January 13, 2016


On paper, The Outside In should have been a household name in southern Maine. Featuring lead singer Freddy Dame, who had already boasted a major-label single, and hometown guitar hero Bobby Herne, the band busted out a tough rocker with unrealized breakout potential. (Songwriter and label head Brandon Harris claims his inspiration for the tune was the Young Rascals “You Better Run.”)

The Citations, featuring two future Outside-Inners. Standing, left to right: Dave Hopping, lead guitar; Rick Littlefield (Outside In keyboardist / vocalist), rhythm guitar and vocals; Andy Merton (Outside In bassist), bass guitar. Photo taken at a dance in the UNH Memorial Union Building, spring 1963. Courtesy of Andy Merton.
The short-lived group — which combined three York, Maine-area locals with two University of New Hampshire students — included Freddy Dame (lead vocals), Bobby Herne (lead guitar), Rick “Fireball” Littlefield (keyboards, vocals), Andy Merton (bass) and Monie Hobbs (drums).

Monie and Freddy both worked at the Portsmouth Navy Yard as civilian employees. And Bobby, well, was a local legend even at that point. Four years earlier, in 1962, Bobby backed Freddy on a recording which was picked up for national release by Reprise. The a-side is labeled as Freddy And Claire “(Right) After School” while the flip is credited as Freddy Dame “Love Is A Game,” both backed by Bobby's Trailers (a.k.a. Bobby Herne and studio musicians). And considering this was 1962, the guitar solo is frankly out of time, approaching Cobras-esque. The single was self released locally on the Nic-Nac label and then picked up by Reprise. Unfortunately, Freddy got drafted and his recording career and record deal effectively petered out.

Freddy Dame in 1962, proudly displaying the brand-new Freddy And Claire single.
Andy Merton was playing in popular UNH band The Checkmates (read the Basement Walls feature), but traded places with then-Outside In bass player David Clapp for a spell before finishing up with The Checkmates.

Rick Littlefield previously played with Andy in another UNH band, the Citations, a few years earlier in 1963. The outfit never recorded, but Littlefield commandeered the name the following year during summer vacation back in Maine. This Citations released the “Phantom Freighter” 45 in 1965 (a Basement Walls feature is in the works).

The 45 recording came about in the fall of 1966 when school was in session. Rick and Andy knew UNH engineering student Russ Hamm, who had partnered with Brandon Harris to form the Right! record label. Like the other releases on the label, the two tracks were recorded at the UNH radio station.

Brandon nicknamed Rick “Fireball” after his Jerry Lee Lewis schtick at the piano. Rick recalls:
“I essentially ‘opened’ for [lead singer Freddy Dame], doing a few tunes before he came up on stage. Once he was on, he was the front man for the rest of the set and the center of attention. I did standard frat-party dance tunes from the ’60s — Mustang Sally, Rascals, stuff like that. Fred's singing style was a lot more melodic, so he did things like Pretty Flamingo, Let Your Conscience be Your Guide (Neville Bros), James and Bobby Purify I'm Your Puppet, Righteous Brothers, and a lot of R&B. Freddy had a wide vocal range and could sing runs, so he did soulful material really well.”
The Right! stuff: Russ Hamm (left) and Brandon Harris (right) of Hamm & Harris Productions.
Rick growled lead on “You Ain't Gonna Bring Me Down To My Knees” while Freddy showcased his vocals on the ballad flipside, “Sometimes I Don't Like Myself.”

The Outside In played gigs in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and quietly vanished into the seacoast. Freddy released another Brandon Harris-penned tune in 1969 under the moniker Freddy & The Fables “Kissin’ Me, Huggin’ Me” (on the Heritage label) which also featured Bobby Herne on guitar. Herne, of course, went on to garage and hard rock infamy with his involvement in The Cobras and Euclid.

Both songs were compiled on the 1996 CD “You Ain't Gonna Bring Me Down To My Knees: The Strafford/Right! Records Story (1965-69)” on the Collectables label. This disc documents those labels' releases by the Outside In, the Tidal Waves, the Falcons and the 90th Congress.

You Ain't Gonna Bring Me Down To My Knees / Sometimes I Don't Like Myself
December 1966

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