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)
October 16, 2010

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

—-

NEWS RELEASE: TOP PRIORITY CLASSIC RECORDING “TINY BUBBLES (LONG VERSION)” LAUNCHED ON YOUTUBE

KEY WEST, FL – October 15, 2010 – Kittyhawk Productions (NYSE KHPR) announced today the third and final release of classic recordings by Top Priority (“The Band That Rock Forgot”) now available on YouTube!

Reached at his Dana Point, California bungalow, Top Priority executive producer Victor N. Cucini had this to say about the recording’s long-awaited official release: “Tiny Bubbles (Long Version)” is a new phase recording by Top Priority as “Scat Jacobs and The Manhattans Featuring Sonny Williams”. This song comes from the very last recording session held in the old Richard house cellar in Tewksbury during the summer of 1977. This recording features only Mark Richard, Doug Richard, and Jerry “Keys” Palma, as guitarist Ken “The Cat” McDougal 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)”. I’m pleased to be able to make this fine recording available to the general public. It’s a gas.”

Click here to hear Scat Jacobs and the Manhattans Featuring Sonny Williams perform “Tiny Bubbles (Long Version)”.

Pool temp: 71 degrees

Filed in: Top Priority - News!,YouTube Channel by The Great White Shank at 00:09 | Comments (4)
October 9, 2010

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

—-

NEWS RELEASE: TOP PRIORITY CLASSIC RECORDING “RHYTHMIC BLUES” LAUNCHED ON YOUTUBE

NORTHFIELD, MN – October 9, 2010 – Kittyhawk Productions (NYSE KHPR) announced today the release of the second of three classic recordings by Top Priority (“The Band That Rock Forgot”) now available on YouTube!

Reached at his Dana Point, California bungalow, Top Priority executive producer Victor N. Cucini had this to say about the recording’s official release: “This is a truly unique “Scat Jacobs and The Manhattans Featuring Sonny Williams” recording. It’s Keys, Scat, Sal, and Sonny at the height of their artistic brilliance. It’s just a shame that the original recording is so degraded, but I thought it was important, not just to get it out there, but to tell the incredible story behind it.

“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 Jerry “Keys” Palma after an afternoon of drinking malt liquor on the back porch of E.P’s shack down in the Mississippi Delta. This was in 1976, y’know. Keys, like the rest of the band, had grown tired of all the non-stop touring, the hotels, the chicks, the sex, and the crowds; combined, they all had taken its toll on the band’s psyches.

“Y’see, Keys was interested in taking the band in a new direction, and he chose this bizarre combination of white man’s blues and cocktail party music – he was a genuius. The band bought into the paradigm completely, they fired guitarist Paul “The Bouch” Boucher, 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), and the rest, as they say, is history. All I can dsay about this recording is, it’s the balls, dig it.”

Click here to hear Scat Jacobs and the Manhattans Featuring Sonny Williams perform their classic recording, “Rhythmic Blues”.

Pool temp: 74 degrees

Filed in: Top Priority - News!,YouTube Channel by The Great White Shank at 00:20 | Comments (4)
October 2, 2010

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

—-

NEWS RELEASE: TOP PRIORITY MANIA BEGINS: CLASSIC “YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET” FIRST OF THREE MUSIC VIDEOS LAUNCHED ON YOUTUBE

GRAMERCY, LA – October 2, 2010 – Kittyhawk Productions (NYSE KHPR) announced today the release of the first of three classic recordings by Top Priority now available on YouTube! That’s right, for the first time in 35 years, it’s Mark, Doug, The Cat, The Bouch, and special guest Ken Sandler together again, performing the Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”.

The recording, remixed from an original cassette tape by the band’s archivist and producer, Victor N. Cucini, is the first of three to be made available on YouTube in the coming weeks. It features Mark Richard on drums, Doug Richard on bass, The Cat on lead vocals and guitar, The Bouch on guitar, and Ken Sandler on lead guitar. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” will be followed by “Rhythmic Blues” (a remake of the blues standard by legendary Delta guitarist E.P. Hemingway), and “Tiny Bubbles (Long Version)” in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to your local Kittyhawk Productions news outlet for updates on these releases.

Reached at his Dana Point, California bungalow, Cucini had this to say following the recording’s official release: “I am honored and thrilled to have had the opportunity to bring the ‘Boys to YouTube so that millions upon millions might be able to share the Top Priority experience – my Top Priority experience – with their friends and families. This broken world needs Top Priority more than ever – think globally, act locally. Rock on, dude.”

Click here to hear Top Priority perform “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”.

Rock on, indeed.

Pool temp: 81 degrees

Filed in: Top Priority - News!,YouTube Channel by The Great White Shank at 00:39 | Comments (5)
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)
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 27, 2008

It all began with a phone call one Sunday afternoon last summer. My brother Mark, who had shown little prior interest in re-visiting the years spent playing together in our mid-’70s band, called Top Priority, asked if I had any pictures of us playing together. His two sons (my nephews) Matt and Mike have their own band, and evidently they wanted to see how their old man cut his chops in the rock and roll thing. Well it just so happened that I did, but just sending him the pictures seemed to me to be a little dry, so I made a document that not only had the pictures I had, but featured a little band history that his boys might appreciate.

We ended up having a long conversation about those days and laughed our asses off for a hour just recalling some of those times, the good and the not-so-good. And from that we got the crazy idea to try and look up the other two members of the band and see if they were alive and what they were up to. A look through the phone book and a search of the Internet helped locate our keyboard player, Jerry “Keys” Palma, and I’m sure my call to his law office one morning from clear out of the blue caught him completely by surprise. But we had a wonderful conversation that ultimately led to a reunion over dinner several weeks later.

A few days after that, a call on a Saturday morning from our guitar player, Ken “The Cat” McDougal, caught me totally by surprise and I was glad to hear he was alive and well, living in Jacksonville, FL, and doing well heading up his own photography business.

Ordinarily, in most cases, that would be the end of that, right? But in this case it wasn’t. Evidently, the various communications between the band members caught the attention of one Victor N. Cugini, former CFO of Kittyhawk Productions, the legal and marketing front for everything that was Top Priority back in those days. Even though Mr. Cugini still owed me $2.76, “Keys” $5.12, Mark $0.76 and The Cat a whopping $3.49 after skipping to The Netherlands following the band’s break-up, I was nevertheless willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and authorized him to pen the “official” biography of the band, which he intended to call “The Band That Never Changed Rock: The Definitive History of Top Priority”. His appearance on C-SPAN’s “Booknotes” program, recounted here, received such widespread publicity that Mr. Cugini was prodded into contributing the highly-acclaimed five-part series on the band’s evolution and history, further whetting the appetite of America for more information about Top Priority.

One of the consequences of this series, as well as a later post remembering an old Tewksbury landmark from my youth, resulted in a reunion with Bob Noftle, an old high-school friend of mine. What a joy it has been to not only share a wonderful lunch with him last December reminiscing about the “good old days”, but a rekindled friendship that (if he doesn’t mind me speaking for him) has been a blessing to us both. During a long flight back to Phoenix the next day, looking back over the year that was just hours away from being over, I couldn’t help but marvel at how fate and the Internet had brought back into my life friends who I otherwise would never, ever have heard from ever again. Technology indeed has its blessings as well as its curses!

Then, the other day, a new comment posted by “BeatleTracks” appeared under one of Victor Cugini’s Top Priority-related posts. A couple of days and a few probing comments later, yet another reunion had taken place – this time with Ken Sandler, my best friend from junior high school, who not only taught me how to play bass (on the lower strings of a cheap acoustic guitar rigged with a pick-up for amplification, no less), but introduced me to playing in a band (a four-man garage outfit called “The Instamatic Vibration” – still a great name, if you ask me). Back in the early ’70s, Ken and I were very tight, and I learned a lot about music from him. I would ride my bicycle down to his house after school, and we would listen to music (a lot of Top 40, Glen Campbell and Creedence Clearwater Revival, I recall). I still remember him recording himself plugged into a reel-to-reel tape player in order to create a distorted “fuzz” sound, which we both thought was the balls. My brother Mark and I had originally hoped to have Ken front the band that ultimately became known as Top Priority, but life somehow intervened and Ken ended up playing the Pete Best role in what later became the phenomenon known as Top Priority. Music remained a central part of his life, however, and it gives me great pleasure to know he is now a member of an acclaimed Beatles tribute band called “Beatle Tracks”.

(Ed. note: I have to admit to being surprised at Ken involving himself with a Beatles tribute band – where he really belongs is fronting a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band, because no one – and I mean no one – could replicate John Fogerty’s swamp-bayou blues licks like Ken could.)

If there is any one reward that has come from my time blogging here at Goodboys Nation weblog, it is to have it be the vehicle that has brought me back in contact with friends I loved and enjoyed hanging around with during my school and band years so many years ago; to be reunited with them after all this time is an incredible blessing. In some ways, it has brought my own life full circle; in others, it is simply remarkable how everyone has, in their own ways, hung in there with life long enough through times both good and bad, to a point where we can all be reacquainted in various ways once again.

Like my old (and new) friend Bob Noftle says, another chicken has come home to roost, and I have to admit, it’s all pretty cool.

Filed in: Top Priority - News! by The Great White Shank at 01:57 | 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)

goodboys.jpg


Search The Site



Recent Items

Categories

Archives
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