August 31, 2011

KITTYHAWK PRODUCTIONS LAUNCHES OFFICIAL WEBSITE

SANTA MONICA, CA, August 27, 2011

Kittyhawk Productions (NYSE: KTPR) today announced the launch of their official website celebrating the history of the legendary band “Top Priority”. The website, in the works for nearly four years, welcomes fans and visitors alike to experience the music and history of “The Band That Never Changed Rock” in all of their never-achieved glory.

“This venture is truly a culmination of four years of love, that’s the only way I can put it”, Kittyhawk Chairman and CEO Victor N. Cugini told an assembled multitude of one reporter, one heavily tattooed youth holding a skateboard, and one homeless man who had just bummed a dollar off of Cugini. “If Doug [Richard], Keys [Palma], The Cat [Ken McDougal], and Mark [Richard] were here, I think they’d be justfiably proud of this achievement. The new KP website not only links people to a detailed history of the band as well as their music, it also allows fans to keep in touch with the band’s current and ongoing projects, even if there really aren’t any.”

Asked why the launch of a seemingly-uncomplicated, single-page website would take nearly four years to launch, Cugini would only say, “love takes time.” 

When asked about the release of Top Priority’s long-rumored “Anthology” CD, Cugini replied, “Ditto”.   

Cugini did go on to say that “[the band] is very keen and very together in their excitement” of the website’s launch, and that any and all conflicts the band might have had with their label – including several lawsuits accusing Kittyhawk of witheld royalties that were ultimately settled out of court – are, in Cugini’s words, “a thing of the past”. Cugini closed his announcement by saying that rumors to the effect that no further Top Priority YouTube music videos would be forthcoming were “premature”, and that the band was presently “reviewing tapes for a possible new video release in the fall.”

Me and the band are very excited about the new KP website, please feel free to take a look at it and let me know what you think.

Peace and tacos,
Victor

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by vcugini at 00:04 | Comments (2)
June 25, 2008

vcugini Greetings to everyone out in “The Nation”. Victor N. Cugini, CEO of Kittyhawk Productions here. I’m blogging to you live from Chez Jay‘s on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California, just down the road apiece from where KP’s new headquarters will be located. I know what you’re probably thinking – aren’t I supposed to be working with Mark, Doug, Keys, and The Cat to get the final mix of Top Priority’s upcoming Anthology CD finalized, get the KP website completed, and help Keys kick-start his “JP’s Big Show” with a few new gigs. Sorry, but the surf has been pretty clean of late and it’s summer, so that’s where it’s at.

Consider this post, then, the product of a “working lunch”.

I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail questions about the band and their “Anthology CD”, so I’ve compiled a “Top Five” list of questions and have accepted The Great White Shank’s gracious invitation to use this venue as a way to answer those questions and save on ISP and stationary costs. (Hey, no one ever accused Kittyhawk Productions, even back in its mid-’70s heyday, of being loose with a buck.) So here goes…

Q: What’s the status of the Anthology CD?
A: It’s mixed down, and Paul [Ed. note: executive producer Paul Sorvino] and I are waiting for the OK from the boys. All the artwork – you saw the front, here’s the back, and here’s the CD label (pretty nice looking, eh?) is complete, so once we get final sign-off, the CD will be available via the KP website once that is launched.

Q: And that will be…?
A: Like Teddy Roosevelt (or was it Sid Vicious?) said, the business of America is business. And unfortunately, sometimes business gets in the way of business. All I can say is, the work is ongoing, with a formal launch now scheduled for sometime late-summer/early fall.

Q: Are the boys together on all this?
A: Yes, very together.

Q: Are there any plans for a Top Priority reunion?
A: Not at this time. It’s doubtful – I mean, you have the logistics and everything. I will say that Doug and Keys have at least tossed around the idea of proposing something very limited in scope in the future with Mark and The Cat. Nothing definite, more of a ‘what if’ kind of thing…

Q: What do you see in the future for Kittyhawk Productions?
A: Nothing less than a multi-million dollar music and publishing conglomerate capable of swallowing smaller labels with a single gulp. While primarily dedicated to spreading the legacy of Top Priority and supporting any current and future ventures the boys might be involved in, we’ll be looking at signing other acts as well.

Well my Swordfish a la Siciliana is about to arrive and my Tequila Sunrise could use a little refreshing, so it’s time for me to say sayonara. But before I do, I want to share with everyone a new song composition called “Great White Shark Blues”. My first collaboration with Keys Palma in more than thirty years (he’s writing the music), it’s a bit of a cross between The Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Couple” and Gary Usher and The Super Stocks’ “Malibu Blues”. I hope you like it:

Now what’ll I do on this sun-shiney day
A boater saw a shark swimming out in the bay
It wasn’t no dolphin nor a humback whale
About 35 feet from his head to his tail
Oh I feel so bad, I’ve got the Great White Shark blues.

I feel like a doorknob without any door
I wanna ride the surf all the way to the shore
Instead of loading surfboards in the back of my car
I’m sitting with my friends in this cool dark bar
Oh I feel so bad, I’ve got the Great White Shark blues

Great White Shark blues
Great White Shark blues
Great White Shark blues
Great White SHark blues, my life I don’t wanna lose!

(instrumental break)

If that shark weren’t here I’d be duck diving out
Kicking off the lip and giving a shout
The problem is that instead of hanging five
I’d be flailing for shore just tryin’ to stay alive
Oh I feel so bad, I’ve got the Great White Shark blues

Later dudes, keep the faith!

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by vcugini at 01:03 | Comments (0)
June 10, 2008

Note: The following press release from Kittyhawk Productions national headquarters went out late yesterday:

NEWS RELEASE: KITTYHAWK PRODUCTIONS ANNOUNCES JERRY PALMA SIGNING, “JP’S BIG SHOW” NOW ACCEPTING IMMEDIATE BOOKINGS

Oceanside, CA – June 9, 2008 – Kittyhawk Productions (NYSE KHPR) announced today that it has reached a tentative agreement on a multi-year contract with former Top Priority keyboardist Jerry “Keys” Palma to re-join Kittyhawk Productions’ roster of artists and, in turn, help promote the launch of “JP’s Big Show” – Palma’s one-man show featuring music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Employing the latest technology to its fullest use, “JP’s Big Show” features Palma on keyboards and guitar with percussion and bass to create a full and exciting sound perfect for parties, social gatherings, and club settings.

“I am very excited to rejoin Kittyhawk Productions as an artist to market and showcase this new venture”, said Palma to a crowded lounge of reporters. “Being back with Kittyhawk Productions brings my musical career full circle and provides an outlet for me to showcase my own musical heritage. My thanks to Mr. Cugini and his staff for helping make this agreement possible.”

Victor N. Cugini, Kittyhawk Productions Executive Director and Producer, echoed Palma’s comments, saying, “We at Kittyhawk Productions are pleased to once again be able to call ‘Keys’ Palma a part of the KP family. We see ‘Keys’ as a unique, dynamic, and multi-talented artist with the unique ability to connect to people of all ages through his impressive musical talent. Simply put, dude can play.”

Palma mentioned that he already has several bookings for “JP’s Big Show” and is thrilled at the propect of performing popular music on stage once again. Asked repeatedly if any Top Priority songs would be included in his repertoire, Palma would only smile and say, “we’ll see.” He also refused to any any questions about the possibility of a Top Priority reunion in the near or distant future, saying, “at the present time my only energies are directed towards making “JP’s Big Show” a huge success, not just for me but for Kittyhawk Productions.”

(If you live in the metropolitan Boston or southern New Hampshire area and are interested in booking “JP’s Big Show” for your club, special event, or social gathering please leave a comment at this post. Full contact information will soon be made available at the Kittyhawk Productions official website.)

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by vcugini at 01:48 | Comment (1)
February 18, 2008

Top Priority 2007
Greetings, Top Priority fans! I wanted to let you all know that there has been a recent up-tick in the number of requests for the book almost all of America has been waiting for: “The Band That Never Changed Rock: The Definitive History of Top Priority”.

Originally, this book, to be published by Kittyhawk Productions‘ own publishing arm, Permanent Press, was due for release in late 2007, but unforeseen delays caused by all sorts of things – you know, the need for further interviews with the band members, trips to the supermarket, increased solar activity, etc. – have delayed its expected release (not to mention the official launch of the Top Priority website) until the spring of 2008. Patience is the key word here, rabid fans!

Now, a word about those pesky Top Priority reunion tour rumors. I recently spoke with a spokesperson for Ken “The Cat” McDougal at the latter’s Florida winter compound and here is The Cat’s quote, verbatim (my boldings):

[Laughing] “No, no, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon, dude. The boys and I are busy in our own life pursuits. Sure, it’s not like Beatles thing where, you know, a reunion is totally impossible due to the passages of life, but my guess is, unless a promoter and sponsor wants to drop some serious dinero into our laps, there’s not much incentive for it to happen, right?”

And this quote from drummer Mark Richard:

“They can offer me a million dollars, but you’ll NEVER catch me appearing on “The View”.

…And, finally, this official telegram received just yesterday from the Laguna Beach, CA office of Kittyhawk Productions:

FEBRUARY 17, 2007: There is no truth to the rumors of Doug, Mark, “Keys”, and “The Cat” re-forming for a reunion tour to promote their upcoming CD Top Priority: Anthology 1974-76 or Mr. Cugini’s book “The Band That Never Changed Rock – The Definitive History of Top Priority”. STOP.

The boys are quite occupied with their various life pursuits and focusing all of their time and effort on reducing their own personal carbon footprints as a way to combat the debilitating effects of global warming, as well as doing their parts to promote global harmony and world peace.” STOP.

The boys are flattered, however, by the unexpectedly enthusiastic response to the upcoming CD and book, and hope their legions of fans will be content to satisfy themselves until those releases by taking the “Top Priority Tragical History Tour” – a 2-hour, fun-filled tour of various sites and locales around the Merrimack Valley (MA) associated with the band. These tours are personally conducted by Mark and available by reservation only for $22.78 plus tax through your local Kittyhawk Productions branch office. STOP.

The boys wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2008. STOP.

So that’s it, then. Keep a watch in these spaces for the latest on everything Top Priority-related and be sure to keep an eye out for the impending release of Top Priority’s first CD single, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” b/w “Saturday Night (recorded live at the Billerica Masonic Temple)”, available via the Kittyhawk Productions website.

———-

(For those who are wondering, the picture above shows band members Mark Richard (drums), Doug Richard (bass, vocals), Jerry “Keys” Palma (keyboard, guitar, vocals), and Ken “The Cat” McDougal (guitar, vocals). Photo courtesy of The Cat and True Focus Photography)

———-

Jai Guru Dev.

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by vcugini at 01:50 | Comment (1)
October 6, 2007

tp Part 2 of an interview with Paul Sorvino, executive producer of “Top Priority – Anthology: 1974-76”, scheduled for official release on the Kittyhawk Productions label later this year:

Q: Before we continue on with the song selections you chose, tell us a little bit about the what happens with the CD from here on out. Obviously, you’re pleased with how everything turned out.

PS: Well, it’s still kind of hard to believe these 30+ year-old recordings are seeing the digital light of day. Once the original cassettes were transferred to disk, it was simply a matter of breaking the tracks – which upon transfer had several songs per track – down into individual songs. Then, several passes through the DART Digital CD Recording Studio software with help from you, Victor [grins], and then final tweaks and such by Doug Richard, who handled the final mixdown. After all, he was a part of the band at that time and had a sense of how it should sound. But I must say, because the original source cassettes were in pretty rough shape to begin with, there was only so much we could do.

Q: Did any of the other former Top Priority band members have input into the CD creation process?

PS: No, but it wasn’t due to any personal problems or issues with them, it was purely logistics – Mark and Jerry “Keys” Palma live in Massachusetts, Ken “The Cat” McDougal lives in Florida, and all of the digital transfer and recording work took place in Phoenix. But their spirit and enthusiasm for the project created an energy and excitement that made the whole process worthwhile.

Q: And the CD is due to be released when?

PS: Well, it’ll be tied to the formal launch of the Kittyhawk Productions website. I understand there will be CDs, T-shirts, your soon-to-be-published book [Ed. note: The Band That Never Changed Rock: A Definitive History of Top Priority, excerpts of which can be found starting here] and other collectibles available, plus sound clips and a band history. It’ll be exciting, I’m sure…

Q: Well, shall we complete our run-down of the songs found on the Anthology? “The Alleycat Song”…

PS: [Sighs] More wedding music to hully-gully by. The funny thing here is that the band sounds like they’re actually having a keen time of it – there’s some joyful and creative playing by Keys, Mark, and Doug throughout. But still, you’re left wondering when the bride and groom were going to get around to cutting the cake!

Q: “Hang On Sloopy”…

PS: More ‘garage band’ blandness by a band that had to have had better stuff in its repertoire. Is it well performed? Yes. Does the band sing their vocals on key? Yes. But one still has to wonder about the necessity of it all…

Q: “Daniel”…

PS: Unfortunately, yet another rather bland, mid-’70s selection. “The Cat”‘s vocal, while not dynamic, is nevertheless earnest, and the band actually does a nice job on it. It would have been nice to hear the band rock out a bit, but as I said earlier, that’s just not what they were at the time. One half expects some 70-year old grandmother in the audience to suddenly cry out, “don’t you boys ROCK?”

Q: “Michelle”…

PS: While this instrumental goes on a bit long for my taste, I understand the band’s selection and their intent of playing it – after all, the audience was eating at the time and this is the perfect kind of music for those occasions. I actually like the band’s performance here a lot – it has a nice, creative arrangement with some virtuoso finger-picking by The Cat towards the song’s close. Along with the prior track, a quiet gem.

Q: “Wipe Out”…

PS: My guess is that this surf classic was chosen to feature Mark’s drums, and the band absolutely nails it. The drums are perfect throughout, and listening to the song, you’d swear Dick Dale was about to show up with a group of bare-footed hodads and wahines any moment. Next to “You Ain’t Seen Nothing yet”, the band’s best cover in the collection.

Q: “Rhythmic Blues”…

PS: One of two original songs (with the track that follows) created as the band’s alter-ego, “Scat Jacobs and the Manhattans Featuring Sonny Williams”. It is unfortunate that the original tape had some serious problems, but we are fortunate to have what we have. This is a stunning piece of musicianship – the boys are totally into a 12-bar blues thing that transcends anything they had ever attempted before. Inventive, bluesy, and fun, with a walking Doug bass-line throughout, some creative wah guitar by The Cat, and funky piano fills from Keys, it is, in my view, the most interesting piece of work the band ever did. It’s a shame they didn’t explore the blues idiom a little more – perhaps they could have ended up in a place similar to The Doors and their “L.A. Woman” phase.

Q: “Rhythm and Blues, Part I”…

PS: Without a doubt, one of the strangest and most interesting tracks on the CD. What the band was trying to do here is anyone’s guess. It starts out as straight kind of three-chord garage tune in the spirit of The Beach Boys’ “Do It Again”, then transforms itself into a quasi-electric blues / jungle rhythm / African drums syncopated thing before ending without any kind of flourish. Absolutely avant-garde and very strange. It just makes one think what the band might have been capable of doing had they had more time to explore their own creative directions, but this was towards the end of the band’s creative run.

Q: “Tiny Bubbles”…

PS: No less an authority than “Keys” Palma has called their arrangement of this song “avant-garde”, and he’s right. Everything about this arrangement is tongue-in-cheek: a rave-up that the band swings it for all it’s worth: Doug’s bass frolics, Mark’s drums parody the “coolness” the band (actually, just Keys, Doug, and Mark here) is attempting to project, and Keys tosses in every piano cliche ever invented. It’s a bit long, but that’s just another part of the joke the band is in on – they can’t figure how to end it straight. Perhaps the most fun and entertaining track in the whole collection.

Q: “The Hustle”…

PS: In a word, bizarre. This track, obviously recorded at the same session as “Tiny Bubbles”, apparently seeks to answer the question, ‘what would a disco hit sound like if it was played to a swing beat?’. From what I understand, the band had gone up to Hampton Beach, NH one Sunday and saw an elderly group of musicians playing this song this exact way, and, the boys all being highly impressionable, decided to try it out for themselves. One can laugh at the track in all its zaniness and strangeness, but it says a lot about the band’s ingenuity and creativity to have even thought of attempting something this bizarre.

Q: “It’s OK”…

PS: Probably the last song the band ever put to tape. Supposedly, there was another tape with some original material on it, including a live version of “The Boucher Shuffle” (a homage to departed member “The Bouch”), and a bizarre recording called “The Sharecropper Song” (middle-class suburban white boy “Keys” attempting to sing the Delta blues), but these unfortunately appear to have been lost. At any rate, this cover of a minor Beach Boys hit in the summer of 1976 is played fairly straight. The recording is a bit muddy and the vocals are buried way down in the mix, but it does illustrate the band’s interest in The Beach Boys and some of their more obscure recordings that this incarnation of Top Priority enjoyed playing.

Q: Well Paul, it has been a pleasure working with you on this project, and I thank you for your time and perspective as these recordings are about to be unveiled to an entirely disinterested public.

PS: My pleasure as well. Thank you.

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by vcugini at 01:58 | Comments (0)

tp Part 2 of an interview with Paul Sorvino, executive producer of “Top Priority – Anthology: 1974-76”, scheduled for official release on the Kittyhawk Productions label later this year:

Q: Before we continue on with the song selections you chose, tell us a little bit about the what happens with the CD from here on out. Obviously, you’re pleased with how everything turned out.

PS: Well, it’s still kind of hard to believe these 30+ year-old recordings are seeing the digital light of day. Once the original cassettes were transferred to disk, it was simply a matter of breaking the tracks – which upon transfer had several songs per track – down into individual songs. Then, several passes through the DART Digital CD Recording Studio software with help from you, Victor [grins], and then final tweaks and such by Doug Richard, who handled the final mixdown. After all, he was a part of the band at that time and had a sense of how it should sound. But I must say, because the original source cassettes were in pretty rough shape to begin with, there was only so much we could do.

Q: Did any of the other former Top Priority band members have input into the CD creation process?

PS: No, but it wasn’t due to any personal problems or issues with them, it was purely logistics – Mark and Jerry “Keys” Palma live in Massachusetts, Ken “The Cat” McDougal lives in Florida, and all of the digital transfer and recording work took place in Phoenix. But their spirit and enthusiasm for the project created an energy and excitement that made the whole process worthwhile.

Q: And the CD is due to be released when?

PS: Well, it’ll be tied to the formal launch of the Kittyhawk Productions website. I understand there will be CDs, T-shirts, your soon-to-be-published book [Ed. note: The Band That Never Changed Rock: A Definitive History of Top Priority, excerpts of which can be found starting here] and other collectibles available, plus sound clips and a band history. It’ll be exciting, I’m sure…

Q: Well, shall we complete our run-down of the songs found on the Anthology? “The Alleycat Song”…

PS: [Sighs] More wedding music to hully-gully by. The funny thing here is that the band sounds like they’re actually having a keen time of it – there’s some joyful and creative playing by Keys, Mark, and Doug throughout. But still, you’re left wondering when the bride and groom were going to get around to cutting the cake!

Q: “Hang On Sloopy”…

PS: More ‘garage band’ blandness by a band that had to have had better stuff in its repertoire. Is it well performed? Yes. Does the band sing their vocals on key? Yes. But one still has to wonder about the necessity of it all…

Q: “Daniel”…

PS: Unfortunately, yet another rather bland, mid-’70s selection. “The Cat”‘s vocal, while not dynamic, is nevertheless earnest, and the band actually does a nice job on it. It would have been nice to hear the band rock out a bit, but as I said earlier, that’s just not what they were at the time. One half expects some 70-year old grandmother in the audience to suddenly cry out, “don’t you boys ROCK?”

Q: “Michelle”…

PS: While this instrumental goes on a bit long for my taste, I understand the band’s selection and their intent of playing it – after all, the audience was eating at the time and this is the perfect kind of music for those occasions. I actually like the band’s performance here a lot – it has a nice, creative arrangement with some virtuoso finger-picking by The Cat towards the song’s close. Along with the prior track, a quiet gem.

Q: “Wipe Out”…

PS: My guess is that this surf classic was chosen to feature Mark’s drums, and the band absolutely nails it. The drums are perfect throughout, and listening to the song, you’d swear Dick Dale was about to show up with a group of bare-footed hodads and wahines any moment. Next to “You Ain’t Seen Nothing yet”, the band’s best cover in the collection.

Q: “Rhythmic Blues”…

PS: One of two original songs (with the track that follows) created as the band’s alter-ego, “Scat Jacobs and the Manhattans Featuring Sonny Williams”. It is unfortunate that the original tape had some serious problems, but we are fortunate to have what we have. This is a stunning piece of musicianship – the boys are totally into a 12-bar blues thing that transcends anything they had ever attempted before. Inventive, bluesy, and fun, with a walking Doug bass-line throughout, some creative wah guitar by The Cat, and funky piano fills from Keys, it is, in my view, the most interesting piece of work the band ever did. It’s a shame they didn’t explore the blues idiom a little more – perhaps they could have ended up in a place similar to The Doors and their “L.A. Woman” phase.

Q: “Rhythm and Blues, Part I”…

PS: Without a doubt, one of the strangest and most interesting tracks on the CD. What the band was trying to do here is anyone’s guess. It starts out as straight kind of three-chord garage tune in the spirit of The Beach Boys’ “Do It Again”, then transforms itself into a quasi-electric blues / jungle rhythm / African drums syncopated thing before ending without any kind of flourish. Absolutely avant-garde and very strange. It just makes one think what the band might have been capable of doing had they had more time to explore their own creative directions, but this was towards the end of the band’s creative run.

Q: “Tiny Bubbles”…

PS: No less an authority than “Keys” Palma has called their arrangement of this song “avant-garde”, and he’s right. Everything about this arrangement is tongue-in-cheek: a rave-up that the band swings it for all it’s worth: Doug’s bass frolics, Mark’s drums parody the “coolness” the band (actually, just Keys, Doug, and Mark here) is attempting to project, and Keys tosses in every piano cliche ever invented. It’s a bit long, but that’s just another part of the joke the band is in on – they can’t figure how to end it straight. Perhaps the most fun and entertaining track in the whole collection.

Q: “The Hustle”…

PS: In a word, bizarre. This track, obviously recorded at the same session as “Tiny Bubbles”, apparently seeks to answer the question, ‘what would a disco hit sound like if it was played to a swing beat?’. From what I understand, the band had gone up to Hampton Beach, NH one Sunday and saw an elderly group of musicians playing this song this exact way, and, the boys all being highly impressionable, decided to try it out for themselves. One can laugh at the track in all its zaniness and strangeness, but it says a lot about the band’s ingenuity and creativity to have even thought of attempting something this bizarre.

Q: “It’s OK”…

PS: Probably the last song the band ever put to tape. Supposedly, there was another tape with some original material on it, including a live version of “The Boucher Shuffle” (a homage to departed member “The Bouch”), and a bizarre recording called “The Sharecropper Song” (middle-class suburban white boy “Keys” attempting to sing the Delta blues), but these unfortunately appear to have been lost. At any rate, this cover of a minor Beach Boys hit in the summer of 1976 is played fairly straight. The recording is a bit muddy and the vocals are buried way down in the mix, but it does illustrate the band’s interest in The Beach Boys and some of their more obscure recordings that this incarnation of Top Priority enjoyed playing.

Q: Well Paul, it has been a pleasure working with you on this project, and I thank you for your time and perspective as these recordings are about to be unveiled to an entirely disinterested public.

PS: My pleasure as well. Thank you.

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by vcugini at 01:58 | Comments (0)
October 5, 2007

tp Part 1 of an interview with Paul Sorvino, executive producer of “Top Priority – Anthology: 1974-76”, scheduled for official release on the Kittyhawk Productions label later this year:

Q: How difficult was it to find material sufficient enough to satisfy the die-hard fans of Top Priority?

PS: Actually, it wasn’t difficult at all, considering there really are no die-hard fans of Top Priority to speak of.

Q: Given the fact you had enough material for multiple CDs, how did you choose the ones that ended up on the Anthology?

PS: Easy, I simply listened to all the material available to me and picked the numbers most representative of the band’s various stages of existence and least offensive to my ears.

Q: Was there anything about the Top Priority tape archives that surprised you?

PS: Yes, the sheer lack of tunes that weren’t offensive to my ears.

Q: What will Top Priority’s fans find most surprising about this CD?

PS: That I was able to find 21 songs that wouldn’t cause dogs to howl and mothers to board up their windows and hide their children.

Q: OK, let’s take the tracks one at a time. You started off with their cover of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”. Why?

PS: It was their trademark song, if you will. This version features a solid Ken “The Cat” McDougal vocal and an exciting Ken Sandler lead solo. There were other versions available to me without Sandler’s guitar on it, but they just didn’t radiate in the same way.

Q: “Green Onions”…

PS: An early instrumental by the band with three guitarists – Sandler, “The Cat”, and “The Bouch” all making a decent enough go at it. One of the surprises of the tapes, incidentally, was that no one could ever recall these three guitarists ever playing in the same room together; this recording bears that fact out, so that in and of itself was kind of amazing – not just to me, but to Vince [Ed. note: Vincent N. Cugini, recording engineer for the project] and Doug [Richard, mixdown producer] as well.

Q: “And I Love Her”…

PS: Another fairly good representation of the band’s early ‘three guitar’ sound. Ken Sandler sings the lead and, while somewhat lacking in verve, it is sung both sincererly and on key. You don’t find THAT very often in the band’s archives…

Q: “Blue Suede Shoes”…

PS: I chose this track because it featured only three players – Mark Richard on drums, Doug Richard on bass and singing lead, and Ken Sandler on fuzz guitar. What they were trying to do, only God knows, but what the song lacks in brevity it makes up for in enthusiasm.

Q: “Green River/Susie Q”…

PS: Actually, this is not a bad cover at all. The Cat’s vocal is spot on, the guitar work by the three guitarists once again provide decent cover, and Sandler’s lead solos throughout are interesting enough. This is the one cut, by the way, where The Bouch’s guitar actually adds something to the song, during the transition from “Green River” to “Susie Q”. Almost makes it a cut above standard garage fare.

Q: “Jackie Blue”…

PS: I chose this song not only because it came as a complete surprise to me – there was no prior indication whatsoever of the song’s existence on tape – but also because it’s the only song in the Top Priority archives with The Bouch’s unique guitar sound: thin, clipped, and utterly void of any kind of underlying creativity whatsoever. He plays it straight, and the band does nothing to overcome it. While his vocals (shared with The Cat) are sung on key, the song limps along to a close and serves as an example of Boucher’s contribution to the Top Priority legacy.

Q: “Let Me Be There”…

PS: The first of several live performances of the band chosen from a gig recorded at the Billerica Masonic Temple sometime after The Bouch’s departure from the group. Here, the band was playing a party for a primarily adult audience, so we hear a lot of their adult/wedding material. This instrumental, which apparently kicked off the band’s performance that night, rolls along cheerily to the point where you start wondering what the bride and groom have chosen to feed the invited guests; perhaps that’s why I had a craving for stuffed chicken while hearing this song. Some some inventive bass lines by Doug Richard help underscore the song’s rhythm.

Q: “Sloop John B”…

PS: Barely passable vocals by Doug and The Cat, but decent enough instrumentation throughout. There’s something about their rendition that doesn’t sound right to me – the drums come in full on the second verse instead of the chorus, as one would expect, but my guess is this is being done to either make up for the lame vocal work, or gin up some excitement from the crowd. Probably a little of both…

Q: “Get Back”…

PS: Once more, the band tries hard and musically gives a good enough accounting of itself, but the vocals are just so-so. One saving grace here is the keyboard work by “Keys” Palma; he does a fine Billy Preston impersonation, and Mark’s drums are Ringo Starr-solid.

Q: “Saturday Night”…

PS: First of all, let me say I couldn’t believe this choice of a song – I mean, the Bay City Rollers? Who did they think their audience was – twelve year olds? Nevertheless, the band does a fine version of this song with much enthusiasm, and it was obviously well received. One interesting note: that’s Doug’s and Mark’s aunt, the famous “Auntie Marge” of Billerica fame who is heard on the fade telling the band their performance was “better than the record”…

Q: “Wild Fire”…

PS: Starting with the previous track, I call this part of the Anthology “Drowning in the Seventies”. Another mundane choice of song by a band that, frankly, could have chosen better. I mean, the actual released song [Ed. note: a one-hit wonder by Michael Murphy] wasn’t much to write home about to begin with! Nevertheless, The Cat’s vocal is earnest, surviving some shaky harmonies on the chorus, and the band makes a pleasant enough go at it.

Q: You sound disappointed in the material that was available to you…

PS: Well, it is important to keep in mind that these recordings date from the early and mid-70s, so one shouldn’t be surprised at some of the material chosen. In addition, the band really was never a “rock” band, per se. It was, after all, The Bouch’s desire that they be a wedding/Top 40 band, so their material was simply a reflection of that time and the work they had done as a band. So, while one wonders what they could have done with better material, it is, as they say, what it is.

———————

Tomorrow: Part 2 of the Sorvino interview.

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by vcugini at 01:13 | Comment (1)

tp Part 1 of an interview with Paul Sorvino, executive producer of “Top Priority – Anthology: 1974-76”, scheduled for official release on the Kittyhawk Productions label later this year:

Q: How difficult was it to find material sufficient enough to satisfy the die-hard fans of Top Priority?

PS: Actually, it wasn’t difficult at all, considering there really are no die-hard fans of Top Priority to speak of.

Q: Given the fact you had enough material for multiple CDs, how did you choose the ones that ended up on the Anthology?

PS: Easy, I simply listened to all the material available to me and picked the numbers most representative of the band’s various stages of existence and least offensive to my ears.

Q: Was there anything about the Top Priority tape archives that surprised you?

PS: Yes, the sheer lack of tunes that weren’t offensive to my ears.

Q: What will Top Priority’s fans find most surprising about this CD?

PS: That I was able to find 21 songs that wouldn’t cause dogs to howl and mothers to board up their windows and hide their children.

Q: OK, let’s take the tracks one at a time. You started off with their cover of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”. Why?

PS: It was their trademark song, if you will. This version features a solid Ken “The Cat” McDougal vocal and an exciting Ken Sandler lead solo. There were other versions available to me without Sandler’s guitar on it, but they just didn’t radiate in the same way.

Q: “Green Onions”…

PS: An early instrumental by the band with three guitarists – Sandler, “The Cat”, and “The Bouch” all making a decent enough go at it. One of the surprises of the tapes, incidentally, was that no one could ever recall these three guitarists ever playing in the same room together; this recording bears that fact out, so that in and of itself was kind of amazing – not just to me, but to Vince [Ed. note: Vincent N. Cugini, recording engineer for the project] and Doug [Richard, mixdown producer] as well.

Q: “And I Love Her”…

PS: Another fairly good representation of the band’s early ‘three guitar’ sound. Ken Sandler sings the lead and, while somewhat lacking in verve, it is sung both sincererly and on key. You don’t find THAT very often in the band’s archives…

Q: “Blue Suede Shoes”…

PS: I chose this track because it featured only three players – Mark Richard on drums, Doug Richard on bass and singing lead, and Ken Sandler on fuzz guitar. What they were trying to do, only God knows, but what the song lacks in brevity it makes up for in enthusiasm.

Q: “Green River/Susie Q”…

PS: Actually, this is not a bad cover at all. The Cat’s vocal is spot on, the guitar work by the three guitarists once again provide decent cover, and Sandler’s lead solos throughout are interesting enough. This is the one cut, by the way, where The Bouch’s guitar actually adds something to the song, during the transition from “Green River” to “Susie Q”. Almost makes it a cut above standard garage fare.

Q: “Jackie Blue”…

PS: I chose this song not only because it came as a complete surprise to me – there was no prior indication whatsoever of the song’s existence on tape – but also because it’s the only song in the Top Priority archives with The Bouch’s unique guitar sound: thin, clipped, and utterly void of any kind of underlying creativity whatsoever. He plays it straight, and the band does nothing to overcome it. While his vocals (shared with The Cat) are sung on key, the song limps along to a close and serves as an example of Boucher’s contribution to the Top Priority legacy.

Q: “Let Me Be There”…

PS: The first of several live performances of the band chosen from a gig recorded at the Billerica Masonic Temple sometime after The Bouch’s departure from the group. Here, the band was playing a party for a primarily adult audience, so we hear a lot of their adult/wedding material. This instrumental, which apparently kicked off the band’s performance that night, rolls along cheerily to the point where you start wondering what the bride and groom have chosen to feed the invited guests; perhaps that’s why I had a craving for stuffed chicken while hearing this song. Some some inventive bass lines by Doug Richard help underscore the song’s rhythm.

Q: “Sloop John B”…

PS: Barely passable vocals by Doug and The Cat, but decent enough instrumentation throughout. There’s something about their rendition that doesn’t sound right to me – the drums come in full on the second verse instead of the chorus, as one would expect, but my guess is this is being done to either make up for the lame vocal work, or gin up some excitement from the crowd. Probably a little of both…

Q: “Get Back”…

PS: Once more, the band tries hard and musically gives a good enough accounting of itself, but the vocals are just so-so. One saving grace here is the keyboard work by “Keys” Palma; he does a fine Billy Preston impersonation, and Mark’s drums are Ringo Starr-solid.

Q: “Saturday Night”…

PS: First of all, let me say I couldn’t believe this choice of a song – I mean, the Bay City Rollers? Who did they think their audience was – twelve year olds? Nevertheless, the band does a fine version of this song with much enthusiasm, and it was obviously well received. One interesting note: that’s Doug’s and Mark’s aunt, the famous “Auntie Marge” of Billerica fame who is heard on the fade telling the band their performance was “better than the record”…

Q: “Wild Fire”…

PS: Starting with the previous track, I call this part of the Anthology “Drowning in the Seventies”. Another mundane choice of song by a band that, frankly, could have chosen better. I mean, the actual released song [Ed. note: a one-hit wonder by Michael Murphy] wasn’t much to write home about to begin with! Nevertheless, The Cat’s vocal is earnest, surviving some shaky harmonies on the chorus, and the band makes a pleasant enough go at it.

Q: You sound disappointed in the material that was available to you…

PS: Well, it is important to keep in mind that these recordings date from the early and mid-70s, so one shouldn’t be surprised at some of the material chosen. In addition, the band really was never a “rock” band, per se. It was, after all, The Bouch’s desire that they be a wedding/Top 40 band, so their material was simply a reflection of that time and the work they had done as a band. So, while one wonders what they could have done with better material, it is, as they say, what it is.

———————

Tomorrow: Part 2 of the Sorvino interview.

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by vcugini at 01:13 | Comment (1)
July 26, 2007

(Last in a five-part series)

8. Postscript and Legacy

The end of Top Priority came in the spring of 1977 amidst a flurry of band member departures: first, guitarist “The Cat” enlisted in the Air Force, then, shortly thereafter, drummer Mark enlisted in the Army. For a time, the cellar in Tewksbury that had served as a ‘band headquarters’ for the better part of the previous three years lay dormant and empty except for a few remaining pieces of leftover musical equipment.

But the music hadn’t died completely. “Even with The Cat and Mark leaving, Keys still wanted to keep the music thing going, so he put another band together”, recalls Doug. “I had met some new friends and a horny chick at work, and had recently been exposed to an entirely different social circle – one outside the Merrimack Valley – but he needed a bassist, so I reluctantly agreed to hop on. The new band had better players than we ever did with Top Priority – not exponentially so, but good enough that I knew I had to work on my chops. The lineup included a couple of horn players, I think – trumpet and trombone, with Jerry’s brother Tom one of ‘em – and they started out wanting to play a mix of Top Priority’s old repertoire with stuff having a harder, funkier edge – Boz Scaggs, Steve Miller, Heart, Boston – y’know, that kind of late ‘70s stuff…

And now Doug had some serious musical equipment in order to play that kind of music: “One day, these two huge boxes arrived by UPS at our house addressed to me. When I opened them up, it turned out to be a brand spankin’ new Fender Bassman 100 amp that Mark had purchased through Boston Music Company from wherever the hell he was in Army basic training. I was flabbergasted – I mean, this was REAL musical equipment, with a sound that made my cheesy violin bass now sound like a total bad ass. I remember I could keep the volume at 2 and still blow the whole neighborhood away.”

One day in early 1978, a shadowy figure from the new band’s musical heritage appeared out of the shadows of days long since passed. Doug remembers the event clearly: “It was a call that came out of the blue. I picked up the phone, and Ken Sandler was on the line. He said he had been thinking of us and was wondering if we still had the band together. I told him the group had recently folded, but that a new one was getting together, and that we could use an experienced guitar player like him. I told him the kind of stuff we were doing, and you could tell he was genuinely excited on his end. He asked when the next practice was, and I told him when and how to get there. He said he’d see me there, and that he couldn’t wait, but then he never showed. That was the last I ever heard from him.”

The new band (called Cotillion) played several gigs that led Doug to begin considering whether it was still worthwhile to pursue his music muse. “We played a dance at Tewksbury High School which was a huge success. Jerry and I had worked out an arrangement of the old Beatles’ tune ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ with horns, just like the one featuring John Lennon on the flip side of Elton John’s ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ single. That would be my designated featured performance during the shows; otherwise, I just played bass and tried to keep up with the rest of the players.”

The last live gig Doug would ever play was a freshman dance at Essex (MA) Agricultural College. Doug recalls: “The band was starting to look to getting bigger and better gigs, and it was all starting to intimidate me a little. This was a much better band than I was used to playing in. Anyways, I remember the Essex Aggie thing well – we started off with our usual Top 40/pop stuff, but the crowd didn’t seem jacked or even interested. I just remember a lot of rumbling and grumbling. Anyways, I look at Jerry and say, ‘time for ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, whereupon he nods in agreement and we kick into it. Well, we proceeded to blow that house away. The band cooked, the horns sounded great, and the crowd suddenly snapped into it. I was the hero that night. From that song on, the place was ours and the dance ended up really well.”

The band soon changed some personnel and its musical direction, setting their sights on bigger things, more ambitious goals. Even with his new equipment, Doug had a sense that he was in over his head. “We were starting to play harder stuff – Heart’s ‘Barracuda’, Boston’s ‘Foreplay/Long Time’, Kansas’ ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ – that kind of stuff. I think the band renamed itself ‘Virgil Sims’, or something weird like that. Me, I was still into the Beach Boys but starting to get into the Warren Zevon/Linda Ronstadt mid-‘70s California thing, punk stuff like the Ramones and Blondie, and even starting to like country-and-western music a little more. I remember suggesting to Jerry that we get ourselves a steel guitar player and play gigs as an alter-ego band called Jerry ‘Red River’ Palma and the Saddlesores – which I still think would have been a great idea – but Jerry thought I was daft; he was really getting into the hard rock scene and all the glitter that came with it.”

With the band’s change in musical focus, Doug could sense his days as a musician drawing to a close. “I remember a rehearsal where we had been told the week before to learn some new stuff – Aerosmith‘s ‘Walk This Way’ and Steve Miller’s ‘Swingtown’ were two of the songs, I think – and there was talk of the band getting a gig at Mr. C’s Rock Palace – a club in Lowell that would be bigger and a harder rock kind of thing than I had ever envisioned playing. Anyways, I couldn’t really get psyched enough to practice those songs all by myself sitting in the cellar amidst the old Top Priority stuff that had never been fully cleared out, so when I showed up I wasn’t very prepared. We played the songs and recorded them for playback, and it was pretty embarrassing – hearing me trying to keep up with these better players was a pretty humbling experience – for both me and them, I think. So, after the rehearsal, I told Jerry that was it, I was leaving the group immediately. He didn’t sound disappointed, so I sold all my equipment a few weeks later and never looked back. We both went our separate ways and never spoke again.”

Top Priority – The Legacy

Three decades have passed since the band Top Priority faded into the mist of rock music’s forgotten past, although no one seems to have noticed it. The only actual evidence that the band ever existed has been reduced to a number of faded photographs and three beat-up cassettes – evidence now necessary to help jar the memories of its former band members who otherwise would have seen their own memories of a special time in their lives lost to antiquity, forever.

The Top Priority story did not need to be told. After all, their story is hardly unique among any number of thousands of garage (or cellar) bands that have populated the land ever since folks like Bill Haley, Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly blazed upon the rock n’roll scene half a century ago. Yet their story serves as one documented example of the power of dreams – dreams that are realized not by the millions of dollars made through gold and platinum sales of recorded products, or multi-city tours sponsored by corporations aggressively hawking their wares from boardrooms far removed from the bands they have aligned themselves and their products with.

No, it is the dreams realized by the simple joy of your band starting and finishing a song at the same time, and even playing it well. Or the joy of seeing people dance to your music, and smile or applaud after hearing a song your band has played. And the hassle of dragging your own equipment from one place to another, with no professional ‘roadies’ to help you out, but getting paid to do it. And the bitter disappointment and the dashing of those dreams when you and your fellow band members realize one day you’re simply not good enough to make a living off of doing something you love most. If there is a story to be told of Top Priority, it is just that – humble dreams dreamed, kindled, realized, celebrated, and dashed, with no apparent effect on anything or the lives of anyone except those of its own band members. And sometimes, that’s a worthy enough story in and of itself to tell.

That’s why I wrote this story.

If there was one legacy left by Top Priority, it was the absence of one: rock music was never bothered or even slightly imprinted by anything the group ever did or attempted. It never recorded professionally, never sold any records, never caused even the slightest ripple in the rock music scene inside the Merrimack Valley, let alone nationally. But there are no regrets. As Doug says, “It was a fun thing to do while it lasted – we came, we played, we departed. No one got hurt, we made a couple of dollars doing it, and I still have fond memories of those days.” Mark seconds his brother’s assessment: “Look, we were just a little combo with marginal talent that had a lot of fun playing music together for a little while. I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s good enough for me.”

Not surprisingly, there have been no clarion calls in recent years for a Top Priority reunion, so it seems clear the members of the group are more than content to allow the non-legacy of the band that didn’t change rock to remain as it always has been – anonymous and forgettable. Well, at least it was until now.

(End of the series)

—————–

Excerpted from “The Band That Never Changed Rock: The Definitive History of Top Priority” by Victor N. Cugini, soon to be published by Permanent Press.

Filed in: Top Priority by vcugini at 01:39 | Comments (0)
July 24, 2007

(Part 4 of a five-part series.)

7. The Post-Bouch Era: 1976-77

In the summer of 1976, the country was coming together for it’s Bicentennial celebration: groups of ‘Tall Ships’ were arriving to huge crowds packing the Boston waterfront, and towns and cities across America were celebrating its 200th birthday with concerts, parades, and fireworks shows. It was a celebratory time. For the members of Top Priority, however, relations between lead guitarist The Bouch and the rest of the band were at a low ebb: disagreements over the band’s musical direction were starting to come to the fore, and there was an overall feeling of weariness over playing the same tired songs at the same kind of tired venues.

Ken “The Cat” McDougal would later admit, “It was a low point for everyone. There were differences – differences over what we were going to play, where we were going to play, even what we should be wearing when we played. After a while, there came a point where we just weren’t as concerned about [Boucher’s] feelings as we once were. He was a nice enough guy and all, but the whole commercial wedding scene had started getting stale for us.”

As Mark remembers it, the primary area of dissatisfaction was on The Bouch’s playing: “There was this practice where my friend John Ellis recorded us on his 8-track recording system, and one of the songs we did was, ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’. Hearing it played back with The Bouch taking the lead was, in a word, laughable – I mean, his guitar had this clipped, twangy elastic band sound to it. Remember, we still had that recording with Ken Sandler playing that same song, and hearing the two together played back to back was like night and day. One of the main reasons we had kept him on as long as we had, to be honest, was the fact he owned a van, which made playing gigs a lot easier, but after weighing the pros and cons of it all, we knew he had to go. I think that recording just affirmed to us what had to be done.”

Jerry Palma would later recall: “What did The Bouch bring to the band? An idea. A concept, perhaps, that after a while we just weren’t able to buy into. I mean, the guy had virtually no stage presence whatsoever, which, if you wanted to play rock and roll back then, you just had to have. He’d just be up there, content to pick away in the shadows, shuffling back and forth, and we’d kind of get on him because of that whenever his back was turned. As a guitar player, he knew the chords OK, but we needed more from a lead player. He had this big Gibson that made kind of a twangy sound – it probably would have sounded fine backing Loretta Lynn or someone like that, but for the kind of music we were playing, it didn’t add much, and, in our view, became expendable after a time.”

Doug remembers a conversation between the four band members following a particularly uninspiring practice. “There was a moment of clarity. Not just as far as The Bouch was concerned, but for us as a band. I mean, it suddenly became clear to each of us that we were never going to be anything better than what we already were, so the feeling was, why are we dealing with this CB-toting, disco dude whose guitar leads sounded like an elastic band being plucked? So, when an opportunity for another gig came up – I think it might have been some dance in Bedford – we just didn’t tell him about it. Then, after it went over really well, we just avoided the whole issue by telling him we were folding the group. I think we all knew the whole [Top Priority] thing was starting to go south, and we figured, if that were the case, we might as well enjoy it while we can.”

The Cat would later recall the Bedford dance as an important stepping-off point for the group: “We were asked to play this dance. I remember Doug’s and Mark’s cousin manning the lights and our performance being very well received. We opened with ‘California Girls’ just as The Beach Boys would do in concert, and we played a number of songs we never would have done if The Bouch was with us. What I remember most is the crowd asking us to play an encore – which was very neat and something new to us. I remember being totally psyched about our performance that night.”

For a period of time, the group considered adding a new replacement guitarist. Doug remembers: “Mark doesn’t remember him, but I do. There was this guy where I worked named George Duda, who said he played guitar. We actually had him come by for a couple of practices (pictured: Duda, The Cat, Doug, and Keys), but I think by that time we were pretty happy just (if you’ll pardon the expression) playing with ourselves, and really didn’t feel like having to go through the hassle of breaking in another new guitarist. He did have some decent equipment, I recall. Why we didn’t invite him in I don’t remember – mighta been us, mighta been him.”

With their problem guitarist now out of the scene, the band began a series of intense rehearsals, both indoors and outdoors, in order to rework their playlist, dropping a number of Boucher-era songs and adding new ones into the mix, emphasizing songs the band enjoyed playing instead of those more identifiable to dance audiences. The realigned group then unveiled its new look and new repertoire at a backyard concert played on the Palma’s back deck. There, playing before an enthusiastic crowd of friends and neighbors, the band played one of its better performances. Mark remembers the day well: “It was probably my favorite gig we ever did. The Bouch was gone, so we were able to recapture some of the feeling of those pre-Bouch days, where we played music simply for the joy of it. I remember we played ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘California Girls’ – fairly ambitious pieces for us to be sure, but they went over very well with the crowd.”

With two well-received performances under their belt, Doug felt confident enough about the band’s new lineup and repertoire to volunteer it to provide live entertainment at the Billerica Masonic Lodge for the Lodge’s theater group following its final show that year. Doug remembers: “The band was looking for some more opportunities to play without The Bouch, so when this opportunity to play came along, I volunteered us. There’s a cassette tape of that performance around somewhere.”

Indeed there is. And, hearing the tape three decades later, one gets the sense that this is a band not at all in transition – quite the contrary, they’re coming from nowhere and heading the same place. The two sets played are a mix of uninspiring pop instrumentals (“Let Me Be There”, “Yesterday”) combined with passable Top 40 pop covers (“Get Back”, “Ventura Highway”, “Saturday Night”, The Eagles’ “Take It Easy”), all played to a lot of background noise and conversation: clearly this was a crowd that could care less about the band and its performance. A request by some young girl asking for Golden Earrings’ “Radar Love” – a current hit of that time – can be heard above the din, but it seems apparent that the band is content to play what it knows and what it wants to play, and then then get the hell out of out Dodge – and fast.

The last live performance of Top Priority took place just before Christmas 1976, and, ironically, it was one of their best. Doug recalls: “We were contracted to play a Christmas dance somewhere in Lowell or Tewksbury, and once again we brought along our cousin Gregg to run the lights. Keys also brought his brother Tom (we called him ‘TP’), and he and/or some other guy he brought along with him might have played the trumpet or some kind of horn. Whether it was because of the lights, or the horns, or the setting, or the vibes, I recall we played a very good dance – one of our best. We ditched the wedding crap, rocked a little harder, and played the kind of stuff we always wanted to play – a few obscure Beach Boys tunes – ‘Do It Again’, ‘Back Home’, and ‘Don’t Go Near The Water’, I think, and, as I recall, a fantastic bluesy-version of ‘White Christmas’ done in a ‘Scat Jacobs’ kinda vein. I think Tom Palma might have played a backing horn on that one.”

The Christmas dance turned out to be Top Priority’s “Candlestick Park” moment; by that time, the band had ceased actively pursuing gigs, and none magically appeared before them, either. While occasional practices still produced some new fine original work – Jerry’s unreleased “Rhythm and Blues, Parts 1 & 2″ was one – by the spring of 1977, it was becoming clear that the clock was starting to run down. The band was starting to put something less than ‘top priority’ on the music, and, as Doug remembers, its members were starting to think about larger things. “Mark and I would go to Mac’s Two Lounge in Billerica – this was before it became a strip joint – or the Band Box and just talk about life – you know, where we wanted to go, what we wanted to do – that kind of thing”. Everyone was starting to think about their futures and getting restless, wanting to make a big change.”

As Palma would recall later: “Around [1977], we were getting together less and less as a band to practice. Both The Cat and Mark were feeling the need to change their lives in a big way. Sometime in late spring, Ken told us he had enlisted in the Air Force, then a few months later, Mark enlisted in the Army. By late August, both were gone.” Doug adds: “I remember things pretty much falling apart on their own. I don’t recall anyone shedding any tears over the band’s demise – we had had a good time, and had made some money playing dances. It was just time for everyone to move on.”

Next: Postcript and legacy

—————–

Excerpted from “The Band That Never Changed Rock: The Definitive History of Top Priority” by Victor N. Cugini, soon to be published by Permanent Press.

Filed in: Top Priority by vcugini at 01:17 | Comments (2)

goodboys.jpg


Search The Site



Recent Items

Categories

Archives
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006


Blogroll

Syndication

4 Goodboys Only

Site Info