Monday, 4 June 2007

The Birth Of Spring

Standing Danny Casey. Counter clockwise; Fritz Miles, Jeff Winfield, Niall Malcolm, Alan Wauters
From New York, the band featured Fritz Nile, Jeff Winfield, Alan Wauters and Alan Merrill.

Alan Merrill was kind enough to provide the story of The Birth of Spring:

My band Watertower West fell apart in winter of 1967, with our bass player quitting the band. I was a 12 string folk rock player/singer and relied on my bass player to provide the high harmonies.

I had known Alan Wauters for a few years socially in Greenwich Village. Wauters was about three or four years older than me, and the difference between 16 and 20 can be a great gap. After complaining to Alan Wauters about my band breaking up, he asked me to join forces with him in his band.

I knew that Wauters had cut a single called "Season"/ "To Give You Everything" and it was very good. Fine singing and songwriting. He even had strings on the record, which was expensive and showed a serious professionalism, especially in the garage band years of the late sixties, where sparse instrumentation was a fiscal necessity in the studio due to lack of funds.

Wauters had a publisher named Richard Kaye, son of Bud/Greenleaf music publisher Buddy Kaye. Richard introduced me to Linda Eastman in fact, not long before her McCartney saga.

I decided to give Wauters and his band a chance, and went to the Albert Hotel, where both Wauters and Winfield lived (in separate rooms) and I rehearsed with them on some Wauters tunes. We had good three part harmony and we learned a lot of Alan Wauters songs. It was frustrating for me, because I was younger, but more than that

I was accustomed to being the band leader, and the Birth Of Spring was clearly Wauters' band, with Winfield as his sidekick and foil. Wauters and I are both Alpha characters, and there was no room for two in a band. The band was never going to last for me.

Danny Casey, was the drummer in the band. He'd previously played with Jimmy James (Jimi Hendrix) and the Blue Flames. He was also in a band called The Clouds, in his home state of Texas.

(The photo was taken in Central Park. I am the one standing in the pic that you have on your blog.)

After a few months rehearsing in the basement of the Albert Hotel, I quit. I was writing lots of songs, but Wauters and Winfield were strong characters and didn't want to give me too much of a song writing share in the band, although they did concede to do a couple of my songs.

Fritz Nile considered leaving the Wauters band and reforming my band, and we rehearsed with my Watertower West band drummer Carl Peachman, and even did a show at the "Cafe Wha?" which was a mess from what I recall.

That was also when the Left Banke auditions came up, and when I came out a winner in the try-outs, I started to rehearse with Tom Finn and George Cameron of the Left Banke at the Bryant Hotel.

By this time it was 1968. After a month or so of mystery, with the management keeping me guessing, the Left Banke decided to continue as a three piece, not unlike the Walker Brothers, a vocal group augmented by other players live and in the studio. I hear that Alan Wauters later became one of the peripheral players who augmented the group, as did guitarist Les Fradkin, but neither were ever made full members of the band. The Left Banke did few gigs anyway, so it was a moot point. Rehearsals for recording and songwriting were what they did for the most part.

From all I have heard I was lucky. The Banke band really fell apart after that, and I went to Japan in the summer of 1968. Japan was good to me, and I did very well there.

Birth of Spring - Little Miss Virginia (Mercury 72747. 1967)

Birth of Spring - Cause You Lied To Me (Mercury 72687. 1967)

Stephen Sargent & The Pride - Grey Eyes Watching

Stephen Sargent & The Pride - Grey Eyes Watching (Compass 7001. 1967)

Since I posted this 45 Steve has kindly filled me in on some of the details of this 45. Here's what he has to say....

I wrote this in fall 66. I was in band called The Bushmen (from northern Vermont). Chris Kiley is the second voice. He wrote the A-side of this release - Nobody's Child. It should have been a hit. The musicians are New York session players - the band did not play on the session. Compass Records was owned by Mickey Kapp, who was the son of Dave Kapp, of Kapp Records. Paul Leka, who later became very successful with Green Tambourine, NaNa Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, etc. produced both sides.

"The Pride" was not a real band. That was the name settled on by the "executive" producer, Bob Reno. Sargent is my middle name. My name, and not Chris' is in the title because Chris did not want to sign an exclusive contract, which I was willing to sign. We had a follow-up session, which the production company was obligated to under the contract, but the two tunes we did were never released. One of the two follow-up tracks, "Greyhound Bus", is on the Steve Blodgett myspace site. The backing band on that session, The Blacks and Blues, was brought in for that second session. Neither Chris nor I knew them, and I'm not sure where the producer found them.

- Steve Blodgett

For even more info on this 45 check out the latest issue of Ugly Things.

Proof of The Puddin' - Flying High

Proof of The Puddin' - Flying High (RCA 47-9332. 1966)

The B-side to this 45, Color Wheel, has been getting a bit of recognition of late. Personally I prefer the top side. Flying High is a nice harmony driven pop-psycher.

Band were from Indiana.