Saturday, January 14, 2012

Euphorias's Id - Mastering The Art Of French Kissing (1965-67)


Euphoria's Id in the 1960s.

The Pete Kilpatrick Supergroup and Jeremiah Freed both have a rock-and-roll legacy to uphold — though they may not know it. As long ago as the mid 1960s, there were mop-haired kids along Maine’s seacoast who were making a play for mainstream rock stardom. The most notable of these were called Euphoria’s Id, and though they broke up more than 30 years ago, their recordings have just been released on CD.

Jay Snyder, the Id’s organ player, recently founded his own label, Golden Retriever Records, so that he could disseminate the music he’s been involved with over the past 40 years. His first release is the Id’s Mastering the Art of French Kissing, a collection of the group’s three professionally recorded 45s, as well as more than a dozen songs recorded in rehearsals, offered with extensive liner notes by Snyder.

Previously, only a few of the Id’s tracks were available on CD, on a compilation called New England Teen Scene, which AMG describes as "the sound of teen bands making their first (and usually, only) record in the cut-it-quick-and-fast recording conditions of the time." This was certainly the case for Euphoria’s Id who, as Snyder tells it in the liner notes, found their way to AAA Recording Studios in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and "met an encouraging person, whose motto might have been, ‘I never met a buck I didn’t like.’ He told us we were the best band he’d ever heard and that we could ‘make it.’ " It was well after they’d recorded their singles that they realized the engineer had distorted the vocals and cymbals. So much for high fidelity.

Today, pro recording equipment abounds, and so does information about how to be a rock band. "Now we have music-industry handbooks — everything you need to know about music," says Snyder, who now has a Master’s degree in music-industry studies. "Back then," he laughs, "it was complete seat of your pants." No Guitar Magazine, no Book Your Own Fucking Life; no VH-1, no MTV, no Spinal Tap.

Back in the day, venues for rock music weren’t very technologically advanced either. This was pre–rock clubs (see "Rock Archival," March 21), but Euphoria’s Id managed to score gigs at the American Legion Hall in Cape Porpoise, the Palace in OOB (where they backed up Chubby Checker), the Portland Expo (opening Herman’s Hermits), and plenty of fraternity and sorority parties at Bowdoin, Colby, St. Joe’s, and UMP (USM/Portland). Still, most places weren’t exactly set up properly for live rock music. "We did a gig on the Casco Bay Lines," Snyder remembers with a laugh, "and when they would speed up a little bit, the power would drop by a few volts, and if we were in G doing "Louie Louie," suddenly the tune was in F."

But throughout the mid-’60s, the Id continued changing their name (the Electrons, the Nomads, the Id, and finally Euphoria’s Id) and growing as a band. They sacked their original guitarist. Snyder explains that it wasn’t just his bunk gear — a Sears Silvertone guitar and amp — that lead to his dismissal. The kid showed up to practice one day with shiny aluminum foil wrapped around the guitar’s knobs, and Snyder and another band member looked at each other and thought "Well, the guy can’t play so I guess he thinks he’s going to, like, wow us with glamour."

"So that weekend, I put an ad in the Biddeford-Saco Journal and Jimmy [Drown] answered it, and he came over one fall evening and he opens up this tan Tolex case, and then we see this orange plush, and a white, left-handed ’62 custom Strat — and my God — I went ‘Wow! That’s beautiful!’ and then he started playing. He had a Tremolux amp, and you know that single-coil, chunky sound — it was just gorgeous, and he had chops, and he had taste, and he had repertoire. He was exactly what I needed to grow as a musician." The Id’s songwriting team was in place, and they recorded three singles on their own Eadit label, all of which appear on Mastering the Art of French Kissing, before going their separate ways in college.

Id blues-harp/sax man David Wakefield ended up playing with Red Light Review and Bill Chinnock. Jimmy Drown and drummer Skip Smith would go on to form the popular local rock band the Blend, which released several albums on MCA in the early ’70s. And Snyder pursued his musical Muse to Boston University, and eventually to LA. His various musical projects are all documented on the Golden Retriever Web site.

It was Drown’s death last winter that motivated Snyder to finally put Euphoria’s Id out on CD. "Suddenly a piece of my childhood and a reference point is gone," says Snyder. "Just like when George Harrison died — there’s a lump in your throat and a hole in your life. And then the wheels started turning, and you know, our stuff has been bootlegged for years. And I thought: now’s the time."



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