Sunday, September 25, 2016

AMPEX Records: I Ain't Searchin'

In the late 1960s, the AMPEX corporation known for its production of high quality magnetic tape decks (in a number of configurations) and commercial blank tapes entered the world of recorded music producing prerecorded reel-to-reel, 8-track, and cassette tapes for existing labels – often these were branded as being on the AMPEX label. Anyone who has collected recorded music for any length of time will have a few copies of AMPEX prerecorded tapes.

In 1970, AMPEX decided to venture into the vinyl record business. Working in conjunction with Albert Grossman and Todd Rundgren’s Bearsville Studio in Upstate New York, AMPEX set out to be the next label. AMPEX also distributed Bearsville Records (later under the Warner Brothers umbrella) and Big Tree Records, which later was distributed by Bell Records and then Atlantic Records. AMPEX Records folded in 1973 with the catalog going to Bearsville Records.

The very first AMPEX vinyl album and single was by the Philadelphia area band, The American Dream. It is often cited that this album was Todd Rundgren’s first attempt of producing. The single was popular in the Philadelphia region receiving airplay in nearby markets, but it was not a national hit. Three years ago, I featured the cover by David Uosikkinen's In The Pocket.

The American Dream included Nicky Indeliato on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Nick Jameson on guitar, keyboards, and vocals; Don Lee Van Winkle on guitar; Mickey Brook on drums and percussion (notably on cowbell on this cut); and Don Ferris on bass and backing vocals. “I Ain’t Searchin’” was written by Jameson, who covered it in 1977.

The tune is indicative of the sound of local bands in the US of this era. You can hear Rundgren’s fingerprints on this cut, and it shows that he was a fairly mature producer with his first attempt. Unfortunately, the vocals on this classic Philly tune could have been a bit stronger – which probably doomed it to being only a regional hit.

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