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30 April 2013
Charlie Bleak / Hoi Polloi 45
Now Playing: Charlie Bleak 45
Topic: Minor change or comment

For more than 10 years we at Lysergia have championed Ohio's Charlie Bleak as an undiscovered talent of national magnitude, and it's pleasing to see the persistent interest in both Bleak and the Hoi Polloi LP, which will see a vinyl reissue shortly.

For Charlie Bleak (pronounced like 'Blake') the Hoi Polloi project at Earlham College was just one stop in a long and varied musical career that began in the '60s garage era. Some day, maybe not too far in the future, I suspect that it will all be excavated and documented with the attention it deserves, preferrably by some young musicologist in the Ohio/Indiana area. While waiting for that I keep chipping away at my archivist contributions, from which now a useful addition can be reported. After reading some years back that Charlie Bleak had some session hours logged at the Owl studio where several Ohio artists recorded, I figured there might be a release somewhere between Hoi Polloi (1972) and Bleak's mainstream album Let Me In (1976). And indeed there was, more precisely a 45 which was recorded locally and self-released by Charlie, with a picture sleeve even. I was lucky to find a copy fast once I knew what to look for, and here it is.

The presumed A-side "Love Is On The Way" is melodic '70s pop with a breezy feel, very much in the McCartney mode where one often finds Bleak as well as other local '70s talents. It's a well-written, well-arranged song which is so succinct in its action that it only lasts 90 seconds! It still has all the elements of a 3-minute pop song, which tells you something about Bleak's modus operandi. Both verse and chorus are agreeably catchy without being silly, I just wish there was a bridge section so one could enjoy it a little longer. The B-side "Never You Mind" is a longer song that leans more towards a CSN type dreamy westcoast vocal harmony sound, and none the worse for that. Not as radio-friendly upbeat as the A-side but for a 2013 listener, about as good. In short, Bleak does not disappoint with this 45, but confirms his standing as a terrific songwriter and all-around music pro, seeing as how he both arranged and produced both tracks. Anyone smitten with his Earlham College work will want to add this 45 to the collection, at least until that groundbreaking Bleak retrospective album comes around some day.

A final note, unless I've mentioned this already--the story on how Bleak came to play bass (under an alias) on the One St Stephen LP is that they lived in the same building and Charlie got tired of hearing 'Stephen' rehearsing the same tracks over and over, so he brought him to Owl studios to get the songs out of his system and on to vinyl.

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 00:54 MEST
Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink

4 December 2013 - 14:00 CET

Name: "Kathy Babcock"

12/4/13   Well, well, well. I check the internet every so often for info. on Charlie and the gang from Columbus. I "knew" him back in the mid 70's along with Jim Lynch, Frank Pierce, Jeff D'Angelo, Jeff Wilce, etc. I agreed completely about his talent. If you know him - give him my love, Kathy Babcock

18 February 2016 - 08:38 CET

Name: "Charlie Bleak"

Thanks Kathy.

18 February 2016 - 08:39 CET

Name: "Charlie Bleak"

Thank you for the kind review. Still kickin' and still tryin'!

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