26 March 2009
"THE CHOIR - CHOIR PRACTICE" (GREAT 60s GARAGE US 1966-1969)
"The Choir" were a 60s Garage Rock band largely active in the greater Cleveland area from the mid 1960s into the early 1970s.
The first leader of "The Choir", "Dan Klawon" discovered Beatlemania in late 1963 before most of his peers, since a girl he knew had been to England and brought back a copy of "The Beatles"' first single, "Love Me Do" and one of their early albums (probably "With The Beatles") before their release in the US.
Within months, he had organized a band with three of his friends who all attended Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio.
"Dan Klawon" began as the drummer for the band, "Dave Smalley" and "Dan Heckel" were the guitarists, and "Tom Boles" served as lead singer.
The Choir: "It's Cold Outside" / "I'm Going Home", Roulette Records 4738, US 1967
Soon, "The Choir" had fired "Dan Heckel" and "Tom Boles" and added "Dave Burke" on bass guitar, "Wally Bryson" on guitar, and "Jim Bonfanti" on drums; while "Dan Klawon" moved to the rhythm guitar post.
"Dan Klawon" recalls: "So we began playing songs by "The Beatles", "The Who", "The Rolling Stones", "The Zombies", "The Troggs", and "The Animals".
In the end of the summer of 1966, the band traveled to Chicago, where they recorded their first single with "It's Cold Outside" on Canadian-American Records (CA-203) in September (written by "Dann Klawon") on "A" side.
According to "Dann Klawon": "I used to write quite a bit then, and one day I was thinking of some sort of theme to use with the moon/spoon, boy/girl lyrics. I decided to go with a weather analogy".
The song was hugely popular in Cleveland and topped the charts for six weeks; the song did quite well throughout the Midwest, particularly after the re-release of the single on "Roulette Records" in early 1967 (Roulette Records 4738).
By the spring of 1967, "It's Cold Outside" peaked at #68 on the "Billboard Charts" and at #55 on the "Cash Box charts", and it even made the "CHUM Charts" in Toronto, Canada.
Not long after the single was recorded, however, "Dann Klawon" and "Dave Burke" left "The Choir"; and a succession of line-up changes ensued.
"The Choir"'s second ("No One Here To Play With" / "Don't You Feel A Little Sorry For Me", Roulette Records R-4760, 1967) and third ("When You Were With Me" / "Changin' My Mind", Roulette Records R-7005, 1968) singles did not have the same success as their first, and in the spring of 1968, "The Choir" disbanded.
They reformed in late 1968 – for the second time, and regained much of their earlier popularity in the local scene.
In 1969, "The Choir" returned to the studio and recorded a planned album that had a more Psychedelic flavor, with eight original songs and a cover of a song by "The Kinks".
The tape was shipped to several different record labels without success.
After releasing a final unsuccessful single on "Intrepid Records" in 1970 (Intrepid Records 75020, 1970)– including a cover of a song by "The Easybeats" as the "A" side, "Gonna Have a Good Time Tonight" and "So Much Love" on a "B" side– the band broke up for good.
The jewel in "The Choir"'s catalogue is unquestionably "It's Cold Outside".
It's a wonderful example of early Power Pop and, unlike many 60s Garage Rock classics, is unabashedly Beatlesque, with fine songwriting and strong harmonies.
The Choir: "It's Cold Outside" / "I'm Going Home", Roulette Records RF-1009, Japan 1967.
Other originals like "I'd Rather You Leave Me" and "Don't Change Your Mind" show similarly irresistible harmony vocals, crafting a catchy 60s Pop-Rock sound that avoids sappiness.
The final tracks, cut in 1969 after several personnel changes, have slightly updated Progressive Rock influences, but retain a core of smart Pop-Rock hooks.
As the group cut only a few singles during their lifetime, most of this is previously unissued, culled from their generous vault of demos.
"The Choir" also is well known for containing three of the four original members of "The Raspberries" (all except lead singer "Eric Carmen").