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<<   "Factual Ramblings of a Man Driven by The Love Of Music"   >>
cover Zerfas : Zerfas

"Factual Ramblings of a Man Driven by The Love Of Music"


The closure of this re-issue project comes nearly two years after its inception. Murphy's Law ran rampart at every turn. I won't bore you with details but after all is said and done this has been a great learning experience and has produced a product that is very dear to my heart and that I am proud to put my name on. (Speaking, of course, only on the terms of re-issusing a work that obviously stands on its own merit)

It's not that I feel I must justify why I was chosen to handle this project, after several other efforts were made in the last few years to do so, but I will anyway.

It was fate that led me to a Ramada Inn lounge on my 21st birthday, on that cold November night in 1975. That night I was entertained by a band known as Jubal. Jubal was indeed Zerfas, who had just returned to their original band name for commercial reasons. (Note: Dave and Herman Zerfas were the nucleus of Jubal (late '69 - early '70 through early '73, which was then renamed the band Zerfas (early '73 - mid-late '75) and back to Jubal, A.K.A. The Jubal Band late '75 - early '83) Through a quick and interesting chain of events, I joined the band only one week later as percussionist (congas, bongos, timbales, etc.) and additional vocals. I remained in that position until late April of 1981.

I immediately realized these guys were serious about what they were doing and this was a lifestyle, not a sideline. The band was blessed with access to a 40-acre farm with a wonderful two story house and a two story barn, headquarters for many years, thanks to the ever supportive Mom and Pop Zerfas. At most any given time, many or all band members and road crew lived under the same roof that included no less than seven bedrooms (a couple were makeshift from the library and the workshop) and a wonderful family room that became our rehearsal hall when we were there.

When we were there indeed! The band maintanined a schedule that put us on the road no less than 40 weeks a year, sometimes for a 13 week stretch at a time, covering no less than an 18 state area throughout the duration.

The touring Jubal/Zerfas entourage of late '75 - early '83,including Dave Zerfas at the helm, along with younger brother Brian (Herman being a long-time nickname) and Steve Newbold (who shared a bond as strong as brothers to both) on bass, along with me and a parade of guitar players, a couple of female members and even a short stint with a fellow named Pat Smith, on second keyboards, who was previously with a group called The Elders, who put out an obscure LP on The Audio-Fidelity label called "Looking For The Answer". Billy Rice, from the Zerfas LP days, also traveled for a good while with the band, in a different capacity howevere, as Road Manager, Sound Engineer and all around jack-of-all-trades, as well as close friend to us all. Mark Tribby would drop by to visit from time to time, but never took an active part in the band after the Zerfas LP days of '73.

While we were scheduling time at 700 West for a club demo to be done in January of '76, was the first time I was introduced to the Zerfas Lp.

I saw a copy at the farm and inquired, "Hey, what's this into?" Very low key, Dave proceeded to tell me that was a little something they had thrown together a couple of years ago and asked would I like to hear it. Well, the grooves were full of magic and I was totally in awe. I listened to the LP several times in the next couple of days and really got hooked on the material immediately. I became a Zerfas prophet, turning my circle of friends onto this newly discovered gem and was proud to be a part of the band that included the nucleus of this album. I later found out that they had not "thrown this together" at all, but instead saved every dime from side jobs and every spare moment in the studio to make this dream of theirs a reality. The sincerity shines through on their production, coming from the corn fields of rural Indiana which had a relaxed, almost "3 or 4 years behind the times" feel, if you will. Not saying that was a bad thing, it's just that these guys weren't driven by New York or LA standards at the time.

When the time came to re-work some of the Zerfas LP tunes to fit in with our nightclub song list, I was excited about the possibilities. Through the duration of the band, we worked out and sometimes re-arranged several times, such cuts a, "The Sweetest Part", "Stoney Wellitz", and "The Piper", which were also updated and documented in studio-demo sessions, along with several more original tunes, as the band had three strong songwriters in Dave, Herman and Steve. I believe once we even tackled the song "Hope" for s hort period (performed live).

But I'm sort of getting ahead of myself. Shortly after my introduction to the Zerfas LP, I was also soon to learn that there was a ton-o'-stuff "in the can" if you will. For instance, a 14 song, all original demo, recorded in 1970, with the original band including Dave, Herman, as well as friend Paul McBee and Karl Hinkle, later of Wright Brothers Overland Stage Company, (later known as The Wright Brothers, with a short stint on Warner Brothers). It includes the original recording of "I Need It Higher" and 13 others that I hope to make available in the future. I also discovered several home-made projects that I would discribe as "mini-psychedelic rock operas", including musical as well as spoken-word passages. A couple that really struck me were called "Rat Poop" and "My Friend John". All of this reconfirmed the fact that these guys were a bit left of center, which made me feel right at home. It was great to be surrounded by their energy and creativity. Also, included in their back catalog was a piece that was the first portion, Chapter Three, if you will, of the Zerfas Saga. Its name: "Winds Of Change", a long musical/vocal piece that is a wonderful compliment to the Zerfas LP itself. It goes through several moods and changes and climaxes with a piece now known as "Mr. Greenthumbs", which we used as a staple of our live stage show. A killer combination of interweaving melodies and many changes too hard to really put into words. Hopefully, you'll be hearing this and other never before released works in the near future.

This finally brings us to the present.

Only after being approached by no less than three or four gentlemen, who all has similar stories about hearing an album over at a friend's house, late one evening while sitting by the fireplace, did the resurgence begin.

They then told me they had heard from a friend of a friend that I may have c copy of the album to sell them and "oh, by the way, my brother was also there and he'd like one too!" That's when I would go into my 5 minute spiel about how rare and valuable the record was, being a 500 copy press from them 16 years ago and I would have to have what was basically the price of a steak dinner for two for a copy. I should have gotten a hint from the sparks that flew from their wallets as they were pulling them from their back pockets. In all, seven original copies were sold this way and all the gentlemen turned out to be record dealers and I'm sure they are still eating steak dinners here five years later after re-selling those copies. You live, you learn!

My curiosity had definitely been aroused, but only until I met my now good friend and mentor, Stan Denski, did I realize the new found popularity (not to mention the true value) of the Zerfas album. He planted the seed about the possible re-issue of the album, which is finally a reality. He also jokingly nick-named me "Howard of the Seven Copies".

The initial phone call to Dave Zerfas found him both pleased and confused. What? Interest in the Zerfas LP 20 years later??? To be quite frank, we hadn't spoken to each other in 10 years, as we parted ways when I left the band in '81. But it was as if we had never been apart. Our mutual respect and trust for one another led to this official 2nd press, if you will, of the Zerfas LP.

Dave indeed had possession of the original master tapes, that is the source from which this re-issue was made. Special thanks for making them available to me.

Moe Whittemore was kind enough to let us resurrect the 700 West label and also provide valuable studio information from his personal archives for which we are ever so grateful.

Brian (Herman) Zerfas provided song by song musician line up and comments about each song with an occasional interjection by Dave Zerfas.

Special thanks to Stan Denski for his overall view of the genre and also for designing the poster to fit the feel and mode of the album, as well as his help in many aspects of this project.

The album was recorded using the anlog process every step of the way and pressed on 180 gram dye-colored virgin vinyl and packaged in high quality record jackets from Villa Platte (one of the last batches of covers to leave the factory before the fire).

The cover slicks were reproduced with strict attention to detail. Cover and back album art, as well as inner record label, are exact in color and info as the orginal. The only addition is the 1994 copyright, as well as a slight reduction of front and back cover size.

Note: In the trail-off groove in both sides of the LP is inscribed, "DELICATED TO THE MEMORY OF DENNY AND WALTER". Personally, I would have chosen a high school graduate to make these inscriptions, as they are supposed to read as follows: "DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF DANNY AND WALTER". Delicated is not a word and DANNY is spelled D-A-N-N-Y, just like on the FAX I sent to the New York pressing plant. BUH!!

This mistake is corrected on the poster included in this package. Danny traveled with the band and was a true brother to us all, especially to me. Walter was a close friend to us all and his impact and friendship will never be forgotten.

Along with all the info and poster, included is the official 8 X 10 promo photo of the band, sent out only with a few promo copies of the original LP.

The album re-issue has been limited to a 500 copy pressing to match the original release of 21 years ago. Each is hand numbered and will not be re-pressed. When these are gone, they're gone, as they say.

In closing, once again special thanks to Dave and Brian Zerfas and Steve Newbold, Moe Whittemore, producer, engineer and owner of 700 West Studios, Stan Denski of Impossible Records/OR Records and Rick Kingsley, President of Sun Press.

Please forward any comments, inquiries, questions, etc, to:

Howard Phillips
c/o Howard's Hard To Find Records
5436 N. Keystone Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220

Phone 1-317-253-0124

Mon. - Fri. 13:20 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.
Sat. 12:30 P.M./ - 6:00 P.M.

 
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