Friday, July 15, 2005

The Suburban 9 to 5 - Elevator Operator/Walk Away

There's a small town about 30 miles north of here that I wanted to scope out for records. They have a couple of places to look and the first time I was up there, I found some things in an antique mall. There was another place to look but they weren't open that day. A few months later, I went back and, voila, this other place was open for business. It's more or less a junk shop that's been converted from an old church house. I found the small stash of 45's and started going through them. And boy, there wasn't much anything of note, except for a record by a group called The Suburban 9 to 5.

Hmm, looks promising but "Mr. I love 60's garage but can't ever seem to recognize the titles" thought this might just as easily be a country disc, especially given the truckloads of country records available throughout rural, southern Illinois. The fact that Gene Clark wrote one of the sides made things all the more ambiguous. But it was certainly worth the whopping asking price of 50 cents to find out what I had.

When I got home, I threw the record on and was instantly greeted with a rock and roll guitar. "Elevator Operator" kicks off with the lyrics,

"She was an elevator operator
she had her ups and downs
she got so high so very fast
took her all day to come down"

Gene Clark originally recorded this in 1967 with the Gosdin brothers. I've heard a clip of their recording and The Suburban 9 to 5 rock things up, pick up the tempo a bit and give the song a bouncier beat. All in all, an excellent, garagey version.

The flipside of the record ain't no slouch either. "Walk Away" is cool, teen oriented garage that appears to have been penned by the band, itself. The vocals have a certain bite with the vocalist really reaching for those high notes and there's a thick guitar sound. And it turns out that guitar was played by none other than Gary Richrath, who went on to far greater fame with a much lesser outfit known as REO Speedwagon. I guess that makes sense, given the Peoria, IL address on the label.

So now you know the story of yet another future rock star's humble yet, in my opinion, superior beginnings. There's also more where that came from. It looks like The Suburban 9 to 5 released two more singles during their existence. I haven't heard them but am on the lookout.


aruanan said...

The guy who with his two older college age brothers had the small label that recorded this record was my best friend in elementary school (Norwood Elementary School, Farmington Road). After I moved away from Peoria in 1964, Steve would send me 45s as they produced them. He is now the music producer of the Grand Ole Opry.

Anonymous said...

Suburban 9 to 5 were a high school band at the time. Their principal competition was a band called "The Coachmen", featuring another high school player, Dan Fogelberg.

There were a couple of other local bands that got 45s out. At that time, you could actually get air play for a local band, and the top 20 on the radio was a local top 20.

There were nine high schools in the Peoria area, and they all had "after game dances" for home football and basketball games. Lots of work for the local bands, and a lot of talented guys got their start.

Anonymous said...

DanielT states...

Suburban 9to5 also opened for acts playing in the Central Illinois area. They opened for "The Who"; "The Hollies"; "The Turtles"; "The Box Tops"; "The Drifers"; Strawberry Alarm Clock"; "The Cry'n Shames; "The Mauds"; "The Grass Roots"...Seems like most groups from that era began with "The" LOL