Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1971-72)
- Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale (aka Bocky) (RIP 1988) -- vocals,
- Jim Finnan -- keyboards, trumpet
- John Fraga -- bass
- George (Konstantine) Katsakis -- sax, backing vocals
- Felix McDaniel -- guitar, vocals
- Vince Scalabrino -- drums, backing vocals
- Bocky & the Visions (Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale)
- Little Caesar and the Empire (Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale)
- The Happy Dragon Band (John Fraga)
- The Hurricanes
- The Rockets (John Frega)
- The Royaltones (George (Konstantine) Katsakis)
- Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels (John Fraga)
- United Sound
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: Zig Zag
Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; white label promo copy; includes insert
Catalog ID: 854
Obscure and highly weird (which may go a long way to explaining why it's obscure) ... This isn't going to have a wide following. This isn't even going to have a small following. This is going to have a cult following ...
By the time they were signed to the small Michigan-based Zig Zag label, the line-up featured former Bocky & the Visions singer Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale, keyboardist Jim Finnan, bassist John Fraga, former Royaltones front man and sax player George Katsakis, guitarist Felix McDaniel, and drummer Vince Scalabrino. Musically 1970's "Wazoo" was really hard to describe. I've occasionally seen it on dealer lists with a psych tag. Other than the John Williams designed collage cover art, there isn't much psych here. In contrast, I can certainly understand the Zappa comparisons and that will get you in the right aural ballpark, though it isn't a perfect comparison. To my ears Zappa always sounded like he was trying too hard, whereas these guys just sounded naturally weird and goofy .... Seriously, you were left thinking these guys really believed an eleven minute mixture of jazz and freak-out experimentation would get a crowd moving ('The Way I See It'). Technically they were all quite talented with DiPasquale having a likeable, soul-tinged voice. They were also quite capable of playing it straight - check out the opening section of 'Slip On', or the hard rock closer and album standout 'B.H. Man'.
"Wazoo" track listing:
1.) The Beginning (Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale - Jim Finnan - John Fraga - George (Konstantine) Katsakis - Felix McDaniel - Vince Scalabrino) - rating: * star
Opening up with some spoken word chatter and spare, tentative piano chords, 'The Beginning' sounded like a lounge act singer getting a shot at recording a studio demo.
2.) Grand Ol' Land (Jim Finnan - Robert DiPasquale) - 8:30 rating: * star
Opening up with martial drums and a group sing-along, 'Grand Ol' Land' seemed like it was going to be a heart warming slice of patriotic pop, but quickly slipped into discordant freak-out with honky sax, drums, carousel organ, and various "bad trip" sound effects. From their it shifted into bass and harpsichord power ballad and then bounced into six minutes of bizarre lyrics and sound effects. It actually had a decent melody, but was probably the best described as being very Zappa-esque.
3.) Slip On (Jim Finnan - Robert DiPasquale) - 4:50 rating: *** stars
Opening with more bass and harpsichord, Powered by DiPasquale's soulful voice, 'Slip On' was one of the album's more accessible tracks. John Finnan's extended harpsichord solos (or perhaps they were early synthesizers) won be over.
4.) The Way I See It (Felix McDaniel) - 11:18 rating: * star
Clocking in at over eleven minutes 'The Way I See It' opened the door to full fledged experimentation with way too much time devoted to Katsakis' sax solos and needless McDaniel guitar chords. The song ended on some ELP-styled progressive organ moves. Geez, this one makes eleven minutes seem like a long time.
Showcasing some nice McDaniel fuzz guitar, 'Sleep On' started out as a fairly conventional track (take that with a grain of salt), showcasing DiPasquale's nice voice and somewhat dated anti-establishment lyrics (ah, 1970). Like much of the album, the backing track was full of sound effects that made it kind of fun to hear with a good pair of headphones.
2.) Concert (Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale - Jim Finnan - John Fraga - George (Konstantine) Katsakis - Felix McDaniel - Vince Scalabrino) - 1:40 rating: * star
Hum, seem to have slipped into Firesign Theatre material here ...
3.) Arnie Funny Far Faktor (Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale - Jim Finnan - John Fraga - George (Konstantine) Katsakis - Felix McDaniel - Vince Scalabrino) - 5:00
'Arnie Funny Far Faktor' was basically five minutes of percussion and effects laden studio freak-out time. The track was apparently inspired by their engineer Arnie.
4.) B.H. Man (Felix McDaniel - Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale - Jim Finnan - John Fraga - George (Konstantine) Katsakis - Felix McDaniel - Vince Scalabrino) - 9:47 rating: **** stars
Opening with some over-the-top McDaniel fuzz guitar and Vince Scalabrino's frenetic drums, 'B.H. Man' (aka Big Hearted Man'), found the band diving headlong into acid-drenched hard rock territory. If was strange, but after the nightmarish 'Arnie Funny Far Faktor', this one sounded great and was easily the album highlight. Shame they didn't play it straight more often. (This one is a treat to hear with a good pair of headphones.)
For hardcore fans, the band made their debut with a 45 on the obscure New York-based R&R label.
- 1969's 'Hey Girl I'm In Love with You' b/w 'Don't Give Your Love To Anyone' (R&D catalog number R 103).
The "A" side has always reminded me of something that might have been put out by The Archies. Very bubblegum poppish ballad - I say that as a compliment. The flip side's a cappella opening had a distinctive '50s feel. Super sappy ballad that didn't come close to the "A" side.
Sadly, DiPasquale was shot to death in an unsolved February 1988 homicide.
Fraga went on to play with a number of bands including The Happy Dragon Band and Detroit's The Rockets.
Gawd only knows why, but in 2006 the World In Sound label reissued the album in CD format, along with a 12 page booklet that combined the band's history with Katsakis' commentary (World In Sound catalog number WIS 1033).
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