An Anthology of Massachusetts Rock ‘N’ Roll
The Improper Bostonians – “How Many Tears” / “I Still Love You” (Minuteman MA-207) Oct 1966
I think regular visitors to my blog realize by now that ’Flower Bomb Songs’ is not just about fuzz and farfisa combos but also long lost folk rock and pop groups that barely get a mention elsewhere. That’s why it’s time to take a look at The Improper Bostonians from Lynn, Massachusetts.
Scant information exists about this band who released 4 singles from the back end of 1966 to the end of ’67.
In the early 80s Star Rhythm Records released the compilation ’Bay State Rock – Volume 1: The Sixties’ that anthologised Massachusetts rock’n’roll from the mid 60s including great cuts by The Chessmen, The Rockin’ Ramrods, The Vikings and others. I was immediately drawn to the three Improper Bostonians selections and in particular ’How Many Tears’ a fabulous 12-string folk rock jangler.
According to the brief liners from the ’Bay State Rock’ compilation, The Improper Bostonians were the house band at the Ebb-Tide, Revere Beach in Massachusetts and it was during a performance there that they got noticed by an exec from Minuteman Records.
Promotional material described the band’s sound as having a hard ’Byrds’ sound. This is quite clearly evident on the stunning ’How Many Tears’ with it’s layers of jangle, harmonies and pop hooks. The flip of their debut 45 ’I Still Love You’ combines the Brit Invasion style with a tough Bo Diddley beat.
The 45 was a local hit in Boston and The Improper Bostonians were asked to come up with a radio jingle for Boston’s WRKO.
The band followed up the success of their first hit with a second single. ’Set You Free This Time’/’Come To Me Baby’ which also reached the top 20 on WRKO. The Byrds cover written by Gene Clark was a solid rendition with the requisite jangle and tambourine but it can’t compete with the original version. ’Come To Me Baby’ is commercial sounding pop. I actually prefer this than The Byrds cover.
For their third single for Minuteman Records they chose Neil Young’s ’Out Of My Mind’. This song had recently surfaced on the debut Buffalo Springfield album.
The Improper Bostonians stay faithful to the original but add ’Penny Lane’ style brass. The flip ’You Made Me A Giant’ is more Byrdsian style folk pop with more brass. It sounds like they took more time in the studio on these two cuts. According to the ’Bay State Rock’ liners the band travelled to New York City to record their music.
This record was a Billboard spotlight on 3rd June 1967.
’Gee, I’m Gonna Miss You’ released on Minuteman and Coral is too mushy for my tastes. The guy’s singing about his girl that he’s missing or has he been dumped by her? Either way, pull yourself together mate, there’s plenty more fish in the sea. No need to cry over spilt milk. The return to folk rock on the flip ’Victim Of Environment’ is WAY better.
The mushiness wasn’t too much for Graham Chapman who covered the song and had a 1968 hit in Australia. The release was on Columbia DO-8314 – Mark Anthony a.k.a. Pat Kearns, a singer from New Zealand also covered the song in ’69.
Apart from The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield covers all of their material was written by producer Bill Walsh and J. Ahern.
The Improper Bostonians were:
Dick Jeffrey (lead guitar)
Pat O’Connor (drums/vocals)
David Patterson (bass)
Peter O’Connor (rhythm guitar)
’How Many Tears’/’I Still love You’ (Minuteman MA-207) Oct 1966
’Set You Free This Time’/’Come To Me Baby’ (Minuteman MA-208) Jan 1967
’Out Of My Mind’/’You Made Me A Giant’ (Minuteman MA-209) June 1967
’Gee, I’m Gonna Miss You’/’Victim Of Environment’ (Coral 62543) 1967
If anyone knows anything else about The Improper Bostonians be sure to get in touch.
The Improper Bostonians played all three big weekends at the Alpha Chi Alpha house at Dartmouth during my senior year — 1966-67. They were a great party band. Don’t remember how they ended up at Dartmouth. One of the brothers probably discovered them at the Ebb Tide during a drunken road trip to Boston.
bamboo dartmouth class of 1969 : the band had a gal singer at the axa house as i recall… we had a wooden spindle that cable came wound on and we used it in front of the band to launch ourselves thru the suspended ceiling … they were truly a band that could rock the house.. and i don’t remember we ever landed back on the spindle table..
I am VERY proud to say that my dad, Thomas ”Joe” Ahern, co-wrote a lot of their original material (How Many Tears / Gee, I’m Gonna Miss You, etc).
Feel free to contact me if you’d like to get in touch with my dad. He’s been out of ”the business” for years and would love to hear from you!!