Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Paupers – Magic People (1967)

Οι πληροφορίες που υπάρχουν για τους The Paupers είναι αρκετές, συνεπώς εφόσον έχω την ευκολία κοπιπαστάρω από το βιβλίο Dreams, Fantasies and Nightmares του Vernon Joyson. Στο ντεμπούτο τους εμφανίζονται αρκετές φορές μελωδικοί, έχοντας όμως ως καλύτερη στιγμή το πιο «φασαριόζικο» Think I Care.

This group was formed as The Spats in Toronto during 1964 by ex-Riverside Three drummer Skip Prokop and former Last Words rhythm guitarist/vocalist Bill Marion aka Bill Misener. In the spring of 1966 the band signed with future Bruce Cockburn manager Bernie Finkelstein. However, in August Marion left (after his wife gave him an ultimatum) and subsequently recorded a solo single before moving into production work. In his place, The Paupers recruited Scottish émigré Adam Mitchell apparently on an hour and a half's notice.
On September 24th the group made a prestigious appearance at a 14-hour pop music show held at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens, featuring 14 top local bands. The group's reputation began to spread rapidly and in early 1967, Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, convinced Finkelstein to sell his interests in the group. Grossman renegotiated the MGM contract and signed the band to its associate label Verve Forecast. The group's debut single with Mitchell, If I Call You By Some Name was released and reached No. 31 on Canada's RPM chart, the band's biggest hit. Apparently The Paupers hated it, feeling that it wasn't representative of their music.
The single was followed by a well-received date at New York's Café Au Go Go in March 1967 supporting Jefferson Airplane, where apparently they 'blew the latter away'. The group remained in the city to cut its debut album with Rick Shorter and then set out for a series of concerts on the West Coast including several appearances at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium and the Monterey International Pop Festival on June 16th.
In late '67, MGM sent the group on a $40,000 promotional tour where they played around seventeen US cities in a month. In late 1967, The Paupers debut album peaked at US No. 178, but its modest success was overshadowed by Denny Gerrard's departure. His replacement was bass player/vocalist Brad Campbell from Marion's previous group The Last Words. Around the same time, The Paupers also added (for live purposes) keyboard player Peter Sterbach, who was replaced later that year by English-born pianist John Ord.
The band continued to play high profile dates and on February 24th, supported The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Soft Machine at the C.N.E Coliseum in Toronto. This was followed by a second a US tour, which proved to be as memorable as the first - in April the group was playing in Chicago when Martin Luther King was assassinated and narrowly missed the subsequent riots!
Following a final date at New York's Electric Circus in August, Prokop left to form Lighthouse, while Campbell joined Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band.
In October, a new line-up of The Paupers featuring Mitchell, Beal and Ord was formed (to pay off the existing debt) with original bass player Denny Gerrard and new drummer Roz Parks. Gerrard however, soon left to be replaced by James Houston, who had previously played with Parks. Mitchell's departure in April 1969 signalled the end of the group and The Paupers split for good.
Mitchell briefly embarked upon a solo career, playing the folk circuit in Ontario and then worked as a producer for the likes of McKenna Mendelson Mainline and Linda Ronstadt. Ord embarked on a multitude of sessions while Gerrard joined Luke and The Apostles briefly before forming Jericho in late 1970. Beal worked as a music producer and manager, and was last heard of working at the Canadian National Institute for the blind, producing a talking book series. Houston formed his own band and recorded a rare single for Yorkville Records in 1971, while the band's final drummer Billy King later became a member of Lighthouse. They added Beal and Gerrard (who according to Martin Melhuish nearly played professional baseball for the Detroit Tigers) and changed name to The Paupers in 1965. The group was originally managed by Bernie Finkelstein (later Bruce Cockburn's manager) and he got them the deal with Red Leaf Records. After Heart Walking Blues circa August 1966, Marion was replaced by Scottish emigre Adam Mitchell. (Mitchell and Prokop established a successful song writing partnership). In late 1966, Albert Grossman bought out Finkelstein's interests in the group and signed them to MGM's subsidiary Verve. On January 27th 1967, the group opened for Jefferson Airplane at New York's Cafe-A-Go-Go. According to Paul D. Grushkin in his book 'The Art Of Rock - Posters From Presley To Punk', they supported The Grateful Dead (May 5-6th), Jefferson Airplane (May 12-14th) and Martha & The Vandellas (May 19-20th) at the Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco. The following month they appeared at Monterey and provided one of the festival's highlights (later overshadowed by Hendrix, Who, Joplin etc).
The Paupers made two of the best psychedelic albums to come out of Canada in this era. The title track is the stand out track on the first album, although others such as It's Your Mind and Think I Care were also interesting. The excellent second album also featured Al Kooper on some of the tracks. It contained two mellow ballads, Oh That She Might and Ask Her Again, and lots of superb guitar work, particularly on South Down Road and Numbers.
After their debut album and dates at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit in November, Gerrard was replaced by Campbell (ex Last Words). The group also added Sterbach (for live purposes), who was quickly replaced by Ord (ex Magic Circus, The Creep and Wizard's Hand).
Surprisingly, perhaps, they only enjoyed two hits:- If I Call You By Some Name, which spent two weeks in the Top 40, peaking at 31 on 11th February 1967, and Simple Deed, which went 10 places better on 6th May 1967 and spent twice as long in the Top 40.
Around August / September 1968 Prokop declined an offer to join Janis Joplin's group but recommended Campbell instead and he subsequently formed Lighthouse. In November / December 1968, Mitchell, Beal and Ord added new drummer Roz Parks and Gerrard rejoined from McKenna Mendelson Mainline. The line-up failed to gel and Mitchell left for a solo career - he toured Ontario briefly before becoming a producer in L.A. (Linda Ronstadt) and worked with McKendree Spring, while Gerrard later joined Jericho (album in U.S. on Ampex in 1971). He may also be the same Denny Gerrard who recorded the solo album Sinister Morning in the U.K. with High Tide (Nova 1970). The others added James Houston but broke-up in February 1969 when Ord left for session work (Richie Havens' 1983). Prokop and Campbell also appeared on this album.
Surprisingly the band haven't featured on any of the recent compilations, but back in 1966 they had four tracks on Somethin' Else (Roman DRL 103), If I Told My Baby, Free As A Bird, Sooner Than Soon and For What I Am, which displays their earlier teen-pop/beat sounds. If you're into adventurous psychedelic pop then the first album is a must and very different from the second which had progressed to heavier rock sounds. Both albums can still be found at very reasonable prices and there has been a compilation album on Edsel in the U.K..
(Vernon Joynson/NW)


1. Magic People
2.It's Your Mind
3.Black Thank You Package
4.Let Me Be
5.Think I Care
6.One Rainy Day
7.Tudor Impressions
8.Simple Deed
9.My Love Hides Your View
10.You And Me


Anonymous said...

The server is "closed", per their message.

litlgrey said...

I sure wish you could repost some of these, like this one for example... at a server that hasn't closed down!