Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Con's Combo - Los Fabulosos Suecos& The Con's Combo (RB)

Two Ultrarare Sweden Soul-Beat Lps 1966-68

Katrineholm: Ingemar Söderlund (vocals), Conny Söderlund (guitar/vocals), Johannes Ljungkvist (guitar), Ulf Hellqvist (bass), Nils Sandström (saxophone), Christer Söderlund (drums)

Argentina: Conny Söderlund (guitar/vocals), Bo Gathu (bass), Owe Monk (Johansson) (electric organ/piano/vocals)

Four hundred TV appearances in five years! No, we are not talking about Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, or Madonna. Of the almost 500 biographies in this book, the story of Con’s Combo is certainly the most unique. Now, being on TV is perhaps not so sensational. For example, it probably takes quite a while to count up the number of times the Beatles and Rolling Stones were on television. But that number likely doesn’t come close to the around 400 (!) times that Con’s Combo appeared on TV ЃEand this was during a time period of only five years!

Of course, many people will wonder why they’ve never even heard of this group. Well, we’re not talking here about Swedish or European TV. This is South American TV, in particular Argentinean TV. The members of Con’s Combo spent nine years in Argentina, with side trips to other South American countries. There are certainly not many music collectors who know that the group made a number of singles as well as three albums during their time in Argentina, but the group were pretty much superstars in that country ЃEone of our first and certainly least-known pop exports.

All of this was a long way from the group’s beginnings back in Katrineholm in the early 1960s. It was the Söderlund brothers who started the band, and eventually their cousin, Ingemar Söderlund, became a guest performer in the group. Though Ingemar had his own record contract, he was not really a pop or rock singer. However, before Ingemar joined Con’s Combo, they made an EP that Owe Monk had put on the Swedish charts as a member of the duo the Vagabonds called “Sommar i StockholmЃE(Summer in Stockholm).
Some years later Conny Söderlund, Bo Gathu, and Owe Monk met two fellows from the South American group Lecuona Cuban Boys. They got together and did a tour in Finland. Osvaido Venini then suggested that they should travel to Argentina, where there were plenty of gigs, and Con’s Combo made the unique decision to move there. Although Venini himself left after only a year in Argentina, it turned out that there was plenty of work and record contracts there for Con’s Combo. During their busiest period, the group appeared three times a week on TV. The members even became good friends with the beatnik group the Shakers (who have achieved cult status among collectors of 1960s pop music with their album “Break It AllЃE from Uruguay.
In 1968 Con’s Combo represented Sweden at a song festival that took place in Brazil. There were 34 countries taking part (Canada was represented by Paul Anka), and Con’s Combo won 10th place. Just like the Beatles, Con’s Combo even had their own guru to encourage the group (although he probably was more interested in just being a groupie).

Argentinean singles were played at 33 rpm, something unusual which could lead to misunderstandings. When Conny Söderlund appeared solo on a TV program from Los Angeles around 1969-70, he was to lip-sync one of the singles by Con’s Combo. A problem arose when someone set the record at 45 rpm. Just at that moment, punk music was invented.
In the mid-1970s the members of the group moved back to Sweden, but they can certainly feel very pleased with their pioneering achievements.

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