Backstreet (previously known as Backstreet Majority) had band members from Bloomington, Pontiac and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Their cover of "California Dreamin" was recorded sometime between 1969-1972. Members at the time were likely Michael Day, Harry Washburn, Bobby Carlin and Howard "Leon" Reeder.
For more about Michael Day's life and career: Michael Day
Dick Hally and Darrell Data, two members of the country-rock group Buckacre, talk about the band on Don Zukowski's Coffee Club radio show. Both interviews recorded in 1978 for WLPO in the Illinois Valley area. Members of the group were from Spring Valley, Ladd and LaSalle-Peru.
The first interview was from the beginning of the year just prior to the group recording their second album for MCA Records. The second interview, with Hally only, was from August of 1978 after the album's release.
The song "Have You Ever Been Lonely" was written by Dana Walden. The LabSound recording presented here was never released. In fact, no recordings of the group were ever released. Members included Harry Washburn and Dana Walden. Drummer Bobby Carlin may have also been a member at one time. Photo of the group by Arnie White.
A few years after this recording, several of the members would go on to release a version of this song as The Water Brothers Band on Sky Records.
Legendary guitarist Steve Hunter was born and raised in Decatur, Illinois.
By early 1977 Hunter was getting ready to release his first solo album, Swept Away, which he dedicated to his hometown. At this point in his career, Hunter had already toured and recorded albums with Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Peter Gabriel and Mitch Ryder. As a session man, he had played on records by Aerosmith, Jack Bruce and others.
In this phone interview with Decatur radio station WSOY, Hunter talks extensively about growing up in Decatur. He mentions some of his early influences, his beginnings on Hawaiian guitar as well as his early exposure to the blues. He explains where the titles "Jasper St. Viaduct Gitar Rag" and "Eldorado Street" came from (both reference locations in Decatur). He also briefly mentions fellow Decatur musician John "Polar Bear" Sauter who played with Mitch Ryder's Detroit and helped Hunter secure a spot in the group which ultimately launched his career.
Here are some highlights from Steve's early career as a session guitarist as well a few cuts from his first album.
Jim Cuomo was a graduate student in music at the University of Illinois from 1966-1970. During his time in Urbana-Champaign, Cuomo was involved in a wide array of musical projects and performances. His experimental rock band at the time, The Spoils of War, incorporated psychedelia, jazz and rock as well as elements of early electronica and computer music. The group included a rotating cast of fellow U of I students and downstate musicians such as Annie "the Hat" Williams, Al Ierardi, Roger Francisco and "Big City" Frank Garvey. Later Cuomo would be joined by Elliott Delman and Ernest "Rick" Mansfield among many others.
By the early 1970s Cuomo and several of his bandmates moved to Paris, changing the group's name to Mormos. While in France the group released two albums of acid-folk and was the backing band on several more albums. Tonight's show is just a small sample of some the music from this period in Cuomo's and his collaborators' lives.
The Spoils of War - "What Happens Now" : From their self-titled mini-album released in 1969. James Cuomo - organ, saxophone, recorder, vocals / Anne Williams - vocals / Al Ierardi - guitar / Roger Francisco - bass / Frank Garvey - percussion / James Stroud - trombone & sound manipulation. Music by Cuomo, lyrics by Michael Hanks.
Mormos - "Great Wall of China" : The title track from Mormos' debut album released by CBS (France) in 1971. James Cuomo - domra, soprano recorder, vocals, balalaika / Annie "the Hat" Williams - vocals / Elliot Delman - guitar, vocals / Ernest "Rick" Mansfield - flute, alto flute, balalaika, alto recorder / Sandy Spencer - cello, vocals / Tobia Taylor - balalaika, zither, soprano recorder, vocals. Music by Cuomo, lyrics by Tobia Taylor.
Jim Cuomo - "Ring Magic Telephone, Ring" : From the Cuomo's Record EP released in 1970 on Depot Records. Vocals by Steve Larner with Anne Williams, Kathleen Bennett and Elliot Delman. James Cuomo - vocals, piano, dombra, saxophone / Charlie Braugham - drums / Bob Witmer - bass / Cal Drake - bass / Larry Dwyer - trombone / Al Ierardi - guitar. Lyrics and music by Cuomo.
Jack Treese - "I Can't Play The Fiddle" : Jack Treese was an American guitarist / banjo player living and performing in France. Mormos was the backing band for Treese's The John Leroy Album released in 1972 on the Saravah label.
Al Ierardi (The Spoils Of War) - "You're The Girl" : Lyrics and music by Al Ierardi. Recorded with members of The Spoils of War probably sometime in 1969.
Arlie Neaville - "Tawney" : Early rock 'n roller from Champaign Arlie Neaville aka Dean Carter with 'Tawney," a song written by Jim Cuomo. Neaville's single was also arranged and produced by Cuomo and released in 1969 on Tell International. (It was recorded at Golden Voice in South Pekin.)
Mormos - "Rit Yellow" : From the group's second album, The Magic Spell Of Mother's Wrath, released in 1972 by CBS (France). Jim Cuomo - clarinet, saxophone, domra, vocals / Annie Williams - lead vocals, bass, balalaika / Ernest Mansfield - flutes, piano, harmonica, spoons, triangle / Elliot Delman - guitars, vocals / Sandy Spencer - cello. The song has its beginnings with The Spoils of War and was performed live by the group in the late 1960s.
(The Spoils of War) - "In Again Out Again" : Jim Cuomo - vocals, domra, rubab / Sandy Spencer - cello, vocals / Dianne Taylor - balalaika, vocals. Lyrics and music by Cuomo. Released on the Spoils Of War II compilation of previously unreleased material. Recording date unknown.
Mormos - "Now Is Made In America" : From the group's debut album, Great Wall of China, released by CBS (France) in 1971. James Cuomo - domra, soprano recorder, vocals, balalaika / Annie "the Hat" Williams - vocals / Elliot Delman - guitar, vocals / Ernest "Rick" Mansfield - flute, alto flute, balalaika, alto recorder / Sandy Spencer - cello, vocals / Tobia Taylor - balalaika, zither, soprano recorder, vocals. An earlier version was released by The Spoils of War in 1969. Music by Cuomo, lyrics by Debril Brandybuck.
Jacques Higelin - "I Love The Queen" : Members of Mormos were in the backing group on the French pop singer's debut album, Jacques "Crabouif" Higelin, released in 1971 on the Saravah label.
(The Spoils of War) - "Morning Be Merciful" : Jim Cuomo - vocals, domra, clarinets / Patrice Lemoine - piano / Clive Griffiths - bass / Bernie Holland - drums / Demelza - percussion / Alan Mark - background vocals. Lyrics and music by Cuomo. Released on the Spoils of War II compilation of previously unreleased material. Recording date unknown.
Skyfarmer - "Torch Poem" : After Mormos several of the members (Anne Williams, Elliott Delman and Ernest Mansfield) moved to Boscobel, WI and helped form the band Skyfarmer. "Torch Song" was written by Jim Cuomo and recorded live at Ruby Gulch in Champaign on 10/31/1974. Released on the Amazing Grace CD compilation.
François Béranger - "Ma fleur" : Mormos was the backing band for Béranger's 1971 album "Ça doit être bien..." released by CBS in France. Cuomo is credited with co-authoring this song.
Mormos - "Cows In My Colorbook" : From the group's second album, The Magic Spell Of Mother's Wrath, released in 1972 by CBS (France). Jim Cuomo - clarinet, saxophone, domra, vocals / Annie Williams - lead vocals, bass, balalaika / Ernest Mansfield - flutes, piano, harmonica, spoons, triangle / Elliot Delman - guitars, vocals / Sandy Spencer - cello. The song was written by Daniel Hanks and Ernest Mansfield.
Jim Cuomo - "Susan Never Smiles / Remembering (for KB)" : James Cuomo - vocals, piano, dombra, sax / Charlie Braugham - drums / Bob Witmer - bass / Cal Drake - bass / Larry Dwyer - trombone / Al Ierardi - guitar. From the Cuomo's Record EP released in 1970 on Depot Records. Lyrics and music by Cuomo.
If you would like to hear more Mormos or purchase some of their music, check out their bandcamp page. All sales right now directly support guitarist Elliot Delman who is suffering from health issues.