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Bohemian Vendetta (1968)


What's the old saying?  "Opinions are like assholes.  Everyone has one."  Well, with that in mind, this is one of a handful albums that we've given a ***** (five star) rating.  Without any hesitation, it gets a place on our personal top-10 list.

Growing up in Lynbrook, Long Island, Nick Manzi played in a number of local bands, including The Cavaliers.  Manzi and high school buddy singer/guitarist Faine Jade also started playing local clubs as a duo, eventually attracting the attention of Laurie Records, which signed them as writers and sessions players.  Manzi and Jade subsequently formed The Rustics who managed to record an instantly obscure 1966 single ("Can't Get You Out Of My Heart" b/w "Look At Me") for the small Ye Old King label.  In the wake of The Rustics collapse, Manzi replaced guitarist Richard Martinez in Long Island's The Bohemians.  By early 1967 the band opted for a name change.  As  Bohemian Vendatta they also underwent a series of personnel changes, eventually coalescing with a line of singer/keyboardist Brian Cooke, drummer Chuck Monica, bassist Victor Muglia and rhythm guitarist Randy Pollock.  

Having recorded a series of demos, 1967 found the band releasing a one shot single for United Artists ("Enough" b/w "Half the Time" (United Artists catalog number UA 50174).  In spite of an appearance on Dick Clark's rate a record television show and a steady stream of club dates opening for a variety of name bands (Vanilla Fudge) The single vanished without a trace, followed in short order by the band's contract.  Luckily they were picked up and signed to Mainstream Records.  


In typical mid-60s' fashion, "Bohemian" offers up a mixture of band originals and popular rock covers.  The covers are certainly okay, particularly their snail's pace meltdown take on The Stones "Satisfaction", though most folks can probably survive without hearing yet another cover of The Animals' "House of the Rising Son".  Curiously, though credited as an original composition, "(She Always Gives Me) Pleasure" sounds like a note-for-note rip of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl".  Far more impressive is original material such as the leadoff "Riddles and Fairytales", "All Kinds of Highs", "Deaf, Dumb & Blin" and the stunning "Paradox City" (talk about sounding like a bad acid trip).  Credited to T. Camp (?) and singer/keyboardist Cooke, the collection literally drips with that peculiar mix of stabbing organ, meltdown fuzz guitar and demented acid drenched vocals that send psych collectors into a frenzy.  All hyperbole aside, the album is easily one of the crown jewels in the Mainstream catalog (and suitably rare and pricey).   For true fans, Mainstream also released "Riddles and Fairytales" b/w "I Wanna Touch Your Heart" as a single (Mainstream catalog number 681).  Like the parent LP, the single went nowhere.

With Mainstream all but ignoring the LP,  Manzi and company had time on their hands, pitching in to help buddy Faine Jade record his debut album "Introspective" on the small RSVP label.  Manzi actually co-wrote most of the tracks with Jade. As far as we can tell, it also marked the band's final recording efforts.  

Over the years the LP's been booted at a couple of times.  We've never heard it, but in 1998 the Distortions label released a collection of rarities, acetates and non-LP sides under the title "Enough!" (Distortions catalog number DR 1038).

Guitarist Manzi subsequently reappeared as a member of Dust Bowl Clementine (always loved that name). (badcatrecords)

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