SURDY GREEBUS - 'Nothing New Under The Sun'/'The Red Room' (Josie 45-983) 1967
I've had this strange sounding record for several years and did a little research at the time of purchase but found nothing. It appeared that Surdy Greebus would remain a mystery. However, earlier this month I took the record out of the box and remastered both sides then checked the internet hoping that some information had surfaced since my last search.
Sure enough the Buckeyebeat website have unearthed their story, indicating that Surdy Greebus were quite popular in their home area of Cincinnati but virtual unknowns outside of their usual confines apart from the odd gig in Louisville, KY.
'Nothing New Under The Sun', written by Eugene Katona (ex Them - not the Northern Ireland group) is perhaps the safer song and was chosen as the 'plug side' although I don't think it sounds that commercial. It's a folky mix of pop and psych but not really any particular bag, they generate quite a unique sound for 1967.
The flip, 'The Red Room' is very weird with strange rhythms and backwards guitar. I've got no idea what the song is about but it must mean something. Think of The Lovin' Spoonful mixing it up with the strangeness of Frank Zappa and you might get the idea.
I recently made contact with Surdy Greebus member Eugene Katona and I asked him about his time in the group.
"I was there with Stu Levy, Seymour Duncan, West Davis Tom Hogeback and Paulla Zalla. You are correct. We were very popular and like a bright flame we burned out quickly. The band lasted just over a year.
Seymour went to California and started Seymour Duncan Guitar Pickups Inc. Stu finished Medical School with his then girl friend and future wife Chris and they both moved to Portland Oregon and worked for Kaiser Permanente. West and Tom went to Alaska and managed Resorts and went fishing (caught huge Halibut) and hunting etc., Paula remarried and works with her church helping those in need. West now has moved near Albany New York and resides with Celeste Plowden, a lovely gal, and he still makes music and just released a CD called "Life Like Parts", which is very good.
Seymour Duncan, of course, played lead guitar & other guitar parts. Stu Levy played Rhythm Guitar. Tom Hogeback played Bass. West Davis played drums and I played 12 string Guitar and assorted other instruments. We also had an electric harpsichord and Paula played that along with another guy.
Every one sang and we often had 4 & 5 part harmonies such as on "No where man" and "And your bird can sing". Stu Levy sang all Jimi Hendrix songs. West Davis sang The Left Bank songs "Just Walk Away Rene" & "Pretty Ballerina" West had a beautiful, high tonal, voice. We often had acapella rehearsals in hallways & bathrooms, anywhere with a bit of echo or reverb, to make sure our harmonies were perfect and people who happened by while we were rehearsing in acapella were amazed at what they heard and that is partly how our following grew. You might want to post the flip side "The Red Room" just to demonstrate the psychotically weird side of the band. We had no fear whatsoever."
I found some Surdy Greebus gig adverts from the University of Cincinnati.
These adverts are from a late 1967 edition of the University's weekly newspaper.