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Peppermint Records

Peppermint Presents...RAT RACE! - LP - Vinyl

Peppermint Presents...RAT RACE! - LP - Vinyl

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Let's face it...likely sounds the best. First pressing.


1. Iron Knowledge - Rat Race 03:44
2. The Human Beinz - Karrie Ann 03:17
3. Glass Harp - High Flight 04:46
4. Morly Grey - Everyone You Know 02:31
5. LAW - Ain't Been Here For A Long Time 03:09
6. Chapter II - The Son Is Coming Soon 03:30
7. The Roller Brothers - Hope You're Feeling Better 03:02
8. The Behnke Brothers - The Soul In Your Eyes 05:04
9. Phil Keaggy - All My Wishes 03:18
10. Blue Ash - It's All In Your Mind 02:25
11. Flagg - Hard Luck 03:45
12. Ronnie Lee Cunningham - Is It Because I Love You 04:43


Come along as we take you on a journey through Peppermint Productions’ early days. We’ve gone deep into our archive and scraped the mold off of 12 never-before-heard tapes just for your aural excitement. Since 1971 Peppermint has been bringing you the finest popular and ethnic music, and all of it recorded right here in Youngstown, Ohio. Founder and engineer Gary Rhamy is still behind the recording console and has lovingly transferred these recordings himself on the same Ampex 440 tape machine that most of these songs were recorded on or mixed down to. So you can rest assured that what you’re hearing is the same fidelity that was blasting out of the JBL’s when the Blalock brothers were hearing playback of “Rat Race” for the first time.

Don’t think of this as a definitive collection of Peppermint’s output. This is more of a snapshot of a moment in our history. We chose to only include recordings that were never released and that were from our first ten or so years, while also showcasing the relationship between all the recordings. Every song, ad, segue, and snippet have some significance here. From Gary Rhamy’s intro (he’ll be a reoccurring voice throughout the album) to the tape rewind at the end (we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves), there’s almost too many connections to explain at once (we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves).

Here’s an overview:

Side One - IRON KNOWLEDGE were regulars at Peppermint throughout the 70’s, releasing a few 45’s on Tony March’s Tammy Records. The title track shows the band in its purest form - on their own, being produced by bandleaders/songwriters/brothers Gary and Milton Blalock. This version of THE HUMAN BEINZ were fronted by cousins Ting and Steve Markulin (Steve was also fronting his tamburitza band, The New Balkans.) After releasing two albums on Capitol (including the chart topper “Nobody But Me”) Ting was the only remaining torchbearer of the band (that’s him you hear being interviewed on “Good Morning, Youngstown”). Steve left GLASS HARP to join his cousin and form the new version of the Human Beinz. Though it never got released, everyone who was around then remembers “Karrie Ann”. That’s Steve yelling “Swing Over!!!” at the top of “High Flight”. That was from an Arby’s (founded in Youngstown) ad that the Harp did around the same time they were recording that song. (Not bad for a bunch of teenagers) Next we have a word from our sponsors - Strouss’ - with a fairly confusing voiceover by Gary Rhamy (told you he’d be back). The next voice you hear is Mark Roller of MORLY GREY trying to convince us that the recording we were playing him of “Everyone You Know” over the phone was not them (it was). Morly Grey came to Peppermint to record their album “The Only Truth”, but these were home recordings they did earlier. Speaking of time travel, the intro for LAW at the top of “Ain’t Been Here For A Long Time” comes from a live video of one of the final lineups of the band at the Tomorrow Club in Youngstown. Ronnie Lee Cunningham counts off for a band that he has yet to join. The lineup heard here is the original namesakes (Steve) Lawrence, (Steve) Acker, and (Mickey) Williamson. (We took some creative liberties editing in what label the band was recording for.) John Grazier introduces CHAPTER II in an ad for their show at The Apartment. We could (and probably will) do a whole compilation just about all the guys named in this radio spot, but for now all you need to remember is Ross Locke. Grazier lived next to the studio, produced Blue Ash, and wrote “The Son Is Coming Soon”.

Side Two - Opens with the intro of a different song from THE ROLLER BROTHERS. Yes, these are the same Roller Brothers from Morly Grey. And yes, this is the moldy tape (as Gary asks). This reel suffered some water damage along the way, but ultimately transferred clean (after all the paper leader came apart). “Hope You’re Feeling Better” comes from a session the happened before their 1979 Roller Brothers release. Mark and Tim tell you about it on the phone. Ting’s back! He introduces Tom Behnke because Tom also played with The Human Beinz (in the 80’s). His brother Mitch was in the New Hudson Exit (with Phil Keaggy, who left to form Glass Harp) in the 60’s. Like most musical brothers, THE BEHNKE BROTHERS eventually teamed up and recorded “The Soul In Your Eyes”. Oops! The tape’s on backwards! It wouldn’t be a Peppermint release without some polka (or an oberek, in this case). This Polka-aires snippet is like a mini history lesson of Youngstown studios - released on Del Sinchak’s WAM Records (which was also a studio) but recorded at United Audio (which is the same studio, different name, but once occupied the same building as WAM but then became Peppermint). Produced by Del and recorded by Gary…not much has changed! Speaking of Del, he’s the reason we had the tape of this home recording by PHIL KEAGGY (Phil threw away all his early home recordings years ago). Del also owned Dusi Music and supplied many of the musicians on this album with their instruments, including selling Phil his first Les Paul. Everyone would hang out there - John Sferra remembered watching Ronnie Lee try out an electric piano there. This version of “All My Wishes” continues and concludes our backwards tape segment of the show (pretty advanced stuff for a 16 year old). Phil re-wrote and re-recorded this song as “All Our Wishes” in the 90’s. You never know what you’re going to find on a not-very-well-labeled tape - Gary saying something about the “mouse historic museum” popped up at the end of a reel with some alternate mixes of “Karrie Ann”. You can hear us switch the tape speed mid way through as we were doing the transfer. It wouldn’t be a Peppermint session without hearing Gary slate the takes at the top, and he did that a lot in the early 70’s with BLUE ASH. “It’s All In Your Mind” is another of the stacks of tunes that Frank Secich and Bill “Cupid” Bartolin wrote together. This scrappy power-pop gem was done in our often-spoke-of but rarely-seen (and no-longer-in-existence) Studio B. (Studio B is where we found the Roller Brothers tape…you connect the dots.) “There’s a lot of tomorrow in what we’re doing in Youngstown today” says the Youngstown Sheet and Tube jingle. Pretty grim looking back now knowing what the city’s future was become. The steel industry was about to leave town and, in many ways, Youngstown is still trying to get back on its feet. “Hard Luck” indeed. FLAGG is another one of those groups whose membership could merit its own compilation, but for now all you need to remember is Ross Locke (we warned you). With Dick Strojny’s organ, the band wailed. Dick was in The Executioners (he also played the organ on The Human Beinz “Nobody But Me”). Drummer Lenny Krispinsky was in the Pied Pipers (ex-Human Bein Dick Belley was also briefly a Piper) with Dennis Sesonsky who was later in Holy Mackerel (remember them from Chapter II?). It wouldn’t be a Youngstown compilation if we didn’t mention Schwebel’s. (You can still smell them baking from the studio door.) In the spirit of finding bizarre things stranded on unleadered reels, this jam session from the mid-70’s (probably around the time he was forming Brainchild) features RONNIE LEE CUNNINGHAM messing around in his typical fun and funny way. More time travel when he’s asked about that “funky thing we used to jam on” and we go back a few years to “Is It Because I Love You”. Ronnie went on to join LAW and stayed with them until the end. The sound of the tape stopping and rewinding is from a mix work reel and is a good reminder that while there’s more to come, we’re out of room on this record.

Youngstown’s music community in the late 60’s and early 70’s was thriving. Just looking at old show flyers from the Freakout or the Mouse Trap or the Zodiac Club you can visualize how the different players met and matched up to form their next bands. You also see how it’s easy for some bands to get forgotten. Some played live but never recorded. Some recorded but never played a single gig. Some did both but didn’t have enough money to actually press a 45, or broke up before it was worth it. These bands were playing out together and coming through our studio door as well. At the same time we were doing jingles and commercial work and staying busy recording all of the great ethnic bands in the area too. The past 50 years have been quite a ride. Here’s to making the next 50 just as exciting.

released May 13, 2022
Engineered and mixed by Gary Rhamy at Peppermint Productions, Youngstown, OH (unless noted otherwise)
Compilation produced by Anthony LaMarca, Dean Anshutz, and Gary Rhamy
Mastered by Adam Boose at Cauliflower Audio, Cleveland, OH
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