Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Fantastic Deejays - The Fantastic Deejays (1964)

Denny Nicholson (vocals, guitar),
Tom Junecko (drums),
Dick Newton (guitar, vocals),
Bob Hocko (drums, vocals)
Denny Nicholson and Dick Newton were only 13 years old when they started performing professionally in a group called Bob and the Highlanders. Bob was the guitar player, Larry Keys was the bongo player and Denny and Dick were the vocalists. Bob and the Highlanders performed locally in the McKeesport, PA area. When Denny and Dick eventually learnt to play guitars, they formed the Larks with Tom Junecko, a Jazz drummer. Their big break came when they met Terry Lee, a disc jockey at WMCK in McKeesport. Lee arranged to manage the band and changed their name to the Fantastic Dee-Jays. The band also agreed to play at Lee's gigs in return for his help in making records. Lee influence on the Pittsburgh air-waves was so great that the Dee-Jays became very popular. One of their first singles was a cover of The Golliwogs's "Fight Fire". 

The band renamed themselves The Swamp Rats when Junecko went to college and Nicholson was drafted. The full line-up was Dick Newton, Donny Shriner and Dave Gannon. Bob Hocko and Paul Shalako were later additions to the group. Dick Newton left the band when he realised that Terry Lee wasn't interested in original composition and Bob Hocko's influence was overtaking Newton's reason for starting the band. Dick Newton now lives with his wife Mae in Boston.

A Pittsburgh garage band whose high point was opening for a Rolling Stones concert in 1965. They might have been total unknowns in the grand scheme of things, but they actually managed to cut a few mostly self-penned singles on local labels in 1965 and 1966 that are well respected by '60s collectors. The trio featured two guitarists and a drummer — a bass-less lineup, which is a rarity in rock music. Some of their singles were recorded at a local radio station, and indeed the crudeness of the production is fascinating, with mounds and mounds of reverb making the band sound like nothing so much as a garage punk version of Peter & Gordon. After five singles and an album, the group disbanded and evolved into the Swamp Rats, a harder-edged combo relying almost exclusively on nasty punk versions of big rock and R&B hits. 
"Fantastic Dee-Jays" 1966 (Stone 4003)  
"Fantastic Dee-Jays" 1984 (Eva 12028, France)
-- the spine lists the title as 'Fight Fire'
"30th Anniversary" 1996 (CD Millenia) [altered sleeve]
"30th Anniversary" 1996 (Millenia) [altered sleeve]

You all might know that the Fantastic Dee-Jays from McKeesport/Pennsylvania later transformed into the legendary Swamp Rats. Their one and only album from 1966 contains their great version of "Fight Fire", the strong self compositions "Get Away Girl" and "Love Is Tuff" as well as competent covers of "What A Shame" and "What You're Doing". "Apache" on the other hand sounds like it was taped at their first practice session. The other stuff is in the beat/garage style. The sound is pretty crude but this shouldn't scare you away. The tracks were taken from the reissue on EVA records (EVA 12028 / 1984). 

1 Fight Fire\ Green, Wild 2:19  
  2 Get Away Girl \Hocko, Newton, Nicholson 3:00  
  3 Shy Girl \Nicholson 2:35  
  4 Mr. Sad\ Nicholson 2:25  
  5 Two Tymes Two\ Newton, Nicholson 2:35  
  6 Apache\ Lordan 2:51  
  7 You're the One\ Clark, Hatch 2:33  
  8 What a Shame Jagger, Richards 3:38  
  9 What You're \Doing Lennon, McCartney 2:34  
  10 Love Is Tuff \Nicholson 2:40  
  11 Just a Boy\ Landis 2:10  
 12 This Love of Ours\ Newton, Nicholson 2:03
Thanks  faintlyblowing
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