September 25, 2010

toppriority

(Top Priority in 2008: Mark Richard, Doug Richard, Jerry “Keys” Palma, Ken “The Cat” McDougal)

[Ed. Note: The following press release from Kittyhawk Productions national headquarters was found in my Inbox this morning:]

—-

NEWS RELEASE: TOP PRIORITY MUSIC VIDEO RELEASES TO MARK BAND’S 35TH ANNIVERSARY

MONTAUK, NY – September 20, 2010 – Kittyhawk Productions (NYSE KHPR) announced today that three classic recordings by the long-forgotten and unheralded band Top Priority“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”, “Rhythmic Blues”, and “Tiny Bubbles (Long Version)” will be released as YouTube music videos sometime over the coming weeks. The release of these three classic recordings, spanning the years 1975 and 1977, will replace the previously-planned release of a larger group of recordings called “Top Priority: Anthology: 1974-1976”.

Kittyhawk Productions’ CEO Victor N. Cugini included this brief Q&A in announcing the planned release of the music videos:

Q: Why these particular recordings? What happened to the planned compilation CD?

A: The fact is, while the music planned for the compilation CD is absolutely top notch and deserves to be heard – I’m talkin’ Stones quality here, babe – the fact is, the quality of the recordings just didn’t meet the high standards of the ‘Boys. You have to remember, all the recordings in existence come from two beaten-up cassette tapes that had been lost to the band for some 30 years and were only recently recovered at a yard sale in Grand Forks, North Dakota. You work with what you can, dig me, babe?

Q: Tell us about “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”

A: This is the ‘Boys version of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit from the fall 1974. This recording is (from what we can tell) from early 1975, and features the original Top Priority lineup (Mark, Doug, “The Cat”, and guitarist “The Bouch”), with The Cat on lead vocal and a special guest appearance by Ken Sandler (later of BeatleTracks band fame) on lead guitar. The song became a staple of their live act going forward, but it never sounded as good as this version with Sandler on lead. It’s magical, babe.

Q: Tell us about “Rhythmic Blues”

A: A truly unique recording featuring Mark, Doug, The Cat, and “Keys”. It’s just a shame the original tape was so degraded that the quality suffers, but I think it’s important to get it out there. The tune itself was composed by legendary bluesman E.P. Hemingway (“You May Be A Hen But I Ain’t Chicken”), and he gave it to Keys after an afternoon of drinking malt liquor on the back porch of E.P’s shack down in the Mississippi Delta.

Here’s the story behind the story: By early 1977 Top Priority had decided to stop touring – the non-stop travel, the limos, the girls, and the crowds had taken their toll on everyone’s nervous systems. After the band “encouraged” guitarist “The Bouch” to take a leave of absence in order to pursue his dream of learning Mongolian folk music under the great Tibetan mystic Aka Ooh Phang, they dropped the Top Priority name in favor of “Scat Jacobs and the Manhattans Featuring Sonny Williams”, the better to explore their more sensitive and artistic side. Shortly thereafter, Keys returned from Mississippi with this tune, and the rest is history.

Q: Tell us about “Tiny Bubbles (Long Version)”

A: This recording comes from the very last recording session held in the old Richard house cellar in Tewksbury during the summer of 1977. This recording features Mark, Doug, and Keys: The Cat had recently left the band to join the Air Force, and Mark was only weeks away from joining the Army. “Tiny Bubbles (Long Version”) came in a burst of inspiration after the boys had traveled to Hampton Beach earlier that summer and saw a combo of elderly gentlemen playing under the music shell there and attempting to sound hip by playing popular tunes like “The Hustle” and “Play That Funky Music” to a swing beat. Well, the ‘Boys thought this was so outrageous and absurd that they felt the need to record their own form of tribute – hence, “Tiny Bubbles (Long Version)”. And no, there was never a short version…

Q: Where did the idea of a music video come from?

A: We were approached by Bryce Harlow IV of Great White Shank Productions, who had heard from Doug and Keys that the “Anthology” compilation was increasingly looking like a no-go. He called to tell me he had some bandwidth to put two or three of the band’s songs up on YouTube for posterity’s sake, and to choose the ones I liked best. And that’s what I did.

[Ed. note: watch these spaces in the coming weeks for “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”, “Rhythimic Blues”, and “Tiny Bubbles (Long Version)” bringing Top Priority back together again, live on YouTube!]

Pool temp: 82 degrees

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by The Great White Shank at 00:11 | Comments (8)
8 Comments »
  1. Oh Lord..another You Tube sensation in the making. Look out Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Actually, it is very cool and I will be awaiting the “release date”…are you planning a release party??? By the pool would be very nice as long as it isn’t 84,000 degrees and the martinis are icy cold. I’d get on a plan for that.

    Comment by Jana — September 25, 2010 @ 5:28 am


  2. That’s a good question, Jana. After several attempts to convince a worn-out receptionist at Kittyhawk Productions that I was who I was (apparently they’ve been inundated with calls from across the world since the announcement), she finally put me through to Vic Cugini’s voice mail. Here’s his response, he sent it by telegram (guess he hasn’t hard of e-mail, but that’s Vic):

    YES THERE IS A PARTY PLANNED. STOP.

    IN TRUE “GATSBY FASHION” NO ONE FROM BAND PLANS TO ATTEND. STOP.

    PARTY AT CHEZ JAYS IN SANTA MONICA (http://www.chezjays.com/). STOP.

    BY INVITE ONLY – IF YOU HAVE TO ASK IF YOU’RE INVITED YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT ON LIST. STOP.

    PARTY HAS TOTAL BUDGET OF $19.63. STOP.

    WAS $20, BUT JUST GAVE 37 CENTS TO A HOMELESS KID NEEDING CHANGE TO REPAIR SKATEBOARD WHEEL. STOP.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — September 25, 2010 @ 10:53 am


  3. Those are some pretty high rollers you associate with. Not sure I can afford a red carpet dress unless you can hook me up with Rachel Zoe to style me.
    I don’t know who you think you have been fooling all these years with your, Plain Shank lifestyle…underneath that “humble” facade lies a Hollywood wannabe if I ever saw one…yeah, you, so dig out your ascot…white linen pants and Gucci shoes and be the Real Shank.

    Comment by Jana — September 26, 2010 @ 6:06 am


  4. Hell, even I didn’t make the invite list. And I was the damned bassist!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — September 26, 2010 @ 9:40 pm


  5. ..to follow up on my time with E.P. he really opened up my mind to the rootsier side of music and just roots in general. After finishing up the malt, one of his “cousins” fixed us a bowl of what she caled “Roots (pronounced ruhts) Stew.” From what I could gather, she had this leftover “all natural” hair dye that she used to mix with a fairly fresh batch of grain alcohol (“to kell annuh the impururities”)and then added some “greens” from the riverbank and simmered it most of the day. When I woke up 36 hours later, before I regained my eyesight, all I could hear was E.P. whackin out the chord (Singular -he only knew one chord) to Rhythmic Blues. I took the liberty of adding the other 2 chords when I introduced it to the guys. For the record, the song was originally called “Hey, When’s Keys Gunna Git Up?”

    Comment by Jerry "Keys" Palma — September 29, 2010 @ 7:21 pm


  6. ..to follow up on my time with E.P. he really opened up my mind to the rootsier side of music and just roots in general. After finishing up the malt, one of his “cousins” fixed us a bowl of what she caled “Roots (pronounced ruhts) Stew.” From what I could gather, she had this leftover “all natural” hair dye that she used to mix with a fairly fresh batch of grain alcohol (“to kell annuh the impururities”)and then added some “greens” from the riverbank and simmered it most of the day. When I woke up 36 hours later, before I regained my eyesight, all I could hear was E.P. whackin out the chord (Singular -he only knew one chord) to Rhythmic Blues. I took the liberty of adding the other 2 chords when I introduced it to the guys. For the record, the song was originally called “Hey, When’s Keys Gunna Git Up?”

    Comment by Jerry "Keys" Palma — September 29, 2010 @ 7:21 pm


  7. ..to follow up on my time with E.P. he really opened up my mind to the rootsier side of music and just roots in general. After finishing up the malt, one of his “cousins” fixed us a bowl of what she caled “Roots (pronounced ruhts) Stew.” From what I could gather, she had this leftover “all natural” hair dye that she used to mix with a fairly fresh batch of grain alcohol (“to kell annuh the impururities”)and then added some “greens” from the riverbank and simmered it most of the day. When I woke up 36 hours later, before I regained my eyesight, all I could hear was E.P. whackin out the chord (Singular -he only knew one chord) to Rhythmic Blues. I took the liberty of adding the other 2 chords when I introduced it to the guys. For the record, the song was originally called “Hey, When’s Keys Gunna Git Up?”

    Comment by Jerry "Keys" Palma — September 29, 2010 @ 7:21 pm


  8. Thanks for the story, Keys – it just adds to the legacy of this great tune. It’s a keeper for all Top Priority fans out there, and easily accessible via the just-launched Kittyhawk Productions website.

    http://www.kittyhawkproductions.com

    Check it out!

    Comment by VCugini — August 27, 2011 @ 9:43 pm


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