When The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. was created, there was no doubt that music was going to be a big part of the show.  Following in the footsteps of The Monkees and The Archies (and even more closely in the footsteps of shows like Scooby Doo and The Amazing Chan Clan,) the stage was set for the C.A.P.E.R. Kids to not only take television by storm but the record stores as well.

Obviously the songs were recorded before the television series was produced, since the music was an integral part of each episode.  Exactly when the songs were recorded is not clear, but it had to be sometime over the summer of 1976.  Oddly enough, the first buzz about an album didn’t seem to come about until mid-October 1976, when the show had been on the air for about a month.  An article in the Lexington, North Carolina Dispatch on October 14, 1976, explained about the series, "Each episode features a hit song of the week and some of the top contemporary songwriters will be among those contributing material."  (Obviously the contemporary songwriters had already contributed material!)  The article went on to say, "The four actors who play ‘the kids’ will be contributing song material as well."

An intriguing idea!  If C.A.P.E.R. had continued, would Steve Bonino, John Lansing, and possibly even Biff Warren (who became interested in songwriting while working on the show) have eventually contributed original songs to the project?  Because there was no pretense of the Kids from C.A.P.E.R. being an actual band (they were never shown playing instruments or performing as a music group; they were simply a group of police interns who happened to break into song on a fairly regular basis) there was no potential issue with them not playing on the album, as had happened with The Monkees.  Steve Bonino and John Lansing were both accomplished musicians, but they were obviously hired as singers and actors, as were Cosie Costa and Biff Warren.  All had previous singing and acting experience, but Cosie and Biff did not play any instruments.

In the October 16, 1976 edition of Billboard magazine, under an article titled "TV Signings" by Jim Fishel, it was reported, "Another new entry is the reported LP of Don Kirshner’s ‘Kids from C.A.P.E.R.,’ which will be featured on Kirshner Records."

There was indeed an album produced under the Kirshner Record label (although at this time we do not have any information on an actual release date!)  Titled simply, the kids from: C.A.P.E.R. (following the same punctuation and lower case letters as in the show) it featured eleven of the thirteen songs produced for the show (the songs Baby Blue and You’re Under My Spell didn’t make the album, as well as the show’s theme song.  Some fans feel these tracks should have been considered over some of the ones which did make the final selection.)

The contemporary songwriters anonymously referred to in the Dispatch article were impressive indeed!  Kirshner called upon his stable of songwriters to come up with a fun and entertaining variety of pop songs which, in all fairness, could be put under the label of ‘bubblegum’ music, although for some reason that term has unfairly come to be considered unflattering by some purported music aficionados.  One must remember the target audience of this record was older kids and younger teens, although the show ended up appealing to an older audience as well.

The songwriting team of Rob Hegel & Amanda George (a.k.a. Carol George) penned the songs When It Hit Me (The Hurricane Song), Fun in the Jungle, Say It and Everybody Loves Her.  Rob Hegel had been a member of the garage band The Chandells (which later changed its name to Bittervetch) in the 1960's, but had already been composing songs since he could remember.  He teamed with Amanda George to write songs which, at one point, attracted the attention of Don Kirshner.  According to an article on CDBaby.com, Hegel recalled, "We went into his office.  And he said, ‘OK, forget Sedaka, and Diamond; you guys are the best writers I’ve ever heard!  And I’m gonna make you the most famous people you could imagine.’"  The team wrote for C.A.P.E.R., as well as Kirshner’s other project with Norman Lear, A Year at the Top, starring Greg Evigan, Paul Shaffer and Mickey Rooney.  Around this time, Hegel and George also wrote Sarah Dash’s disco hit, Sinner ManIt should be noted that Rob Hegel also arranged and sang most of the background vocals on The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. album with Jay Siegel.

According to CDBaby.com, Rob Hegel was anxious to record his own album, but Kirshner wanted the team to co-write a musical version of ‘Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde.'  Hegel had put together a demo of his song ‘Tommy, Judy & Me.’  Upon hearing the demo, Kirshner asked that Hegel rewrite the lyrics to incorporate it into the musical, but Hegel refused and ended up having a hit with the song on his own.  (You can now read an exclusive interview with Rob Hegel on our website!)

The team of Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield co-wrote the song Tit for Tat.  Neil Sedaka really needs no introduction, as he is still very much in the public eye as a singer, songwriter and performer.  He worked for Don Kirshner at the Brill Building for many years.  Sedaka actually started out studying classical piano at Julliard from the age of eight, but later decided popular music would be his future.

Neil Sedaka was also a founding member of the doo-wop group, The Tokens.  (This is very important to note in regards to C.A.P.E.R., because The Tokens will come up numerous times in connection with others who worked on the album!)  He later teamed with high school friend Howard Greenfield and together they wrote an incredible number of hit songs, selling forty million records between 1959 and 1963, including the songs Stupid Cupid (their first hit, for Connie Francis), Fallin’, Where the Boys Are, Oh! Carol, Stairway to Heaven, Calendar Girl, Little Devil, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Next Door to an Angel and Love Will Keep Us Together for The Captain and Tennille.

Neil Sedaka also co-wrote the Monkees songs When Love Comes Knockin’ at Your Door with Carole Bayer Sager.  He launched a very successful solo career on Elton John’s label, Rocket Records in the mid-70's.  Neil Sedaka has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and is still busy recording and touring.

In addition to his writing partnership with Sedaka, Howard Greenfield wrote songs with Jack Keller and their work together included the theme songs to Bewitched and The Flying Nun.  Greenfield also recorded a novelty record with Bill Buchanan called The Invasion which was released in 1964.  Sadly Howard Greenfield passed away in 1986.

The team of Gene Allan & Gary Knight co-wrote the songs I Wanna Love You, Rockets and Stars and Ridin’ a Rainbow.  Part of the stable of writers working for Don Kirshner and Jerry Ross (according to one story online, the pair was teamed over the telephone by agent and manager Walt Gollender!), Allan and Knight wrote an impressive number of songs for artists such as Bobby Vinton (including Her Name is Love), Sarah Dash, disco band Gotham and Al Downing (his perennial dance favorite I’ll Be Holding On.)

The team also co-produced Sarah Dash’s single Sinner Man / Look But Don’t Touch with Jay Siegel and Wally Gold for CBS records.  They produced Gotham’s album Void Where Prohibited, which included their songs as well.  Other songs written under the Kirshner banner included Love Me Dracula, Love Dancin’, Half Past Love, If You Don’t Play, I Can’t Sing, Your Love Left Its Mark on Me, Let’s Put Our Things Together, Two Became a Crowd and Doctor Boogie.

Gene Allan also co-wrote Don’t Play That Song with Bobby Vinton, as well as Fire Island with Ron Dante.  Allan and Dante also collaborated on a 1969 Broadway musical called Billy, which was based on Herman Melville’s classic "Billy Budd."

Continue . . .

 


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