Lost but not least! El Coco – I’m Mad As Hell (AVI Records)
‘I’m Mad As Hell…’ God knows how this killer gem got me so. This when I heard it for the very first time back then…
“All roads lead to Rome”, says the famous proverbial expression. And even the most unexpected, referring to Laurin Rinder and W. Michael Lewis‘s first meeting. The latter occuring by the end of the 60’s. This at an audition for Los Angeles-based 60’s Garage Rock band The Standells!
From El Coco‘s 1977 released ‘Cocomotion’ album (one of their countless guises). ‘I’m Mad As Hell’ (which gets its title from a quote by the likes of Peter Finch who plays Howard Beale on the 1976 Sidney Lumet directed film ‘Network’). A cut pretty much illustrative of Rinder‘s Jazz background, considering its arrangements and infectious chord progression.
‘I’m Mad As Hell’… pretty much what one might think of them in regards to their outstanding verstatile repertoire!
And here we go with two people who happened to become among the most fascinating creators in the history of Disco. Two people nothing could predict they would become what they managed to be! From their meeting, hailing from different horizons, to their repertoire, having nothing to do initially with Disco. A (happy) combination of factors would decide otherwise though…
Laurin Rinder‘s career didn’t start with Disco, as interstingly explained on Disco.com but during the Rock & Roll days, although he felt a clear-cut inclination for big band Jazz. Rinder knew at the early age of 6 he would like to be a musician, learning trumpet first, then saxophone before switching to drums.
Hailing from Alabama, W. Michael Lewis was the keyboardist of a Rock band named The Standells, on the heels on the work he did as a member of We Five who had performed on Percy Sledge‘s When A Man Loves A Woman. Together, they would form Joshua, a six-piece Hard Rock group which comprised members of the Righteous Brothers and Bonnie and Delaney. Meanwhile, Seymour Heller, who was the band’s owner , but also the partner with Ray Harris in the AVI label, had other plans for the twosome. They would then be asked by the latter if they knew anything about this new music called Disco back then. And this is pretty much how they got into it!
Rinder And Lewis not ony happened to be trained musicians. They had a clear vision as to what they wanted to do and how they would do it. Ths being for much on the myriad of projects they would put together. Turning almost everything they touched into the Holy Grail for those into music with quality and sense. From El Coco to Le Pamplemousse and Saint-Tropez, in addition to the masterpieces they released under their own name.
Unlike many of their alter egos, Rinder And Lewis didn’t try to capitalize on their name. As opposed, they would play with visuals often seen as weird, not directly connected to them on the sleeves of their albums. This adding much to a certain mystery around them, if not magic along with time.
No surprisingly, they cut each of their 5 LP’s under the form of concept albums. Beginning with their debut, ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ which spawned the mythic ‘Envy (Animal Fire)’ backed by ‘Lust’…
Visuals always had an important role on Rinder And Lewis‘s both career and life. Eventually writing soundtracks, the way they did for ‘New Year’s Evil’, a 1980 American horror film written and directed by Emmett Alston. But also for popular television shows such as ‘National Geographic’ and ‘The Barbara Walter’s Special’.
TV shows would therefore take more and more of their time as opposed to doing music that saw them encountering more and more problems to get their royalties paid.
Laurin Rinder could be seen afterwards painting with oils, eventually owning galleries in L.A. Meawnhile W. Michael Lewis has kept on doing music… for films, eventually setting up his own company, SnailWorx/S. Cargo Productions, Inc. a few years ago.