THE CALLIOPE – AN INTERVIEW WITH JIMMY MITCH BENTLEY

“Kaleidoscope – Calliope”

THE CALLIOPE – ’Kaleidoscope – Calliope’/’Everybody’s High’ (Audio Seven 151/153) 196?

At least two other outfits in America went by the name of The Calliope. This particular group from Short Hills, NJ should not be confused with the Calliope from Santa Barbara who recorded for Epic and Shamley or the one from Seattle who released an album called ’Steamed’ on Buddah.

The New Jersey Calliope came to my attention way back in the 80s with their killer ‘Streets Of Boston’ which was compiled on ’Attack Of The Jersey Teens.’ When I started to collect original 45s I made a decision to find all of the the records used for that comp and Calliope were top of my list.

Not much has been written about Calliope and information seems to be at a premium. Not even the guide ’Teenbeat Mayhem’ could confirm a release date or even year for that matter of the two discs Calliope put out. All four songs were written by James Bentley. My research has drawn a blank so hopefully someone who knows more will get in touch with me.

’Kaleidoscope – Calliope’ is wondrous basement psych full of echoed vocals with a fragile melody held together by some heavy bass and primitive drum action. The liners of ’Attack Of The Jersey Teens’ describe this 45 as ’awful but amusing’. They didn’t even bother to compile the song or the flip ’Everybody’s High’ which is of a similar lo-fi psych quality and is as fragile as butterfly wings.

Originally posted on 25/12/12

Comments:

A really unusual track, with a slight UK feel to the verses, whilst the chorus has more of a West Coast beat. But what about the drummer? Had he heard the song before? – Clearly not! (Keith Bickerton)

“Streets Of Boston”

THE CALLIOPE – ’Streets Of Boston’/’Awosting (The Truth)’ (Audio Seven MG 152/154) 196?

Probably the most well known Calliope 45 is the crude garage psycher ’Streets Of Boston’ which was compiled on the early 80s LP ’Attack Of The Jersey Teens’. Notable for it’s primitive guitar riffs and clattering tambourine throughout. I think it’s a monster of a song but it rarely gets talked about.

The flip ’Awosting (The Truth)’ is an atmospheric psychedelic ballad with one of those strange song titles that needs investigation. At first I thought it could be simply a typo on the label and should have read ’Awaiting (The Truth)’ but I soon realised with a spot of googling that Awosting is a place in New Jersey.

Once again, both songs were written by James Bentley. His skill at writing introspective psych songs makes him one of my ’Flower Bomb Songs’ minstrels and someone I’m sure would have went onto other music after Calliope ceased to be.

Originally posted on 26/12/12

Comments:

For me, this is about as good as it gets, and an awful lot better than it’s A side, plus the drummer seems to have taken his medication this time. Just the mearest feel of one of Arthur’s ballads or even a Bryan Maclean touch, but hard to describe as it is pretty unique. This is why so many of us follow your postings Colin, you truly do have the most far out sounds. As ever many thanks! (Keith Bickerton)

Hi Keith B, Thanks for the compliments this is a ”Mysterious Man of Mystery”! what a cool surprise to see our old Songs posted on this site & YouTube! we recorded them in 67 or 68 (I forget!) Awosting is a town in North New Jersey,USA check out my new stuff – Stockmusic.com/products/music_tracks_cd/western_state_of_mind (Jimmy Bentley)

Update:

I’ve recently made contact with Jimmy Bentley, the leader of The Calliope and he provided me with the following information.

Jimmy: ”To answer your question on the word ”Awosting.” It is a town in northern New Jersey, USA (I live on the New Jersey Shore) I first saw that word on a friend’s T-shirt, and it cracked me up, so we used it to mean ”Party”!

”Streets of Boston”—the first ”Drum Sound” you hear was a ”Drum Machine” or ”Rhythm Ace” (very old-fashioned & ”corny”) it sounded so humorous, had to use it!

We turned it up loud so it would distort! – then I screamed out ”Look out! It’s the mad Armenian Monsters, oh no!

All tunes recorded in Short Hills, NJ, USA”

”We only printed up a small amount of those 45’s back in 67 or 68 (I forget which!)

Sold locally in a few neighboring towns Millburn, Short Hills, Summit, Morristown, New Providence (North New Jersey). We took 2 real cool pictures of the band– I’ll try to send them to you,

I just find it pretty cool that after all these years (50) I find them on youtube, posted by a guy from England! – I love it!”

Leave a Reply