All the Young Dudes; Part Five

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.”

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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Please stay tuned for Cullen’s tale after the Dudes and what affect the entire ordeal had on the rest of his life.

All the Young Dudes; Part Two

‘All the Young Dudes’ are a perfect example of what can happen when art and business meet. The right and left sides of the brain are in those positions for a reason …

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Henman

Wayne Cullen, one of the two drummers in the band, reminisces on what a drag the whole ordeal became;

“There were enough completed, fully-produced tracks for a second album.” Explains Cullen.” Columbia decided not to release another lp rather than spend more money promoting the band any further. This was a shame because the band was very happy with the work we had done for the second album.”

The band had produced six of the tracks on their own and another five tracks had been produced by the well-known production team of Ron and Howie Albert. Two brothers who had been engineers at Criterion Studios in Miami under the tutelage of Tom Dowd and Karl Richardson.

The siblings had participated in the recording of the Derek and the Dominoes’ song Layla as well as recordings by Stephen Stills, the Allman Brothers and others.

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Segarini

“The brothers were asked by Columbia to supervise the production of some tracks for us after Columbia decided the six we had produced ourselves were inadequate.” Says Cullen. “When the Albert Brothers listened to the same six tracks they wondered aloud why they were asked to preside. They believed the self-produced tracks were excellent and they doubted they would be able to improve on what they had heard.”

Despite Columbia not knowing what was right, the ‘Dudes’ gave their all and have nothing but fond memories of the time spent together. According to David Henman, most of the funny memories took.place on stage …

“The band was quite spontaneous. In the middle of a set, Segarini would suddenly request that a table and six chairs be brought on stage so we could just sit, drink and goof around. Sometimes, when we used to perform downtown Montreal at the Moustache club, the next days’ newspaper would often arrive. Segarini would aks for it to be brought to the stage, whereupon he would put his own spin on the stories”. Laughs Henman.

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The Bee Gees

One tale which Segarini or anyone else do not have to conjur was meeting and hanging out with the Bee Gees. A memory which floats dearly in Henman’s conscience.

“I was very sick during the Bee Gees tour.” Says David. ” Somehow, I always ended up in Barry Gibb’s hotel suite after the show sitting between him and his wife and passing out on his shoulder. We were fans before the tour and by the end, we practically idolized them. Barry, especially – one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. The effect they had on audiences was pure magic.”

David did not stay in contact with all the Bee Gees. Barry did invite him to le Studio in Morin Heights when he was recording the album “Nights on Broadway”.

Says Henman. “I sat with him at the console while he chain-smoked Panama Red and conducted a string section. He then went into the studio and without any warm up – sang like an angel.”

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Ian Hunter

Henman and his fellow ‘dudes’ also met Ian Hunter. David became acquaintances with the singer and an opportunity to replace future Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson in Hunter’s band presented itself. Unfortunately, Henman was too shy to grab the opportunity.

Following the release of their first album, ‘the dudes’ thought about re – recording their first record.. A record which had and continued to have so much promise.

“Bob was on the phone constantly”.Says Henman. “Demanding that we be able to at least re-mix that album. If I am not mistaken, the guys at le Studio in Morin Heights offered to re-mix it for free.” He continues. “I think at least one other studio in Montreal made that offer as well but we were up against Columbia Records, a gigantic corporation at that time. We were told: “hey, Columbia Records insists that this album is going to be a huge hit and, well, they oughta know…” so, we backed down…”

Henman’s advice to young musicians and the lessons learned;

” If you are the artist, you should make the rules…”

Please stay tuned for more on ‘ the Dudes’..

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