Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gichy Dan's Beechwood #9 - s/t

I've had this thing (pics & audio) ready to go for quite some time now but just couldn't get the write-up done. Well, I found a few free moments today and tried to knock it out. N-joi!

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head, yet you didn’t know the artist, didn't know the title, didn't know the words and only had a vague recollection of a melody--but that melody was strong enough to keep you haunted, hunting high & low in a seamlessly never-ending search...no, ... QUEST, to find it? Well folks, I did and this record was my "white whale" for years.

Now dig while I bore y’all with the details…

Back in the late 70s, my sister would wake me up for school every morning and the radio in our room was always set to either "WBLS" or "92 WKTU-FM" (thems iz NYC radio stations for the uninitiated). Both stations primarily spun R&B & Dance Music but I remember that the KTU DJs would always throw in some odd-sounding stuff during their morning shows. Now when I say "odd-sounding," I just mean odd to my ears at the time, since the tunes were usually novelty records and material they strayed far from their ordinary programmed playlist. I was 6 or 7, but I remember hearing stuff like the Waitresses' "I Know What Boys Like," Coati Mundi's "Me No Pop I", and "Eugene" by Crazy Joe & The Variable Speed Band.

One morning, I heard a song that caught my attention. They played it a few more times over the following weeks but I always missed the station ID breaks in-between sets where they'd back-announce the songs so I never got a title or artist to hang on the song. The few listens were all it took for the melody of the hook to get stuck in my brain. That unknown melody would randomly play on repeat in my head over the next 4 years before I finally decided to do something about it. The only problem was, by the time I’d decided I liked the song enough to want to own it, it had long since been dropped from rotation and the station's format had changed since I'd heard it in it's original form so I had no way of tracking it down or finding out who it was or what it was called

I don’t know how, but somehow I got the notion that the song I wanted was sung by Kid Creole & The Coconuts. Maybe it was because their stuff had the same kinda vibe as the track I was looking for…who knows. Still, being a kid with basically no income, it took a loooong time but I started buying up Kid Creole records one by one when I could afford to. I was usually semi-disappointed with each one because although each one was a gem in its own right, none of them had the song I wanted. I did figure out that this cat by the name of August Darnell was the common link between all the Kid Creole stuff I’d been buying and the Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band 45 of “Cherchez La Femme” fame I‘d already had at home and that kinda had that same sound. Armed with this nugget of knowledge, I began snatching up anything and everything with Darnell’s name on it. Over the years that followed, I wound up collecting all four Savannah Band albums as well as a bunch of material from Creole/Darnell offshoot projects like Coati Mundi, Machine, Don Armando’s 2nd Avenue Rhumba Band, and Cory Day. After all this I still was no closer to finding my mystery song and just about gave up the hunt cuz it was just costing way too much dough.

Cut to my freshman year of college, during which time I worked nights at a NYC record store where I met up with a “music connoisseur” who mentioned he was a huge Kid Creole fan. I sang him the melody and he said it sounded familiar but he couldn’t remember the title or artist but was sure it had something to do with August Darnell. I finally had some sort of confirmation that I was on the right track and with that, the hunt resumed. One night a few months later, during my lunch break, I stopped in to Bleecker Bob’s in Greenwich Village and rifled thru his “Kid Creole” section (they would sometimes lump related artists together in the same bin). I pulled up this colorful, self-titled album that I’d never seen before by a group I’d never heard of calling themselves Gichy Dan's Beechwood #9. I flipped it over and sure enough...BAM!...there was Darnell’s name all over the back of the jacket. I was already down to my last few dollars for the week but I couldn’t resist the gamble, so I walked out of the store that night, flat-broke with a new addition to my stacks tucked under my arm. I subsequently ran back to work, pulled my handy Mister Disc portable turntable out of my locker and dropped the needle on it….SUCCESS!!! The track was “Laissez Faire” and my search was finally over.

As I mentioned above, Gichy Gan's Beechwood #9 was a side-project of writer/producer/musician August Darnell while he was still part of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. The story goes that Darnell had written a number of tunes that Savannah Band wound up not using so he called upon the talents of Frank "Pago Pago" aka "Gichy Dan" Passalaqua and vocalist Lourdes Cotto along with a huge roster of musicians whose names would adorn many Darnell-produced album covers in years to come. In 1979, the ensemble delivered their sole LP on the RCA label. In the following year, Darnell would go on to release the first of many albums under his Kid Creole alias. In 1981, a single called "Cowboys & Gangsters" was released on Island Records' ZE subsidiary. This would be the last official Gichy Dan project.

Gichy Dan's Beechwood #9 is long out of print on vinyl and might give you a hard time if you're looking for a clean copy to call your own. Still, you can try your luck here. If the vinyl frontier isn't for you, fear not good people, because an official CD reissue of the album is slated for release sometime in the very near future. When it drops, you should be able to nab a copy here.


Featured cut: "Laissez Faire"

Listen to my vinyl rip here.

20 comments:

soulbrotha said...

OMG! I totally forgot about this song and I loved it when it was out. I knew it was an August Darnell project but I always assumed it was Kid Creole. My sis and I also switched back and forth from 'KTU to 'BLS, when one had commercials running. Slay'd if you are in NY, we gotta get together and reminisce about the good ol' days!

the rapper said...

Thanks for the share!

trakbuv said...

Wow - great story - the most annoying DJs are those that yab about their day, but never about the music ! And how many tracks have I got taped from the radio that I'm only now finding out who they were thanks to blogs like yourself. Vaguely remember hearing 'Laissez Faire' once and I think I assumed it was Dr Buzzards at the time. Never heard of this act, or maybe I did and assumed it was the name & address of a listener to a soul show !

Really looking forward to catching up on some August Darnell at his creative prime. Many many thanks, Slay'd.

bklynMissy said...

I can't thank you enough for posting this!!!!!! I've been on a wild goose chase trying to track this track. Just as I remembered it. Likewise, I grew up on BLS & KTU until KISS came along. Thanks for the memory!

Stretch said...

Don't ever remember hearing this on BLS or KTU, but I guess I'm not that old :-)Do remember the DJ's looping the intro at a few parties. Thanks for the files homie!!!

Anonymous said...

Ha! I bought this album back in 1979. According ... Ha! I bought this album back in 1979. According to your blog, I must have heard in on 'BLS. I bet it was played by Frankie Crocker. I gave the album to a boyfriend who was in the Army. He recently found it in his collection and offered to send me a copy of the cut, but not the album (even though it's technically mine) Ha! Brings back a lot of memories.

Anonymous said...

Just Googled "Gichy Dan" and came across your site.
Oh my, this song took me way back to my old neighborhood, the Bushwick area of Brooklyn (circ 1979).
Muchísimas gracias, de todo corazón.

troods said...

I absolutely love your story of the search for this piece of music......I've gone through it a number of times and I'm quite a bit older than you, so you can imagine. I'm also a native new yorker, so I was following your trail in my mind. Friends have told me I'm one of a few women who does this, but at the blogspots, I no longer feel alone; so many of us music lovin' women.

Anyway, I can't wait for this to download to hear this elusive melody. I feel fortunate to have the age of the internet happen in my lifetime and so record searches are done so much more easily (for me and my arthritis) and somehow, I'm more able to locate stuff these days than not. But it is because of generous music lovers like you, who do the bin searches I can't do any more, and care about the music lovers' community enough to share your finds, that life is definitely easier for me. I've found music and artists I had begun to think were illusions or delusions There were times I literally wept with joy in finding some piece of music I thought I would never see in my life.

So compadre de musica, thanks for everything you do.

Ellis Feaster said...

OMG!!! That song has been in my head, on & off for 30 Years! I never knew who it was, but I was also going down that August Darnell road. I was in Philadelphia, and heard it a couple of times on 1340 WHAT, with Pablo Guzman. He did the afternoon show on WHAT in Philly, and weekends on WBLS. I know he would occasionally play songs that WBLS turned him on to, and play them in Philly. Songs you would not hear anyplace else in Philly. I called Pablo and he told me who the artist was, and told me it was a record Frankie Crocker likes. Right after I hung up, I forgot who the artist was, and I was too embarrased to call back. 30 years later I stumble onto your site, and BINGO! There it is!

Thanks!

Ellis Feaster
Orlando FL

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOSH !!! I've been searching for this song since the 80's. Crying just from listening to it. I love this song. I have a few minutes of this song on cassette that I recorded from back in the early 80's and I've keep this cassette and still played it just for laissez faire. I'm glad to see I'm the only one !!

jane said...

Thanks so much. I've been on a Kid Creole/James Chance bender since watching the movie Downtown '81 - and - to make a long story short - was tracking down Gitchy Dan - got here. I'd forgotten this song - was luck to remember Cowboys and Gangsters- what a talented crew - August Darnell and Andy Hernandez

Steven F. said...

I can not thank you enough for this. I have looked EVERYWHERE For this song, much the same way as others who have posted here. I listened to the WBLS giant and 92 KTU in my youth, and used to hear this song in the car on the way to school. I am so grateful that you have this.

Ron said...

Hey guys, Ron Rogers-Writer and Producer- "Cowboys and Gangsters"
I produced the original Beachwood # 9 on RCA along side my childhood friend August Darnell. It was a blast! Frank (pago), the vocalist, and I stuck together and did Ze Records, while August got busy with Kid Creole. I still played and wrote a few tracks for 'the kid' - The Lifeboat Party/ Gina Gina. Oh, and do you remember a little thing I wrote called" Deputy Of Love"? "Thar's one of my favorites." Cheers, great to hear people like the 'jams'! Peace

Anonymous said...

WOW! I've had this song stuck in my head for a VERY long time. I knew title and artist, but could not find it anywhere. Frankie Crocker used to play on WBLS, I heard it on KTU, too. I can't thank you enough. If I can find a reissue I will snatch this up in a heartbeat.

Tony L

dj said...

Hahaha....awesome awesome story. As I grew up in NYC, it was alwaysKiss or Wcbs fm as a kid. I am a huge record collector and heard this for the first time two years ago. I was on the hunt for this record since then!! I finally scored a copy through a friend of mine who was selling his record collection for $2 bucks a record. This was one of em. Kid creole has inspired me to think outside the box as a DJ. I even wanted to interview him, his band and the evolution of the creative ze records. These days good music is scarce.

Anonymous said...

Has anybody tried to access the vinyl rip recently (as of 03/10/11)? This user downloaded the .rar file OK, but can't extract the mp3's - I get an "Archive damaged or incomplete" error, and there are no .par files included to facilitate a repair. Any advice?

bamjaya said...

I've only heard rumors about this, never held one in my hand... but, was there a "Laissez Faire" 12-inch? Kids used to request it at Vinyl Mania but I never did see an actual copy.

Anonymous said...

Hi All Yes it was BLS that the song was played on as a favor to Darnell Frank was an extrodinary vocalist and i had the Privilage of working with him in another band that we were members of with another one hit wonder C Abrams if ron or anyone here know how to get in touch with him that would be great i am a subscriber to this blog

Anonymous said...

Looking 4 this jam since........................
THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Frank ( Gichy Dan )?

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