Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Locomotiv GT: Rock Yourself

I was looking for something in my rather large record collection yesterday and found a number of albums that I have forgotten to have owned. Unfortunately, after several moves, my collection has no discernible order. One album I found was a 1974 release on ABC Records for the Hungarian band Locomotive GT.

The album didn’t see much action in the US and this debut LP was a conglomeration of material from their first three albums that were released in their native Hungary. I first heard the band during the summer of 1974 on WZUM “Sweet 16 on your AM Dial” – so their advertisements on National Record Mart bags declared.

At that time, WZUM in Carnegie, Pennsylvania – a suburb of Pittsburgh – was owned and operated by NRM; hence, their ability to pay for such advertising in the Pittsburgh market – which was the 10th largest metro area in the US at the time. It has since dipped to the number 22 spot.

WZUM was not a powerhouse station. At 1,000 watts, this day timer was at the second worst spot on the AM band at the time – 1590 kHz. Living 13 miles to the east of downtown, I had a difficult time picking up the station; however, after 4PM in the afternoon, they played the most amazing music until signoff - which was as late as 8:30 during June. It was a limited time, free form, AOR format and the staff played music that was not heard on the two AOR FM stations in the market, WDVE and WYDD.

Throughout that summer, I heard Locomotiv GT on WZUM and I eventually bought the album at a used record store. The album is pretty good and the songs were mostly in English with some Hungarian lyrics thrown in for good measure. The album was produced by Jimmy Miller who had produced The Rolling Stones, Traffic, Blind Faith, and others during the period. Ex-Cream member Jack Bruce appears on one cut of the album playing harmonica. Miller himself, who lent his expertise with the cowbell to the Stones' “Honky Tonk Woman,” played percussion on Locomotiv GT's LP.

Our cut today, “Rock Yourself,” was the first single to be released from the album; however, it failed to chart. It was co-written by Anna Adamis – who was not a member of the band and Gabor Presser – the band’s keyboardist.

The song has a real fusion feel to it and features the alto sax of Thomas Somlo – who was also the band’s bassist and also was featured on electric violin and vocals. Thomas Barta is featured on guitar and vocals and Joseph Laux was the band’s drummer. A wah-wah pedal was used on the guitar and perhaps on the electric piano as well. “Rock Yourself” also features a mysterious conga player who is credited only as “XY.”

“XY” was probably someone who Jimmy Miller knew, but was under contract with another label. Some top contenders in my book would be Charlie Watts, Jim Capaldi, Rebop Kwaku Baah, or Jim Gordon. We may never know for sure. In the middle of the song, the band breaks into Hungarian. This was probably edited out of the American single, but I cannot say for certain as I don't have a copy of the single edit; however, it would make sense that would have been cut in the US. Enjoy this lost treasure from the early 1970s.

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