Saturday 4 July 2009

Dr. Music - Dr. Music I

Dr. Music1972

87 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from GRT 9233-1003

Thanks once again for your patience, friends! It's recently been pretty much impossible to give Soundological the attention it requires but now that things are slowing down for a few months I'll be throwing down some new posts, post-haste. Hot on the heels of Canada Day, we're going to focus on Doug Riley and his Dr. Music project and along the way drop a handful of blogland exclusives and links to lots of goodies elsewhere.

Doug Riley is
a name you may find familiar since it's been attached to almost all of the Moe Koffman posts that have proven to be popular on Soundological. However, while little known outside of his home country, Riley is probably one of the most prominent figures in the Canadian music industry and a fixture in the Canadian psyche. Even hosers who have no idea who buddy is would probably recognise his radio and TV jingles (especially the ones for the iconic Labatt's beer brand) which dominated the airwaves in the 60s and 70s. He's also internationally regarded as one of the hands-down masters of the Hammond B3 organ, receiving Jazz Report magazine's Organist of the Year award for eight consecutive years from 1993 - 2000. If you doubt his chops, check him out below holding his own against organ giants Joey Defrancesco and Dr. Lonnie Smith.

Paul Schaffer, Joey DeFrancesco, Doug Riley, and Dr. Lonnie Smith
cookin' it up on the B3's in 2006 on the Canada's Walk of Fame special.

Music starts at 2:00 so ffwd if you don't love Schaffer's voice as much as he does.

Dr. Music was a freeform jazz/R &B/pop ensemble along the lines of Lighthouse, Blood Sweat & Tears and early Chicago and it was the brainchild of Doug Riley, who was a brain child himself. Riley was born April 24th in 1945 with perfect pitch and polio, the former explains him starting his training in classical piano at the age of three and the latter kept him at home for hours on end listening to records for much of his youth. He grew up idolizing stride and boogie-woogie pianists like Meade Lux Lewis, James P. Johnson, Albert Ammons and Fats Waller, who were mainstays in his father's 78 collection. His higher-education years were spent in the Montreal area learning pipe organ from Harry Duckworth and piano from Oscar Peterson's teacher, Paul DeMarky.

He then returned to the Toronto area in the mid-60s and became a part of its vibrant music scene, playing with many artists that would go on to international acclaim, among them Neil Young, Buffy Ste. Marie, Joni Mitchell, RIck James, The Band and Steppenwolf. In fact, one of Doug's closest friends and member of his first real band, The Silhouettes, was David Clayton-Thomas from Blood , Sweat & Tears. He also found success writing hundreds of jingles for TV and radio, especially the aforementioned beer brands. As destiny would have it, beer jingles would bring Riley across the pond to meet British engineer/producer Terry Brown, who would start a studio with him in Toronto.

He had what he called "the biggest break of my life" when he was hired to be the second keyboardist and arranger for another hero, Ray Charles, on the Doing His Thing album in '68. Riley checked Charles as his "first influence outside of boogie-woogie and stride pianists" saying he was "enthralled by his jazz, blues, and gospel music and really his roots and my roots were the same." That obscure session from Charles' voluminous discography is also notable for the fact that all tracks were written by unsung soul sultan Jimmy Lewis (check Totally Involved at Funk My Soul for more on him), who provided vocals as well. Charles actually asked Doug to join the band, but he declined and chose to remain in the Great White North. Whether he knew it at the time or not, this decision would ultimately seal Riley's fate as one of the most influential, and arguably the most widely-loved and respected, member of
the Canadian music industry. You might call him the anti-David Foster.
Ray Charles - If It Wasn't For Bad Luck

Grab Doing His Thing from Soundological HERE or HERE.
(NB: Not my rips, pulled from slsk, 256 VBR)

After his experience with Ray, he traveled to London to record some beer jingles with Terry Brown (who worked on albums by The Who, Dave Clarke, Donovan, The Animals, Rolling Stones, Procol Harum and other A-list British Invasion acts) they become partners and opened Toronto Sound Recording, a studio whose clientele consisted mostly of acts signed to fledgling GRT Records. Brown recounts the story in the bio on his website as follows:
With two studios running around the clock it seemed as if (London) was where the pop scene began and ended! The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Jimmy Hendrix, Procul Harum, The Small Faces, Manfred Mann and then as if out of nowhere a group of Canadians breezed into town to record a pool of beer spots for Canadian radio. Under the leadership of Mort Ross and Doug Riley we recorded non-stop for a week, sessions that were refreshingly up-beat, but had little to do with British pop and all the while Morgan (Studio) was taking shape; piece by piece equipment was arriving and walls were going up and treatments were being applied. Then all of a sudden we were ready to open the doors and begin recording with a Scully 8-track recorder and the first CADAC console — Andy Johns was hired as tape—op (not for long I might add- he had big plans!) and I was recording ‘The doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse’ with The Bonzos and Gus Dudgeon producing, ‘Feeling Alright’ with Traffic and mixing Joe Cocker’s ‘With a little help from my friends’- we were off to a flying start!

It was then that the ‘Canadian Connection’ began to take shape with a phone call to Doug Riley which was really more social, but saw me heading out to Toronto during a quiet week and recording more beer spots. Beer! I could think of worse reasons to head to North America. We recorded all week, but I did get to savour the local music scene which, although small, was vibrant. The recording studios were few and far between and even then had very little of the gear I had become accustomed to using. Once back in London I missed the gang in Canada and we hatched a plan to build a studio/label to operate out of Toronto and to open in the fall of ’69.

Our first band was Motherlode and our first hit was ‘When I Die’; then came Dr. Music, a 15 piece big band and a national hit this time with ‘Sun Goes By’. I engineered sessions for April Wine, The Stampeders, Michel Pagliaro, Moe Koffman (the theme for "As it Happens" is still on CBC), we recorded the music for a number of TV shows including Sony and Cher and Ray Stevens and I found myself consulting the audio on the Kenny Rogers series among others.

In case you're wondering why a producer of Canadian beer jingles would go all the way to the UK just to record some commercials, it was pretty much what you'd have to do if you wanted orchestral elements in your recorded music. Thanks to musician union rates in Canada (and Ontario specifically) in the 60s, it was actually cheaper to fly to Britain, hire a world-famous studio and employ an orchestra there than it was to pay a symphony the scale rate for a few afternoons in Canada.
Riley had been a behind-the-scenes guy on television shows as a music director and when he put together a band for the 1969-1970 season of CTV's The Ray Stevens Show (yes, the guy responsible for "The Streak" was given his own show up here) it was the core of what would become Dr. Music. Following the cancellation of the show, the ensemble remained together for the purposes of recording and touring. However, they would stay on the back-burner studio-wise for a couple years while other ambitions came to fruition although many of the original members would regularly pop up on various projects in the interim.

One of those was Riley's first full-length album, the soundtrack to 1971 Canadian sex-romp comedy Foxy Lady. It also happened to be the debut directing effort of Ivan Reitman, who you may remember as the man responsible for Meatballs, Stripes and Ghostbusters. It's another rare record and highly sought-after among collectors and DJs alike, the latter looking for it on account of the Jimmy Smith-like scorcher Savin' Grace (available on canuck funk compilation Canadian Racer at Boogie No More). Riley employed Dr. Music vocalists Terry Black, Diane Brooks and Rhonda Silver (apocryphally the Rhonda in the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda") but until I get my hands on an actual copy, I can't confirm any other players involved since I can't seem to find much info. All told, he scored a total of six flicks, most for Reitman in the early part of their careers.
Doug Riley - Savin' Grace
Get Foxy Lady courtesy of Soundological HERE or HERE.
(NB: Not my rips, pulled from slsk, 192 CBR)

It was actually Riley who approached GRT with the idea of arranging classical music in a modern (read "fusion") jazz context, cementing a long-term musical relationship with GRT artist Moe Koffman that would give the label Moe Koffman Plays Bach in 1971 and nine albums until the label's shuttering in '79. Having previously released Foxy Lady on GRT, and seeing some critical and commercial success with his initial Koffman gambit, Riley was able to secure Dr. Music's self-titled debut LP on the label in 1972. It included the singles "Try A Little Harder," a gospel-inflected rocker and "Sun Goes By," a laid-back slice of West coast-type harmonies that hit it fairly big in Canada. Both tracks were written by Motherlode member Steve Kennedy. Another Motherloder, Kenny Marco, was also part of the line-up but this first version of Dr. Music disbanded shortly after and Riley concentrated on the success of his new studio.

Pulling focus for a moment, Steve Kennedy has an interesting history beyond Motherlode and Dr. Music. As one of the musicians toiling away in Toronto's seminal scene during the late 60s, Kennedy worked closely with Robbie Robertson before the latter hooked up with Ronnie Hawkins as a member of Levon & The Hawks (who would later become The Band) and he was also involved with Lighthouse, which was started by Skip Prokop (who turned down drummer duties in what was to become Big Brother & The Holding Company in order to do so) and Howard Shore (the first musical director of Saturday Night Live and currently a major tinseltown soundtrack composer).

He even earned a credit on Funkadelic's America Eats Its Young, which was partially recorded in TO after George Clinton high-tailed it up there with Bernie Worrell to live for a year or so when things in Detroit got too hairy for the ex-barber
and his bandmates.
The 'delics recorded their single Baby, I Owe You Something Good there in 1972 and Kennedy, along with fellow Dr. Music singer Diane Brooks, contributed backing vocals. George and the boys were also on one helluva binge, taking advantage of Canada's high quality recreational chemicals. This was a rabbit hole from out of which vocalist/guitarist Tawl Ross just couldn't crawl and he became a burnt-out husk who never returned to reality, let alone the studio. Billy Nelson recounts the story to Rob Bowman in the liner notes for the 1992 compilation Music For Your Mother - Funkadelic 45s :

It's a horrible story. They used to play dare games with drugs, with acid and speed. They all dared each other. We were up in London, Ontario. There were these guys following us around. They had this pure methedrine which is like pure speed, and acid, yellow sunshine to be exact. I was right there when they did the dare. George took what looked like about three (tabs of acid), Grady took what looked like about three, Fuzzy took about three and Tawl took damn near a whole handful. I would say he dropped at least six tabs of acid at one time, enough to kill somebody. It was lucky there was no speed or strychnine in it. It was just pure acid. We were getting it like that.

Fuzzy and Grady spit theirs out. I stood there and watched them. After Tawl took the acid, then he started snorting this raw speed. He just snort it and snort it and snort it. When the acid set in, he just started going wild with it. I managed to take that away from him because we were in the same (hotel) room. I flushed it down the toilet.

While Tawl was going through all those changes, he was hallucinating so bad that I could see the hallucinations. I could see him sitting in the hotel room talking to his mother who had been dead for at least seven or eight years. I had a little acid in myself so I could actually see what he was seeing. You talk about somebody having a harrowing experience. It was like spooky. All the hair on my body was standing up straight. I could actually see him leaning over a coffin talking to his mother and his mother leaning out of the coffin talking to him. That's the kind of conversation he was having. He never played again with nobody. That was it. When he got to that gig Tawl was totally out of it and he stayed that way. He never came back, period.
Kennedy's street cred was certified when a couple samples from the first Motherlode album, which of course was arranged and co-produced by none other than Riley, were employed by elite hip-hop producers. Foremost were J Dilla, who used their hit When I Die, and DJ Shadow and DJ Premier, who were both partial to the break that kicked off Soft Shell.

Strike Motherlode's first two albums, When I Die and Tapped Out, HERE or HERE.
(NB: Not my rips, pulled from slsk, 192 CBR)

Although the Canadian radio success
Dr. Music had seen with their Kennedy-penned tunes in '72 didn't go global, Riley seemed to have the golden touch that year, arranging Edward Bear's schmaltzy Billboard Top 10 hit "Last Song." The Jacques Brel/Rod Mckuen cover wasn't the first time one of the projects with which Riley was involved made it on the U.S. charts (When I Die hit #18 on Billboard in '69) and it wouldn't be the last.

According to the Canadian Pop Encyclopedia, "by 1973 Riley had assembled the second version of Dr. Music featuring a smaller 7-piece lineup which was essentially a retrofitted version of the ever evolving Motherlode and Lighthouse line-ups. The new group was received enthusiastically and they successfully completed a Western tour, an Eastern tour and a new album - Dr. Music II - before calling it quits in early 1974."

On the next episode of Soundological...

Riley returned to arranging, producing and working on TV and in 1973 reformed Dr. Music to fulfill house band duties on
CBC's Keith Hampshire's Music Machine, a Don Kirshner-type affair which featured early live broadcast performances from Canadian bands like April Wine, Lighthouse and Rush. During the second season of the show the group headed back into the studio and recorded a third album, Bedtime Story. Longtime members Steve Kennedy, Don Thompson, Doug Mallory, Keith Jollimore and Barrie Tallman, all formidable jazz musicians, continued to form the backbone of the unit but on this album were really able to flex their tech and prove their talents moreso than their earlier outings.

Unlike the song-centred R&B-tinged flavour of the previous two releases, the third was in a more progressive jazz-rock fusion vein and was primarily instrumental. It also bore the influence of Zawinul-era Miles Davis & Weather Report and the title track was a Herbie Hancock cover from what is considered the first album of his Mwandishi phase, Fat Albert Rotunda. Obviously Riley had added a couple keyboard heroes to his pantheon and kept his ear to the ground for new developments in many musical milieus.

Coming soon...

That iteration of the band didn't last long after the third LP and Riley found himself busy as always composing, arranging, producing and recording as a musician. His prolific output in the next few years included more Moe Koffman as well as stints with other Canadian icons Klaatu, Anne Murray, Sylvia Tyson, Dan Hill and Gordon Lightfoot. He also released another album under his own name, Dreams, on Gene Perla's PM Music label in 1976. This was a straight-up jazz affair and featured his deft touch on the Rhodes.

Doug Riley - In My Life

Still-sealed vinyl copies are available at PM Music's website for $15 - less than most used copies I've seen in stores! You can also buy the album in mp3 version for a measly $6!

A great example of his
barrelhouse stride-playing style was recorded during this period on a track named Little Miss Evil which highlights his talent by stereo-separating Riley's left and right hands in the mix. It appeared on an album by Canadian guitar god Walter Rossi (ex-Wilson Pickett and Buddy Miles' Express), the self-titled debut Walter Rossi. BTW, Rossi gives good quote and this is one of my favourites from him:
"Music is like the Universe, it has no beginning and it has no end, so much to learn, and so much to experience. How can anyone say they were at their creative peak? If you admit to that you obviously have or have had limitations in your creative process."
Riley also laid down some killer B3 work on Nils Lofgren's Nils and he had a hand in what might be Ringo Starr's worst album (an accomplishment in itself when you think about it), the perennially-panned Bad Boy. Although it's generally accepted that Doug played on some of the tracks that were recorded in Toronto, he doesn't receive a credit outside of arrangements.

Of more interest to most readers of this blog would be his responsibility for arranging and playing the bulk of keyboards on the Brecker Brothers' Don't Stop The Music and Tornader's Hit It Again, both from 1977. Tornader was headed by Sandy Torano and Larry Alexander (Brass Construction, BT Express) and also featured the Breckers as well as Joe Beck and Johnny Winter along with a hoser horn section including Moe Koffman, Dr. Music veteran Keith Jollimore and Guido Basso (with whom Riley would release an excellent album of B3 and flugelhorn duets called A Lazy Afternoon in 2003).

Most notably, at least as far as the radio is concerned, he's the man that tickled the ivories on Bob Seger's best song (for my money anyway), the title track from Night Moves. It proved to be a popular staple on AM, hitting #4 on the Billboard singles chart upon its release and propelling the album, the first one backed by The Silver Bullet Band, to #8 that year. That smash hit single was actually recorded in Toronto and also features Dr. Music singers Rhonda Silver and Laurel Ward on backing vocals. 

It's likely the geographical proximity of hogtown to Detroit played a big part in Doug's appearance on a consecutive run of the three Seger albums that rounded out the 70s. His close pal, David Clayton-Thomas, also credits him with playing the piano on Old Time Rock 'n' Roll but the album notes don't seem to back up his claim so taking his word for it might be risky business.

After a 10-year hiatus, Dr. Music (or at least Riley and some dudes - the only returning member was vocalist Terry Black from the first line-up) made what seems a half-hearted attempt at a comeback in the early 80s with their now rare and expensive mini-LP Dr. Music (circa '84). Even in Canada that one went pretty much unnoticed save for the track "Two Can Play," a nice little slice of boogie and a fave among DJs in the know for some time. If anyone has a copy to share, Soundological would love to have a listen!

Dr. Music - "Two Can Play" from Dr. Music (circa '84)
Update May 24, 2013: LP now available HERE (not my rip)

After that, Doug pretty much stuck with classical and straight-ahead jazz for the rest of his life until he passed away in 2007.
He wrote three ballets for the Canadian National Ballet, composed the music for The Famous People Players, conducted and arranged both the London Symphony Orchestra and Placido Domingo and was involved on an organizational level with many Canadian jazz festivals. He continued to play live throughout that time and loved nothing better than laying down some soul-jazz on the B3 in a smoky jazz club. 

If you search his name on YouTube you can see a lot of clips from these types of gigs, as well some retrospectives from a lot of the bands with whom he worked. Obviously, with hundreds, even thousands, of other obscure credits over a 45-year career, this lengthy post is far too short to tell the whole story of the man they called Dr. Music. We'll finish off with one of the better videos out there to capture the arc of his career.

Doug Riley - keyboards
Doug Mallory - lead vocals, guitar
Michael Kennedy - vocals, percussion
Steve Kennedy - vocals, tenor & alto sax, flute
Keith Jollimore - vocals, baritone, alto & tenor sax, flute
Barrie Tallman - trombone

Don Thompson - bass
Gary Morgan - clarinet, sax, flute

Brian Russell - guitar
Terry Clarke - drums
Kenny Marco - guitar

Laurel Ward - vocals
Rhonda Silver - vocals
Brenda Gordon - vocals
Terry Black - vocals
Diane Brooks - vocals
Trudy Desmond - vocals

1 Rollin' Home
2 Sun Goes By
3 One More Mountain To Climb
4 Find Me Some Wine
5 When You Believe
6 Glory Glory
7 Try A Little Harder
8 Dreams
9 Don't Wait Too Long
10 Road To Love

Get the Dr.'s remedy from Soundological HERE. (link updated May 23, 32103)

Special thanks to old school Canadian music journo Larry LeBlanc as well as The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia, from which a huge chunk of the above info was pulled. Other sources referenced where you can learn more about Doug Riley include AllAboutJazz, The Canadian Music Scene, his Wikipedia page and his obituary by CBC.


free bones said...

so glad you're back!

yay! thanks for this huge, informative, and generous post.

viva soundological!

cheeba said...

thanks free bones! it's folks like you who make it a pleasure to keep posting!

btw, i especially appreciated your thoughtful contributions in the comments to the black jazz post.

Vincent Groove said...

Good to have you back, buddy!

E-mile said...

hi Cheeba, good to see your back on your feet! Now, THIS was a nice reading!!! (again) Will check the good doctor's medicine when I come back from work tonight, thanks in advance :-)
peace, E-mile

cheeba said...

Thanks guys!

Glad you enjoyed the read, E-mile! Thanks for mentioning it.

Reza said...

Yaay where you been !
Hope your ok mate sorry about all your probs, have had some myself in the past
I am delighted to see you back up and running :)

Simon666 said...

Very excited to see you back here, looking forward to digging in here more ... jesus what a post, it's longer than some of mine! :) Seriously though, great work cheeba :)

cheeba said...

@Reza, thanks for the support! No worries, problems were a drag like they always are but this absence was mostly due to lack of time.

@Simon, it's high praise indeed coming from you and greatly appreciated! Hope you had a good time with Ioan!

Simon666 said...

Thanks cheeba - yep, 4 days of intensive fatherhood, great stuff, now back to the grind :)

el goog said...

Wow Cheeba, I am very glad to see you back here :)

MFS Equipe ♪ said...

Finally you're back, Thanks God!

Keep up mate!



Captain Beyond said...

Thanks SO much, I've been on the lookout for these releases for a while....

Cpt. Beyond

cheeba said...

Wow eG & JP, I feel the love and it's humbling! It's so nice to receive a welcoming like this, I only hope I can make it worth the while for y'all!

aar0n said...

Worth the while?

I've learned more from your postings and email correspondence (btw... thank you for not folding, esp to an idiot like that Jimmy H. jr)than from months of crate digging and record store chat. Your effort would be a perfect example/reference point of the value music blogs and music sharing offer to the world.
Thanks again! Your work is much appreciated.

Arkadin said...

Hard to keep pace with your posts - what a productive comeback! And a very welcome one, too, that goes without saying :)
So let's start with Dr. Music I - thanks a lot!

cheeba said...

Aw shucks, aar0n! Thanks very much for your comment. Although I do this regardless of whether I get thanked or not, that's the type of feedback that makes it worth MY while! Much appreciated!

cheeba said...

@Arkadin, you know you keep me on my toes, too - especially at the shack! Hope you enjoy some of the Dr. Music and see you at the Ark!

non sequitur said...

countless thanks and endless appreciation. have been a long time doug/ fan. this is a fantastic post. great work!!

cheeba said...

you're very welcome and thanks for the praise, non sequitur!

Ron said...

Thanks, the link's still working. I haven't heard this in years. Much appreciated.

cheeba said...

Enjoy, Ron! Thanks for the heads up on the link, too. Being one of the lengthier posts, I would probably re-up if needed...

Anonymous said...

needed indeed.

Anonymous said...

For more Reily/Kennedy,check out David Bradstreet's "Dreaming in Colour" title track.

cheeba said...

better late than never i hope

updated all Dr Music links today