October 31, 2015

LSD (Manchester, NH)

Just in time for Halloween, as of this posting, comes a true Jekyll and Hyde moment. Manchester, N.H., high school outfit Local Sound Development finishes laying down a straightforward early ’60s style slow-dance ballad — then taps into their acronym for a 180-degree the trip on the flip. We caught up with band leader Rick Biron, who fills in the mystical mystery behind these psychedelic schizophrenics:

No LSD band photos survived (too much "Local Sound Development," perhaps?), but Rick Biron provided some latter-day shots.
I (Richard (Rick) Biron) was a founding member of the band along with our drummer Donald Berube, who happened to be a first cousin of mine. I had played in several local bands for many years previously, but most of the guys were a few years older than me and were lost to the draft and military life. That left me in search of partnering musicians.

After months of auditions that just didn’t seem to “click,” I was made aware of my cousin’s drumming skills. We tried a jam session in his basement and things seemed to work well. There were several people in attendance and the reviews were very positive. Don was a very good drummer!

Shortly afterwards, we brought in Moe Ouelette on bass guitar as well as a fellow named Mike (his last name escapes me) on keyboards. We now had a “complete sound” and were getting good reviews playing local venues, mostly outdoor summer events. After a few months Mike was drafted (pretty common in the late sixties) and left a pretty big hole in our sound. 

I sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar at the time and felt we needed a good lead guitar sound to make our music stand out. We brought in Ron (Rolo) Paradis for an audition and were quite impressed. He also had a keyboard contact, Richard (Dick) Lemire. We now had the nucleus of our band and the players who were actually on the record. The band was called “Local Sound Development.”

Members and instruments played:

Rick Biron – Lead vocals, Rhythm guitar (Hofner Verithin, Vox AC-30 Amplification)
Rolo Paradis – Back-up vocals, Lead guitar (Domino guitar, Silvertone Amplification)
Moe Ouelette – Bass guitar (guitar unknown, Ampeg amplification)
Dick Lemire – Keyboards (Farfisa, amplification unknown)
Don Berube – Drums (unknown brand)
Dick Belanger – Manager

What led to the recording studio:
Rolo and I spent some time trying our hand at writing our own material as a natural progression of musical abilities. I came up with the basic song [“The Girl I Once Knew”] and Rolo provided and elegant lead solo to make it work. One evening during a basement practice session, our manager, Dick Belanger brought in a reel to reel machine and recorded us performing the song. The results weren’t bad and he took the recording to a local AM radio station to try to get us airplay. Dick had a plan. He felt if he could get airplay, we’d get all the gigs we could handle. Once again the results were positive and the DJ (Nick Howard) decided to feature us on his show. The feedback was overwhelming and Nick's phone was ringing off the hook! It wasn’t long before we became the official house band of the radio station (WFEA) and were performing for all of their outdoor events. And there were many. What were called “summer happenings” were held all over the local area and they were very large scale compared to local dances. This exposure led to multiple requests for copies of our record and so began the quest for a formal studio recording and record pressings.

Once again, our manager worked his magic and  lined us up with AAA recording studios in Boston, and we were on our way. Nick Howard broadcasted that we were working in the studio and that records would soon be available for sale. He also referred to us as the LSD band and the name stuck. The press was great and the job opportunities flowed in. Our manager's strategy for getting us work was clearly working.

In the studio:
The studio environment was pretty overwhelming for us at the time with technology that we had never been exposed to. Four track, one inch tape machines and mixer boards that were incredible! Located in the middle of the sound room was a Hammond B3 organ with a Leslie. Dick, our keyboard player, was in heaven when the recording engineer told him to feel free to use it. We all thought, great, we’ll have a fantastic big organ sound.

That was great except for one small issue. The A440 tuning of Dick's keyboard didn’t match the B3 and we had to retune our guitars make this work.

We laid down the music tracks after a few takes and all was good. It was time for me to do the vocal. The band was in the sound booth with the engineer watching me and all of this made me pretty nervous. The music played and I started singing and suddenly realized that retuning the instruments brought the song out of my vocal range. I had to sing the song in a much lower register than I was comfortable with and the end result, I thought, was kind of pitchy and made me sound much older than my 15 years of age. I changed the melody a little to make it work as best as I could. When the radio station aired the studio version of the song, people commented that it didn’t sound like the same band or the same song! The upside was that the new version was well received by our fan base and the gigs flowed in.

The ‘B’ side:
A lot of people have asked what’s with “The Mystery of the Mystical Invasion” so I’ll see if I can explain it. “The Invasion” was heavily influenced by the psychedelic music and use of feedback by Hendrix, Zeppelin and other major acts of the day. We would open our third set with this song in an improvisation style and it would go on as long as it felt right. It was pure experimental jamming with a great light show and at some points became quite intense. Basically we used it as an intro into a hard driving rock song that would immediately follow.

In need of a B-side we decided to see if we could reproduce the feeling on record. I'm afraid we confused the recording engineer and he never was capable of capturing the true essence of the “controlled noise.” He tried his best to be creative and added a vocal repeat line to the mix but it never quite worked. One of those “you had to hear it live” songs.

A few songs from our set list:
  • Iron Butterfly – You Can’t Win, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
  • Steppenwolf – Magic Carpet Ride, Born To Be Wild, Sookie Sookie
  • Beatles – Back In The USSR, Birthday, Glass Onion, Sgt. Pepper and lots, lots more! (We were quite influenced the Beatles.)
  • Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze, Hey Joe, Crosstown Traffic, The Wind Cries Mary
  • The Doors – Light My Fire, Hello I Love You, Roadhouse Blues
  • The Kinks – Well Respected Man, You Really Got Me
  • The Who – My Generation, Summertime Blues
  • Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love, You Shook Me
  • Donovan – Season Of The Witch
  • The Monkees – Steppin’ Stone, Last Train To Clarksville, I Wanna Be Free, Pleasant Valley Sunday 
  • Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love, Crossroads
  • Vanilla Fudge – You Keep Me Hanging On
We also tried to include two or three of the current top ten chart songs per show.

Some of the venues played:
  • All of the Manchester and surrounding area High Schools
  • St. Cecelia’s Hall
  • Oddfellow’s Hall
  • YMCA/YWCA weekend dances
  • Derryfield Park
  • Six Acres at Crystal Lake
  • Pat’s Peak Ski Resort
  • Grenier Field Air Force Base

Memorable Gigs:

Good memory – winning a battle of the bands. Tough competition with lots of good local bands. The song that put us over the top: a newly released song by Zager and Evans that was screaming to the top of the charts – brand new and we played it and knocked it out of the park! The song was “In The Year 2525.”

Bad memory – event holders who would try to stiff us at the end of the show and not pay us. Only happened once and after that, this is what we did: During the second set, we would play the long version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” During the drum solo, I would leave the stage and go collect our pay. If they wouldn’t pay, I wouldn’t return. That signaled the band to stop and tell the audience we weren’t getting paid so the show was over. Worked every time! Nothing like an angry audience who paid good money to see the show to get the owners to see the light.

So there you have it. At least a small cross section of the band’s history. I tried for many years to reach the other members hoping that perhaps we could do a reunion album but to no avail. Sadly, I ran across Rolo’s obituary a few years ago and was pleased that he mentioned the band as one of his greatest pleasures. I wish I had the opportunity to work with him again.

As for myself, I’ve continued my music and have recorded over eleven albums and am currently working on another. I owned Stingray Records, a state of the art digital recording studio in Melbourne, Fla., for several years and am now retired in Tennessee and still actively playing, writing and recording music. I also have a YouTube page (treblerebel1) that features a lot of the songs I have recorded and I’m adding more songs all the time.

— Rick Biron, July 2015

The Girl I Once Knew / Mystery Of The Mystical Invasion
Musicor New Talent Series 
(NTS-429 • TA 746/747)
February 1969

1 comment:

  1. Dear Music Fans, I am looking for a copy of the Musicor 45 by LSD pictured above. If you have a nice copy but do not want to sell it, I could be interested in purchasing or trading for a quality .wav file of both sides that can be emailed to me using drop box or pcloud, or a CD quality CD-R mailed to me. Bob Pegg at bobpegg@wamail.net Thanks for any help.