The McCoys are the brothers Rick and Randy Zehringer, Rick is better known in the industry as Rick Derringer, while 1969’s ‘Human Ball’ would be their swansong.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: The McCoys
ALBUM: Human Ball
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Rick Zehringer – guitar, organ * Randy Zehringer – drums, percussion * Robert Peterson – piano, organ, percussion * Randy Hobbs – bass, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Human Ball Blues * 02 Only Human * 03 Epilogue * 04 All Over You * 05 Daybreak * 06 It Really Doesn’t Matter * 07 Love Don’t Stop * 08 Clergy Lies * 09 Stormy Monday Blues
When I first began wrapping my young toe-head around the concept of pop music, 1965’s ‘Hang On Sloopy’ was in the mix, but I swear for many years, I thought it was it was a Beach Boys song! Of course while musically different I was confusing the title ‘Sloop John B’ with The McCoys bubblegum smash but whatever, both tunes were great pop although the subject of this review was far less successful.
Formed in the off-the-beaten-track town of Union City, Indiana in 1962 by the brothers Rick and Randy Zehringer as Rick And The Raiders, the band struggled until meeting all the right people and striking solid gold with ‘Hang On Sloopy’, a major hit that would soon become an albatross around the band’s necks.
Further singles failed to chart significantly and change was in the air. Signing to Mercury Records, Rick Zehringer took over in a big way. He produced two albums for the label: 1968’s ‘Infinite McCoys’ and what would become the groups swansong, 1969’s ‘Human Ball’.
Both albums reflect the open-minded experimentation of the times with a mixture of blues-rock and psychedelic pop spearheaded by Zehringer’s firebrand guitar workouts. Unfortunately, The McCoys moniker still conjured up images of contrived pop and Mercury did very little to promote the LP’s.
This was a shame as the band had matured considerably, appearing on stages with some of the biggest names of the day including Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Country Joe And The Fish, Procol Harum and others.
Of the two albums, I’m of the opinion ‘Human Ball’ is the stronger effort. Book-ended with straightforward blues cuts ‘Human Ball Blues’ and a cover of T.Bone Walker‘s ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ it’s the remaining tracks that hold the most interest. ‘Only Human’ takes a successful stab at the Buffalo Springfield country rock sound while ‘Epilogue’ has a lounge-y Burt Bacharach vibe.
The record’s high points and I mean that literally are ‘It Really Doesn’t Matter’ with its swirling intro and outro, Doors-ish organ, trippy but melodic vocals and killer guitar soloing from Rick. Add to that The Beatles influenced ‘Clergy Lies’ which hints at ‘I Am The Walrus’ and closes with the sound of a flushing toilet. Heady Stuff!
By the end of 1969, The McCoys set free of their contract from Mercury called themselves Transition for one gig before hooking up with the legendary Johnny Winter as the great white one’s backing band. Anxious and willing to strike out on his own, Zehringer smartly changed his name to Rick Derringer, hoochie-kooing all the way to the bank behind a plethora of good hard rock albums throughout the 1970’s and early 80’s.