Rotary Connection

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1966-67)

- Mitch Aliotta -- bass, backing vocals

- Sidney Barnes -- vocals

- Judy Hauff -- vocals, keyboards

- Minnie Riperton (RIP 1979) -- vocals

- Bobby Simms (aka Robert Siemiaskzo) -- guitar, backing vocals

- Charles Stepney (RIP 2012) -- vocals, keyboards

- Ken Venegas -- drums, percussion


  backing musicians (1967)

- Chuck Barksdale -- backign vocals

- Bill Bradley -- electronic effects

- Bobby Christian -- guitar

- Peter Cosey -- guitar

- Morris Jennings -- drums, percussion

- Louis Satterfield -- bass


  line up 2 (1967-68)

- Mitch Aliotta -- bass, backing vocals

- Sidney Barnes -- vocals

NEW - John Jeremiah -- keyboards (replaced Judy Hauff )

- Minnie Riperton (RIP 1979) -- vocals

- Bobby Simms (aka Robert Siemiaskzo) -- guitar, backing vocals

- Ken Venegas -- drums, percussion


  line up x (1970)

- Mitch Aliotta -- bass, backing vocals

- Sidney Barnes -- vocals

- Judy Hauff -- vocals

- Minnie Riperton (RIP 1979) -- vocals

- Bobby Simms (aka Robert Siemiaskzo) -- guitar, backing vocals

- Tommy Vincent -- 


  line up xx (1971) as The New Rotary Connection

- Pat Ferreri -- guitar

- Master Henry Gibson -- percussion

- Kitty Haywood -- vocals

- Minnie Riperton (RIP) -- vocals

- Dave Scott -- vocals

- Donny Simmons -- drums, percussion

- Sydney Simms -- bass

- Charles Stepney (RIP 2012) -- keyboards

- Phil Upchurch -- guitar

- Shirley Wahls -- vocals




- Acme Thunder (Mitch Aliotta)

- Aliotta, Haynes (Mitch Aliotta)

- Aliotta, Haynes Jeremiah (Mitch Aliotta and John Jeremiah)

- Sidney Barnes (solo efforts)

- Andrea Davis (Minnie Riperton)

- The Gems (Minnie Riperton)

- Johnny B. Goode (Sidney Barnes)

- Judy Hauff (solo efforts)

- Kitty and Haywoods (Kitty Hawood)

- Mus-Twangs (Bobby Simms)

- The New Rotary Connection

- Proper Strangers (Mitch Aliotta, Bobby Simms, and Ken Venegas)

- Minnie Riperton (solo efforts)

- The Rovin' Kind (Bobby Simms)

- The Serenaders (SIdney Barnes)

- Bobby Simms (solo efforts)

- Bobby Simms and the Simmers

- The Starlets (Minnie Riperton)

- Shirley Wahls (solo efforts)




Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Rotary Connecion

Company: Cadet Concept

Catalog: LPS 312

Country/State: Chicago

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2639

Price: $20.00


About all I can suggest is this is a good example of the you-had-to-be-there syndrome.   Lots of folks familiar with the album wax nostalgically about how good 1967's "Rotary Connection" is.   Listening to it decades later, I have to admit that charm is largely missing as far as my ears go.   Instead of a ground breaking collage of sounds, I hear an outfit that was clearly talented, but frequently sounded like The Fifth Dimension after a long, stoned weekend at the beach.  

Cadet Concepts promo photo 


Produced by Marshall Chess and Charles Stepney, the album offered up a mixture of popular hits and band originals.   Issued amidst the remnants of the summer of love, the album was clearly psychedelic, but it reflected safe and friendly lysergic-tinged moves.  One foot firmly in top-40 territory, while the other one played around with musical genres.  Most of the covers were subjected to a patented sound which typically featured heavy opening orchestration (courtesy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), followed by some wild and unexpected interpretations.  On tracks like the Lovin' Spoonful's 'Didn't Want To Have To Do It' and 'Like A Rolling Stone' (the latter having lost most of Dylan's lyrics), it was mildly entertaining; if only for the initial shock value.  Their cover of Isaac Hayes and David Porter's 'Soul Man' was - well different.  Not necessarily good, but different.   The problem is the results quickly started to sound the same with ever diminishing results.  By the time you heard 'Ruby Tuesday' (their second Stones cover), you just didn't care anymore.  As for the original tunes, 'Turn Me On' was probably the best of the lot.  'Memory Band' was probably the worst.  As for the four little instrumental snippets scattered across the album, ('Rapid Transit', 'Pink Noise', 'Sursam Mentes' and 'Black Noise' were all forgettable.  Even though today Minnie Riperton and her five octave voice are the best known member of the group, she was largely relegated to backing vocals on the debut.  Check out ''.   That said, I actually liked Judy Hauff's more conventional voice better.  Yeah, she may have lacked Riperton's range, but she still had a great voice. 


Their debut managed to hit # 37 on the US album charts.


"Rotary Connection" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Amen   (Marshall Paul - Charles Stepney) - 3:56   rating: ** stars

Mainstream America gets introduced to the Love Generation and the MOR version of turning on ...  To my ears 'Amen' sounded like something plucked from a bad Broadway show.  Heavily orchestrated and just way over the top, I guess it must have sounded ground breaking back in 1967.  Today it just sounds ... well dull and plodding.  Not sure why the song carried a Paul - Stepney writing credit since it was simply a reworking of a traditional spiritual.  

2.) Rapid Transit (instrumental)  (Marshall Paul - Charles Stepney) - 0:38   rating: ** stars

Geez, at least 'Rapid Transit' was short ...  Again, to my ears it sounded like something ripped off of a Broadway soundtrack.   Yeah, it managed to capture and convey the feeling of the title, but so what.  You could have recorded the sound of a bus and gotten the same effect.

3.) Turn Me On   (Sidney Barnes - Greg Perry) - 3:17  rating: **** stars

You have to wonder how many grandparents tripped out to this one ...   Yeah, I have to admit the combination of Mitch Aliotta's repetitive bass line, the electric sitar solos and Minnie Riperton and Bobby Simms' vocals were quite appealing on this one.  

4.) Pink Noise (instrumental)   (Marshall Paul - Charles Stepney) - 0:22  rating: ** stars

Not sure what to make of this sound fragment.  It sounded like waves treated with some sort of studio effect.  

5.) Lady Jane  (Mick Jagger - Keith Richards) - 4:57  rating: *** stars

I never liked the Rolling Stones original so my expectations for The Rotary Connection cover weren't very high.  The fact you had to sit through a minute and a half of bland orchestration before the song actually kicked into gear didn't do anything to improve my expectations.  So guess what?   Their version wasn't half bad.  Yeah, it was way over the top, but the lysergic arrangement coupled with Hauff's fragile delivery gave it kind of a goofy likeability.   Again, you had to wonder how many grandparents got off on this one.  YouTube has a clip of the band lip synching the song on a local Chicago television show.  Be warned the host comes off as kind of a jerk.   Cadet Concepts released the song as a promo 45:

- 1968's 'Lady Jane' b/w 'Amen' Cadet Concept catalog number DJ-1)

6.) Like a Rolling Stone   (Bob Dylan) - 4:48   rating: ** stars

Hum, another hit given the Rotary connection treatment - heavy orchestration with a distinctive lysergic vibe with Riperton's vocals floating over the top of the mess.  The song found the band dropping most of Dylan's lyrics, leaving Riperton to yelp the title and refrain over and over.  The arrangement also added some of Bobby Simms disjointed guitar to the mix.   All told, quite horrible.   Cadet tapped it as the leadoff single:

- 1967's 'Like a Rolling Stone' b/w 'Turn Me On' (Cadet Concept catalog number S 7000)


(side 2)

1.) Soul Man   (Isaac Hayes - David Porter) - 2:38   rating: *** stars

I always wondered what Hayes and Porter thought of this freaked-out cover of their Stax hit    Once again it's given the patented Rotary Connection treatment; massive orchestral opening which abruptly shifts to an harpsichord powered Baroque sounding segment, before stumbling into the real song.  It then bounces back and forth.  I'm guessing this was Simms with Haupt on lead vocals and Riperton on backing vocals.  The following year the song was released as a Dutch single:

- 1968's 'Soul Man' b/w 'Like a Rolling Stone' (Chess International catalog number AR 25 278)

2.) Sursam Mentes   (Marshall Paul - Charles Stepney) - 0:44   rating: *** stars

Remember, this was released in 1967 ... Forty four seconds of mid-Eastern world music.  Several decades ahead of their time.  

3.) Didn't Want To Have To Do It   (John Sebastian) - 3:08  rating: **** stars

Who would have expected to hear this old Loving Spoonful tune reinterpreted as a jazzy, lounge act ballad ?   The funny thing is the result was actually quite attractive.  I'm guessing Bobby Simms was featured on lead vocals.

4.) Black Noise (instrumental)   (Marshall Paul - Charles Stepney) - 0:23   rating: ** stars

I won't argue with the writing credits, but if you listen you'll head these twenty two seconds were borrowed from 'Hello Goodbye' ...

5.) Memory Band   (Richard Rudolph - Charles Stepney) - 3:16   rating: ** stars

With a pseudo-bossa nova feel 'Memory Band' was one of the stranger songs on the album.  In spire of the title, there were not lyrics, just what sounded like some young kids endlessly singing "la la la".  Guess Rudolph and Stepney weren't too worried about the lyrics.  

6.) Ruby Tuesday  (Mick Jagger - Keith Richards) - 4:18   rating: *** stars

Their second Stones cover was equally eclectic.  Opening up with an odd combination of church organ and discordant synthesizer moves, the overall effect was like listening to a bunch of stoned Gregorian monks.  Maybe that was the intention ?   I'm guessing this one featured Judy Hauff on lead vocals ...  The album's second single:

- 1967's 'Ruby Tuesday' b/w 'Soul Man' (Cadet Concept catalog number S-7002)

7.) Rotary Connection   (Marshall Paul - Charles Stepney) - 2:46   rating: ** stars

The title track was nothing more than a strange and irritating sound collage of the album's previous songs..



For hardcore fans, the original album included a back cover photo of the band surround a stash of money and illicit material.   Cadet Concept quickly replaced the cover with a less controversial picture of the band wearing sunglasses.    






Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Aladdin

Company: Cadet Concept

Catalog: LPS 317

Country/State: Chicago

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 863

Price: $20.00


Today Chicago's Rotary Connection seems to get slammed as a wannabe pop band with visions of psychedelic grandeur and a minimal amount of original ideas and talent - largely a tool for the late producer/arranger Charles Stepney.   Not to minimize Stepney's contributions, but  I'd argue that's selling the group short in a number of areas.  Formed in 1966, they were one of the first integrated bands to get a significant promotional push - in this case credit going to Marshall Chess (son of Chess founder Leonard Chess. Marshall was looking to expand the blues-oriented Chess franchise into rock via the Cadet Concept imprint. Rotary Connection were one of the label's first signings.  With a big assist for Stepney, they were also leading exponents of a unique psych-pop-soul mash-up.  Hard to imagine Norman Whitfield enjoying his successes on Motown without these guys cutting a path.


With support from arranger/producer Stepney, Marshall decided to pull together a psych-oriented band. The original line up reflected the talents of guitarist Mitch Aliotta, singer/songwriter Sidney Barnes (who happened to be signed to Chess), singer/keyboardist Judy Hauff (replaced by John Jeremiah), singer Minnie Riperton (who had been a receptionist for Chess), Bobby Simms, and drummer Ken Venegas.   Aliotta, Simms, and Venegas had previously been members of The band Proper Strangers. 


Again produced by Chess and Stepney, Rotary Connection's second album, 1968's "Aladdin"  found them doubling down on psych-tinged pop.  The main difference is this time out they ditched outside covers in favor of an original-heavy collection.  Actually, how do you categorize tracks like 'Life could', 'Let Them Talk' and 'I Took A Ride (Caravan)' ?   Exemplified by tracks like 'Teach Me How To Fly' and 'Magical World' if you were to imagine The 5th Dimension at their most psychedelic and multiply that by a factor of ten, you'd start to get a feel for the album.  Actually, I think one of my friends got it right describing it as sunshine pop that had ingested too many LSD-soaked sugar cubes for its own good.  One of the weirdest features of the album lay in the fact Sidney Barnes had a great old-school soul voice, but with the exception of the title track, it was largely wasted throughout the album.  Equally strange, given her amazing voice,  Minnie Riperton didn't get nearly the spotlight you would have expected, though she took advantage of those opportunities, turning in some of the album's most interesting efforts on 'Magical World' and 'I Took A Ride (Caravan)'Admittedly, today their sound comes off as  extremely dated and lots of folks are liable to find tracks like 'Let Them Talk' and 'I Took A Ride (Caravan)' irritating.  Imagine being stoned in 1968 and you get a different vantage point.   Moreover, I'll admit to liking the album's retro-vibe - this was one of those collections that simply oozed mid-'60s influences.   You also had to admire Stepney's production work.  He clearly brought some then-cutting edge arrangement and concepts to the mix.  


Aladdin" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Life Could   (Bobby Simms) - 

You couldn't be blamed for thinking you might have mistakenly put some sort of wildlife sound effects album on - the first couple of seconds of 'Life Could' literally sounded like whale sounds (think those notes were coming from Riperton's five octave voice).  It got even weirder with Riperton's voice shifting the song into quasi-Broadway mode  It got a little funkier after that, but boy this was one strange way to open up an album.  rating: *** stars

2.) Teach Me How To Fly   (Sidney Barnes) - 

Was it pop?  Was if psych?  Was it soul?   All of them and none of them at the same time.   Actually it was hard to tell given Charles Stepney's hyper-active arrangement, including the bizarre and totally cheesy "alien" sound effects (was it an oscilloscope ?).  The heavy orchestration threatened to overwhelm the song, but ultimately Sidney Barnes managed to out-sing it all, turning in one of the album's more interesting performances, which is probably why it was tapped as a single.    rating: **** stars

3.) V.I.P.    (Bobby Simms) - 

Opening and closing with a distinctive oriental flavor, 'V.I.P.' quickly shifted into horn and fuzz guitar powered pop-psych territory.   One of those songs I can't decided whether I love, or detest.  rating: *** stars

4.) Let Them Talk    (Bobby Simms) - 

'Let Them Talk' opened up with irritating percussion and group chanting, before shifting into folk-rock territory.   Before it collapsed into a freak-out closing, the song sounded very 1965, but had a nice melody and was actually pretty retro-cool.   rating: **** stars 

5.) I Took A Ride (Caravan)   (Harumi Ando) - 

Complete with acid-tinged orchestration and lots of sitar (including what may be the clumsiest sitar solo I've ever heard - maybe it was suppose to sound like that ...   'I Took A Ride (Caravan)' was a truly trippy tune.  The experience was even stranger when the flat, trance-ish vocal being handled by Riperton's squeaky, little girl voice,  followed by the chorus which sounded like the 5th Dimension on the tail of a bad acid trip.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)
1.) Aladdin    (Kornfeld - Duboff) - 4:25

The title track was one of those songs that was better than it had any right to be ...  basically 'Aladdin' was a grossly over-produced pop tune, but the combination of Sidney Barnes' gruff vocals (Riperton could be heard in the background), and a cool Bobby Simms guitar riff made it one of the group's best releases.   Released as a single (in a edited format)  it did nothing on the charts.   rating: **** stars

2.) Magical World    (Sidney Barnes) - 4:25

With Riperton on lead vocals (she sounded great), 'Magical World' was a strange, heavily orchestrated pop-psych number (there's even a reference to a yellow submarine).   Lots of folks seem to think it's great, but to my ears it never really kicked into gear.   rating: *** stars

3.) I Must Be There   (Keith Anderson - Bobby Simms) - 3:34

By any standard, the raga flavored 'I Must be There' was pretty trippy, though I'd argue the heavy instrumentation made  it sound more like incidental music for a Bollywood flick than a true psychedelic tune.  I'm guessing Judy Hauff was featured on lead vocals.  rating: *** stars

4.) I Feel Sorry   (Mitch Aliotta) - 4:10

The lyric was disconcerting, but it was still one of the album's most rocking track with some nice fuzz guitar.   rating: *** stars

5.) Paper Castle   (Maurice Dollison) - 4:17

If you've ever wanted to hear a slice of soul-psych, then 'Paper Castle' might be a good place to start.   The combination of a driving, psychedelic arrangement, Barnes turning in one of his most driving vocals and some highly activist lyrics (many of them still on target), made this another album standout performance.  It was tapped as the second single.   rating: **** stars


Two singles were pulled from the album: 


- 1968's 'Aladdin' b/w 'Magic World'  (Cadet Concept catalog number 7006)

- 1968's 'Paper Castle' b/w 'Teach Me How To Fly' (Cadet Concept catalog number 7007)


Ironically, even though the collection was way better than the debut album, it didn't come close to matching earlier sales.  





Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Dinner Music

Company: Cadet Concept

Catalog: LPS 328

Country/State: Chicago

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut top right corner; still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1159

Price: $20.00


I've never been a gigantic Rotary Connection fan, but each of their album's has exhibited at least a couple of redeeming moments.   That's not really the case with 1970's "Dinner Music".  Again produced by Charles Stepney, I've always wondered what the band was thinking off on this set.  I've never been able to figure out if they were trying to make some sort of big statement with an album full of short experimental song fragments ('Pointillism', 'Lektricks #1', and 'Quartet'), or if Stepney and company had simply run out of good ideas and slapped this aural mess together in order to meet some contractual obligation requirements.  That might explain why guitarist Jon Stocklin was credited with most of the album's material.  The fact of the matter is there weren't any really good songs on the collection.   Best of the lot were Riperton's performance on the ballad 'Living Alone' and the future single 'Love Me Now'.   Elsewhere this was completely forgettable.   Given how the album bounced all over the musical spectrum, had this been released by a tax scam label like Guinness, or Tiger Lily you would have probably thought this was actually multiple groups stitched together with the goal of scoring a quick buck.   


side 1)

1.) Pointillism (instrumental) - 0:20     rating: * star

Needs sound effects with no redeeming value.

2.) We Will Be Free   (Jon Stocklin - Bobby Simms) - 3:00   rating: *** stars

With Riperton singing in what sounded like a very uncomfortable lower register, 'We Will Be Free' sounded like a very upset Gospel choir.   The song wasn't very good, but was still one of the better performances on this album. 

3.) Living Alone   (Jon Stocklin) - 2:53   rating: *** stars

Giving credit where due, the pretty ballad  'Living Alone' was probably the album's commercial and mainstream performance.  Nice showcase for Riperton's voice, though the lyrics could have done with fewer la-la-las.   The song was released as a 1975 single credited to Minnie Riperton with the Rotary Connection: 

- 1975's 'Living Alone' b/w 'Magical World' (Janus catalog number J 249)   

4.) Lektricks #1 (instrumental) - 0:45   rating: * star


45 second of third-rate, acid-tinged sound effects ...   Guess producer Stepney needed to sill up some additional time.  

5.) Country Things   (Jon Stocklin) - 3:04  rating: * star


C'mon, whose idea was it to have the band record a jug band tune ?   Give me a break. 

6.) Quartet (instrumental) - 0:58  rating: * star

Nothing more than an instrumental song fragment, 'Quartet' sounded like something they'd borrowed from a throwaway slasher flick sound track. 

7.) May Our Amens Be True   (Sidney Barnes - Jon Stocklin) - 3:00  rating: * star

The group vocals made this easy listening ballad  sound like something you would have heard on an Up with People album.   Amazingly lame and disappointing.

8.) Stormy Monday Blue   (Eckstein - Crowder - Hines) - 3:57   rating: *** stars

What would have been nothing more than a conventional cover of the blues standard actually ended up sounding pretty good compared to the rest of side one.   Again, on their own Barnes and Riperton didn't sound half bad, but put together they simply clashed.   Cadet tapped it as the album's second single.  

- 1970's 'Stormy Monday Blues' b/w 'Teach Me How to Fly' (Cadet Concept catalog number CH 104)  


(side 2)

1.) Love Me Now   (McCall)  - 2:45   rating: *** stars

It certainly wasn't a great song, but given how miserable most of this album was, the mid-tempo ballad  'Love Me Know' at least showed signs of life.  The song sounded a bit like a Marvin Gaye-Tammi Terrell-styled Motown castoff, but sadly Sidney Barnes and Riperton simply didn't have a great deal of chemistry.  Cadet Concept released it as a single. 

- 1970's 'Love Me Now' b/w 'May Our Amens Be True' (Cadet Concept catalog number 7021)  

2.) Lonely Summer   (Bobby Simms)  - 2:40   rating: ** stars

The country-tinged ballad 'Lonely Summer' sounded like something The Lovin' Spoonful might have recorded.   Nothing like what you would have expected from these folks.  

3.) Amuse   (Jon Stocklin) - 4:00   rating: *** stars

Showcased Riperton's little girl voice, 'Amuse' was a stark acoustic ballad - just Riperton accompanied by acoustic guitar.  Pretty, but hypersensitive and wasn't particularly strong in the melody department.  

4.) Lektricks #2 (instrumental)- 0:41   rating: * star

Well, it was four second shorter than part 1, though equally irritating.  

5.) Merry Prankster   (Jon Stocklin) - 2:33   rating: ** stars

'Merry Prankster' started off as a pretty harpsichord and harmonica powered ballad, but  when the song hit the refrains it simply went off into the deep end with Simms sounding like he was either constipated, or suffering an epileptic seizure.   Weird beyond belief ...    

6.) Pump Effect (instrumental) - 0:05    rating: no  stars

Yeap the title said it all.   

7.) Want You To Know   (Jon Stocklin) - 3:02   rating: ** stars

The Rotary connection go folk ...   not a good thing.


For what it's worth, this is probably one of the worst album's I've ever heard.



Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Hey Love

Company: Cadet Concept

Catalog: CC 50006

Country/State: Chicago

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2640

Price: $20.00



If you'd originally been attracted to The Rotary Connection for their goofy blend of pop, Broadway show, and psychedelic moves, then there was a good chance 1971's "Hey Love" was going to leave you complete confused and disappointed.   Charles Stepney was again responsible for production and arrangements.  Whereas Jon Stocklin had been responsible for most of the material on 1970's "Dinner Music",  on this album Stepney and partner Richard Rudolph reasserted their roles as the band's primary creative force.   As mentioned, the change in musical direction was certainly a jolt and it took awhile to get acclimated to the new territory.   The band's quirky blend of pop, psych, and soul influences was largely history, replaced by a much more sophisticated blend of jazz and soul influences. The good news was this line-up was blessed with several talented singers.  In addition to Minnie Riperton (who was actually fairly subdued on the album), the group's pool of vocal talent featured Kitty Haywood, Dave Scott, and Shirley Wahls.  The other piece of good news - this was one of those album's that overcame a slow start and quickly grew on you.   Jazz-soul grooves like 'I Am the Blackgold of the Sun', 'Hey Love', and 'Vine of Happiness' were unexpectedly addictive.  Maybe my favorite Rotary Connection album.  Shame Cadet Concept did nothing to promote the album.



"Hey, Love" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) If I Sing My Song   (Charles Stepney - Richard Rudolph) - 2:52   rating: ** stars

Hum, listening to 'If I Sing My Song' I always imagine a mash-up of The Free Design-meets Sergio Mendes ... Like The Free Design the vocal arrangements were quite sophisticated.   That's not necessarily a bad thing, just be aware the pseudo- bossa nova moves were about as psychedelic, or soulful as a chewing gum commercial.   

2.) The Sea & She  (Richard Rudolph) - 3:30   rating: *** stars

Who put on the Blood, Sweat & Tears album?   Maybe that was a bit mean-spirited, by I've got to tell you Dave Scott's voice reminded me more than a little bit of David Clayton-Thomas.   Anyhow, 

The Sea & She' was a pretty enough ballad.  A bit MOR-ish, but pretty.  

3.) I Am the Blackgold of the Sun   (Charles Stepney - Richard Rudolph) - 5:20   rating: **** stars

Pseudo classical acoustic guitar, jazzy touches, acid guitar, Fifth Dimension-styled harmony vocals, patented '70s hippie lyrics ...  Proto neo-soul?  what's not to like about "I am the Blackgold of the Sun'?  Ah, peace and harmony for all ....  Check out NuYorican Soul's house version. 

4.) Hanging Around the Bee Tree   (Richard Rudolph) - 3:32   rating: ** stars

Geez, was Scott trying to channel Frank Sinatra?   Hanging Around the Bee Tree' started out as a very unexpected acapella performance, before morphing into a lounge act, cocktail jazzy number.

5.) Hey Love   (Charles Stepney - Richard Rudolph) -  4:00   rating: **** stars

Even if you weren't a fan of the band's new jazz-soul direction, the title track was easily David Scott's best performance.  One of the sweetest melodies Charles Stepney and Richard Rudolph ever wrote (it's one of those songs that occasionally creeps out of my mental jukebox when I least expect it), the song was coupled with a classic heartbreak lyric.   Should have been released as a single. 


(side 2)

1.) Love Has Fallen On Me    (Charles Stepney - Lloyd Webber)- 4:10    rating: *** stars

Shame most people know this song for Chaka Kahn's version.  Chaka Kahn's Gospel-tinged version (off the "Chaka" album), was certainly impressive, but the original has its own merits.  Nice to hear the ladies getting a shot at the spotlight.  Shirley Wahls certainly had some chops.

2,) Song for Everyman   (Terry Callier) - 5:32    rating: *** stars

I'm a big Terry Callier fan so I'm happy to see the man get any kind of exposure.   While I'm not sure the cover exceeded Callier's original, I'll tell you the Rotary Connection was quite sweet with a nice, building arrangement.  Note sure if the lead vocals were by Kitty Haywood, or Shirley Wahls.

3.) Love Is   (Charles Stepney - Richard Rudolph) - 4:42   rating: **** stars

Most folks probably know 'Love Is' from The Dell's catalog.    Admittedly The New Rotary Connection version had a touch of Broadway Show excess to it, but the collective vocals were quite impressive.   Imagine the Fifth Dimension getting a little more experimental.   One of the few tracks where Minnie Riperton's instantly recognizable voice was given a chance at the spotlight.   Always loved Sydney Simms' end-of-song bass solo.   Cadet Concepts tapped the song as a promo single, but doesn't seem to have released the track to the general public:

- 1971's 'Love Is' b/w ''Hey Love' (Cadet Concepts catalog number 1037-7028)

4.) Vine of Happiness   (Charles Stepney - Richard Rudolph)- 4:36   rating: **** stars

In age where looking after yourself seems to have become the norm, there's something sweet (if perhaps a bit niaeve) hearing a tune like 'Vine of Happiness'.  Shame more of us don't subscribe to Stepney and Rudolph's vision "don't you know we need each other ..."


By the end of the year they were history.  There are a bunch of posthumous retrospective collections (none particularly good).  


Clearly intended to capitalize on Riperton's post Rotary Connection solo career, in 1975 Janus Records re-issued 1970's 'Living Alone' (from the "Dinner Music" album) as a single:

- 1975's 'Living Alone' b/w 'Magical World' (Janus catalog number J 249)