Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Lost Morning Reign Tapes: Hallelujah Baby!!!




There was a short period of time, from mid 1969 to early 1970, when the Reign line-up included both Larry Sieber on keys and Howard Holland on drums. We were still all living in Salem, Oregon, and waiting for Doug to graduate from Willamette so we could hit the road like a real hippie rock band. At the time we were being represented by General Entertainment Corp, which was based in Seattle, and we were counting the days until we could move up there, so that, as Cac used to say, we could “babysit our booking agent”. 

During this time we had been making occasional trips to Los Angeles to record, and were being coached by our benefactors there, Mark Wildey and Joey Paige. Mark and Joe had been sending us some songs they had found at publishing houses for our consideration, and had set up a recording date at Capitol Records. You might say, in a word or two, we were fucking pumped.

Among the songs we recorded at Capitol was a ditty I had found on the flip side of 45 rpm hit by a group called The Neon Philharmonic. The hit was titled, “Morning Girl”, a really pretty song which was brilliantly orchestrated with strings. But the flip side, “Hallelujah Baby!, which I fell in love with, was more soulful and not as poppy as “Morning Girl”. I talked the guys into learning the song, and we layed it down at Capitol. 

Capitol Records, 1969
Egads, 6 semi-hippie college kids unloading our gear into Capitol Records. “S’cuse me, Geno”, I might have been heard to say, “ Have you seen my shades”?. We gathered with our producer in Studio B, a big recording room, and set up. On that day, Mel Torme, oops I mean “The Velvet Fog”, was recording in Studio A. As the day went on, I stepped into the hallway a couple times, and when the door to Studio A would open, I could hear the monitors blasting out the sound of Mel’s voice. Mel Torme, people. The guy who wrote “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”. The number two played Christmas song in history,  only bested by White Christmas. 

During the recording of Hallelujah Baby!, the guys were having a bit of trouble with the tempo, speeding the thing up a little too much, and of course for this issue, we always blame the drummer. It was probably more like a combination of factors that were contributing to the tempo problem, maybe even me, as I stood by Howard, chewing my gum at record chews per minute. I mean since I was recording in Capitol Records and I was 21 and within earshot of Mel Torme and pretty much a nervous wreck.

At one point, the production team stopped the band from playing yet again. “Ok boys lets go for take 25”.......and that’s when Cac said, “no Grammy for that last take then I guess”..... and that’s when Mark Wildey opened up the mic in the booth and said, “No fellas, there’s only one person around here with a Grammy”.......so it turns out that, the guy who was engineering the session, whose hand I probably shook, and whose name I do not know, apparently had received a Grammy for being the engineer on the song, “Wichita Lineman”, by Glen Campbell. 

So maybe we never did get the tempo quite right, I mean after we found out there was a Grammy winner in the booth working the tape machine. But it is one of the lost songs, and I am on a tear to put these tunes online. So here it is......one more lost song uploaded!! Hallelujah Baby!!

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