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3 Aug 2017

Reddy Teddy "Reddy Teddy" 1976 US Power Pop,Proto Punk


Reddy Teddy  "Reddy Teddy" 1976 US Power Pop,Proto Punk

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One of Boston's leading local bands of the mid-'70s, Reddy Teddy preceded, by a couple of years, most of the groups that would coalesce into a scene around the Rat, the club that served as Boston's first indie-rock epicenter. Their sole album, released by a Cambridge indie, is well-produced, aggressive pre-punk rock'n'roll that sounds at times like a tighter, polished version of the New York Dolls. The songs, written by guitarist Matthew MacKenzie (who co-produced the album with Willie Alexander and Maxanne Sartori), are mostly defiant poses and celebratory teenage anthems, with a stop along the way for a protest number ("A Child of the Nuclear Age"). The tunes are so strong and well-played (especially for an independently produced record of the time) that it's difficult to understand why the quartet was never signed by a major label. Reddy Teddy broke up shortly after the record's release. MacKenzie has since worked with the Nervous Eaters, Richard Lloyd and the Taxi Boys. 

Reddy Teddy reunited in 2004 and celebrated with a two-disc retrospective and an album of new material.....

Reddy Teddy Winchester MA 1972

Reddy Teddy's 1976 debut album documents the songwriting and musical talents of Matthew Mackenzie and his schoolmates from Winchester, Massachusetts. Dominating the 70's Boston club scene (The Rat) they were a favored opening band for national acts...................

In 1964, ten miles north of Boston in Winchester, Massachusetts, the future Reddy Teddy boys: Matthew, Joe, John, and Ted, attended 6th grade, while Scott was ahead in 8th. Even then, Matthew was respected for his talent and taste in music by both his peers and the older kids. He played Who songs before we ever heard of them, states Ted. While brothers Mike (drums) and Mal (guitar) helped guide Matthew through his various stylistic investigations, Matthew and Reddy Teddy were also being influenced by another Winchester band of the 60's, the legendary "Luv Lace Lads", led by Scott¹s older brother Stephan Kent Baerenwald (aka the local lenged "Swine"/aka Stephan Lovelace).

By the late 60's, high schooler Matt teamed up with Luv Lace's vocalist, Scott Baerenwald and drummer Billy Thayer to form "And Other Railroad Stories". It then became clear that a certain style, wavering somewhere between The Who and Cream, had emerged from Matthew's songwriting efforts. With his Rickenbacker power-chording through the music, his stage dynamics thrilled all. 

By 1971 Matthew and Scott joined Boston rock veteran, Willie Alexander, playing Boston bars and beach venues in the band "Bluesberry Jam." And then it happened: One day, while driving down Mystic Valley Parkway, Joe, Ted and John picked up Matt who was hitch-hiking home. They stopped on the way to jam in Joe's basement where the three had been rehearsing with another band. The chemistry was immediate. Their style worked as a perfect foil for Matt¹s distinct talents and in early 1972, Reddy Teddy was formed and they began to practice.

Between rehearsals, Matthew would take quick jaunts to New York City in order to peddle songs to the record companies and by the fall of 1972, Reddy Teddy had been playing steady gigs in the Boston suburbs. It was then that, while performing in their hometown of Winchester, in front of a packed town hall, they were successful in impressing Mercury's Paul Nelson (also and old friend of Bob Dylan's). As a result, later in December, the band drove to New York and made a demo at Mercury Records. They then made another demo at Boston's Intermedia Studios which produced and inspired an ultimately never released version of "Teddy Boy" and "It's Breaking Me Up". Mercury then offered a record deal to the band. After consideration, Reddy Teddy concluded that it was another typically drawn, one-sided agreement and chose to turn the offer down.

In the spring of 1973, after a brief foray into the field of construction, and with no other acceptable recording deal in sight, Ted finally opted for engineering school. With Scott now replacing Ted, the newly arranged Reddy Teddy recorded "Boys and Girls"' and "Helping Hand", at Aengus Studio in Framingham, Massachusetts. "Dream On", was just beginning to break when Aerosmith invited them to open their New England shows, scheduled to run into the early fall. One night after a concert, the band's van containing Matt and the road manager, crashed into a phone pole causing minor injuries and major equipment damage. The band received an insurance settlement that afforded them new gear with enough leftover to relocate. They chose the big city. They would go to Boston.

The "Kilsyth Manor" Years

"Kilsyth Manor" was a 7 bedroom Victorian on the Brookline/Brighton line. More has been forgotten than has been remembered about the Kilsyth days, nevertheless, anyone who set foot in this residence has memories of one house party or another. At these affairs it was not uncommon to spot members of Aerosmith, Willie Alexander, and other notorious rock'n'rollers of the era.

In January of 1974, Mercury reissued its album offer, with Michael Brown as producer (creator of the band Left Banke, and author of the renowned single, "Don¹t Walk Away Renee". The band accepted and spent February living in New York, and recording at the studios on West 57th. However, Mercury decided not to release the album, citing the oil/vinyl shortage. After threatening the company with a law suit, the band settled for monetary compensation and the return of their 2-inch masters. Joe decided he had had enough and left for Florida forfeiting the drum slot to Bug Witt of Utica, NY.

That summer, Reddy Teddy went back into Aengus with the masters of "Goo Goo Eyes" and "Novelty Shoes". They were remixed and released and Reddy Teddy became the first of a wave of Boston rock bands to release a single on local label Flexible Records. The singles won favorable reviews, with airplay on WBCN and WBZ FM. By 1975 the band was firmly established as a hometown favorite in a genre of club, the premier ones being; Kenmore Square¹s heralded, The Rat and The Club a chair-tossing venue in Cambridge's Central Square.

In 1976, the band joined the roster of local label, Spoonfed Records and with WBCN DJ Maxanne Sartori and Willie Alexander assisting with production, an album was recorded that summer at Northern Studios in Maynard, Massachusetts. In December the band opened for Patti Smith at Boston's Orpheum Theatre and in 1977, former Rolling Stones manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, began managing the band. At which time, he scheduled a few showcase gigs in two New York clubs, Max's Kansas City and The Bottom Line.

The record received favorable reviews. Playboy touted the band as; "...possibly the best new American band, period". However, even with this rejuvenated interest, the sales figures remained low. By February of 1977, the parties had taken their toll on both the house and its occupants and the band vacated Kilsyth. Bug left the band and Joe returned to reclaim the drums for the final year. Their last gig was in the spring of 1978, opening for Van Halen at The Paradise

Matthew's Solo Years

After the finish of Reddy Teddy , the members went their separate ways. John and Joe returned to school, and Scott joined Robin Lane and the Chartbusters. Matt went to NYC and after a brief hitch with Richard Lloyd to make a 1979 album, he took the rhythm section (Fred Smith; bass and Vinny DeNunzio; drums) upstate for a demo at Todd Rundgren's Bearsville, NY studios, the recording site of the songs "Girl Watching", "Here By My Side", "Too Late", and "Affairs of the Heart".
Then, after returning to Boston, Matt joined the Taxiboys (John Felice of the Real Kids, Billy Cole and Bobby Bear). He rejoined Willie Alexander, and was responsible for guitar and background vocals in Willie Alexander and The Confessions. Together, they recorded a single in the U.S. and a double live album in France. Also, during this period, Matthew could also be found playing with the Nervous Eaters. Except for one private reunion on Ted's 30th birthday in 1982, Reddy Teddy's original line-up never performed together again.

Matt continued writing and recording through to the late 1980's: "Girls of the State", "It Must Be Love", "Light Fingered Girl", "Just Ask Your Mirror", "Barbie Doll". Matt led one group named The Roosters (Chris Hull, Sammy Spade, Bobby Bear) and would team up with various backup personnel. However, it was as if the celestial bodies were not lining up for the one who, over 15 years earlier, wrote and sang the words, "I'm more of a moon than a rock 'n roll star", ("Catbird Queen").

In 1988, at the age of 36, Matthew passed away from injuries sustained in an auto accident in Medford, Massachusetts. In 2004, as a tribute to Matthew MacKenzie and on their 30th anniversary, the boys from Winchester reunited as Reddy Teddy with former Atlantics guitarist Jeff Lock, to play a reunion concert (July 14) at the Paradise club at 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Massachusetts. A double retrospective CD was released at that event titled "Teddy Boy".

As of this writing (2015) The band continues to write, record and play. New material was composed, recoreded and released on the CD "Loud and Clear" (2008) and a single "Don't Tread on Me" was released in 2009. That song was written in tribute to fellow Winchesterite and Reddy Teddy fan Captain Richard Phillips - famous for the Maersk Alabama - Somalian piracy incident memorialized by Tom Hanks in the movie "Captain Phillips".

According to Joe Harvard (Boston rock specialist) Reddy Teddy were to Boston in the 70's what the New York Dolls were to New York...and then some. All of the founding band members were longtime friends who'd been in the same grade at school: Matthew MacKenzie (guitar), John Morse (vocals),Ted von Rosenvinge (bass) and Joe Marino (drums). 

Spending 39 minutes with the Reddy Teddy LP is a very worthwhile use of your time. "Boys and Girls" combines elements of Richie Valens and the Champs with pure power pop. "Shark in the Dark" recalls Peter Townsend's classic mid-period writing for the Who, as do the verses in "Moron Rock" and "Magic Magic". Not all of the Teddy tunes recall earlier or contemporary influences, to be sure. There are tunes like "Ooh-Wow!" and "Novelty Shoes", which are pure Reddy Teddy, quintessential Boston rock; these are tunes referential only to fellow Beanscenesters like Willie "Loco" Alexander and the Boom Boom Band. Other elements of Rt's recorded work point solidly towards the future. "Ooh-Wow!" predates and harkens to Meatloaf's later (and best) material. Bits of "Magic Magic" sound like LA's great X, and the song "Romance" would be just as comfortable in a set by Oasis, Buffalo Tom, Dinosaur, Jr. or any other 90's band. The guitar interplay of songs like "Magic Magic" and "Romance" point the way towards groups like Television, and match the intensity of Todd Rundgren's work with the Nazz. Indeed, it's no surprise that years later, when Richard Lloyd left Television, he recruited Matthew MacKenzie to play guitar on the very solid "Alchemy" LP. Bassis Scott Barenwald was to become a member of Robin Lane & The Chartvusters. 

The LP was produced by Willie Alexander and Matthew MacKenzie (with a little help from Maxanne Sartori).....



The pride of Winchester, Massachusetts, the ‘70s proto-punk foursome Reddy Teddy never quite broke through to the rock mainstream (despite some major-label dalliances) but their brand of high-octane rock and roll, captured over a series of independent 45s and local releases, made them Boston faves during their six-year run, and paved the way for numerous Beantown garage/New Wave bands in their wake. Guitarist Matt McKenzie, singer John Morse, bassist Ted von Rosenvinge and drummer Joe Marino joined forces in early 1972 — McKenzie having cut his teeth gigging with Willie Alexander — gained a reputation in the Boston suburbs as an act to be reckoned with, and toyed with an offer from Mercury Records, cutting unreleased demos of “Teddy Boy” and “It’s Breaking Me Up” at Intermedia Studios. A line-up change brought Scott Baerenwald into the bass slot in 1973, and the still-unsigned band recorded “Boys and Girls” and “Helping Hand” at Aengus Studios in Framingham, Massachusetts. The band caught one of their first big breaks when Aerosmith, who were tilling much the same sonic soil as Reddy Teddy, invited the quartet to open for them during their New England tour dates in fall 1973. 

A move to Boston in 1974 pulled them closer into the city’s rock orbit and party scene. After another round of failed overtures from Mercury (that saw an album shelved due to the oil shortage), the band released “Goo Goo Eyes” b/w “Novelty Shoes” on the local Flexible Records, which garnered the band steady airplay on WBCN and steady gigs at The Rat in Kenmore Square. In 1976, a full-length LP, produced by Willie Alexander and WBCN DJ Maxanne Sartori, was finally (!) released, The band got a push when former Rolling Stones impresario Andrew Loog Oldham took over managing duties, but despite some high-profile gigs, the band couldn’t quite stand out in the increasingly crowded field of late-’70s guitar bands. Reddy Teddy played its last gig in 1978, opening for Van Halen at the Paradise. 

Post-Reddy Teddy, Baerenwald played with Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, McKenzie joined John Felice’s Taxi Boys, played with the Nervous Eaters, and also rejoined Willie Alexander’s band. McKenzie passed away in 1988, after being involved in a car accident; his old Reddy Teddy bandmates performed a tribute concert for him at the Paradise......by Stephen Haag




Tracklist 
A1 Boys And Girls 
A2 Shark In The Dark 
A3 Ooh-Wow! 
A4 Novelty Shoes 
A5 Moron Rock 
B1 A Child Of The Nuclear Age 
B2 Magic Magic 
B3 Romance 
B4 Teddy Boy

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