Saturday, October 17, 2009

Human Beinz - Nobody But Me (1967)


Best-known for its version of "Nobody but Me," Youngstown, OH's frat rock quartet the Human Beinz featured rhythm guitarist Ting Markulin, lead guitarist Richard Belley, bassist Mel Pachuta, and drummer Mike Tatman. Originally known as the Human Beings, the group was a local favorite and was discovered playing at a Youngstown bar. Their early releases include covers of Bob Dylan's "Times They Are A-Changin'" and Them's "Gloria," as well as renditions of the Who and Yardbirds songs; they released their first singles on the local Gateway imprint. In 1967, the group signed to Capitol Records and scored a Top Ten hit with their cover of the Isley Brothers' "Nobody but Me." On their debut album, which was also named Nobody but Me, the band found their name changed to the Human Beinz, a play on the hippie phrase "be-in." The following year, the group issued Evolutions, which showcased a more original side to the Human Beinz' music, but the album did little and the band ultimately broke up.

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1 Nobody But Me
2 Foxey Lady
3 The Shamen
4 Flower Grave
5 Dance on Through
6 Turn on Your Light
7 It's Fun to Be Clean
8 Black Is the True Colour of My True Love's Hair
9 This Lonely Town

  10 Suen 11 Serenade to 



It's hard to imagine what the kids must have made of the Human Beinz' first album when it was released back in 1968. The band was riding high on the charts with their feedback-enhanced cover of the Isley Brothers' bold statement of dance prowess, "Nobody But Me," and folks who bought their subsequent LP must have been expecting 30 minutes of similar high-swagger garage rock. However, the band and their producer, Lex De Azevdo, had more ambitious stuff in mind, and the closest things to the hit single on Nobody But Me were a clunky cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxey Lady" and a guitar-heavy tribute to a voodoo priest, "The Shaman," neither of which are likely to fill any dancefloors. Instead, there's the tongue-in-cheek, pseudo-Left Banke pop of "It's Fun to Be Clean," a droning, string-laden interpretation of "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair," a rootsy take on "Turn on Your Love Light" which suggests the Grateful Dead's version without the jamming, and a couple exercises in moody introspection written by the band, "Sueno" and "Flower Grave." Nobody But Me is more than a bit pretentious, but it's also better than you might expect, and it builds on its psychedelic ambitions with greater success than the majority of Nehru-clad Midwesterners of the era. Still, one can't help but wish someone had persuaded the Human Beinz to cut a few more R&B covers while they were in the studio, since that's clearly where their greatest strength lay.

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