1971 Recording Gets A New Spin 45 Years Later

Apr 15, 2016

Imagine it's 1971, you and some high school buddies record a couple songs. You sell the 45 to your friends, put it in a few jukeboxes in your hometown and... life just goes on. Then 45 years later, you get an unexpected email.

Hamilton native and Badin High School graduate John Hurd carefully holds the 45 rpm record in his hands. The paper sleeve has aged but the record with its swirly yellow and orange label is still in remarkably good shape.

He points to his name on the front of the record. "This is where he saw 'J. Hurd' and that's where his detective work had to start... because (the record) didn't have my whole name on it."

The "he" is Tobias Kirmayer and it took him nearly five months to track down the band. He's a German record producer who came across a copy of the record and decided to re-release it all these years later on his Munich-based label, Tramp Records.

"These recordings simply have amazing energy and feel which current recordings suffer, in my opinion," says Kirmayer. "What I really like about especially the two tunes on this 45 is the raw energy and the feeling (that) the musicians put in it."

An image of band member and saxophone player Jim Green from his high school yearbook.
Credit Provided / Stephen T. Badin High School

Raw is a good way to describe the band, The Revised Brotherhood. Lead singer John Hurd says the group was made up of some of his friends who just wanted to play music.

"I wanted to do something that sounded like Blood, Sweat & Tears because I knew I could imitate David Clayton-Thomas," says Hurd. "Or, my mother told me I sounded like him. So I wrote a song where I could sing sort of like him and the horns could play."

The group included Donny Hoskins on drums, Pat Kennedy on guitar, Eddie Knox on bass, Jimmy Green on saxophone and Tim Quincy on trumpet. Hurd sang lead vocals and played keyboards.

The band played at Badin's school dances and a few clubs around Hamilton. But the cool thing to do was record your own 45. So off they went to Taggart Bros. and laid down a couple of tunes. They pressed just 100 copies, sold some to friends and managed to get a few placed in jukeboxes around town.

Andrea Joyce sang back-up on record. "My fondest memory of making the record was the actual time in the studio," she says. "It was a blast."

"Everybody back then who had a band wanted to make it because that was your ticket out," says Hurd. "So we were hoping that someone would notice and we would become famous."

Hurd and The Revised Brotherhood never made it big back then. Many of the band members still play. Hurd, who works at Miami University, has lead several groups since his high school days.

Record producer Tobias Kirmayer expects people who like his label will really dig the band's sound, even if it was recorded by a group of teenagers four decades ago.

"Those people who know my label and my sound, I think they will love this recording because it's a great recording and it's actually a good song - a very good song. It's at least as good as any song of those big artists from back then."

Joyce says, "It is incredibly exciting to have this come around again. It was so much fun to do and the song really is good."

"Tragedy"

The band's "big hit" is a song called "Tragedy" about interracial love.

When it came time to name the 45, John Hurd decided to use a play on his last name, calling the record "Heard."
Credit YouTube

"I went to an all-white school and I'm African-American," says Hurd. "So there's a lot of pretty girls there but society said 'there's no way she could be your girlfriend because you're black (and) she's white.' So I thought 'Hmm, I'm just going to write a song about this.' And that's what I did. I wrote it in the cafeteria there."

Hurd says while the theme may have raised a few eyebrows at the time, people mostly just really liked the song.

"People were like 'hmmm,' but they liked the beat and everything and they liked the chorus, which is 'Tragedy – oh, black and white together, you and me. A tragedy…' You know, sort of sarcastic but fun.

"The song, though, it's about just loving who you love no matter what people think. If you love someone, just love them. And at the end of the song, I end it with the word 'Love!'… It's just a commentary on being free."

Kirmayer thinks the song will be well-received again.

"Very often, the lyrics of those songs from back then they're about girls, food, having fun. But some particular songs had this theme which they wanted to tell. So I think the people will not only listen to the good musicianship and backing track of the song but also to the lyrics."

Kirmayer plans a worldwide re-release of 500 copies of "Tragedy" on 45's. He's also putting it on a compilation album available on CD and digital download this fall.

"Tragedy" by The Revised Brotherhood