Friday, September 09, 2016

THE LEASEBREAKERS go brassy with The Beatles HELP

Back in September of 1965, just about any cash-in on The Beatles was bound to get some airplay. There are plenty of bootleg CDs just loaded with songs about The Beatles, songs by groups trying to sound like The Beatles, as well as novelty cover versions of Beatles tunes.

One that has been overlooked, is The Leasebreaker’s version of “Help,” produced for United Artists by Gerry Granahan. No, that's not the surviving Leasebreakers in the photo. It's Gerry and two other survivors of the golden age of transistor radio-driven pop songs.

Born in Pittston, Pennsylvania (April 20, 1932), he worked both as a disc jockey and as a singer in local Poconos and Catskills resorts. A labelmate of Bobby Darin’s at Atco circa 1957, he struggled for a few years, under his own name, as well as aliases Jerry Grant and Nick Rome. He then became Dicky Doo and with his group, The Don’ts, and scored with the single “Click-Clack,” inspired by his pal Bo Diddley.

This was followed by the peculiar “Nee Nee Na Na Na Na Nu Nu” (which was covered by Jonathan Winters!) and, once again using his own name, “No Chemise Please.” He juggled concert dates as both Gerry Granahan and Dicky Doo & The Don’ts. He also produced singles for The Fireflies. At 28, he formed his own label, Caprice Records, and allied himself with other new talents, including Sonny Bono and Mac Davis. He discovered Janie Grant, and her song “Triangle” became his label’s first Top 40 hit. His next discovery was James Ray, who had a hit with “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody.” Ray’s album included a song called “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You,” which became a hit album track for George Harrison some 26 years later.

Though Caprice Records folded in the mid-60’s, Granahan had no trouble finding a new home. It was at United Artists. Granahan produced hits for Jay and the Americans there, and guided the singing career of TV sitcom star Patty Duke. He also produced the comedy albums of Pat Cooper, and a single called “Wild Thing,” for a group called The Wild Ones. Yeah, it became a hit for The Troggs. The label owned the soundtrack to The Beatles’s “A Hard Days Night” film, and eventually Gerry got around to covering The Beatles by producing the Leasebreakers’ novelty version of “Help.”

This instrumental version of “Help,” seems to owe its inspiration more to Herb Alpert (who first charted with the Tijuana Brass in 1962) than to the early, noisy, “How to Break a Lease” novelty albums from the late 50’s. It’s basically a fairly credible attempt to kick some brass into the Fab Four, more than be Spike Jones about it.

It might be a minor footnote in Gerry’s career (which of course continued well past the 60’s) but this site likes to bring obscurities to life. This blog always tries to…HELP!


No comments: