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Monday, September 22, 2014

Underrated Treasures and BotB Results



        Today I'm joining in on Alex J. Cavanaugh's Underrated Treasures Blogfest.  Click on the link for more info and a list of other participants.   Later in this post I'll also tie in my entry with my announcement of the winner of last week's Battle of the Bands post.
        First, here's the premise of the blogfest:  Everyone has a favorite movie or band that no one else has ever heard about. For whatever reason, they remain undiscovered and underrated. Now is your chance to tell the world about this obscure treasure! 


The Hello People

         In the post-Beatles era of rock, more than ever groups, artists, and music producers were looking for the next hot gimmick that would catch the attention of a public hungry for new and different entertainment.   Good music was not always enough to make a group stand out--with television appearances and the growing live music scene, performers needed something visual to make them stand out from the rest of the crowd.   Every artist was shaking their hips, coming up with new hairstyles, and donning flashier wardrobe.  Dance crazes came and went.

         Record producer Lew Futterman developed the group The Hello People in 1967.  The artists who became the Hello People were musicians who were experimenting with visual arts when Futterman discovered them.  Noting their talents and abilities to learn quickly, Futterman had them train in the art of mime.  The gimmick of the band became a group of mime artists who played music between their skits.

         The act began appearing on major television shows as well as doing live performances.  They recorded a couple of innovative albums in the late 60's that helped them achieve cult status though nothing overwhelming on the national music charts.   Their music is a very well executed hodgepodge of pop, jazz, and psychedelia.  Perhaps it was a lack of musical focus that caused them not to catch on with the public.  There was also probably not enough promotional support for the group.  Then too maybe the world was just not ready for a mime rock band.   After all, mimes can be pretty darn annoying.

         Their appearing in mime make-up was a breakthrough gimmick that more than likely influenced later bands such as Kiss.   The sunny innocence of The Hello People was a product of the times of the Summer of Love and happy fun drugged up happening experiences.   The band could hold their own with rock music, but they also chose the eclecticism of folk, jazz, and even country.   That goes over well with music lovers like me, but rarely seems to work for the rockers who just want to head bang.

           If you like a group that exhibits diverse talent in their musical skills, interesting delivery, and decent songwriting, you might enjoy The Hello People.  They are definitely dated to the era from whence they came, but good music can be appreciated years after it is produced.  I would rank The Hello People as one of the outstanding groups of the late 60's.    

           Though they recorded a few more albums in the 70's and collaborated with Todd Rundgren throughout that decade, they faded into obscurity.    Curiosity leads me to wonder whatever happened to the members of this fine group.    Maybe someone out there can answer that question for me.

            To read more about my memories of The Hello People I invite you to read my post about them at my blog Wrote By Rote



And the Winner Is...

          When I went into this contest my vote was skewed in favor of The Hello People.   Originally my intent was to pit them against the composer and original performer of the song, Todd Rundgren.   In that contest I would have picked the Hello People over Rundgren.   The vocals in the group version to me sound better than Todd's and overall I think the production is superior.  I think a credible argument could be made that Todd Rundgren himself would agree with this assessment since after all this is like a do-over, a second chance, for Rundgren since he produced this version for a group that he apparently admired a great deal.  He used them as his back up band so he must have thought they were pretty good.

         Since I've been doing a "boys against the girls" contest lately, I decided to eliminate Todd's version in favor of finding a female version.   Laurel Masse's sounded nice and she had a good story to present in my post so I went with her.   I had already decided that The Hello People were going to win my vote, but I figured that Masse would gain some support from my readers with her very nice rendition.

        Well, a funny thing happened after I put my post up.  I started listening to the two versions repeatedly and Laurel Masse's version began to really grow on me.   Don't get me wrong.  This was a tough call for me.  Both versions are excellent and both are winners.    In the end, the version by Laurel Masse became my favorite.

        Here's my reasoning:   Todd's production, though outstanding, still sounds like something from his "living room" recording studio.   The synthesizers are a bit cheesy in places though very appropriate in others.  It's a great recording, but when put next to that of Laurel Masse it falls behind just a teeny bit.   Masse's recording has a real string section instead of the simulated synthesizer strings.   And her voice melts my heart.  The song seems more appropriately performed by those female pipes.  Her presentation makes the song sound like a classic, which indeed it has become.

 This was another close race for the voters, but in the end the majority went Laurel's way.

The Hello People    10 votes

Laurel Masse          13 votes

           Next Battle of the Bands will be on Wednesday October 1st.   Once again it will be paired with a posting for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  Be there and be sure to vote--please!

          Were you previously familiar with the Hello People?    Which band or artist do you think had the greatest gimmick of all time?     Are you (or were you at any time) a fan of Kiss or any other similar groups?

55 comments:

  1. Both subjects.....The BlogFest and BOTB
    made compelling reading. Will look forward to Oct.1st.

    Have a great day

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  2. Hello People were new to me. Funny you changed your own opinion after listening to both versions.
    Thanks for participating in my blogfest!

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  3. Oh interesting! I love how you changed your thought after listening to both as well. It's nice being able to change your mind!

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  4. I always thought changing your mind was a woman's prerogative LOL.

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  5. Rock and roll + mime = Kiss? Whoa, you just blew my mind. I was never into headbanger rock, but I do like what's now called Classic Rock: The Stones, Led Zepplin, The Doors, etc. Never heard of The Hello People.

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  6. I didn't know about this blogfest or I would have chosen the 60s band Mountain Bus. They put out one album that was very Grateful Dead/Airplane like but then got sued by the more popular and powerful band Mountain over the name. :(

    Not a fan of Kiss at all. Best gimmicky band? Spinal Tap. :D

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  7. Why the group, Hello People, is new to me is a mystery. Totally scratching my head here. I checked out the Smothers Brothers video of them playing Anthem. Still scratching my head. Thx for clueing me in.
    Author of Wilder Mage at Spirit Called
    Facebook Wilder Mage

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  8. It's great that you picked The Hello People because , Hello??, I never heard of them (sorry about the pun:)) I am also glad to have learned more about them and corrected me about KISS. It is a shame that some great groups don't get the full recognition because they may not have had the right promoter or money behind them. Glad to have learned more about them. I picked a movie as the main one for me but I mentioned the other 3 and I picked Klaatu

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  9. Dear Lee -
    Oh my!
    Thank you so much! This song has always been one of my favorites, and I appreciate your lovely comments.

    Blessings, Laurel Masse

    www.laurelmasse.com
    www.laurelmasse.typepad.com

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  10. Yvonne-- Thank you for participating in the vote.

    Alex-- Thanks for hosting. You can almost always grab me with a music blogfest.

    Dani-- I can be swayed if I'm convinced with good evidence.

    Jo -- Men have been known to change their minds sometimes.

    Tamara-- I'm not much of a headbanger either, but I too like classic rock. That was my golden era of music enjoyment.

    Lee

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  11. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    I know what happened, LEE...

    You changed your vote the very second you saw that I had voted for the Hello People version!

    Mime not the sort o' guy you can fool.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  12. JoJo--Spinal Tap had a clever gimmick.

    Huntress-- You are not alone. That's why I used that band.

    Birgit-- It almost always comes down to money doesn't it. I think the Beatles hype hurt Klaatu. I don't know enough about their actual music to make a judgement about them.

    Laurel --What an honor and surprise for you to drop by! My "lovely comments" were well warranted. Please stop by my blog any time.

    Karen-- Their lack of recognition is why I used them.

    Lee

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  13. StMC-- You surely can't expect me to agree with you? What would be the fun of that? Seriously though, my change of mind stands for the reasons I gave.

    Lee

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  14. Never that fond of KISS, but they had their fans. I love the BOTBs, Lee. I think I voted for Hello People, more authentic. . .

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  15. More Spinal Tap here than Kiss. However, I do want to listen to more from the Hello People thanks for sharing!

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  16. I've never heard of Hello People. Thanks for the recommendation! :) Have a super week!

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  17. Changing your mind is okay :) Great recommendations! And I'm excited for the next BotB!

    Sarah Allen
    (Writing Blog)

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  18. Here is a good link about the Hello People and what happened to them. http://www.thecoolgroove.com/hello.html
    They "went their separate ways" after the 70s...
    Thanks for mentioning them. I think my parents knew of them, especially because of the mime stuff, but I don't remember them...

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  19. DG-- Kiss the group was okay. I'd rather have real kisses.

    Mike-- Hello People have a fairly retro sound I suppose, but they still sound good to me.

    Margo-- Thanks for stopping by.

    Sarah--I change my mind a lot. I guess I'm just adaptable.

    Lisa-- Yes, I found that link as well. But still, where did they go exactly? Did they stay in the entertainment business? Become bankers? Recluses? Where are they now?

    Lee


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  20. I'm a Hello People fan! Great choice!

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  21. Hi, Arlee. Thanks for sharing about The Hello People. Hadn't heard of them before. Will have to go back and check out your other post on them. I knew you'd share something interesting for the Underrated Treasures Blogfest.

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  22. The Hello People are new to me, but I'll check out their music...I always love to find new bands. :)

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  23. Not familiar with the Hello People. But, I will check out their music, Arlee.

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  24. Not familiar with the Hello People, intrigued.

    Jeremy [HWR:OLM]
    Howlin' Wolf Records: On-Line Magazine

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  25. I was born during the wrong generation! Fun BotB pairing. Great that it could work for Alex's hop too!

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  26. S.L. --Too bad they didn't have the fanbase to keep them together to put out more music.

    Susanne-- I tend to listen to a lot of music others don't listen to.

    Chrys-- Since they go a ways back I guess one can't exactly call The Hello People a "new band".

    Rachna-- Who knows? You might enjoy them.

    Jeremy-- They might just be weird enough for you.

    Lee


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  27. In light of Laurel's comment, I had to go back and make sure that in a wave of TR zeal I did not say anything negative about her music (which your post introduced me to), but my vote was pretty much swayed by my familiarity with the Hello People (it should come as no surprise to people that I have a pretty comprehensive selection of albums produced by Mr. Rundgren).

    How cool that one of Ms. Masse's favorite tunes is a TR composition!

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  28. Hmmm, not familiar with either group *looking up Hello People on YT*
    Cheers!
    Sam
    A Treasure Trove of Music

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  29. Never heard of this group though they were a bit before my time. Never cared for the gimmicks like Kiss.

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  30. Sorry Hello People. Never heard of them but they must have done something right to hit your radar Arlee.

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  31. I've never heard of The Hello People, and I know a number of Sixties groups and artists which many modern people would consider obscure or has-beens. I've never really gotten into KISS, though I can't share the extreme disgust or hatred some other classic rock fans spew when bashing them as not a real band.

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  32. never been a member of Kiss's army, but I do have a couple of their discs.

    I'm sorry, but I wasn't familiar with The hello People.

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  33. Larry -- We should watch what we say on the blogs as we never know who may be peeking in.

    Sam-- There are a goodly number of HP videos available on YouTube.

    Susan GK-- Kiss was kind of fun to see in concert, but I never owned a single Kiss album. Just not my type of music.

    Sheena-Kay--What HP did was perform good music and do it well. That's what I look for.

    Carrie-Ann-- No doubt in my mind that Kiss was a real band. Just not my kind of band.

    L.Diane-- I'm not even a Kiss straggler. But I did go see them in concert although I was mainly there to see opening act Bob Seger.

    Lee

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  34. I've never heard of The Hello People, but I can see how they'd be an influence on people like Alice Cooper and KISS.

    That was one of the great things about when rock 'n roll was just coming out. It was like the Wild West in that almost anything was fair game.

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  35. Never heard of the Hello People either. I guess the world wasn't ready for mime tunes lol

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  36. Hadn't heard of them before. I'll have to look into them.

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  37. Hello People. Haven't heard of them, but I love the name. :)

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  38. I have never heard of the Hello People, and now my curiosity has been piqued.

    The Rolling Stones has/had Mick, and he stirred up the entire stage, not that I liked them.

    I like ZZ Top. Hard to explain, but I like the music and the beards.

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  39. I've never heard of the Hello People before now.
    As for gimmicks, I barely remember them. But I do remember the music. It's what matters.

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  40. Mark-- They were creative days. And crazy days.

    Pat-- Yeah, mimes, a bunch of people getting high, and good music--sounds credible to me.

    Emily-- Their music can be found easily.

    Mina-- Nice and friendly.

    Susan Kane-- ZZ Top certainly has a striking gimmick with their look.

    Jennifer-- If the music is what mattered most then it's good that it is remembered.

    Lee


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  41. Hi Lee! I've never heard of the Hello People, so I'm glad you've given me a bit of a lesson here. I'm glad you participated in the Ninja Captain's blogfest. I've been having a ball! Take care. Eva

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  42. I don't know the Hello People - what a strange combination with the mime and music act! Going to have to look that up! :)

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  43. I learned a lot here. Thanks for all the info.

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  44. Eva-- I guess my blogfest mission was accomplished.

    Jemi--They had a good visual show, but they played good music as well. Too bad they didn't sell more records.

    Vanessa-- Don't know how practical my lesson was but it was fun.

    Lee

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  45. The battle was a close one. Yay! I don't think I've ever changed my vote mid-stream. I've been undecided from the outset, but never changed during the posting. Ah well... there's a first time for everything, I suppose!

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  46. The Hello People are new to me. Kiss not so much. But I was never a fan. I always thought of them in the anti-music category.

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  47. Well I have not heard of the band either but sometimes even the big names in the USA can be missed in the UK.

    I was always a fan of the film Vanishing Point I always thought it was the best car chase movie ever made. But you rarely if ever hear of it these days.

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  48. Robin-- I thought my decision was cinched but Laurel's version won me over as I kept listening to it. Still close though.

    C.Lee-- Don't know about "anti-music" but it's not my favorite music.

    Rob-- I've seen Vanishing Point but alas my memory of the movie has vanished.

    Lee

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  49. Nice way to combine two post topics in one. I'll have to remember that. This dumb blonde forgot all about signing up for the Underrated Treasures Blog Hop. Oh well, what are ya gonna do?

    I think we're going to have to crown you King of BOTB, seeing as how you rate enough to actually get one of the artists to drop by. Nice going!

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  50. Hehe, I had to re-read that sentence that sentence a few times, like "Did he say MIME?" That is so silly. Hey, is that where the term "Hello, people" comes from?

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  51. The Hello People sound interesting. I'm always up for something different when it comes to music.

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  52. FAE--I find myself combining my BOTB posts more and more and trying to do it smoothly where it makes sense. It would be nice if we could get more input from artists and other related professionals on our BOTB posts. We might actually gain more credibility for what we're doing.

    Nicki--The mime angle might have had an influence on the name. Actually having seen them live I can say the mime concept worked well in performance. It was something more than just musicians playing music. It was an actual show!

    Patricia-- And they played different styles of music which gave the group an added dimension.

    Lee

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  53. I hadn't head of this band. Sounds interesting.

    Yes, I do know KISS. They're awesome.

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  54. Lenni-- When I saw Kiss live they put on one heck of a show.

    Lee

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee