"Snow Children," a vintage LP by the
Houghton-based rock band the Kinetics, sold
on eBay last week for $1,300.
By STEVE SEYMOUR
A hard-to-find record album featuring cover songs performed by a vintage Upper Peninsula rock band fetched some nice money at auction recently.
"Snow Children," a mid-60s long-player released by the Five Kinetics, sold for $1,300 on Aug. 6.
The cleverly-titled platter received 13 bids when it was auctioned on eBay, the giant online site headquartered in San Jose, CA.
Based in the U. P. college town of Houghton, the group was founded as the Kinetic Energy and released their LP under the moniker the Five Kinetics. Fans, however, referred to the combo simply as the Kinetics.
The band was comprised of Frank Gallis (vocals), Chuck Roberts (drums), Mike Krenitsky (lead guitar), C. J. Lindecamp (bass) and George Tiggis (keyboards).
In his auction listing, the seller described the record and cover to be in very good plus condition. Although the owner didn't cite his source, he claimed that only about 10 copies are known to exist.
The Calument Theater
Many of the tracks were recorded live at the Copper Country's historic Calumet Theater, while "other cuts were done within a controlled recording environment," singer Gallis told me.
The album was produced by Fran Locatelli, a radio pioneer at radio station WHDF with studios in Calumet and at the Douglass House in Houghton, home to Michigan Technological University.
Containing a dozen cover songs, the Kinetics' LP perfectly captures the sound of the times.
For the album, the band recorded their own versions of memorable hit singles, most from the summer of 1966.
The disc opens with a raw interpretation of "Little Girl" by the Syndicate of Sound, a garage rock quartet hailing from San Jose. The original single peaked in the Top Ten during the summer of 1966.
Frontman Gallis sets the tone for the Kinetics version with some primal wailing.
The energy continues with "Black Is Black" which the Spanish group Los Bravos brought to No. 4. "Black is black. I want my baby back," Gallis pleads.
The Kinetics slow the pace with "Cherish," a chart-topper by The Association, an LA pop group.
"Mr. Dieingly Sad," is the fourth track on the record. The song was a hit for the Critters from Plainfield, N. J.
The Hollies, meanwhile, were the source for "Bus Stop." Based in Manchester, England, the tune was the first Top Ten hit for the British group.
A wild version of "You're Gonna Miss Me," closes side one of the Kinetics LP. Roky Erickson sang the original version of the tune for the Austin-based Thirteenth Floor Elevators.
The recording has a "jawdropping manic distortion solo for about a minute and a half," commented Patrick Lundborg, Aaron Milenski and Ron Moore in their book "Acid Archives."
The Kinetics open side two with their take on another No. 1 hit, "Poor Side of Town." The song was a career pinnacle for New York City native Johnny Rivers.
Another No. 1 follows with "Summer in the City," a frantic rocker by the Lovin' Spoonful, a jug band from New York City fronted by John Sebastian.
The Kinetics give a nod to the Michigan rock 'n' roll scene with "96 Tears" by Question Mark and the Mysterians, a punk rock band from Saginaw. The track, sung by Rudy "?" Martinez, was an early hit in Flint and Detroit before reaching No. 1 nationally in the fall of 1966.
Bobby Hebb's smash "Sunny" follows. Born in Nashville, Hebb's song was a tribute to his brother who was killed in a mugging.
The Kinetics chose another British band, The Who, for their next offering, covering the joyous rocker "The Kids Are Alright." Released on the Decca label in July, 1966 the single inexplicably failed to chart in the United States.
For the album's closer, the Kinetics turned to frat rock champions, the Kingsmen for "David's Mood." The instrumental work-out was originally the flipside to "Little Latin Lupe Lu," which the Portland, Oregon group released in 1964.
With recording completed, the Kinetics arranged to have their album released on the custom Record Publications Co. (RPC) label, headquartered in Camden, New Jersey. (The U. P.'s Wayfarers later issued their "Live" album on the same label.)
A colorful pink and turquoise cover was designed and the album was assigned catalog number 81262.
"We were seeking a recording contract and we thought we were at the top of our game at that point," vocalist and group founder Frank Gallis recalled.
Gallis said the Kinetics ordered 2,500 copies of the LP to sell at dances, distribute to disc jockeys, and give to record label representatives. Copies were also sold at various Copper Country retail outlets, Gallis said.
The Kinetics album was auctioned by Jim Oldsberg, a Minneapolis-area garage band enthusiast, known for getting hard-to-find Midwest vinyl.
He also offered a copy of the Kinetics first 45 rpm single. "I'm Blue"/"Feeling From My Heart" sold for $81.
Taped in Minneapolis, the songs appeared on the Studio City Records label in 1965. Both were written by drummer Chuck Roberts.
A second single, "Susie Q"/"Margaret Ann" was offered for sale on eBay by a different seller for $34.99. Issued in 1968 on Amy Records, the seven-incher was the only other vinyl product released by the Kinetics.
My collection includes both singles, but the LP has remained out of my grasp, and at $1,300, out of my financial range as well.
Still, Gallis was kind enough to provide me with a digital copy of all their recordings, including two unissued tracks, "Heat Ray" and "Dirty Old Man." Those songs were taped for a 45 follow-up to "Susie Q," but never released.
Although the sound they trumpeted with their "Snow Children" LP peaked commercially and artistically in the mid 1960s, the Kinetics created a garage-punk classic that has turned out to be a financial gem as well.