Here’s the last recording of the first version of The Ringos of Soul. Listen to it now or download and listen later.

BKR-88The Ringos of Soul was one of those bands that never really “broke up” but instead goes on periodic hiatus for extended periods of time. The first version of the Ringos lasted about 16 months between the springs of ’88 to the fall of ’89. It was a band born in a fever which was, in all honesty, hotter than a pepper sprout.

I had been working with some music business management folks in Minnesota when that scene was really hot and acts of all kinds were getting major label deals. Not me or my compatriots, mind you, but just about everybody else who had a guitar or was associated with Prince.

My business partners generated a wee bit of interest in my demos from labels, publishers and others who might make us some money. They booked a bunch of showcases to “get us to the next level.” The one tiny hitch in that plan–I didn’t actually have a band right then.

Since the business wouldn’t come to Oklahoma, my managers booked a tour for me throughout the Midwest so I could play some showcases in the Twin Cities where they could get the industry folks to get on a plane for. This sounded like a great idea despite my having no band and no money to stage a tour.

With this feat ahead, I came home from some demo sessions in Minneapolis with about three weeks to put together a band, a showcase set and figure out how to get us up I-35 to make the dates that would pay our way to Minneapolis in attempt to impress the industry nabobs. No. Big. Thing.

It’s amazing what’s possible when one has no options. I was a much younger man at the time which might explain how we were able not only make all the dates, but play pretty well and come home with just enough money for everybody to pay most of their rent. There were some miracles involved to be sure. However, where the angels fell short, we were plenty foolish to step in.

The gaping maw of the road somehow missed eating us alive that year and it wasn’t as though we didn’t give the old maw plenty of chances.The pace we set on that first tour didn’t slack much for at least the next year. Though the pay never got much better, our fearlessness and audacity took us all over the country. We played places so primitive the dressing rooms had dirt floors then followed the next night doing an opening slot in an arena with catering and stage hands and the whole BIG SHOW schtick.  It was a Huck Finn sort of time with danger, adventure, broken hearts, and flat tires.

For that first tour, there was virtually no time to really conceptualize who we were as a band beyond my notion that we were inventing what a kick-ass rock band from Oklahoma was. Since there were no templates, I believed we had the freedom to do anything as long as it was loud and rocked LAMF. That premise wasn’t far from wrong. We spent that year pretty well repeating that first month’s experience in a loop that left us broke in as many ways as one can break.

The Ringos came close to being the band we all wanted that year. Ultimately that illusive “getting to the next level” wasn’t a deal we could close. Que sera, and so on.

By Spring ’89, we were starting to figure out who we were and what we sounded like. I had started as the house engineer/producer at Rayl Studio in Norman, OK and was pretty happy with the sound I was getting on my first few sessions. I took the Ringos in to cut some of our recent compositions and “Bad Side of Me” is the only tune that survives from that session.

I still like this song for as much as what it represented for the band as what it is. This was the first song we wrote together instead of starting from one of my crappy demos. It hints at the potential I don’t think we got close to before this version of the band disintegrated a few months later and we began what became the version that made “Under the Double Eagle.”

Bad Side of Me was never properly mixed. This was a rough that I didn’t go back to finish because two comments from the band’s wet blanket took the piss out of the project for me. Those comments were: “Am I even playing on that song?” and “Could you have mixed it even brighter?”

All bands seem to have that one person who seems to exist only to pull everybody else down. No matter what happens, the blanket finds fault, is never loud enough, is never given the star turn they deserve, or any other number of complaints that one has to either address (a quixotic effort since the point isn’t really to address any particular issue, or ignore it and wait until the blanket becomes so alienated they either explode in fury and quit or explode in fury so you have to fire them.

What survives isn’t so bad.