The Rondels


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Satan's Theme was a catchy, well crafted and played tune with Jimmy displaying some skilful close control of his plectrum as he repeats the notes in an almost Dick Dale-like way with plenty of gravelly sax from Ray in support. Again, My Prayer is in stark contrast as it is taken at a slow-dance pace with a lone guitar out front and Ray's breathy, almost jazzy sax contributing lots of moody colour to the track. It was easily good enough to crack the charts, but sadly it smouldered rather than caught fire and so missed out on a chart placing.

While the band's second single may have been excellent, their third was an absolutely wonderful double-sided corker. Their version of Louis Jordan's Caldonia is just dynamite from the word go, swinging with energy and class from the moment Ray reaches for a high, squeal on the sax at the beginning of the track to the almighty shout of "ROCKS!" at the end. "I heard Louis Prima's version of the song when I was growing up" remembered Lennie, "and I always loved the hook. We would fool around with it during rehearsals but after we had Back Beat No.1 and Satan's Theme out on Amy we had a break-up with Republic Music and Bugs Bower.

Arthur Yale, the general manager at Amy, asked us to keep making records for them because he really believed we could be the premier instrumental group of the time. When I told him the idea of cutting Caldonia he said come to New York and produce the record yourselves. We recorded Caldonia and the flip side, 110 lbs Of Drums, during the same session at Bell Sound in New York. The chorus in the hook of Caldonia is all of us, our wives and girlfriends and anyone else we could find, yelling "ROCKS!"

"We discovered that Lennie Collins' drums weighed around 110 lbs when we flew to Washington DC for a show and had to pay by the weight, so that's where that title came from." Ray added that he over-dubbed the second sax on Caldonia, while Lennie confirmed that Jimmy Petze also over-dubbed the driving bass to both of the tracks. 110 lbs Of Drums featured the same familiar bass throb that characterized Sandy Nelson's records of the time, while Lenny Collin's flying drumsticks kicked up a comparable storm and Ray soloed breathlessly with all of the considerable energy that he could muster to make it another stunning track.

If there had been any justice in the music world Caldonia and 110 lbs Of Drums would have been sitting near the top of the charts, but of course there isn't and so it missed out The band's next 45 for Amy was a fast twist-paced number titled Red Peppers coupled with Flute Salad on which Ray played a flute lead, with both being original group compositions. The single was chiefly distributed just to the radio stations on a promotional basis by Amy to see if it any action would be forthcoming. Unfortunately there wasn't, and so this 45 is the most difficult of the band's releases to track down. Lennie added: "Ray was so talented that he would often suggest different ways of incorporating the flute in our originals and it really worked for the melody and sound of Flute Salad so that's why we went with it There were no really grand thoughts in using a flute on an R&R record." Ray agreed: "We mostly had no purpose in mind other than to play rock & roll, comb our hair, and impress good looking chicks!"

For their final single on Amy The Rondels recorded a vocal track titled Meet Us At The Peppermint Lounge which was recorded live at the Boston club with Lennie providing the lead voice. He added: "in this period The Rondels had a different look. Nicky Latteo was back and playing bass and singing and we also had a front man singer by the name of Bobby Vincent. The club scene in Boston at the time was a job if you know what I mean. We would work seven nights a week doing five 40 minute sets per night and also a Sunday jam session. When the twist happened all of a sudden there was a demand for live recordings featuring the twist beat The owner of the Boston Peppermint Lounge allowed us to do a live recording at the club and in conjunction with

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Article written by Dave Burke of Pipeline Magazine www.pipelinemag.co.uk