Archive for the ‘The Rotary Connection’ Category

The Forum

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

The River Is Wide / The Forum

Listen: The River Is Wide / The Forum

There was many a single during the year 1967 like this one. Although most acts survived to release three or four, it was usually only one that made a splash, picking up late night pre FM progressive play on the many AM Top 40′s that would go a bit free form in the early hours, especially prevalent during that summer. These singles would many times graduate to daytime play and eventually maintain themselves a several month spread across the US pop stations, and be regarded as signature to the year of flower power, even through to the present.

As with Sagittarius ‘My World Fell Down’, The Avant-Garde ‘Naturally Stoned’, The Third Rail ‘Run Run Run’ or The Strawberry Children ‘Love Years Coming’, The Forum’s ‘The River Is Wide’ has earned this honor. WNDR, the tighter of of the two Syracuse Top 40′s charted it.

Partially MOR, partially Rotary Connection underground soul, a hint of Bill Medley’s Righteous Brothers baritone vocal and some Four Seasons meets Fifth Dimension backgrounds, all produced under the guidance of Les Baxter and Norm Ratner. An unlikely recipe that collided perfectly together and was easily labeled as psychedelic when no other explanation would suffice.

From one of the many stacks WMCR donated my way, it’s fun reading what the label’s promotion guy wrote to the station’s MD on the single’s original company sleeve above.

Rotary Connection

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

RotaryAladdin, Rotary Connection, Cadet Concept, Chess, Minnie Riperton, Marshall Chess

Listen: Aladdin / Rotary Connection

Often described as a highly experimental band, Rotary Connection were actually the idea of Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess. Marshall was also the culprit behind a new Chess Records subsidiary, Cadet Concept Records, an outlet to focus on psychedelic jazz rock instead of the blues and r’n'r genres which had made the Chess label so popular. Basically, he was a chip off the old block but with his finger on the pulse, as they say.

Despite the left of center commercial attempts, The Rotary Connection were basically unsuccessful at the check out counter, yet their critical and influential imprint grew over time. Looking back on their albums proved a lot more was brewing than most folks gave them credit for. ‘Aladdin’ was in an early stack of promos I picked up at the WMCR one night. I played it every few days for a couple of years. I guess you could say it was in light rotation.

I had no idea Minnie Riperton was their vocalist. At the time, I never even owned the albums, just the 7′s. Years later, the completist in me searched out those long players. Lo and behold, it’s Minnie Riperton. I should have recognized that voice, any time you’re not sure if it’s a piccolo or a person, it’s usually Minnie.

In the mid 90′s, when coffee table trip hop became the must have, hipsters Nuyorican Soul covered Rotary Connection’s ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’, and almost took it mainstream. I think the problem was it was too white for urban radio, and too black for pop, therefore falling into that bottomless crevasse known as ‘almost crossed over’.