Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Brother Nigel's Proxy Party - Look At The Floor

Brother Nigel's Proxy Party - Look At The Floor (Fantasy. 1969)

Band member Bob Liepman kindly got in touch to share some recollections about his time in the band

Bob graduated high school in 1967 just as Sgt. Pepper came out. His brother was studying at Berkeley at the time and he hitched rides with him to see bands at the Hullabaloo on the Sunset Strip. He later went on to cruising LA and the Strip catching all the major bands at the time, with The Yellow Payges being a particular favourite.

Despite being a trained cellist Bob hooked up with a local garage band. Using his sisters acoustic guitar he was soon playing along and singing lead. The band started out with covers of Motown, Creedence and British Invasion bands and eventually evolved into Brother Nigel's Proxy Party.

The band hit the Sunset Strip and soon were house band at Gazzari's on the Strip, billed as Brother Nigel's Proxy Party, The Berries and Band of Angels. This residency lasted for over two years. During this time the band also played a gig at a Palm Springs High School reunion, where one of Del Shannons band heard them play. On their return to LA Del checked the band out, but soon after his career took off again and nothing came of the meeting.

Fantasy was a Jazz label who had suddenly found themselves high in the charts with a CCR. The label were on the look for more bands to ride the coat tails of CCR in the new rock market and picked up Brother Nigel's for a one off 45 deal. 'Look At The Floor' reached #40 in Stockton, CA and was picked up as the theme tune to an underground FM Show, but Fantasy were stretched to the limit with Creedence had little time to dedicate to it's other artists and the record stalled.

The band continued to gig, with Bob recreating the cello parts onstage by tuning his Les Paul Jr to mandocello tuning (up a 5th, technically an octave mandolin). The band made some home and live recordings but failed to undertake anymore studio sessions. A fire in a club the band were playing destroyed all their equipment and instruments, and despite valiantly carrying on with borrowed equipment they soon called it a day.

Bob went on to join Venice band The Canaligators, who performed "foot-stompin' boogie music" and were a popular live draw, regularly playing during Mardis Gras. They were also the only unsigned band to appear on the Midnight Special TV show.

Bob continues to perform and record as 'Bob and Wendy'. Lead singer Grayson Wray is still involved in music in LA.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Same as the Cliches - Why 7", link doesn't work, says it has been deleted

transoniq said...

No trouble with the link for me... anon must've hit it while you were switching things around with the uploaders.

The Hava Nagila riffing is a little over the top for me, but this song's got a nice groove and some interesting psychedelic production flourishes, and I like the two-chord rhythm section, a la "Pushing to Hard" with the middle-eastern melody on top: if The Seeds had updated their basic sound more in this direction (instead of the hippy-dippiness of "Future"), they might've done better into the late '60s.

Bob said...

If I recall, the cello solo was spontaneous and there was no time to compose something original, so I was glad that Hava Nagila fit. I do love the way the solo ending sounds with the tape looping. The reverb effect at Whitney Studio in Glendale was produced in a long, low hallway with a speaker at one end and a mic at the other. If you wanted less reverb, you simply moved the mic closer to the speaker. I still play cello and live in San Luis Obispo.

Bob Liepman
www.bobwendy.com

M Gatheral said...

Bob! I thought the cello break in "Look at the Floor" was great. A nice blend of Old and New. In fact every time we played it I looked forward to hearing it! Also, I havent heard another popular music Band from our era use a "Mando Cello". I always enjoyed the Barking cuts it created in our recordings. Keep up the good work! Mike