Sunday, February 23, 2014

Crazy Elephant - Crazy Elephant (1969-70 us, wondrous colorful beat psychedelia, 2006 remaster and expanded)



"There is no Crazy Elephant," insists writer-producer Ritchie Cordell. "That was just Bob Spencer." Robert Spencer was a member of the Cadillacs, who recorded the rock and roll classic "Speedo," a #14 hit from 1955. In the years that followed, Spencer kept active in the industry, often penning songs and selling them off without just compensation, according to Cordell. In 1969, Spencer linked up with Kasenetz and Katz just as their Super K bubblegum machine was churning out the hits full-throttle.

Kasenetz and Katz hooked him up with Cordell and Joey Levine, who together had penned the soulful "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'." The searing single, featuring Spencer's scorching lead vocal and an obvious background vocal assist by Levine, was submitted to Buddah Records, the New York-based label with whom Kasenetz and Katz had been so continually successful. "We played it for [Buddah General Manager] Neil Bogart," the Super K boys recall, "but he said, 'No, I don't hear it.'" Undeterred, they walked Crazy Elephant over to Larry Uttal at neighboring Bell Records, who snapped it up. By May 1969, "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" hit #12 in Billboard. Its stateside success prompted a British release, where it also peaked at #12.

Kasenetz and Katz recruited a five-piece band of college-age youths to support the single on the road, pose for pictures, and fill out the inevitable album. According to the credits on that sole self-titled LP, the lucky winners of this strange sweepstakes were Larry Laufer (leader, keyboards and vocals), Ronnie Bretone (bass), Bob Avery (drums), Kenny Cohen (flute, sax, and vocals) and Hal King (vocals). The whole process was standard operating procedure for bubblegummeisters Kasenetz and Katz. More often than not, according to Cordell, they would "send five bands [with the same name] out on the road. They'd stick them in a room with the album and have them learn all the songs."

"Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" was the only Crazy Elephant record for Cordell and Levine. When the Spencer-soundalike follow-ups "Sunshine, Red Wine" and "Gimme Some More" failed to click, Kasenetz and Katz took Crazy Elephant in a new direction overseas to London. In 1970, they brought in future 10cc members Kevin Godley, Lol Creme, and Graham Gouldman to take over the writing and production duties. Despite the ambitious single "(There Ain't No) Umbopo" (which the trio had recorded in an alternate version for Pye UK as Doctor Father), Crazy Elephant had effectively run its course, and was quietly retired.
by Bill Pitzonka
Tracks
1. Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' (Joey Levine, Richie Cordell) - 2:04
2. Respect (Otis Redding) - 7:25
3. Pam (Larry Laufer, Robert Katz, Iver Kasenetz) - 2:33
4. Come To The Farm (Larry Laufer, Robert Katz, Iver Kasenetz) - 3:16
5. Somewhere (Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein) - 3:45
6. My Baby (Honey Pie) (Larry Laufer, Robert Katz, Iver Kasenetz) - 2:14
7. Sunshine, Red Wine (Jimmy Woods, Bob Levine, Jeff Katz, Jerry Kasenetz) - 2:30
8. (Heartless) Hertie Gertie (Jeff Katz, Jerry Kasenetz) - 3:03
9. Love Strike (Jimmy Woods, Bob Levine, Jeff Katz, Jerry Kasenetz) - 2:23
10.Try This When You're Ready (Larry Laufer, Robert Katz, Iver Kasenetz) - 2:56
11.Higher And Higher (Jeff Katz, Jerry Kasenetz) - 3:37
12.Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' (Joey Levine, Richie Cordell) - 2:01
13.Dark Part Of My Mind (J.Buglisi, N. Foroli, P. Kraft, J. Kent) - 2:53
14.Sunshine (Red Wine) (J. Woods, B. Levine, J. Katz, J. Kasenetz) - 2:30
15.Pam (Larry Laufer, Robert Katz, Iver Kasenetz) - 2:33
16.Gimme Some More (J. Woods, B. Levine, J. Katz, J. Kasenetz) - 2:08
17.My Baby (Honey Pie) (Larry Laufer, Robert Katz, Iver Kasenetz) - 2:18
18.There's A Better Day A Comin' (Na,Na,Na,Na) (R. Cordell, J. Katz, J. Kasenetz) - 3:15
19.Space Buggy (R. Cordell, J. Katz, J. Kasenetz) - 2:25
20.There Ain't No Umbopo (Godley, Creme) - 3:05
21.Landrover (R. Cordell, J. Katz, J. Kasenetz, H. Gold, P. Schindler) - 2:37
22.Respect Revisited (Otis Redding) - 5:00
23.In A Castle (Crazy Elephant) - 4:55
24.Hips And Flips (Joey Levine, Richie Cordell) - 1:55
25.Splif And Spih (Joey Levine, Richie Cordell) - 1:56

Crazy Elephant
*Kenny Cohen - Flute, Saxophone, Vocals
*Bob Avery - Drums
*Larry Laufer - Keyboards, Vocals
*Hal King - Vocals
*Ronnie Bretone - Bass

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