank) - Alone I Am (instrumental) (John Meisen - Bob Blank) - 2:52 rating: **** stars
Good Idea composition and performance, '1225' was the song that got the band
signed to Roulette. Penned by Blank and Meisen, the song was
essentially a six part retelling of the Christmas story with a rock and roll
by an awesome David Linder fuzz guitar solo, 'Alone I Am'
started out like a ton of bricks before eventually settling down into
an interesting concept piece with a religious theme. (Curiously
neither Blank nor Linder were credited on the album.)
original vocalist Blank. 'Softly' was a fragile ballad 'Softly' that
essentially demonstrated how different Blank and Wallin's voices
guitar solo provided the highlight on 'I Travel Alone.' What started
out as a rocker, morphed into an extended flute solo (not to my liking) and
then a pretty ballad. At this point I'll admit that the supposed Christmas
related plotline was lost to my ears.
ballad, 'Not Well Liked'
organ washes. I've always wondered what the weird "tearing"
sound was. At least I could start to pick up the plotline on this one
- Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem and looking for a place to stay.
it was one of the shortest songs since 'With a Tailor Image' reflected the
album's "grooviest" performance. Not only did you get to
hear Blank cut lose, but drummer Rick LiaBraaten
got a shot in the spotlight, as did guitarist Linder.
Blank humming 'Silent Night' brought me back to the supposed theme, but the
acapella vocal arrangement quickly left me more confused than
before. And abruptly the song exploded into a weird mixture of
Up-with-People praise for the Lord and Standells-styled garage rock moves.
Over the next year
the band began recorded some material for a planned follow-up
album. They also toured through the Midwest. That was
accompanied by a series of personnel changes. First to go was singer
Dervin who joined The Litter and was replaced by Jeff Shapiro. Next
out was keyboard player Meisen who was replaced by Gerry Magee.
Finally Hallquist was replaced by ex-Triad guitarist Mike Mankey.
In late 1970 the revised line-up recorded a live track '16 Tons' at
Minneapolis' Depot Clubs for a compilation album entitled "Gathering
at the Depot" (Beta catalog number S80-47-1414S).
By the end of the year the group had called it quits.
Prior to his death in 2015, Hallquist released a pair of obscure solo efforts:
- 1973's "Peresphone" (Orion catalog number S80-462-2823S)
- 1975's 'Travellin'" (Mill City Records catalog number MCR 7501)
There have been a series of band reunions over the years. Both Blank and Hallquist have passed on.
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