“Randee Ram-Jet” / “Takin’ Life Easy” (A&M 889) 1967
I bought this single years ago because I was intrigued by the title ’Randee Ram-Jet’. What the hell did that mean? Also the name of the artist was unknown to me and I’d never heard it before so buying the record was a risk. But I like taking risks when I buy records and I’m sure it’s one of the unwritten rules when you’re a record collector anyway.
I need not have worried. It’s a GREAT record. Both sides are excellent in their own way. ’Randee Ram-Jet’ is something of a thrill ride with it’s eager bursts of psych guitar and pounding bass. Not much music sounded like this in America during 1967 (if any).
The flip ’Takin’ Life Easy’ is a totally different trip with it’s laid back hippie vibe. I’d place the sound of this side akin to the folk psych approach of Donovan circa 1966/67. It’s certainly well produced with no expense spared. Overall, two cool sides and a single worth hunting down.
Lyn LaSalle a.k.a. Scooder LaSalle recently contacted me by email and he was kind enough to answer my questions about the 45 and I’m pleased to say furnished me with some excellent information.
SCOODER: ”Takin’ Life Easy/Randee Ramjet’ has a pretty interesting story. It was originally recorded at Dove Studios in Minneapolis Minnesota. The A&R guy who had arranged the horns had a nervous breakdown and stole the master tape and we couldn’t find him or the tape for nine months.
The music scene was changing during that time and I think the songs would have done better here in the USA if it had been released right after the recording session. When we finally found the guy and the tape we had it pressed under our own label, it was called Hy Nibble and had a picture of a giraffe on it. Some disc jockey friends of mine really liked the songs and sent a copy to A&M records in Hollywood.
I was really surprised to get a call from Larry Alpert, Herbs brother, and he asked me if I wanted to have the songs on A&M. We actually made money on the Hy Nibble label and paid back our recording costs. A&M never paid me any royalties although the record was really big in the mid-west and played on the radio from New York to San Diego. There are some other weird things that happened in those days too – after all it was the 60s.
My music career has been interrupted a couple of times but I’m writing songs and have a small recording studio in my house. I also have a tape of another record that my band Daybreak recorded shortly after the A&M one, it was not national but was played regionally here in Minnesota – but you might like it if I can find it.
I really never cashed in on the gigs I could have played as an A&M artist because my music style had changed so the agents were not billing me as an A&M recording artist. Just as my band.
So what was ’Randee Ram-Jet’ about?
’Randee Ramjet’ was the nickname I had given my ex-wife Randee – Roger Ramjet was a cartoon character from the 60s – Only the Ramjet name has anything to do with the cartoon”
It’s not easy to tell you the time frame of ’Takin’ Life Easy’/’Randee Ramjet’ it was such a long time ago. I’m thinkin’ that we must have recorded it in the spring of ’66 as the tape was stolen and gone for 8-9 months. I’m pretty sure I signed the contract with A&M in December so that would mean that the record was released in the spring or summer of ’67.
However, there had to be some time when the songs were on the Hy Nibble label but I know they were not on Hy Nibble very long before I signed the contract.”
Can you remember the recording session?
”I was playing in a band called The Green Apple Quick Step at the time and living in Duluth. The band consisted of me on guitar Chet Terwey on drums and Bunny Waterhouse on bass guitar. We brought one of our friends with us to play keys on ’Takin’ Life Easy’ his name is Gary Mernicki I’m not sure if I spelled his name right.
The reason the songs came out in my name is because the band fired me before we got the master tape back, another set back for fame and fortune. I think they were pretty discouraged and didn’t think we would ever get the master back. Roger was the guy who stole our tape and he brought in the horn players and the violin player I think it was a trumpet a sax and the violin player and then they overdubbed.
This was all done on a 4 track 1 inch recording deck. I can’t remember Rogers last name, (haha trying to forget) he was a radio DJ in Superior Wisconsin. It was really a good session, everybody was pumped for it. Me and Bunny and I think Chet did the backup vocals, mostly me and bunny because we were the main singers in he band.
Bunny died a couple of years ago shortly after we did a reunion in one of the Duluth Nightclubs. It was a fun reunion as Dave Dudley was there. He is famous for his country song Six Days On The Road. And his guitar player was there with his own band a guy named Johnny Voight not the same one as the movie actor. John developed the finger popping guitar style on Six Days On The Road”.
What about Daybreak?
”Daybreak was a band I played with in Minneapolis it was also a 3 piece band. We had one regional single out on the Chesterfield label. I don’t have any of the records but the songs were on the old tape I told you about. ’She’s An Illusion’/’Evil Eyed Woman’ were the song names. I looked for the tapes and haven’t been able to find them”.
Any other memories of those days?
”I was probably still playing with the Green Apple in part of ’66. We played some clubs in Duluth and Superior. We mostly played the Kasbar Lounge in Duluth MN and Darlene’s Lounge in Superior Wi. Superior is right across the St Louis River from Duluth. The St. Louis River flows into Lake Superior.
We also opened for The Lovin’ Spoonful on a short concert tour and opened at the Duluth Arena Auditorium for The New Vaudaville Band. Just before the Green Apple fired me I played a short concert tour with Sonny and Cher as their lead guitar player it consisted of Duluth and Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg Opera House is probably the most beautiful place I have ever played, it was totally awesome. When I moved to Minneapolis (don’t know exactly when), I did a solo act for awhile and was also playing with Daybreak.
I kept running into John Denver who at the time lived in Edina Mn, a suburb of Minneapolis he would come into this little taco joint where I was doing a solo and watch me sing. A friend of mine got me a solo gig in Aspen for a whole season and Denver was playing in the club right below me. I was playing Cyrano’s and John was playing at the Leather Jug. They are actually in Snowmass Colorado nine miles up a mountain from Aspen.
Later on I went on to doing some demo work for Mercury Records and some commercials at Universal studios in Chicago”
Originally posted on ’Flower Bomb Songs’ January 2011
”Takin’ Life Easy” was/is the much better side of this record. We played the record at KIOA Radio in Des Moines where I was a jock. The record really was good enough to have been a major hit. I don’t know how much of a push A&M did for the single, but they had a solid side to promote, so I’m guessing it got lost in the shuffle. (calindesmoines)