the production side, Don Kirshner acted as Executive Producer for the
album. Acting as producers were Jay Siegel and Wally Gold.
remember the name
from our previous discussions about The
Tokens. In fact, on the original recording of The Lion Sleeps Tonight itís
his distinctive vocals and falsetto high notes you hear! Siegel worked in
the Sound Department for the other Kirshner series from 1977, A Year at
the Top. The Tokens with Jay Siegel produced hits for many other
groups (which we touched upon in our discussion of Phil Margo, who was in
the group with Jay at the time), including The Chiffons, Tony Orlando and
Dawn (it was Jay who named the group Dawn after his own daughter!), The
Happenings, Randy and the Rainbows and Robert John. According to his
official website, Jay and two session singers were actually the backup
singing group on Tony Orlando's first album! With The Tokens, Jay
also sang backup vocals for the likes of Del Shannon, Melissa Manchester,
Connie Francis, The Blues Project, Keith, Mac Davis, Al Kooper and Bob
What's interesting to note is The Tokens were successful commercial writers and performers as well! Some of their memorable jingles were heard in ads for Pan Am ("Pan Am makes the going great"), Ban Deodorant and Chesterfields, and they also lent their voices to spots for Clairol, General Foods, Wrigley's Gum, Cool Whip and Wendy's.
Jay Siegel and The Tokens are now a separate entity from the Margo's Tokens group, but it appears both music acts exist fairly amicably and even performed together on a PBS Doo Wop special in 2000 (although lawsuits have been filed regarding the rights to the use of the name.) The family tradition continues with Jay's son being a member of the group, playing keyboard and contributing vocals.
Wally Gold worked for many years with Don Kirshner, and in the 1970's while working as a producer and agent for Kirshnerís record label he signed the progressive rock band Kansas. Gold also worked in the Music Department on the TV movie The Savage Bees for Alan Landsburg and Don Kirshner Productions. Over the years he produced a large amount of albums and the music for various projects including working on the soundtrack for the 1980's version of The Chipmunks. Wally Gold passed away in 1998.
The album was recorded at Le Studio in New York City and at Record Plant in Los Angeles (itís very likely the music was produced in the New York studio using Kirshnerís stable of session musicians while the vocals were recorded in L.A.) The album was engineered by Joe Venneri (Remember? From The Tokens?) at Le Studio (which Venneri opened in 1973) and Mike Stone and Gary Ladinsky at Record Plant.
The album was arranged by Paul Shaffer . . . yes, the Paul Shaffer! Early on in his career, Shaffer had been the musical director for Toronto production of Godspell. He went on to become part of the original group on Saturday Night Live, first as a band member and then later appearing in skits. It was Paul Shaffer who did a hilarious parody of Don Kirshner, mocking his introductions from Don Kirshnerís Rock Concert on Saturday Night Live. He was also a big part of Blues Brothers sketches, playing their musical director. Shaffer also co-starred in the short-lived Kirshner / Norman Lear television series collaboration A Year at the Top. Apparently even though the show didnít last very long a soundtrack album was released! It was basically a prime-time musical series in the same way that C.A.P.E.R. was a Saturday morning musical series. These days Shaffer acts as the musical arranger and performer on Late Night with David Letterman, heading The CBS Orchestra. He is also the national spokesman for Epilepsy Canada.
Acting as Music Assistant was Don Kirshnerís son, Ricky Kirshner. Ricky has since founded RK Productions and has made a name for himself producing large-scale productions for television and otherwise, including the Vibe Awards, the Tony Awards, pre-game and half-time shows for the NFL and more recently the Democratic National Conventions and President Barack Obamaís Inaugural Party.
Special thanks on the album were given to Herb Moelis (who, although credited as a production consultant on The Savage Bees, was the long-time attorney at Aldon Publishing and continued working with Don Kirshner throughout the 70's . . . and, like producer Alan Landsburg, is a thoroughbred racehorse enthusiast!), Merrill Grant (Developer and Supervisor for the C.A.P.E.R. series), Rob Hegel, Howard Lipstone (also a production manager with Alan Landsburg and Don Kirshner productions), Stan Cherry (director and producer the C.A.P.E.R. series) and Kay Hoffman (who worked as a producer and production manager with Alan Landsburg Productions on various projects). The album cover was designed by Ed Lee and the photos of the Kids were taken by Sam Emerson (who has done cover photography for an impressive amount of artists including Jethro Tull, Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Hall & Oates, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Mathis, Journey, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Toto, Janet Jackson, Ray Charles, KISS, Kenny Loggins and Quiet Riot.) The album was copyrighted 1976 and released through CBS Inc. and distributed by CBS Records.
Itís not clear exactly when the album was released, but it seems it must have come out sometime in late 1976. An ad for the album was published in the January 1977 issue of Tiger Beat magazine. With the catchphrase "They speak your language," (What? English?) the copy reads, "The Kids from C.A.P.E.R. - P.T., Doomsday, Bugs and Doc are cutting it up on TV - and now they're singing up a storm on their new album, 'The Kids from C.A.P.E.R.' It features all your favorites from the show and some of the greatest music you've ever heard, like their hit single '(When it Hit Me) The Hurricane Song.'" (sic, with the parenthesis around the wrong part!) The ad indicates the album was released on both records and tapes.
A single was also released of the song When It Hit Me (The Hurricane Song) with Ridin' a Rainbow as the flip side, and the January 1977 issues of Teen Magazine and Tiger Beat both indicate that the single was released before the album. The demo version of the single includes When It Hit Me on both sides, one version in mono and the other in stereo. We donít currently have any accurate information on if and how high the single and album may have charted. In the January issue of Tiger Beat magazine, it was mentioned that the Kids had stopped by their offices and that their new single, "Hurricane", was doing very well. An insert ad with the album cover artwork was included in industry magazines and proclaimed that the single was "gathering momentum and beginning to sweep from market to market and coast to coast."
In the April 1977 issue of 16 Magazine there was a contest to give away copies of the album to fans who wrote sent in the special entry form. Cosie Costa was quoted in the announcement of the contest as saying, "Weíre incredibly excited about the album. Here are the four of us, who never recorded together before, and we made it work -- itís fantastic. It took us 10 days just to do the singing -- the music part took much longer. Itís a versatile sound. I like it -- I hope you do!"
What we do know is the album, much like the TV show, was not so easy to find. Fans have mentioned that in order to even get the album they needed to special order it from their record stores, sometimes after working hard to convince the store owner that such a title existed! This problem seems to have persisted, as indicated in an article published in Tiger Beat (June 1977) titled "Whereís the Music?" It reads, "Well, everyone is certainly glad that ĎThe Kids from C.A.P.E.R.í has returned to the TV set, but where are the records they promised us? - If you remember last September when ĎThe Kids from C.A.P.E.Rí made its TV debut, everyone was also anxiously waiting to groove along to the C.A.P.E.R.ís beat! Not only do these guys sing fantastically -- as you know if you watch their Saturday morning show, but several songs and arrangements were released as records. They were going directly into the recording studio and the showís producers promised us we could buy the record immediately! Well, that was 9 months ago, and C.A.P.E.R. records, although released, are impossible to find in stores! The record company just isnít sending them out quickly enough! They want to hear handsome John Lansing crooning those love songs with Cosie, Biff and Steve! Itís not enough to hear them sing on Saturday only -- fans want them around-the-clock! Maybe if everyone pitches in and writes a letter to the record company, the guys from C.A.P.E.R. will be in your stores soon. Itís worth a try! If we all get together and let Columbia know that we want C.A.P.E.R. records, maybe weíll get them! So write!"
Sadly it would
seem with the television show shuffled on and off the NBC schedule and the
lack of any merchandising surrounding the program the album would suffer a
similar fate and languish along with the rest of the franchise. These days
copies turn up on eBay fairly regularly, so if you werenít able to find
the album when you were a kid, go ahead and treat yourself to it now!
It makes an interesting collectorís item and conversation piece, the
music is very good, and it may just spark some fond memories as well!
Go to The Songs
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