Monday, October 29, 2012

The Lost Morning Reign Tapes: "The Lights of Louisville"

Mark Wildey, Charlie Underwood, and Joey Paige, Nashville West Studios, 1968

Sometime in 1968 my old rock band, The Morning Reign, was invited to Los Angeles to record a few songs at Nashville West Studios, by our benefactors and producers Mark Wildey and Joey Paige. That’s them above, standing with Nashville West owner and recording engineer Charlie Underwood, who had come to LA from the south where he had been recording engineer at Sun Records, during the very early years of rock and roll. Charlie was a modest fellow, but his list of achievements in the recording industry were many as engineer, producer and even songwriter. I have always found it a fun fact that he engineered the classic “Monster Mash”. In his studio in LA, where The Reign recorded, he had recently engineered hits for Bill Cosby, Brenton Wood, and The Iron Butterfly. His gold record for The Butterfly’s “In-A -Gadda-Da Vita” (I call it In-A Gadda-Da-Vita-Meata-Vegamin), stood proudly on the wall above my head as I sat waiting for results in the control room.

Englishman Mark Wildey had been successful in the recording industry due to his producing efforts, including co-producing the Kingsmen’s “Up and Away" album and also producing The People, whose “I Love You” had been a smash. Joey Paige had partnered up with Mark for some projects, including The Reign. Joey was a successful performer and recording artist who had played bass for years with The Everly Brothers, and was known as “The Third Everly Brother”, due to his integral part in the Everly’s band. We are still in touch with Joey, who has posted here and on The Morning Reign Facebook pages. We all love Joe.

On this short trip to LA, we found our way to The Whiskey-A-Go-Go one night, to support Mark's other project at the time, "The People". The People had two drummers, which was kind of amazing to us, and as their finale, played a loud and long rock version of The William Tell Overture, or The Lone Ranger Theme, as it is commonly known, which was absolutely fantastic. Not much of a dance tune though.

During the band's break, I found my way to the sidewalk for a breather, and as I stood waiting on the corner I found myself standing shoulder to shoulder with Eric Burdon of The Animals. At that moment I think I may have uttered OMG! in my brain, many years before OMG! was invented. And then, all flustered, I totally forgot to tell him that in my junior year of high school, I rode my bike way down Hawthorne where my girlfriend Sandy Stone was babysitting, and she and I had completely worn out a 45 of "House of the Risin' Sun".

The band line up on that trip included Bob Baker, Howard Holland, Craig Chastain, Gene Heliker, Doug Heatherington, and me. We recorded several songs including “Wait ‘til You See”, “Just A Friend”, and Say It Once Again”, which were originals,  "The Deafening Roar of Silence", and “The Lights of Louisville”, which I believe was written by Gene Clark of The Byrds, though I have never been able to confirm this. Another song they had asked us to consider recording, but which we refused, was a ditty titled "Little Doggy Heaven", and which, unfortunately, I could still sing to you. These songs were found at publishers and given to us to learn by Mark and Joey. On "Lights of Louisville", they had me try several vocal interpretations after the rest of the boys had laid down the instrument tracks.. It was a fantastic time for a bunch of guys with music in their hearts and stars in their eyes.

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