MP3 Triphammer - Retrospective
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21 MP3 Songs
ROCK: 70's Rock, METAL: 70's Metal
"All of a sudden a mass of light, a jolting shock and a change in life. Clear one minute, then it rains, pouring down on frosted brain. Sail away, electric jammer, you've been nailed by your Triphammer". Little did Banastre Tarleton know that these lyrics would spawn one of the most exciting, unique, and influential bands of the early and mid 70's. Triphammer's story is not unlike that of many of their more famous brethren from that era, and is complete with tales of debauchery, experimental behavior, outlandish costumes, pre-Kiss make-up, numerous ego-clashes, and living life in full throttle. The music survived the band and is a reflection, not only of the times, but of their passion and hard work.
Organized in the Fall of 1969, the first line up consisted of Tom Caldwell on drums, guitarist James Smith-Patrick, and Banastre Tarleton on organ and keyboard bass. Tarleton's originals made up most of their songlist, along with a few selected alternative covers of the day and some 60's classics. They played the college circuit based out of Columbia, MO (Smith-Patrick was finishing up school at the Univ. of Missouri) and it was during this time the band opened up for Canned Heat and Big Brother & The Holding Company. Triphammer participated in several anti-war rallies as a headliner and was a fraternity party favorite on many campuses in the midwest. The band, billing themselves as "the most revolutionary group in Missouri", even played a command performance for Missouri Attorney General Danforth at the Governor's Mansion, and included their Who-like destruction of equipment during the encore.
In May 1970 the band did a recording session with 60's phenom Lou Renault as producer, but he became ill and the tracks were never mixed down. Thanks to modern day technology, the tape was resurrected from the dust bin and one of the songs on this recording, "The World Is An Igloo", was produced by Dennis Kroh for this project. It is Triphammer in its infancy, full of passion and anger, and very much a classic seventies heavy rocker. Appropriately, the CD opens with this embryonic Tarleton original.
Shortly after the L.A.R. Sessions Caldwell got a huge break when he was asked to join 50's motown star Mary Wilson and left the group to pursue that opportunity. He was replaced by Mark Flora and the band continued to perform shows and polish their material during countless all night rehearsals. With the help of his lawyer father, Smith-Patrick eventually persuaded Miami-based Criterion Studios to send an engineer who had participated in the early Blues Image sessions ("Ride Captain Ride") to fly to Columbia and record them in early September 1970. Armed with a state of the art four-track machine, the engineer captured the powerful essence of the trio in a marathon week long session. Vocals were sung directly into the machine, much to the dismay of the band. The plan was to doctor them in the mix, but it was decided to leave them raw and untouched.
The studio CD continues with these tracks and it runs the seventies gamut, from the protest and paranoia of "An Evil Revival" and "Nervous Breakdown" to psychedelic quickies "Menthol Frog" and "The Guiding Light". Yes, that is an authentic Fuzz Face being used by the moody Smith-Patrick. Oddly enough, one of Banastre's first compositions was "Sweet Virgin Blues", a 50's style blues song that makes a rather odd appearance in the ultra heavy rock and shock pop set that concluded with a Triphammer classic, "We Are The Graveyard Children".
After graduating from the University of Missouri, a physically and mentally worn out Smith-Patrick quite naturally decided to return to Florida and work at his father's law firm. Tarleton was also exhausted by this time and went to Jacksonville, Florida to rest and recuperate at his Australian Mum's home. Flora stayed in Columbia, enrolled in college, and continued to drum with several local bands. Triphammer's first incarnation had officially ended.
After several months in Florida, a refreshed Banastre came back to Missouri in late 1971 and moved in with his brother in the sleepy little town of Hallsville. He was close to his old stomping grounds in Mexico, Missouri where he had cut his rock teeth with The Koxmen, a band made up of fellow school chums, and Pandora's Box, his first pro outfit. (In recent years Pandora's Box drummer Gale Hase, landed a job as Reba McIntire's stage manager.) While hanging out in Mexico at a local jam session, Banastre met Jim Whelan, a Ginger Baker-styled drummer, and the two immediately clicked.
It was around this time period that Banastre was introduced to Audrey Hunnegard, a hotel exec in Jefferson City, Missouri who was interested in becoming involved in his career as manager. The previous month her psychic had told her she would meet a musician from Mexico and together they would find success in the entertainment world. She had first thought the prediction meant someone from the country of Mexico, but she was sure that Tarleton was the revelation in the flesh and eagerly jumped on board. With management secured, Whelan and Tarleton started auditioning different guitarists, looking for the right person to complete the project. They played a few gigs with ex-Pandora's Box six-string ace, Deon Jones and guitarist/bassist Kris Webber, a former band mate with Whelan in the group Orange Flash.
Then one afternoon at the rehearsal house, like a bolt from the sky, in strolls Dennis Kroh-- cocky, brash, enthusiastic, and blessed with the ability to make a guitar SCREAM! Earlier in the day, Kroh had met anther ex-Orange Flasher, Jimmy Quisenberry, at the small town's Kentucky Fried Chicken joint. Quisenberry decided to bring Kroh over to Triphammer's practice pad (i.e., Whelan's parents house) to try out. Kroh had only recently arrived in Missouri from Arizona and was looking for an opportunity to plug into something special. During the practice that followed the three musicians made serious rock 'n roll magic together. Holy Wah Wah Pedal and pass the Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill! The search was over... Triphammer was alive again!
Within a week, manager Hunnegard had the band in a Jefferson City recording facility. Another visit to the psychic had informed her that well-known producer Eddie Kramer was going to sign the group to a record deal so she booked the studio time straight away. The band managed to record six original tunes in a twelve hour stretch. They were basically rough live tracks with some vocal overdubs, but the incredible energy of the trio overcame the lack of technical perfection.
Tarleton's "C'mon, Take Off With Me" was clearly the most dynamic song from that session. The interplay between the guitar and piano during the verse was extremely mellow leading to a pseudo-heavy (and melodic) chorus and again going through more moods and changes only to lead back to the main theme of the song when you least expected it. An edited version was in heavy rotation on several regional radio stations throughout that summer and got a favorable response. "Uncle Sam The Butcher Man" was another one of Tarleton's anti-establishment power rockers with abundant changes, well representative of the Triphammer sound to come. "Sad Sex Blues" was a Kroh-penned tune that used a rather uncommon 18-bar progressive form for the verse with standard 12-bar solos. The band did their interpretation of the previously recorded "Sweet Virgin Blues," the interlude being entirely spontaneous (to accentuate the efforts of seduction) with some very interesting and classy piano work. The musically haunting "I'm Going Under" and catchy upbeat "Save Your Mind" were both Tarleton ditties that could have been singles. Eddie Kramer, then working for Electric Lady Studios, nearly signed the band but decided to pass. During a phone conversation with Hunnegard, he offered encouragement and a desire to hear future recordings, but no contract. Her psychic and Triphammer's Jefferson City tape had come close, but no cigar.
Unfortunately, there remains no trace of these recordings extant. Copies of these tapes were made and sent to many producers, promoters, and record companies and it appears that during that busy summer and fall none were actually put aside for the Triphammer archives. Hunting down even a single copy of these recordings for this project after all these years proved to be fruitless.
After the Jefferson City recordings, Hunnegard rented a turkey farm in Ashland, Missouri as a base of operations and Triphammer hit the road with pent up enthusiasm. In a short time, the band's high energy theatrical show had it in demand at many Woodstock-like events and as a featured act on the alternative club circuit in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, and Arkansas.
Early in 1973 the boys went back into Columbia's L.A.R. Studios to lay down tracks for "Panzer President," Tarleton's explosive Watergate/Vietnam War rocker. A seasoned and well-rehearsed Triphammer, with a healthy Lou Renault engineering, proceeded to record the band's heavy rock masterpiece. Kroh's adaptation of distortion; use of the wah wah pedal; and tasteful solos are proof that not all of the stellar guitarists from the Clapton/Blackmore/Hendrix era are now household names. . . Kroh should be included in this group. His work on "Panzer President" is quintessential 70's rock guitar. The sarcastic in-your-face lyrics were some of Tarleton's best and the arrangement is a delightful rollercoaster of musical styles and emotion, complete with Seig Heil's in the interlude, a reference to Nixon's bunker mentality. Jim Whelan's drumming is inventive and powerful and Tarleton's keyboard bass thumps while the Wurlitzer Electric Piano (played through a Leslie with an Electric Mistress Distortion Pedal) is brutal. The three rockers created one of the best anti-establishment songs ever recorded. When released, the tune received critical acclaim and regional DJs put it in rotation.
Triphammer's popularity increased, not only with the alternative crowd, but with the public in general. They were a big hit in high schools, country clubs, and society parties as the nation in general reacted to Nixon's resignation and the end of the Vietnam War with a more liberal attitude. The timing had been perfect.
The hard-rocking "Crankcase" follows and features more superb guitar work from Dennis Kroh. Tarleton's subject matter is made fairly obvious by the title. The music is entirely from the 1973 Panzer President session, with the vocals added in 2003. An inspired 1974 rendition of this same tune opens up Disc Two's live tracks.
The next phase in Triphammer's recording career turned out to be a giant slice of bad luck--the morale-sapping sessions with CMC Studios and producer John Goodone. Goodone hailed from San Francisco, and had recently started doing projects with the St. Louis-based facility. On a tip from a friend, he called the band and asked if they'd be interested in doing a demo for him. The band agreed and in the summer of 1973, Goodone recorded an eight-song demo of the group at Triphammer's rehearsal house in Columbia. He liked what he heard and persuaded them to book some time at CMC to do the real thing. Although money was in short supply, Kroh and Tarleton took their living expenses from the live shows and with Whelan's help came up with the necessary funds.
Whelan was still living with his parents in Mexico when not playing gigs or participating in the ever-present parties that seemed to be getting bigger and more out-of-hand now that there was an entourage of fans and a full road crew (David Palmer, Randy Munson, Tom Beauchamp, Randy Petsel, Doug Workman, and a host of other dedicated, rowdy support personnel). Goodone was an excellent producer and with his experience and ideas guiding them, the sessions went well, but at a snail's pace, due mainly to financial stress and live performance commitments. The lack of money and constant touring was slowly, but steadily, taking a toll on all the members, especially Whelan, who was becoming increasingly frustrated with the time-consuming CMC project.
On April 24, 1974 Jim Whelan left the band, and, after trying out a couple of drummers, the position was filled by Arbiter Spangle a.k.a. Danny Thomas. Spangle's long blond hair and colorful presence fit in perfectly with Kroh and Tarleton's flamboyant personalities and amusing on-stage antics. Triphammer's rock 'n roll circus carried on. A decision was made to finish the CMC project, but within weeks of Arbiter Spangle joining the band, Goodone suddenly quit the studio and slipped away with the master tapes. He was not to be found, although the following year a tune very reminiscent of "Marching To The Sound Barrier" surfaced on several West Coast radio stations.
Luckily, while Whelan was still in the band, Kroh had been recording some of their live shows on a small cassette recorder and only a few of the tapes have survived. They are raw, exciting, distorted at times, but chocked full of the energy that was Triphammer. And remember listeners - there were only THREE PEOPLE In this band. There are no overdubs.
The tracks on disc two, all Tarleton originals, are from these live concert recordings. The tracks include "Marching To The Sound Barrier", which Tarleton claims was inspired by the old crusader's hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers" ; "Blitzwoman", a provocative and pre-grunge power pop single; the rip-roaring musical LSD trip, "Storybook" (enthusiastically introduced by Kroh) which had been in Triphammer's repertoire from the beginning; "Dead Ringer", a straight-ahead, no holds-barred rocker; the melodic and brilliantly arranged "Standing In The Sand" is one more example of the band's versatility; Whelan's amazingly complex drum rhythms and Kroh's electrifying solos in "Crankcase"; the Triphammer blues standard, "Sweet Virgin Blues" ; "Painted Woman", a ballsy Zeppelin-ish hellraiser; "Take It Easy", a rootsy upbeat number with a twist; "Kroh's Guitar Solo" (what hasn't been said already); and the ultimate rock finale, "Down In The Junkyard", a dark show-stopper, with tighter-than-frog-pussy vocal and guitar trade-offs, and the unabashed frolicking and insanity of the French Can-Can (complete with high-kicks) as the outro of the piece. And for the brave and stout-hearted fan, "Post Mortem Mayhem" is a chaotic maelstrom of sirens, frenzied feedback, drivin' rock riffs, and good-natured noise (boys will be boys). It was performed at the conclusion of a high school dance in Wellsville, Missouri. You can even here the principal yell HEY! and loudly whistle for the band to PLEASE STOP! near the end.
This second CD was recorded entirely LIVE, folks. . . no overdubs, and that massive WALL OF SOUND you hear is being performed by only THREE musicians who were putting on one Hell of a theatrical stage-show at the same time! Their popularity was well-deserved, and despite the hissing amps and primitive technology from which these tapes derive the excitement that was TRIPHAMMER in a LIVE setting deserves to finally be heard.
Triphammer, with Kroh and Tarleton at the helm, continued to sail on for another 13 months after Whelan's departure with a cast of characters that was ever-changing. Arbiter Spangle left in October 1974 and was replaced by the talented Cranston Van Buren. Willie Griffith took over the drums in January 1975, but left in April of that same year. The last few gigs were played by drummer Fil DiMaggio, who would end up playing with Banastre Tarleton Band for the next 12 years until he became ill from a stroke suffered during a club date in November of 1995.
There was a point during the band's latter years when Banastre wanted to be more of a frontman and finally the decision to add a bass player was made (not a move favored by Kroh) and on June 13, 1974 Jerry Frischer joined the band. Frisher found himself unable to keep up with the grueling life-style, and was replaced in September 1974 by self-proclaimed warlock Dave "Baby" Mazzola, who in turn was replaced by Dennis D'Clothier one month later. D'Clothier took a hiatus in November and his replacement, Les Gifford, a gifted bassist from Sedalia, MO. had all his equipment stolen after his first show by a disreputable member of the Triphammer road crew (a former circus clown in charge of make-up).
D'Clothier rejoined and played until March of 1975 when he decided to move back to Kansas City. Enter the warlock again. Mazzola finished the final two months of the band's dates, except for a short stint by Mark White in April.
Two female back up singers, Donna Acton and Diane (Dimund) Mudd were also added to the band in December 1974 and their scantily-clad appearance and sultry voices added to the popularity of the group. Unfortunately, there aren't any surviving recordings from this last cast of characters. By the early Summer of 1975 Triphammer had finally run out of gas.
It had been a damn good run. The inevitable clash of musical direction came and Kroh decided to move to Los Angeles and did so in June of 1975. Tarleton immediately started the Banastre Tarleton Band with DiMaggio and released the single "Rock 'n Roll With You" b/w "Shock Treatment" (both of them standard Triphammer tunes) in January 1976. In the early 80's he had a Top 40 hit with "She's My Favorite Girl", another one of his power pop singles, and recent successes include the singles "Attack Iraq" and "Eye For An Eye" (the latter a #1 hit in Costa Rica of all places). Since his Triphammer days Banastre Tarleton has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada and put out a mountain of work, including two recent compilations of his solo material, "The Crown Jewels" and "Pyrrhic Victories" (both available on https://www.tradebit.com).
Dennis Kroh and his wife, Desiree, own and operate Empire Arms, a popular gun dealership in Daytona Beach, Florida. Kroh travels worldwide in support of his company. He still is apt to rock the house and it is not uncommon for him to show up at a club in New Orleans, Chicago, Rome, or wherever his business might take him, and sit in on guitar with that night's band. Kroh even did a "Hollywood" guest guitarist appearance with the Banastre Tarleton Band in November 1978 at a memorable nightclub gig in Columbia, MO. The two former musical compatriots have stayed in touch and remained very good friends over the years and are largely responsible for the organization and release of this retrospective CD.
On April 2, 2003, after over 30 years, Whelan, Kroh, and Tarleton reunited at Maple Room Studio, and with Randy Beeman on bass, recorded a new version of "C'mon, Take Off With Me" (the first original tune Triphammer ever played together) especially for this compilation. The magic was still there...the kind that's good for the soul. It is the final track on disc one.
Well, there it is...now sit back, pop a cold one, light the incense, turn the volume up and enjoy.
Dennis Kroh, guitar & vocals (Disc 1, tracks 8-10 and all of Disc 2)
Banastre Tarleton. piano, organ, keyboard bass, lead vocals on all tracks, acoustic guitar (Disc 1, track 10)
Jim Whelan, drums (Disc 1, tracks 8-10 and all of Disc 2)
James Smith-Patrick, guitar & backing vocals (Disc 1, tracks 1-7)
Tom Caldwell, drums (Disc 1, track 1)
Mark Flora, drums (Disc 1, tracks 2-7)
Randy Beeman, bass (Disc 1, track 10)
Recordings engineered by Randy "Screamin" Beeman and Joe Rutledge at The Maple Room
Produced by Dennis Kroh & Banastre Tarleton
Words and Music by Banastre Tarleton
Arranged by Triphammer
in partnership with CDbaby (ID 624119)
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