Mystery Record Connected to Cleveland
Digging through boxes of records on the second floor of the St. Louis Record Exchange, I came across a record from Fully Assembled. It didn't appear unusual at first because finding records with the Musicland USA label is quite common in St. Louis as it was a local label. In fact, the song this group covers was a national hit for labelmate Bob Kuban & The In-Men.
I listened to a few seconds of the record, and really dug Fully Assembled's hard and heavy rendition of "The Cheater." I have a good collection of records from the Musicland USA label, so I was happy to add another one to it.
After returning home I took a closer look at the label, and after reading "Belkin-Maduri Productions" I knew this wasn't an ordinary Musicland USA release. Belkin...as in Mike & Jules Belkin? Maduri...as in Carl Maduri? What are the odds?
Then I saw the last two lines on the label: "Engineered by Arnie Rosenberg." Rosenberg was the engineer at Audio Recording in Cleveland, involved in the recording work for Terry Knight & The Pack, Grand Funk Railroad, The Lemon Pipers, and countless others.
This wasn't a St. Louis record...this was a CLEVELAND record with a St. Louis label found in a box of records in St. Louis!
The record was released in late 1970 or early 1971, which added to the intrigue since Musicland USA went defunct by 1969. The catalogue number is 1111 (1112 on the flip), which is inconsistent with the other catalogue numbers on the label. This was not an official Musicland USA release.
(See update below)
Most likely, the band released their version of "The Cheater" using the same label the song was originally released on in an attempt to convince people that their song was a national release, and perhaps get a legitimate record deal. The exact reason why is unknown. Only speculation.
(See update below)
Fully Assembled formed in 1966 as Bobby Dell & The Shantells and featured twin brothers Bill and Bob Sapp. Read more about the band at Buckeye Beat!
Here's what I want to know: Since the band's from Cleveland, and the song was recorded in Cleveland, and it wasn't an official Musicland USA release, how the heck did it wind up in a box of records in St. Louis?
To borrow a line from a famous Tootsie Pop commercial, "the world may never know."
I posted a picture of the record on the "Fans of the Chesterland Hullabaloo" page on Facebook, which generated a lot of response from Clevelanders who remember seeing them. A rival band member also joined in on the conversation, resulting in a lively discussion that added some interesting and rather amusing insights to the unfriendly rivalry. Both Bill and Bob Sapp responded to my questions as well, providing a missing piece of the puzzle to this mystery.
Bill Sapp also provided a similar response. The person who originally owned Musicland USA was Mel Friedman, who also managed Bob Kuban & The In-Men and The Guise. How did Friedman get connected with Mike Belkin and Carl Maduri? That answer is the final missing piece to this puzzle, but it might go unanswered as both Belkin and Maduri died in the last few years. Friedman's whereabouts are unknown.
If Friedman indeed initiated the updated recording of "The Cheater," it would prove that the release on Musicland USA was legitimate, and explain why the record was found in St. Louis. It is unknown, and perhaps unlikely, if the record was played in St. Louis. There's also no mention of the record on any of the Cleveland top 40 radio surveys, but it could have been played somewhere on the FM dial.
The investigation continues.