Monday, March 5, 2007

The Smubbs - This Is the End of the Night!

... But it's the beginning of a great listening experience for you!

Check out this very cool Long Island band - sown and grown in Lake Ronkonkoma in the late 60s.

I can't really give more background on them than the write-up that appears on the BadCat Records website (the home of a friendly seller of classic rock and psych LPs). I am reproducing it here because the owner of that site could take it down if the LP is sold any time soon. Here goes:

One of Lake Ronkonkoma, New York's contributions to mid-1960s rock and roll ... For a long time I knew little or nothing about this outfit (other than a basic discography and the limited material found on their sole 1969 LP). Lo and behold band member George Utter was kind enough to take the time to send me some information on the group.

"The Smubbs story is an epic saga but I'll give you the basic facts. We started in 1964 at St. Anthonys, an all boys catholic high school. The original members were Rick and Michael Segall, a drummer who's last name was Mollinelli, myself and Jimmy and Al Braunreuther. The "Smubbs" nameplate reflected our last initials, ( Mollinelli who was quickly replaced by Al.) We stayed together until the winter 66/67 when the Braunreuthers left and new guitarist Jerry Davis and a new drummer Vinny Villany joined. In 1968 Michael our bass player had a nervous breakdown and was replaced by Steven Shene. Rick and I were the only ones who were in the group from beginning to end. Most of the songs on the album were recorded with Rick, myself, Jerry, Vinny, and Steven although "I Remember Sunday" had Mike on bass and backing vocals and Jimmy on guitar.

The group broke up in 1970. Rick and his wife Barbara and their son "little Rick" went to Hollywood. Little Rick was on the final season of the "Partridge Family" as the neighbor little Ricky, who came on every other week or so and sang one of his dad's tunes. They performed together as " Family Portrait". Steven and his wife Susan and I formed a folk/rock trio called "Day Olde Tradition" and played the Hamptons during the summer of 1971 and then the Adirondacks for a winter before breaking up. He and I still record tunes on our own though he lives in Florida.

You mentioned in your review (Note: The review appears in a separate post on the BadCat site) that if we had one or two more keepers we might have made it. There are a dozen more keepers locked in a vault in Brooklyn and held by our manager at the time with whom we had a nasty separation. Actually there are somewhere around 40 tracks or more in that vault. I recently got together with Rick and started compiling cassette and reel to reel copies of some of those tunes. I'm thinking of calling the manager and trying to get the 1" multi-tracks to transfer to digital. Rick has had no success with him.

Chow ,
George Utter

March 2005"

Originally signed by ABC Paramount Records, the group debuted with the 1966 single 'Down On The Corner' b/w 'Don't Come Close' (ABC catalog number 10797). The single went nowhere, effectively ending their business relationship with ABC.

Two years later the band reappeared with another single on the Spring label. Unfortunately, 1968's 'It Can't Be Too Late' b/w 'Her Love' (Spring catalog number SK 703 SS) proved as unsuccessful as their debut. While their sophomore effort didn't sell, it did attract the attention of the larger Monument label,which eventually signed the band to a contract.

Produced by Bob Gallo, 1968's 'Rosary Anne' b/w 'Mr. Open Minded' (Monument catalog number 45-1110) bore an uncanny resemblance to The Hollies (complete with Graham Nash-styled falsetto harmonies and subtle anti-war lyrics) and should have made the band major stars. Needless to say, the 45 bombed, though Monument agreed to finance a supporting album.

Produced by Gallo, 1969's "The Is the End of the Night!" was a mixed bag. Musically the set offered up a mix of hard rock (with several nice fuzz guitar segments (check out 'The Shadows of a Dream') and more pop-oriented moves (the goofy 'The Drive In Movie'). Unfortunately, to my ears the album started out slowly with tracks such as the rocking 'Mommas Blues', 'Children' and 'The Shadows of a Dream' raising the question as to whether anyone in the group could actually handle a tune. Luckily, things improved after that opening trio of tunes. 'You'll Still Be On My Mind" was a wonderful slice of jangle folk-rock, complete with great harmony vocals that would have made Roger McGuinn proud, 'I Remember Sunday' had an impressive biting edge, while 'White Paper Sail' was a totally unexpected slice of psychedelia. To be honest, the set's much better than most critics would have you to believe. By the same token, it's simply too erratic to be anything more than professional. Pity, since if they'd come up with one or two more keepers this would have been one of those raved about classics.

Alright, so are you ready to check out the Smubbs? Here is an LP rip. And along with these files comes the promise that I am going get the ball rolling to find this band, help them get to their tapes, and find a way to get their music out in pristine, digitally remastered quality! Enjoy.

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