Rastus....One Of The Greatest Live Bands In American Music History!
Rastus....One Of The Greatest Live Bands In American Music History!

The members of Rastus were not from Shaker Heights. They came from middle-class families from all over Cleveland proper. In essence....they came from the street.

On the street you have to be savy or else you wind up in trouble. All the guys from Rastus knew how to take care of themselves. Of course, Don Nagy knew how to take care of himself better than most. In fact, it was Don who took care of most everyone in the band. He saved my butt on more than one occasion.

When it came to playing "live" there was not a better band that I had seen on the East Coast. It was almost like they were going into a major brawl when they hit the stage. It was in the live atmosphere where Rastus shone. It is a shame that there is not more available in the live format. We have what we have.

When we had finished the studio recordings we decided to go into The Scene in Milwaukee one evening and record the band in a professional light. We utilized the 3M eight track which was owned by Sonad Studios and recorded the show as it was, only breaking to change tape when necessary. It was a packed house.

At that time Richard D'Amato (Muggsy) was the lead singer. It was undoubtedly hard as a singer to keep up the energy of Rastus and quite often Muggsy complained of his throat giving him trouble. It was for that reason that Danny Magalen was brought in to help take off some of the weight. Danny also played a mean baritone sax and fit right in on the harmony level. They sounded excellent together.

It wasn't two days after we finished the rough mixes at Sonad that Muggsy notified the band that he could no longer stay with the unit. Angelo Crimi and I had already started the negotiations with GRT and now we had the problems of dealing with a band without one of it's lead singers. This is how Marc Roman came into the picture.

Ron Kramer (then of GRT) told us he knew a guy from the San Francisco area who sang his ass off. Words we loved to hear. After listening to Marc's demo we all agreed that Marc could do the job. On top of that, Marc fit right into the band's image and philosophy which was....if they get in the way....kick their ass. Yessir....Marc fit right in. It also didn't hurt that Marc was a decorated Black Beret from the Vietnam War. All I had to do was remove Muggsy's lead vocals and replace him with Marc Roman. 

That was no problem with the studio sessions as everything was isolated on the master tapes. However; when it came to the live recordings there were all kinds of problems with which to deal. The main problem was lead vocal bleed through onto the other tracks from the live monitors. We had a hell of a time replacing Muggsy with Marc on the live tracks and you can still hear some of Muggsy's bleed through on the final mixes. That's how things went in the music business at that time.

The final overdubs of Marc Roman were done at Sound City Recorders with the wonderful help of Dale Bachelor who was our engineer there. Sound City went out of their way to help us. And....as a matter of fact....Rastus first LP) was the first time that the Sonad Processor was used. In fact, Curt Knoppel was there to help us set it up. It was a few weeks after we first utilized the processor that Curt stole our patent and made his way to Marvin Caesar who eventually started Aphex utilizing the Sonad patent.

Here....for the first time available, are the live sides from Rastus' first LP. Some of them came from tape and some have come from the most pristine records we could find. The records were of course cleaned and reprocessed.

Many thanks to all the Rastus fans who are coming from the woodwork. Smokey and Vic are smiling from that great band in the sky and the rest of the guys are smiling as well. We're not making any money but what the hell!....What's new?

Best regards to all....

John Rhys

Tracks:
Black Cat
This song was Smokey Smelko's chance to shine. Every band in those days had at least one song where the drummer took some, if you know what I mean. This song is actually a Brian Auger song which the band heard once when they opened for The Trinity. Rastus loved the song and adopted it for their own. Writers: Brian Auger Publisher: Casserole Music, BMI
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Texas - The Bells
Every band needs to break it down once in a while. The Blues is a great way to do this. It gives the soloists a chance to show off their "Blues" chops. This combination of songs really allowed Marc and Danny to stretch out as the audience filled in the gaps. Some remarkable performances. Writers: (Texas)....Buddy Miles - Michael Bloomfield Publisher:Albet Music Corp., BMI Writers: (The Bells)....Billy Ward Publisher: Billy Ward Music Co., BMI
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Walking In The Park - Nelda Greb, The Telephone Company Has Cut Us Off
This combination of songs was Rastus' pride and joy. The time where the audience went berserk. The band had the opportunity to play all manner of percussion instruments from Congas to Quickas on this extended version of both songs. Everyone rocked in this combination of songs. Writers: (Walking In The Park)....G. Bond Publisher: Seven Music, ASCAP Writers: (Nelda Greb)....Tracy Nelson - S. Caldwell Publisher: Rose Hips Music, ASCAP
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