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Side two: Skull and Cross Bones
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The Rumbles had such great vocalists and harmony that they could not only cover a song but imitate it as well.
The Coachmen was a five-member group that featured a hard-driving, beat-oriented sound. The Coachmen did not have the longetivity or a list of recordings as extensive as the Rumbles — who are still playing — but their memory and music are probably more definitive of that era than any other band.
"Mr. Moon" was their big hit and it reached No. 1 in Omaha, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Salem, Ore., No. 4 in Des Moines, and Top 20 in Boston.
The popular music in the mid-’60s came primarily from England and featured froups like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, Kinks, Zombies, Yardbirds, and Cream.
Many Nebraska bands tried to emulate these groups and their music. Dozens of bands appeared almost overnight. These local bands, other than the Rumbles and the Coachmen, included the Chevrons, Wonders, Great Imposters, Green Giants, Shanghais, Fortunes, Impacts, and many others.
The places to "hang out" consisted of drive-ins such as Todd’s, then located west of Crossroads Shopping Center near a drive-in movie theater. And if you wanted to dance and hear music you would go to Sandy’s Escape (operated by a former KOIL disc jockey) at 6031 Binney St. in Benson. Once you paid the cover charge you could hear music upstairs or downstairs. When it was crowded, you knew the Coachmen were playing.
The Coachmen were together with various members between June 1964 and early 1969. Of the 13 musicians in the band over its lifetime, seven were primary players who stayed a substantial length of time. These were — in order of time with the band — Bruce Watson, Jeff Travis, Craig Perkins, Frank Elia, Rick Bell, Kelly Kotera, and George "Red" Freeman.
Watson, who started playing drums at age 13 in Lincoln, said he organized his first band — the Wanderers — in 1961.
Travis said he started playing on a friend’s old acoustic guitar in about 1960.
Watson said that by the time he met the other members of the group in the spring of 1964, Freeman had become a big influence because he was older than the other members of the band and was the only person among who wrote music.
"Mr. Moon" (and several other songs) had already been created in Freeman’s mind by that time. "We played it on stage a long time before we recorded it in 1965," Watson said.
The Coachmen evolved from a merger of the Viscounts and the Chandels in June 1964. Watson said the Viscounts were looking a drummer and he was looking for either a new lead guitar player for the Chandels or another band for himself.
"We practiced together one night and felt it sounded pretty good," Watson said. "I joined them on the condition that my good friend, Jim Reinmuth, rhythm guitar of the Chandels, be put in the band as well. The Chandels broke up when our lead guitarist, Dan Eickleberry, went to the Air Force Academy.
They called the new band the Coachmen and started playing in the Lincoln area. The band then consisted of Watson, Freeeman, Reinmuth, Travis, and Perkins.
The name Coachmen was chosen because it reflected teen-age culture of the time — cars (there were lots of car clubs then) and cruising (Kings in Lincoln and Todds in Omaha).
"We also thought the name had a British sound," Watson said. "We had good musical chemistry together from the start.
The Viscounts and the Chandels were rival groups, Travis said.
"We played a lot of swimming parties and junior high dances and got to be pretty good friends," he said. "I guess those of us in control at the time decided that we would move a few people around from both groups and form a new group."
Travis said the musical style of the Viscounts changed with the advent of the Beatles and the British music invasion.
"We were doing a lot of surf music and some old rock ‘n’ roll tunes such as Chuck Berry," he said. "When the Beatles hit we were playing a little place called the 1140 Club. The Viscounts immediately donned long wigs and got ourselves sport coats and started doing the Beatles tunes. I supposed we were like everybody at that time because the Beatles were such an influence that it had to affect you."
Watson said the Coachmen became widely known in a short period of time throughout Omaha, western Iowa, and northwestern Missouri after they won a KOIL Battle of the Bands competition.
"The most sugnificant effect was becoming — if anyone can be called this —the house band at Sandy’s Escape," Watson said.
Cheap Trick has reached a new plateau in the world of Power Pop Rock. Rockford, their latest album, is a great listen from start to finish. Not one clinker in the crowd. If you listen all the way through each song, you’ll hear the full range of Robin Zander’s vocals, Rick Nielsen’s understated, but more varied than ever, guitar, powerful drumming by Bun E. Carlos and substantial bass from Tom Peterson. The overall sound of Rockford is in the minor key, with a certain longing feeling to almost every song. There is a touching melancholy to this music without as much outrageous foolishness of some of Cheap Trick’s earlier music or sappy radio-friendly music of their 90s output.
This is a band that knows its status in the music world, longs for the glories of the past, but forges on, with a wonderful sound for today, while looking forward to the future with no regrets. Rockford reminds me of the Beatles Revolver, with song after memorable song that still stands up years after it was made. On this album, the vocals are up front, with Nielsen’s excellent falsetto backing up, responding to, and in harmony with Zander’s voice, which goes from a whisper, to a scream and all points in between. The rhythm section plays a big part, while the guitar experiments with single riffs, kazoo sounds, startling swings, and psychedelic noise at the end. Robin’s real voice is used throughout – no electronic trickery. Cheap Trick produced Rockford themselves, and it shows their true unaltered greatness. What you hear is what they played and sang in the studio. No gimmicks that rely on computers to duplicate.
The lyrics on many of the songs are filled with witty wordplay and references to their own previous songs, other songs on the album, and the songs of other people. All the words are well-chosen , and for the most part, show where Cheap Trick is now in it’s career, it’s relationship with the overall music business, and it’s faithful fans.
“Welcome to the world, it’s a brand new day!” is how the album starts out. Welcome to the World is a cool, powerful start to pull us into the album. My first impression was the Kinks on speed.
Perfect Stranger – 60s sound, with lots of depth, a great beat, vocal, harmonies, and guitar bits. “Don’t need another perfect stranger driving me insane, saying it’s time for you to change.” Enough said about what this song is about!
If It Takes a Lifetime – Breathy, low vocals grow to a determined strong voice singing “All I want to do is just be with you.” Guitar part sounds like it from a Revolver song, including strings playing in the background. Cheap Trick saying they will always be here for the audience. It ends abruptly and goes directly into…
Come On, Come On, Come On, a real rave-up rocker that you will remember for a long time. I guarantee you’ll be singing it to yourself long after the CD is over. They’re asking all of us to join in the fun that they obviously have with each other and their music.
The fifth song, O Claire is by far my favorite on this album and one that I sing over and over. The first time I listened to it, it brought tears to my eyes. It has two parts with two memorable melodies and lines: “Just Between the two of us” and “Bye bye love, goodbye, see you on the other side.” It’s a ballad, but not a sappy love song. It reminds me of George Harrison.
This Time You Got It. That’s for sure – they definitely got it- a near-perfect album and song. This starts with a piano and a Beatle-ish “Yeah”, a memorable guitar riff, and lots of tricky lyrics, like “You could be king for a day” and then “You could be queen for a day.” After a pause, Zander sings “You blew me away.” It then becomes a full-out rocker with a great guitar part and floating, falsetto vocals.
Give It Away is a hard charging song about throwing out all your bad memories and living life to the fullest, with an unusual guitar lick and great words.
One More is the most fun song on the CD. It starts out with drums like I Want You to Want Me. Then it changes to a quirky, funky sound that reminds me of the Rolling Stones’ Miss You, with hilarious high-voiced responses from Rick to Robin’s calls. I laughed out loud! Then it morphs into a different song after Zander sings “All I need is one more day…” I think they will have a lot more good days. Then Nielsen does some frantic guitar playing to the end with phantom "Yeahs" and one last chorus from Robin.
Straight forward 60ish rocker with a sentimental message, Every Night and Every Day is about living life to the fullest, with Zander hitting some of his famous high notes and Roger Daltry-type screams. Memorable line “In the key of life.”
Most Beatle-like song on the album, Dream the Night Away, is the first of the Power Pop trio that ends the disc. Strident vocals, clanging guitar, kazoo-sounding guitar, great harmonies, a truly wonderful song.
With more obvious 60s influences and very emotional vocals, All Those Years brings out the singer in all of us, with it’s high verses and low choruses. The title immediately reminded me of George Harrison’s song All Those Years Ago, but that is a bright song compared to this. This is the most emotionally meaningful song on the CD. The guitar sound , with some keyboards mixed in is unique and restrained enough to let the words shine through. “It’s a lonely, lonely life” For many it is. The one will make you think back on what you had when you were younger and maybe even bring a tear to your eye.
Decaf is the big bang-up finish to the album. It is the heaviest song in this set, with serious-sounding, but tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Sounds like some one on a caffeine high, urgently talking about the stresses of life. “It could happen to you” will stick in your mind forever. And the line “You’ve got everything to die for” is another one of their funny lines. Robin’s voice keeps getting lower until Rick ends the song with guitar feedback and a disjointed scream in the background.
I ask that everyone who listens to this CD and likes it call their local rock station and ask them to play Rockford! This great music really needs to have a chance for everyone to hear it. Every song on the radio these days does not have to be by the latest fave. Some older bands like Cheap Trick put out great contemporary music that the Clear Channel stations and their ilk won’t play. Let them know there is an audience for quality rock music, no matter where it comes from.
It was you, Jezebel, it was you
Deceiving me, grieving me, leaving me blue
Jezebel, it was you
Forsaken dreams unknown in the silent tone of your charm
Deceiving me, grieving me, leaving me blue
Jezebel, it was you
Jezebel, Jezebel, Jezebel!!!!