Jun 2012 / WILD BLUE

Never having been in a band, I can't say for sure; but it seems to me that choosing just the right name has to be a major decision. Many bands go through several names before settling down. The Beatles, for instance, cycled through a long list of names beginning in March 1957, many totally unknown to their fans: the Blackjacks, the Quarrymen, Johnny and the Moondogs, the Beatals, the Silver Beetles, the Silver Beatles, and finally the Beatles in mid-August 1960. It was Stu Sutcliffe who, in January 1960, came up with the name 'the Beatals' ' as a tribute to the name of Buddy Holly's band the Crickets ' so he should rightly be credited with the name we all knew them by. (Another British band was more direct in their honoring of Buddy, the Hollies). By the way, Pete Best was hired as the permanent drummer for the Beatles on August 12, 1960 ' within days of their starting to use the name without 'Silver' ' and Ringo Starr wouldn't be brought in for two more years.
The simplest possible band name was taken by a group of fine musicians who played back-up for Bob Dylan for many years, beginning in 1967 with what became known as The Basement Tapes. The story that I heard (there are several as to the origin of the name) was that Dylan typically referred to them in conversation as 'the band', and eventually they adopted the name The Band. But that was not their first name. Over a period of several years, the members gradually joined the backing band for rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, which was called the Hawks. After Hawkins himself left, they were known briefly as the Levon Helm Sextet, but then quickly settled on the name that their fans have often heard, Levon and the Hawks. However, several years later (in 1965), they released a single under the name the Canadian Squires. (Actually Levon Helm was the only member of The Band who was from the U.S.).
Paul Revere and the Raiders took its name from one of the bandmembers, whose real name is Paul Revere Dick. They had a series of hits from the mid-1960's to the early 1970's and were the house band for one of Dick Clark's television shows, Where the Action Is from 1965 to 1967. Eventually their lead singer Mark Lindsay wanted more exposure, so they began to record under the ungainly name of Paul Revere and the Raiders Featuring Mark Lindsay. (That is actually about as long as the Presidents of the United States of America, a name that was deliberately chosen because it was the longest name that the bandmembers could think of). Once their hits began to dry up though, they returned with the truncated name Raiders.
In fact, name shortening has been common among rock bands: The Young Rascals became the Rascals, the Troglodytes lost a little something in the translation when they changed their name to the Troggs, Small Faces morphed into Faces, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark was abbreviated to OMD, and (believe it or not) the 1990's Irish band the Cranberries started out with the name The Cranberry Saw Us. Sometimes the official name never changes, but fans and DJ's naturally begin to shorten the name, so the Rolling Stones are just as often the Stones, the Doobie Brothers are sometimes rendered the Doobies (as on two of their Greatest Hits albums, Best of the Doobies and Best of the Doobies Volume II), and bands like, say, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show are called just Dr. Hook. Occasionally it can even go the other way: A DJ on one of our local radio stations where I was growing up in Winston-Salem, Dick Bennick at WTOB-AM Radio was forever calling the Fab Four 'the beetley, bootley Beatles'.
This month's entry, WILD BLUE is another band that had a hard time settling on a name. I guess that this is something of a sequel to the article on last month's UARB, Tina and the Total Babes, since this band is a part of the scene that T&TB's were saluting in their 2001 album. The Wild Blue album showed up just as the New Wave was ebbing, and that might have been the reason that it was overlooked.
Wild Blue grew out of a Chicago group called Jinx that toiled in the local club scene beginning in the late 1970's. The core members of this band were Joe Zanona (keyboards), Terry Curtin (bass guitar), and Frank Barbalace (guitars). They had been looking for a female vocalist, and they found one in Renee Varo; Mike Neff was also added as the drummer. A few years later though, they got a dreaded call: There was a cabaret singer from California who had been using the name Jinx for some 15 years. They tried to work out a deal with her, but to no avail, so they started calling themselves Wild Blue. Thus, the name of their first LP, No More Jinx is basically an inside joke.
The band had already been signed to a two-album deal with Chrysalis Records, and they began laying down the tracks for their first album in 1985. Chrysalis caused unnecessary friction in the band, however, by flying Renee Varo and Joe Zanona over to London to record half of the album with other studio musicians. (They were also the only two bandmembers to make the front cover). About this time, Terry Curtin and Mike Neff quit; they were replaced by Mike Gorman (bass) and Ken Harck (drums), two members of a late 1970's Chicago power-pop band called Off Broadway (Mike Neff had also been in that band). Also, Chrysalis decided that they wanted to try to find a new name for the band ' they had liked Jinx, but not Wild Blue ' and they delayed the release of the album until early 1986, leaving the band in limbo for several months. By October 1985, it had been over a year since their last live date.
Frank Barbalace is also a member of a well-regarded progressive-rock band (also from Chicago) called Trillion. I won't say anything more about that for now, because they will likely be a future UARB before the end of the year.
Anyway, Frank Barbalace is ambitiously advertising on his website a two-CD collection of most of his recorded works ' Wild Blue, Trillion and other material, including some that he did with who I gather is his wife Rebecca Barbalace in a band called Ondavon ' for a $50 tab. Oddly, there are only three tracks from the No More Jinx album that are listed. He was one of the bandmembers who was left behind when most of the recording was done across the pond; and these are the songs that he co-wrote, though he also played guitar on one of the best songs on the album, 'Fire with Fire'.
But what is interesting about this offer is that this is the only reference on the Internet that I have been able to find of a second album by Wild Blue called Primitive Prayer. Primitive Prayer is evidently the new name of the band as well, since the name Wild Blue had been dropped according to several newspaper and magazine articles about the 'upcoming album', and it was to come out on a different label called Pasha Records. Besides these various articles though ' and there were quite a few of them, which tells me that Wild Blue had a lot of fans, at least in the Chicago area ' I could find nothing else about the album other than what is available on his website. Whether the album was actually released or not is unknown to me.
Allmusic does list a second album called Above and Beyond, but it is a 2004 release by a band called Wild Blue Yonder; as far as I can tell, there is no connection with Wild Blue.
The band that comes to mind when I think of Wild Blue is a long-time favorite of mine called Face to Face (not the punk rock band of the early 1990's called Face to Face), which released several albums in the 1980's and had a minor hit with '10-9-8'. While not part of the Christian contemporary music scene, they were instead a mainstream rock band that soft-pedaled their Christianity. Their eponymous first album, Face to Face (released in 1984) features a song called 'Under the Gun' that ' like Blondie's early foray into hip-hop, 'Rapture' (from 1980) ' includes a long verse that is spoken rather than sung. I can't prove it, but from what I can tell, this qualifies as the first Christian rap song. After many years of hunting, I found two later albums by Face to Face, plus a 12' single for 10-9-8.
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Flashback: The Under-Appreciated Rock Band of the Month for June 2010 ' Waterlillies.
This was my first 'modern' band, since they dated from the early 1990's. At least it seemed that way to me at the time; now though, their first album Envoluptuosity was released over 20 years ago. It is one of my shortest articles, since I could find out virtually nothing about them. As long as I am giving links to songs, I might as well show a link to my original article on Waterlillies: .
As with my first UARB, Beast, I had a tough time finding any videos on YouTube; but there are several. The edgy 'Junior Vasquez Deep Factory Mix' of 'Tempted' (which runs over 10 minutes) and both the 'Apple Crumble Mix' and 'The 303 Mix' of 'Never Get Enough' are out there if you want them, but they don't really sound much like the band to me. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, that is the extent of the songs from the second album, Tempted.
However, there is an actual music video (jerky and grainy though it may be) of a great song from their first album called 'Tired of You'; check it out at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5_5nZYN_NM . Another good one is 'Sunshine Like You' at www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVi5SlyPMIw&feature=related .
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The Honor Roll of the Under Appreciated Rock Bands and Artists follows, in date order, including a link to the original Facebook posts and the theme of the article.
Dec 2009 ' BEAST; Lot to Learn
Jan 2010 ' WENDY WALDMAN; Los Angeles Singer-Songwriters
Feb 2010 ' CYRUS ERIE; Cleveland
Mar 2010 ' BANG; Record Collecting I
Apr 2010 ' THE BREAKAWAYS; Power Pop
May 2010 ' THE NOT QUITE; Katrina Clean-Up
Jun 2010 ' WATERLILLIES; Electronica
Jul 2010 ' THE EYES; Los Angeles Punk Rock
Aug 2010 ' QUEEN ANNE'S LACE; Psychedelic Pop
Sep 2010 ' THE STILLROVEN; Minnesota
Oct 2010 ' THE PILTDOWN MEN; Record Collecting II
Nov 2010 ' SLOVENLY; Slovenly Peter
Dec 2010 ' THE POPPEES; New York Punk/New Wave
Jan 2011 ' HACIENDA; Latinos in Rock
Feb 2011 ' THE WANDERERS; Punk Rock (1970's/1980's)
Mar 2011 ' INDEX; Psychedelic Rock (1960's)
Apr 2011 ' BOHEMIAN VENDETTA; Punk Rock (1960's)
May 2011 ' THE LONESOME DRIFTER; Rockabilly
Jun 2011 ' THE UNKNOWNS; Disabled Musicians
Jul 2011 ' THE RIP CHORDS; Surf Rock I
Aug 2011 ' ANDY COLQUHOUN; Side Men
Sep 2011 ' ULTRA; Texas
Oct 2011 ' JIM SULLIVAN; Mystery
Nov 2011 ' THE UGLY; Punk Rock (1970's)
Dec 2011 ' THE MAGICIANS; Garage Rock (1960's)
Jan 2012 ' RON FRANKLIN; Why Celebrate Under Appreciated?
Feb 2012 ' JA JA JA; German New Wave
Mar 2012 ' STRATAVARIOUS; Disco Music
Apr 2012 ' LINDA PIERRE KING; Record Collecting III
May 2012 ' TINA AND THE TOTAL BABES; One Hit Wonders
Jun 2012 ' WILD BLUE; Band Names I
Jul 2012 ' DEAD HIPPIE; Band Names II
Aug 2012 ' PHIL AND THE FRANTICS; Wikipedia I
Sep 2012 ' CODE BLUE; Hidden History
Oct 2012 ' TRILLION; Wikipedia II
Nov 2012 ' THOMAS ANDERSON; Martin Winfree's Record Buying Guide
Dec 2012 ' THE INVISIBLE EYES; Record Collecting IV
Jan 2013 ' THE SKYWALKERS; Garage Rock Revival
Mar 2013 ' THE GILES BROTHERS; Novelty Songs
Apr 2013 ' LES SINNERS; Universal Language
May 2013 ' HOLLIS BROWN; Greg Shaw / Bob Dylan
Jun 2013 (I) ' FUR (Part One); What Might Have Been I
Jun 2013 (II) ' FUR (Part Two); What Might Have Been II
Jul 2013 ' THE KLUBS; Record Collecting V
Aug 2013 ' SILVERBIRD; Native Americans in Rock
Sep 2013 ' BLAIR 1523; Wikipedia III
Oct 2013 ' MUSIC EMPORIUM; Women in Rock I
Nov 2013 ' CHIMERA; Women in Rock II
Dec 2013 ' LES HELL ON HEELS; Women in Rock III
Jan 2014 ' BOYSKOUT; (Lesbian) Women in Rock IV
Feb 2014 ' LIQUID FAERIES; Women in Rock V
Mar 2014 (I) ' THE SONS OF FRED (Part 1); Tribute to Mick Farren
Mar 2014 (II) ' THE SONS OF FRED (Part 2); Tribute to Mick Farren
Apr 2014 ' HOMER; Creating New Bands out of Old Ones
May 2014 ' THE SOUL AGENTS; The Cream Family Tree
Jun 2014 ' THE RICHMOND SLUTS and BIG MIDNIGHT; Band Names (Changes) III
Jul 2014 ' MIKKI; Rock and Religion I (Early CCM Music)
Aug 2014 ' THE HOLY GHOST RECEPTION COMMITTEE #9; Rock and Religion II (Bob Dylan)
Sep 2014 ' NICK FREUND; Rock and Religion III (The Beatles)
Oct 2014 ' MOTOCHRIST; Rock and Religion IV
Nov 2014 ' WENDY BAGWELL AND THE SUNLITERS; Rock and Religion V
Dec 2014 ' THE SILENCERS; Surf Rock II
Jan 2015 (I) ' THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 1); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Jan 2015 (II) ' THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 2); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Feb 2015 ' BRIAN OLIVE; Songwriting I (Country Music)
Mar 2015 ' PHIL GAMMAGE; Songwriting II (Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan)
Apr 2015 (I) ' BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 1); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
Apr 2015 (II) ' BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 2); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
May 2015 ' MAL RYDER and THE PRIMITIVES; Songwriting IV (Rolling Stones)
Jun 2015 ' HAYMARKET SQUARE; Songwriting V (Beatles)
Jul 2015 ' THE HUMAN ZOO; Songwriting VI (Psychedelic Rock)
Aug 2015 ' CRYSTAL MANSION; Martin Winfree's Record Cleaning Guide
Dec 2015 ' AMANDA JONES; So Many Rock Bands
Mar 2016 ' THE LOVEMASTERS; Fun Rock Music
Jun 2016 ' THE GYNECOLOGISTS; Offensive Rock Music Lyrics
Sep 2016 ' LIGHTNING STRIKE; Rap and Hip Hop
Dec 2016 ' THE IGUANAS; Iggy and the Stooges; Proto-Punk Rock
Mar 2017 ' THE LAZY COWGIRLS; Iggy and the Stooges; First Wave Punk Rock
Jun 2017 ' THE LOONS; Punk Revival and Other New Bands
Sep 2017 ' THE TELL-TALE HEARTS; Bootleg Albums
Dec 2017 ' SS-20; The Iguana Chronicles
(Year 10 Review)

Last edited: April 7, 2021