Author Topic: Dean's Brer Bird single?  (Read 6408 times)

ripplewine

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Dean's Brer Bird single?
« on: April 06, 2010, 05:55:49 PM »
I have a question for Mark or anyone else who can answer--what's the story behind Dean's 1965 solo release of "Summertime, Summertime" b/w "Theme From Leon's Garage?"  I'm especially curious about his motivation for doing a solo single at this point in their careers. 

Mark A. Moore

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Re: Dean's Brer Bird single?
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2010, 10:19:20 PM »
Gary Zekley and Dean started a label, and it was a side thing for Dean while Jan was working on Pop Symphony and other J&D projects.

Gary spoke in-depth about working with Dean in an interview with Domenic Priore that was published in Dom's classic Dumb Angel Gazette #3 (Potpourri) , way back in the '80s.

Dean and Gary eventually had some kind of falling out. And Gary became dismissive of Dean. Gary didn't like Dean's version of "Yellow Balloon" (which Gary co-wrote), and of course Gary produced the hit version of that song. But in my opinion, Dean's re-worked arrangement (not the first one) is a gem.

Here are some excerpts from what Gary told Domenic . . .

Summertime, Summertime:

"Dean produced it, in that he put up the money for it . . . that's producing it . . . but in terms of what took place in the arrangement in the studio, and working with the group and making a tape, no he didn't produce it. I think that was a big bone of contention between the two of us. We owned that record company together.

"We never knew what the words were . . . so we just left them out . . . but the intro to the song, we did an intricate a cappella beginning to the song, and we had it all by itself. We were gonna tack it on to the body of the song where the instruments come in, and we had recorded it in the wrong key . . . it's kinda weird . . . it's not right . . . a big mistake and we didn't have the money to de-do it . . . That was a big disappointment . . . if I woulda been avant-garde, it probably didn't matter.

"The original by The Jamies is a classical piece. I thought it could make it with the Beach Boys and Phil Spector approach . . . Dean actually tried to sing it . . . I relieved him of the microphone . . . his voice was like putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa."


[NOTE: Gary sang lead on the "Our Gang" version on the Brer Bird label. But Dean recorded a version adding his voice, and self-released it in '66 on the J&D Record Co. label. Same Wrecking Crew track for both. Backing vocals differ].


The Theme from Leon's Garage (Hal Records Scab Dates There):

The Brer Bird B-side was actually a song called "Don't Be Gone Long," written by Gary Zekley and Don Altfeld, the flip of Zekley's 1964 Ragamuffins single, "The Fun We Had." For the Brer Bird Our Gang release in '65, the lead vocal was stripped out, leaving only the instrumental track and backing harmonies. They just changed the title to "The Theme from Leon's Garage," and changed the writing credits to Torrence-Zekley.

Zekley says of this track (again from his interview with Dom):

"Jan was using fuzz guitar. Jack Nitzsche was using fuzz guitar, and fuzz guitar was the thing to use . . . actually what that was supposed to be, was like trombones . . . We didn't want to get sued for using the same thing twice."

[Much like The Yellow Balloon, the Our Gang group that appeared publicly on local TV in L.A. was a ruse, and the record didn't garner any national attention].


ripplewine

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Re: Dean's Brer Bird single?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2010, 09:58:05 AM »
Thanks, Mark!  Interesting stuff--it does make sense for Dean to have had an "on the side" deal; Pop Symphony was pretty much a Berry/Tipton project.

I'll have to put on Save For A Rainy Day again; I don't remember there being a reworked version of Yellow Balloon--it's been a little while since I've listened to it.  I have a promo copy of the "California, USA" compilation which has Yellow Balloon, too--I'll have to see which version it is.

 I found the promo at an awesome used record store that was here--the guy who ran it was pretty cool, if a little strange; he had a huge inventory of records & memorabilia; a lot of hard-to-find stuff.  Unfortunately he sold it and it ended up being converted into our 15 millionth clothing outlet!  Seems like a lot of businesses like his folded around the time CDs replaced vinyl.