Hot Off The Press, by News

Hot Off The Press



News Story

Late in the evening of April 5, 1970, U.S. 1 East, a psychedelic band of four Yalies on two guitars, bass and drums, was on campus playing an “Electric Easter Service” inside the pitch-dark Dwight Memorial Chapel. When the band stopped for a break, a 425-pound man approached and said he was looking to promote Dynamic Recording Studio in New Haven. Sensing their interest, he leaned over and said, “So, ya wanna maika reckid.” It was a statement, not a question.

His name was Marty Kugell. As a local talent manager he had worked with the Nutmegs, Gene Pitney and the Carpenters. Back in 1956 he and his pal Tom Sokira had recorded the Five Satins’ doo-wop classic, ‘In the Still of the Nite.’ He offered this deal: make an original 60-second instrumental bed for the studio to use as a radio spot, and you can record five songs free. A few weeks later the spot was on WAVZ, WPOP, WYBC and other stations; and the band had a demo tape of its cover songs. That’s how Marty got to know me (Bob, drums), Vic (guitar) and Dean (guitar).

A couple of weeks after Dynamic’s radio spot hit the air, Dave Rock and the Country Gents strolled in to cut a 45 rpm record of the singer’s originals. They cut ‘She’s All Mine,’ b/w ‘Don’t Tell Me,’ at Dynamic. That’s how Marty got to know Gary (bass) and Mark (pedal steel).

In the fall of 1970, Yale’s senior singing group, the Whiffenpoofs, was performing its Fall Jamboree at Wolsey Hall. The Whiffs had rented U.S. 1 East’s p.a. for the concert. Marty, who attended the rehearsal, invited them to record their annual album at Dynamic, which they did in the early months of 1971. After the session, the Whiff’s leader and arranger sat at the piano and played Marty some of his original songs. That’s how Marty got to know Jeff (keyboards).

In the second semester of senior year, Vic and I were taking a course from Charlie Reich, author of The Greening of America. “For your grade,” Charlie said, “you can turn in anything you want.” So we decided to write some songs. One song in particular had some magic to it. Vic strung together a set of jazz chords: Gm11, Fmaj7, Bbmaj7, Eb9, Abmin11, F9. I taped the progression and wrote verses to it, which Vic fit to a melody. Vic’s girlfriend Erica sat at the piano to write out the sheet music, while I came up with a chorus. That was the first version of ‘Misty Day.’

Another Jeff, a bass player from Charlie’s class, joined Vic and me to form the Cosmic Reality Skuffle Band. At a rented beach house on Cosey Beach in East Haven, we taped five original songs through a Shure mixer onto a 2-track reel-to-reel recorder. One of the songs was the demo of ‘Misty Day’ that appears as a bonus track on this CD. A few nights later in a darkened dorm room, we played our songs for Charlie while passing around fruit leather. He gave us an A. Those were the days.

Earlier that year, Mark had left Dave Rock to join the Wildcats, a country-rock band that recorded an unreleased album for Columbia in NYC. After doing some session work in Connecticut and New York, Mark spent 1971 touring the South with Brenda Byers, who had a regional hit with ‘Homeward Bound,’ on which the Jordanaires sang and Mark played pedal steel.

In the fall of that year, Marty was looking to mold Jeff’s career as a singer-songwriter and decided to form a band to gig and record Jeff’s songs. With Jeff on keyboards, Marty recruited Gary on bass and asked me to join on drums. I agreed as long as Vic could join on guitar. Marty said OK and we had a new band. But what to call it? Every name offered was shot down. Finally Sharon, Marty’s wife, said, “How about ‘The News’? You know, like, ‘Have you heard the news?’” We all hated it, but at least everyone was in agreement. So that became the name–shortened to “News.”

In December we started gigging around New York and Connecticut. We spent a year playing venues from Poconos resorts to dumpy bars to a show club backing the Chiffons. Along the way we added a chick singer, Michele. All this while, we were recording demos of Jeff’s songs. The band agreed that ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck’ was destined to be a hit. Marty brought it to Don Kirshner in New York. He liked the song and booked News into Bell Studio in the City to cut an 8-track master. In the end, Kirshner gave the song to one of his groups, The Persuaders, who took an R&B version to #39 in 1973. In 1984, Rod Stewart took his version to #8. In the 1990s, the song was featured in a Pepsi commercial. So the song made a lot of money, but it never helped the band.

In February 1973 News went to Dynamic to record some of my songs: ‘One Night Stands,’ ‘Highway to Georgia,’ ‘New York City’ and ‘Angie.’ Jeff arranged the background vocals. For Vic’s lead on ‘One Night Stands,’ we turned all the knobs on a solid-state Sunn amp–treble, bass, mid-range and volume–up to 10. (11 wasn’t invented until 1984.) Dean worked his pedals to get the lead sound for ‘Angie.’ The extended ‘New York City’ was a highlight. Out of this session (#11573) we scrapped one song and ended up with three nice tracks.

In January 1973, Jeff and Michele quit to work on other projects. Gary suggested recruiting Mark, who was back in Connecticut driving a milk truck while doing session work on the side. Gary met him on a Sunday with an armful of music. Mark crammed for two days and joined Gary, Vic and me at the Abbey in Norwalk in March 1973. After a couple of nights, he fit right in.

Mark had started as a country steel player but developed a jazzy rock style, enhanced with a Leslie and a hand-switchable Electro-Harmonix fuzz box. He could sing, too, so we still had four-part harmony. The new version of News developed a following and started packing the clubs: the House of Zodiac, the Red Garter, the Hampton Pub, Three Oaks, Over the Bridge, the Starlite Lounge, the Red Bull, El Morocco and a couple of party-oriented Ramadas. Eventually we became the house band playing six nights a week at George Anthony’s on the West Haven shore. We covered a range from Alice Cooper to Perry Como. We invited guest singers on stage such as Little Louise—vocally a dead ringer for Brenda Lee—who had recorded ‘Red Red Roses’ with the Wildcats. We played a gay Halloween party, met some minor celebrities and developed a loyal following. It was a great time.

I was still writing songs, so in December 1973 we went back to Dynamic for another session (#18173). Vic arranged the background vocals. Mark came up with the intro for ‘Loser,’ its wide sound courtesy of Tom, who put two substitute capacitors into Mark’s fuzz box. I came up with some vocal hooks for ‘Ooo La La.’ Gary sang ‘Farmer’s Daughter,’ and Vic added the muffled picking in the second verse while Tom EQ’d the cymbals and vocals to create a wall-of-sound chorus. Dean found seagull sounds for the intro to ‘Misty Day,’ which Vic again sang to tape. For the fade-out, Gary played an acrobatic bass part despite having come from the hospital that morning with a broken, taped-up right hand. Mark sang ‘Easy Street,’ and Vic came up with a harmony lead guitar break. The quick-strummed strings of an open piano were dubbed at the stop. Vic used the studio vibraphone to give ‘Pine Tree Heaven’ a cozy quality. I added some color with wind chimes, bongos, maracas, sizzle cymbal, cowbell, triangle and wind sounds. The album was almost finished.

Dean and I had been on the staff of WYBC, and after graduation Dean invited me to his place to record a script he had written poking fun at radio. Dean, his girlfriend Gene and I did the voices. Dean suggested putting it on the album. Tom and I tightened up ‘Radio Blahs’ with a razor blade and splicing tape. The idea was that the album would jump from lo-fi to hi-fi at Mark’s intro, like The Wizard of Oz when it goes from black-and-white to color. Everyone in the studio manned the boards and mixed the album live, from fade-ups to reverb changes to left-right pans. From opening click to ending fade, News finally had a reckid.

The album needed cover art, so I brought my bass-drum art to a graphic designer. It turned out the guy was overly occupied taking photos of naked women on beaches, so after a month, all he had was a minimalist version of my weather-vane design. For the back cover, Gary found a local girl photographer to snap the group walking by a newsstand on Chapel Street in New Haven. From left to right, there is Mark the milkman, Gary the hit man, Vic the revolutionary and Bob the cowboy. We cameoed “father news,” who sat at the newsstand all day selling papers. The photographer blew up the high-contrast, black & white photo to get it good and grainy. The jacket was done.

Tom took the 15 ips, 2-track master to Nola Studios on West 57th to make the acetate, which was turned over to Mastercraft a few blocks away for the metal stampers, which in turn went to Presswell Records in Ancora NJ for the pressing. Modern Album in Hauppauge manufactured the jackets. The dynamic range of the tape was compressed at Nola, dampening the full sound a bit. But we were still happy when, in May 1974, a truck delivered 1000 copies of LP number XPL-1045.

We sold copies at George Anthony’s and signed a few for fans. I sent copies to record companies. A guy at Epic liked the record and asked to hear our next production.

But that’s when the band began to fracture. Vic went off to law school. Gary, Mark and I played as the News trio for a few months, as far south as Virginia. In 1975 Gary got a Hammond M-3 and we recruited a new chick singer, Linda, and played as far west as Quincy IL and Iowa City under the name Knightbridge. In the summer of 1975, I dropped off copies of the News LP at London record companies and met Paul McCartney along the way, but there were no bites; the peak musical spirit of the late 60s and early 70s had faded. I wrote another dozen songs in 1974-75, but with no money to speak of, News’ recording days were over. In November 1975, I headed for New York and started a new career. Jeff was already on his way to a PhD and became a shrink. Michele traveled around the country doing folk music gigs. Dean became a radio jock at WOUR in Utica and then started an herb business. After a couple more months playing with Gary, Mark switched to bass and formed Spectrum, a popular disco band. Gary turned to managing an auto parts store, spun CDs on weekends and later became a website designer. Gary and Mark are gone now, and so is Dean. But News are friends forever.

Bob Prechter, 2009


Gary Friend: Fender Bass and Vocals
Mark London: Pedal Steel Guitar and Vocals
Vic Machcinski: Guitars, Vibes and Vocals
Bob Prechter: Drums, Percussion and Vocals

Music and Lyrics by R.R. Prechter, except
Misty Day and Angie by V. Machcinski and R.R. Prechter
Radio Blahs by D. Charles Pailler
Dynamic Radio Spot by D. Charles Pailler and V. Machcinski

Background vocal Arrangements by Vic Machcinski, except
Angie and New York City by Jeff Fortgang

Arranged and produced by R.R. Prechter and News

Jeff Fortgang: Keyboards on One Night Stands, Angie, New York City
Dean Pailler: Lead guitar on Angie and Dynamic Radio Spot
Jeff Harris: Bass on Misty Day at Cosey Beach
Tom Evans: Bass on Dynamic Radio Spot
Bill Schnaper: Bass, violin on Misty Day at Hendrie Hall

Additional Background Vocals:
Jeff Fortgang and Michele Montanye on Angie, New York City

Voices on Radio Blahs: Dean Pailler, Bob Prechter, Gene Banks

Engineering: Tom Sokira and Rufus Leeking
Recorded at Dynamic Recording Studios, New Haven, Ct
Mastering of New York City (LP version): George Piros
Front Cover Design: Steve Cryan
Back Cover Photograph: Sharon Monaco
Pro Tools HD digital transfer: Jim Hawkins, Electro-Acoustic, Athens; Granger Beem
Remastering: R.R. Prechter; Granger Beem, Doppler Studios, Atlanta
Final mastering: Colin Leonard, Glenn Schick Studios, Atlanta
Photos and memorabilia courtesy R.R. Prechter
© 1970, 1971, 1974
℗ 1974, 2009