Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cleveland Rock Royalty The Choir’s Unreleased Album

The Choir's Artifact
Years before the Raspberries would tear up the charts with early ‘70s hits like “Go All The Way,” “I Wanna Be With You,” “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” and other tunes, its members performed with other Cleveland, Ohio area outfits like the Choir and Cyrus Erie. The Choir is especially notable as future Raspberries band members Wally Bryson (guitar), Dave Smalley (guitar/bass), and Jim Bonfanti (drums) were members; future Raspberries frontman Eric Carmen, a member of Cyrus Erie, had auditioned for the Choir but was passed over in favor of another vocalist.

A popular garage-rock outfit, the Choir is largely remembered for the band’s first single, the minor hit “It’s Cold Outside.” Released in December 1966, the song was featured on the garage-rock compilation Pebbles, Volume 2 and would subsequently appear on a number of dodgy import comps of garage and psychedelic-rock. Although the band would never release a full-length album during its tenure (roughly 1966 through 1970), Bomp! Records released a five-song self-titled EP in 1976, and Sundazed Records released Choir Practice on CD and vinyl in 1994, the album featuring the five songs from the previous EP along with a number of previously-unreleased tracks.

On February 16, 2018 Ominivore Recordings will release Artifact: The Unreleased Album, featuring ten tracks recorded by the Choir in 1969 and making their very first appearance in any format. Restored in the studio by Tommy Allen and Ducky Carlisle, who worked on the Raspberries’ recent Pop Art Live, the album includes new liner notes by Eric Carmen and Choir band members Denny Carleton and Phil Giallombardo as well as a Choir family tree and rare photos from the band’s collections.

In his liner notes for the album, Eric Carmen wrote, “I went to see the Choir when I was 16, and immediately wanted to join their band. They were a great group that had many lives and many members. This album was made by one of the last and final versions of the band. This recently discovered recording is sure to rekindle fond memories for the many fans of the Choir, including myself. Give it a spin, and enjoy a special piece of Cleveland rock history.”

Also on That Devil Music: The Raspberries’ Pop Art Live CD review

Buy the CD from The Choir’s Artifact: The Unreleased Album

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