The lost band... The lost recordings...
The Lost Cause

While I was visiting my parents in 2011, my dad and I were pawing through a box of old cassettes and came across the self-titled EP by The Lost Cause, a covers-based rock band that Dad and his friends formed in Royal Oak, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, during their teenage years. Dad, whose real name is Jeff Williams, played drums and sang lead. The band existed from the summer of 1966 to 1968, and their repertoire comprised a highlight reel of the British Invasion/Nuggets-era rock that had been captivating and corrupting America's youth for the previous few years. For a group of teens faithfully blasting through their favorite songs from the radio, these recordings are remarkably tight, with the band joyously boosting the tempos of the originals without going so fast they start to get clumsy. The only hint that The Lost Cause is a foursome of guys in their mid-teens, to my ear, is the prepubescent cooing of the backing vocals, which makes an endearing counterpoint to the confident, ragged snarl Dad employed. I admit to a hefty personal bias, but I feel The Lost Cause versions of "Open Up Your Door" and "Pushin' Too Hard" in particular actually top the famous recordings by Richard and the Young Lions and the Seeds, respectively. (As for their... spirited run at the Turtles' "Happy Together," it's not without a certain high-school-band charm.)

I myself found The Lost Cause's interpretations of familiar songs so refreshingly exuberant that I suggested they should have a home online for the world at large to hear, and Dad was enthusiastic about the idea. As he didn't have the equipment to properly transfer a stereo cassette recording to his computer, he and I wound up running a line from an old Sony tape player into his computer's microphone jack, digitizing the EP in Audacity as the cassette played. The result, as you will hear, resonates in vibrant mono, which I think suits the performance just fine. (Mono was good enough for the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle, after all. Before the record company got its tentacles on it, that is.) 

Below you can download The Lost Cause's complete recordings and read some anecdotes and trivia that Dad emailed me to accompany them. While putting together this online release, I performed some very minor editing on a few tracks--basically cleaning up moments where the original cassette had deteriorated and gunked up the sound quality--but virtually everything you hear is exactly as it was performed in Eddie Hill's basement, with no overdubs or other illusory trickery. If you have any comments about this collection that you'd like to share, please feel free to send me a note. We'd love to hear your thoughts! And with that, my dad and I invite you to cast your mind back to the summer of 1968 and enjoy The Lost Cause.

-Chris Willie Williams

The Lost Cause (Right-click to download the album in ZIP format)

Tracklist:
1. Subzero (Eddie Hill)
2. Open Up Your Door
(Ray Bloodworth/Larry Brown)
3. Wipeout
(Bob Berryhill/Pat Connolly/Jim Fuller/Ron Wilson)
4. Pushin' Too Hard
(Sky Saxon)
5. Gloria
(Van Morrison)
6. In the Midnight Hour
(Steve Cropper/Wilson Pickett)
7. Happy Together
(Gary Bonner/Alan Gordon)
8. Twist and Shout
(Bert Russell/Phil Medley)

Credits:

Band Member

Musical Contributions

Equipment

Age/Grade

Doug Bowers

Lead guitar, keyboards

Fender Telecaster, Vox

15 years old, 10th grade

Eddie Hill

Rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Rickenbacker

15 years old, 10th grade

Jeff Williams

Drums, percussion, lead vocals

Slingerland

13 years old, 8th grade

Steve Zubeck

Bass, backing vocals

Gretsch

13 years old, 8th grade

Recorded July 1968 in Eddie Hill's basement, Royal Oak, Michigan, using a TEAC four-track reel-to-reel and Shure microphones.
Engineer: Harold Hill.
Liner notes by Jeff Williams, 2012.
Remastered (such as it is) by Chris Willie Williams, Troy, Michigan, and Brewer, Maine, 2011/2012.

History of the Band Name:

Having formed the group, we had never discussed a name for the band. Our first gig was in June 1966, when we were invited to play at Helen Keller Junior High School for a “last day of school” dance.

We struggled for many days to come up with a creative and cool name. As the date of the dance got closer, we feared we would not all agree on the same name. Then one particular evening, all exhausted after debating for so many hours on names, Eddie announced, “Well, it looks like tonight is another... lost cause!”

As if struck by lightning, we all looked at each other and collectively shouted, “That’s it... THE LOST CAUSE!

Additional Notes:

[Regarding the psychedelic instrumental "Subzero"] I believe the song was actually composed by Eddie Hill as he was just playing around on the guitar. We all just joined in and followed his lead. After a short time, we produced the first and only original song from The Lost Cause. The screams, hoots, shouts, and other creepy sounds were from Eddie Hill and Jeff Williams.

During 1968, all the members of The Lost Cause attended Dondero High School (Royal Oak, MI). In 1967, Glenn Frey, original member of the Eagles, lived in Royal Oak and also attended Dondero. During Glenn’s high school years, he formed a band called The Mushrooms.

All members of The Lost Cause still live in the metro Detroit area.

No pictures of the band have ever been found to document their two-year existence.


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