According to Wayne Cullen – being a member of the Dudes was a very heady experience to be involved with …
“I was the youngest in the group (Brian Greenway a year or two older, I think). One thing after another added to the giddiness we eluded. The amount of press we received, The Phonograph Record article that Gary Sperrazza wrote that producer Mark Spector read and generated his interest. The showcase in Toronto where a slew of potential management teams showed up. Signing with Fred Heller, Nat Weiss, recording the album, touring with the Bee Gees, etc.”
Once the album was finished, Cullen days it was he who was the first to declare the disc sounded like ‘ crap ‘.
“This was a few days after Spector had played the final mix for us at volume 11 in Le Studio’s control booth. Raffi would sound like The Beatles in those circumstances.” Says Wayne.
The band members all received cassette copies and after a couple of listens, according to Cullen, it sounded so thin and lacking in energy.
“Our demos sounded far better. I did not believe the lack of dynamism could be explained by the performance of the band. I thought everything was sounding good until the mix (executed without any band involvement by Spector and his personal engineer, even excluding the house engineer.)”
He goes on …
“We agreed to being shut out from the mixing process reluctantly, to a degree, because we trusted Spector. Everything he had done to this point had matched our vision. There was no reason to believe this would suddenly stop.”
In retrospect, Cullen does recall expressing his displeasure with the song selection. He expressed his opinion to Spector and probably Bob and others that he was not keen on some of the song selection. Deeper and Deeper, Got Me Where You Want Me and Saturday Night were songs which Cullen thought were weak.
“I thought we should have included Teenage Love, Juvenile Delinquent and Meet Me After School or Sugar. These songs represented our live act much more than the three I mention above that were ultimately included.”
The band had never performed Saturday Night or Deeper and Deeper up to that point. In addition, Teenage Love and Juvenile Delinquent were the group’s signature showcase songs. The Dudes’ equivalent of Yes’ Roundabout or The Eagles’ Hotel California.
” In addition Teenage Love and Juvenile Delinquent had never been released by The Wackers. They had been recorded for Wack n Roll which was never released. (In any case, The Dudes live versions actually surpassed The Wackers’ recorded versions, in my opinion.)”
Cullen continues his explanation of a disappointing product.
“Meet Me After School and Sugar were David Henman compositions that I loved. Our demo of Meet Me After School could have probably been included on the album without re-recording. It was phenomenal. My vision was a rock n roll album that reflected more who we were live.”
Wayne says that Spector thought the newer Segarini black music-influenced songs would set them apart and create a breakthrough in the industry. Segarini, the band’s creative genius, was also keen on including his most recent compositions rather than the older ones.
“He was definitely in a different space, writing-wise. I felt we could branch out into the more varied repertoire after establishing ourselves as a potent rock band to begin with. We already had three different singers/songwriters, and the diversity is what was attractive. Some homogeneity would help – I thought.”
In a nutshell, Cullen says that at their primal selves, the Dudes ‘live’ were a rock n roll band. As the youngest and least experienced – being only one of two drummers, Cullen’s opinions didn’t gain the upper hand.
“We tried to persuade Spector to re-mix the album, then the higher-ups at Columbia. All in vain. They had spent a lot of money already and didn’t want to extend any further. I remember speaking to Spector by phone and telling him what I thought about the sound of the record. He said he had played it over and over and believed it compared favourably with state of the art recordings of the day (Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles’ Hotel California were two he mentionned).”
Cullen says nothing could be done. The abysmal album cover art was also finalized without any band input.
The album was released in Sept 1975 and sold 10,000 units. Cullen recalls
most of the sales were American and the single -‘ Saturday Night’ received airplay in various pockets.
Columbia was down about $175,000.
Please stay tuned for Cullen’s tale after the Dudes and what affect the entire ordeal had on the rest of his life.