Yehuda Talit wanted to speak to me so I arranged to meet him at the Masakha club where the Churchills were rehearsing. Stan and I showed up that afternoon at the club. The pungent aroma of Shish Kabob and falafel from the diner down stairs permeated the air as we got out of the cab. We climbed the stairs and heard the distant sound of guitars and drums which became louder as we pushed open the door and walked into the club. I brought my guitar to run through a few numbers with the guys and laid it down on one of the tables. The band had just finished tuning up. Miki Gavrielov played bass, Haim Romano played lead and Ami Trebich sat behind them on the drums. Miki smiled and said “Hello, come and play with us man” so I wasted no time in getting out my beloved 335. Stan and I got up on the stage and decided to run through one of his soul songs. Miki ran through the chords with me and we started with My Girl. As I had seen the Churchills play several times I had some idea of how the music went and I caught on pretty quick. It was just like it was in the Saxons and Whirlwinds; we were knocking off other people’s hits. I felt at ease with that as unlike the other bands I had played with including the Tornados, I was not the lead singer and did not have to carry the band. My vocal contribution was back up singing.
Stan really wanted to have a stab at singing “All Your Love” by John Mayall and the Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton that I had sung in the Tornados. Stan and I had listened to that album several times and he had become quite familiar with that number. I showed the guys that it was basically a twelve bar progression in A minor that doubled up in the middle part and resolved back to the regular beat at the end. After a few tries we started to get it down and as the number progressed I noted how Miki and Ami played very well together which gave the band a good tight sound. Haim Romano, barely seventeen was already a very talented guitarist and picked up everything immediately. Just when we had “All Your Love” coming on nicely the door opened at the rear of the dance floor and in walked Yehuda Talit. He was six feet tall with tight curly brown hair wearing a white long sleeve shirt and gray slacks. He stood there for a few minutes with his hands in his pockets and his knees bending backwards until we stopped playing. He walked toward the stage “Shalom, shalom, shalom” acknowledging the band and without any reference to what we had played he said “Ok now play something of Stan’s”. We played “My Girl” which was all we had, which Yehuda stood and listened to with out expression.
The band took a break at that point and left the stage to join Yehuda on the dance floor. The conversation went back and forth between them in Hebrew leaving Stan and me with no idea what they were talking about. It was something that you got used to after a while. Presently they broke into English when Yehuda, after a few words with Stan motioned that he wanted to talk to me, we left the group and sat at a table. He asked me how I was and if I liked it here in Israel and did I want to stay here in Israel to which I replied that I did. He said that the boys had told him that they wanted me to join the group and asked if that was true that I did want to play with the Churchills and I told him “Yes”.
Then he asked me what about the Purple Ass Baboon and I told him that was over. “You know Gingie is asking me to pay him money for you, what about that?” he asked. My reply was that I had no signed agreement with Gingie and that he did not own me and I was not his to sell. “Ok” he said and as he began to stand up he asked me to get back on stage together with the band without Stan and sing “Sunny” which was a hit in Israel at the time and played by various bands there. The Churchills played it and Selwyn used to sing it. I explained that I did not know the song well enough to get up and sing it as I had only heard it a few times but he insisted, so I reluctantly gave a shot at trying to bluff my way through it while at the same time realizing that I was being put through some kind of an audition by Yehuda. All I knew was “Sunny, thank you for the lah, lah, lah, lah, lah…..” I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed that I was being put through this and was relieved when we stopped playing it. As I was coming down the steps at the side of the stage Yehuda walked up and said “Well Robb, if that’s what the boys want, you can play in the band, but I hope you’re going to be good enough to be in the Churchills” He shook my hand and after a few words with the others he left the club.
The last words that Yehuda had said to me left me feeling resentful. It had been unfair of him to audition me in that way. Was I good enough to be in the Churchills? Well at that point when Yehuda gave me his permission to join the band, that action would change his precious Churchills forever and put them on a road of musical discovery that would lead to them becoming an original band.
The next few days were full of rehearsals. We got Stan’s set down quickly and then settled into the task of plowing through the Churchills’ numbers which consisted of pop hits from various groups and for the most part the same music that was being played on the radio stations.
When I joined the Churchills in May of 1968 the scene was like this. The band would open up with the various hits followed by Stan who would perform his half hour of soul music. The band would then finish the evening with the rest of the hits, all dressed in their frilly and floral outfits. The band wore red and Stan’s was blue. I now had to fit in with this and although I thought it was very corny I made no comment but knew that this would have to change. I inherited Churchill’s outfit and as he was a bit heavier than me I had to tie my belt tight so as my pants wouldn’t fall down. I also realized that we would have to do away with Stan’s soul set which would then make Stan a full time member of the band. He would then be the lead singer with the songs eventually being based around him. The outfits would definitely have to go.
Stan was not a big guy but he had a big voice and could do a fair bit of screaming. He was from Montreal Canada but had lived most of his life in Miami Beach, Florida. He had hung out at Criteria Studios in Miami where he met Bob Crewe the famous record producer, songwriter and artist. Bob Crewe whose first name was actually Stan, showed Stan Solomon some fundamentals of record production. Among the many artists associated with Bob Crewe are. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Ben E King, and hundreds of others.
Stan came from one of the wealthiest families in Montréal. Nobody in the Churchills believed this but it did turn out to be true. His father Sam Solomon was a very successful manufacturer of affordable ladies attire. Stan also played bass and sang in a band in Miami called The Mystics. They were a pop band and dressed like the Dave Clark Five. He was also a champion water skier, winning many awards, but was forced to leave the sport after a serious ski jump accident left him with a broken leg which affected the way that he walked and stood.
As Sam Solomon wished his son to follow him into the dress business, Stan was enrolled in the New York School of Fashion Design. He was subsequently expelled from that school for, amongst other things, being caught with a girl in his room after curfew. He hung out with a set of friends in Montreal where they all turned on and listened to soul music which was the in thing at that time. Finding himself involved in a possible legal problem Stan looked for advice from his father’s partner who suggested that Stan should grab his passport and leave Canada. As he was of the Jewish faith Stan decided that it might be a good idea for him to go to Israel as a volunteer and live on a Kibbutz. When he arrived in Israel he was asked what he liked to do and was told to choose from a list that he was given. Nothing that he saw was appealing to him, but he had spent most of his life living by the ocean so when he saw the word “Fishing” he thought that it would be his best choice. He imagined sailing out each day on a fishing boat which didn’t sound that bad. This decision sent him to Kibbutz Ha’fek near Haifa where he spent the day up to his knees in water in an artificial lake on a fish farm. He had to walk around with a net and also had to keep the lake clean and sanitized. Stan went to the Kibbutz staff and told them that this kind of fishing was not what he had in mind and could he go out on a boat instead? The reply was that he could do this or the only other choice he had would be to volunteer for the Israeli Army. Stan chose the Army. The aftermath of The Six Day War which brought about a miraculous victory for Israel over their Arab neighbors who were vowing to push the Israeli Nation into the sea, kept the army on continuous alert so volunteers were greatly needed and appreciated. Stan was not inducted into the Israeli army; he was just taken on as a volunteer and would not be required to serve the usual term of two years. Stan painted tanks and on one painting session he was joined by comedian Larry Storch.
Storch famous for his role in F Troop had also come as a volunteer to help the Israeli Army after The Six Day War. Stan and Larry became friends and spent many nights at the barracks talking about the States and singing songs. One day while stationed with Larry and sitting together on a tank at an outpost in the field the soldiers around them began to chatter excitedly. Not understanding the language Stan and Larry continued to relax on the tank. Suddenly out of the dust a jeep drove up with a driver and three officers. Their fellow soldiers sprang to attention and the officer with a black patch over his eye got down out of the jeep and approached the group. Unbeknownst to Stan and Larry this was General Moshe Dayan the Israeli Minister of Defense. Dayan approached them and commended Stan and Larry for their loyalty as Jews to the state of Israel but could not help criticizing the length of Stan’s hair which was sprouting out from beneath his beret.
Another person Stan met while in the Army was a guy who told Stan that he played in a band called the Saints in Haifa. Stan went to one of their practices one night and was asked to sing in the band. He gladly accepted knowing that it would be a good distraction from the Army. One night the Saints drove to Tel-Aviv to play a gig and Stan was spotted by Churchills’ manager Yehuda Talit. Yehuda was very interested in Stan and approached him with an offer to sing with the Churchills. Stan agreed to attend a rehearsal with the band with the outcome being that he decided to take up the offer. With the promise of regular work and pay Stan saw it as a way to support himself and thus be able to leave the Army.
He moved down to Tel-Aviv and stayed with drummer Ami Trebich at Ami’s parents’ apartment on Shenkin Street. Upon meeting the Tornados he moved in with us and Stan and I struck up a friendship together with Stan’s intention to get me into the band. Now with that accomplished we were standing on the threshold of an exciting and creative musical future together.
Most of the rehearsals were done at the Cheetah Club in Tel-Aviv. I couldn’t help trying to do whatever I could on guitar to make the songs sound different. I usually liked to put in those; we later called “Acid Chords” even in the Bee Gee’s hit “Massachusetts”. Once I did that I felt better about having to play the song. I at least felt that there was a little bit of me in it. It didn’t take very long at all for me to get the songs down with the band. I was getting to know its members a little better too. It seemed to me that they were feeling comfortable with me and I with them. They were a bit younger than me but I could see that they were all very talented and played their parts well. Miki had the special talent of being able to sing and at the same time play the most intricate bass lines on his Hofner bass. He could split his mind and was able to do those two things effortlessly at the same time. He also had a very good musical ear and would know in a moment if anybody’s guitar was out of tune or if someone was singing flat or off key.
Ami always smiled from behind his drums. He was particularly happy at that time as he had just been released from the Israeli Army Jail where he had been for several weeks. There had been some kind of foul up with Ami’s captain who one day told Ami that he could go home and would be called when he was needed for duty. It seemed that the captain forgot all about Ami for a few months. In the end it was the military police that came around to Ami’s place and arrested him for being A.W.O.L. Although it was pretty much agreed upon by his superiors that it was not really Ami’s fault they still sentenced him to a couple of months in detention camp so as not to jeopardize the career of his Captain. Upon his release he was also told that he was being honorably discharged from the Army which was the best news that he could ever have been given.
In his absence the multi talented Haim Romano sat in on drums for him. Haim was an extraordinary, young musician who played guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, a Greek stringed instrument and did a pretty damn good job as a drummer and had a great time doing it. Haim had the great talent of learning pieces very quickly, playing them effortlessly and perfectly every time. His playing was rather straight at the time and he played with a clean sound but I felt that once he was stimulated by sounds of Jimi Hendrix and the blues that he would really come into his own, which he did. Haim was playing a small Guild semi acoustic that he was borrowing from Churchill at the time. He really liked my Gibson and sometimes we would swap guitars at the gigs which was fun. I could tell that he enjoyed playing that guitar.
We began to play gigs with me in the line up. We dressed up in our stage gear played our sets, Stan came up and did his cameo spots and all in all everything was coming along fine. The Churchills had no problems with the audience because they played all the hits just like the other bands. The only exception was Stan’s set which the audience tolerated as it was only a half our set. Sometimes we let Little Tony the roadie mentioned earlier in the story, get up and sing a song or two. He was literally a huge guy but he danced around the stage singing Funky, funky Broadway which he always sang as “Fuckin’ fuckin’ Broadway which had Stan and I in fits. The only other guy who was allowed to get up and sing was a Presley wannabe who called himself Elvis of Israel. He was trim and good looking, most likely from Moroccan decent and portrayed all the Elvis mannerisms. He did not understand or speak a word of English but sang the Presley songs quite well. Although the words sounded ok, when you listened closely you could hear that he was only singing what he heard and obviously had no idea what he was singing about. The only thing he ever said to me was “Man I looking on California”. He may well have been one of the first Elvis impersonators. I think that he really did believe that he was Elvis.
One Monday afternoon in the early part of June ’67 when we all met at Yehuda’s apartment to get paid we found out that Helen Shapiro was coming to Israel to play a series of shows. Helen Shapiro was a child star from England who had her first hit at the age of fourteen while still at school. Among her hits were “Walking Back to Happiness”, “You Don’t Know” and “Don’t Treat Me like a Child”. She had an unusually deep timbre to her voice. The Churchills were to be her backing group and we were to tour with her throughout Israel. Yehuda said that only Miki, Haim and Ami would be required so Stan and I were not involved in any of the rehearsals with her. The boys were supplied with the 45’s of her hits and knocked them off in no time. The Churchills opened up the show and then Stan came on to do his soul bit. After the break the Churchills appeared with Helen Shapiro, did her set and closed the show with a couple of numbers. It was a rare experience for me to be there with Helen Shapiro after remembering how I used to watch her on the T V shows when she was fourteen and I was fifteen. During the time that we worked together I hardly got to talk to her and I don’t even remember if she knew that I was British. For the most part she exhibited a miserable appearance and looked like she was pissed off all the time. I think that she was unhappy to be in Israel performing in these rough clubs, a definite difference from performing in Europe. She was married to her manager who looked a lot older than her and she constantly seemed to be complaining to him and giving him a hard time. Stan and I watched all of this with great interest and smiles on our faces.
One night we were appearing outside in an amphitheater not far from Tel-Aviv. It was a very hot and sticky evening. Not long into our set we began to get bombarded by some huge flying Palmetto bugs that flew in over the stage and dive bombed us. Once they homed in on you it didn’t matter how you moved they would still come right at you. It was weird to say the least and when we came off stage I said to Stan “Helen Shapiro’s going to love this!” We could see her standing off to the side back stage and it looked like she was giving her husband hell. Stan and I made a bet that she would refuse to appear. By the time she was due to perform the flying bug onslaught had subsided so she started her set. Halfway through her second song “Walking Back to Happiness” the flying bugs resumed their blitz upon the stage. Stan and I watched from the wings as she was forced to run all over the stage to avoid the insects. We could see that she was furious as the audience was getting a huge kick out of seeing her trying to get away from her attackers. She cut her act short and stormed off the stage and almost collided with the promoter in the wings who was imploring her to return to the stage. She pushed him violently aside with the words “Get out of my fucking way” Stan and I were highly amused and we retreated to a secluded part of the stage where we could have a good laugh.
Stan and I were settling in to the Sokolov flat very nicely. We found a good little restaurant called “Babba” which was within walking distance and was located next to cinema “Gat”. When we ate at home I did the cooking and also did the cleaning. We usually stayed up all night writing poetry, drawing psychedelic designs, making collages using cut outs from magazines, and listening to and talking about music. I wrote to my folks back in England and explained that I would not be coming home as I had joined an Israeli band and for the time being at least I would be remaining in Israel.
Ami Trebich asked Stan and me if he could move in with us and sleep on the sofa bed which was in the living room. We never used that room so we agreed and Ami moved in. At this time nobody in the Churchills knew that Stan and I were getting high so Ami’s presence did cause a bit of a problem. We always had to wait for Ami to leave and we would wait until we heard him ride off on his Vespa motor scooter and then fire up a joint. One night after he had left Stan and I had just lit up when we heard the sound of Ami’s Vespa coming around the corner of the street. Stan peered out through the bedroom window and said “Holy shit he’s back” and we rushed to hide the evidence of our clandestine activities. The only evidence that we couldn’t hide was the aroma of the hashish. Ami walked in explaining that he had decided not to go out after all and with a suspicious look he asked what that smell was in the flat. Stan and I asked in unison” “What smell?” Ami said “Come on you know something smells in here”. Stan suggested that the odor was coming from a light bulb that had been painted yellow and the heat of the bulb was causing the paint to burn. Ami didn’t go for that and said that he knew what that smell was and when we asked him what he thought it was he said “That smell is Hashish and you’ve been smoking it”. We strongly denied it insisting that Ami was mistaken. Ami said “Look I know what that smell is and why don’t you admit it? I’ll tell you what if you have any I will smoke with you right now” Stan and I looked at each other not knowing quite what to do so I left it up to Stan who reluctantly said “Well ok yes we have been turning on and I guess it would only be a matter of time till you found out”. Stan opened the drawer in the night stand next to his bed and pulled out the rolling tray together with a chunk of hash and the tobacco residue. Together with this was the joint which we had hurriedly extinguished. Ami asked how long we had been smoking and Stan replied that well, Ami had never seen us straight! We shared a joint with Ami and everything took on a different mood and we all became very happy and relaxed. The truth was now exposed and we felt good that at least we did not have to hide it from Ami any more. Ami admitted that he had smoked hash before and said that he couldn’t wait to tell Haim and Miki about this great secret that he had unearthed. We put the Jimi Hendrix album Are you Experienced on the turn table and Ami was blown away by the music. The next thing Ami suggested was that we invite Miki and Haim over to smoke with us and listen to some Hendrix and blues music. Ami maintained that Haim would smoke all the hash that we had.
We could only imagine the excitement that we had created when Ami sped off on his Vespa the next day to carry the news to Miki and Haim. The following evening Ami showed up with Miki at the flat but Haim had chosen not to come. The four of us sat in the bedroom where Ami insisted upon rolling the joint or “Pagaz” as he called it. Pagaz in Hebrew means explosion. We ended up staying up all night sitting around in our underwear (no air conditioning in those days). We joked and laughed a lot and I can still remember Miki curled up on one of our beds in his Y fronts laughing till the tears ran down his cheeks. Subsequently after the initial bouts of laughter subsided we got into listening to music and Stan and I bombarded Miki and Ami with Hendrix, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers and The Blues of T-bone Walker all of which together with the influence of the hashish had a profound affect on them.
At around 6 am when we were all beginning to fade out Ami stood up and lit a cigarette and smoked it looking out of the window. Suddenly he started to laugh and said “There’s an old woman washing her pussy in the garden across the street”. We thought that the evening’s session had been too much for Ami and that he was hallucinating. We just laughed and told Ami to go to sleep but he continued to laugh. We all got up and peered out of the window and he was right. Across the street sitting in the front yard was an old lady sitting on a chair with a bucket of water between her legs. She had her skirt pulled up to her waist and was busy splashing the water on her vagina. We were all in disbelief and at one point she must have heard out giggles as she looked up, pulled down her skirt, poured the water down the drain and waddled off into her house. What an entertaining end to a night of discovery and experimentation!
This was the night that started the change of the Churchills. Haim eventually went through a similar initiation with us a few weeks later due mainly to pressure from Miki and Ami. Haim had been reluctant to experiment with hashish, after all he was barely 17 years old but on the night of his initiation he turned out to be incredibly funny. Most of his comedic display was done in Hebrew and he had Ami and Miki reduced to tears of laughter. Although Stan and I had no idea what he was talking about we couldn’t help laughing along with them. Haim was also subjected to the same musical stimuli as Miki and Ami. With Haim now having been turned on to this new music the way was clear for the Churchills to proceed on a path that would lead them to being a completely original band. As we knew it had to happen, a decision was made that Stan would become a full time singer in the Churchills and that we would learn new songs in order to phase out any old undesirable songs. Stan and I had talked about it on the off nights when we were doing our all night poetry, artistic and song writing marathons and it was now obvious that a change was imminent.
We got rid of our stage suits although Stan did hold on to his blue flower pants as they did look pretty good when worn with just a tee shirt. I dug out my old Tornados mod gear consisting of my polka dots, stripes, and paisley garb. I also took a liking to a Bedouin Arab dress, of all things, that one of our visitors had left in our flat. I put it on for a laugh and cut it in half just below the waist so it now became a hippie type tunic. At the rehearsals we began to introduce new numbers such as “Red House”, “All your Love”, “Little Girl”, and so on. We still kept Stan’s soul numbers and also did two of his own songs called “Talk to Me”, and “Coming Home Yeah”.
With me now in the line up we decided to get some publicity photos taken. As any old photos of the band were now obsolete and the waiters’ outfits sent to our respective closets, never to see the light of day again, we got together to discuss what we would wear and what the image of the band should be. The biggest problem that we had was that the rest of the guys said that they didn’t think that they had any suitable garb to wear, so I suggested that we head over to Sokolov and take a look in my closet. I gave Ami my paisley jacket that I used to wear in the Tornados “Mod” shows and also my red and white spotted shirt that I had bought in Carnaby Street. It was quite a clashing outfit which Ami wore along with a pair of plaid pants. What a combo, plaid, paisley and polka dots. We suggested that Miki should wear my tan mohair suit which I had made at Dougie Millings’. We figured that it would be a good contrast and compared it to how Paul McCartney had often worn a suit when the rest of the Beatles were wearing casual clothes. Stan thought that he would use an Arabic style cloak that he had bought in old Jerusalem and had intended to use it in his soul set in some way to emulate James brown. He also used an Arabic sheepskin coat that he had also bought in Jerusalem which always had a kind of odor to it which reminded me of the smell that permeated the Kensington Road flea market in London. Haim said that he thought that he could come up with something to wear and ended up at the photo session, much to our disappointment looking too suave and rather like the famous Greek entertainer singer and guitarist Aris San. I guess that I was the George Harrison equivalent of the band and wore the Arab cut off dress a pair of blue jeans an a pair of patent leather winkle picker boots that I inherited from Dave Watts. The striking thing about the way we dressed shows that the Israeli guys were dressed like westerners while Stan and I adopted a more Middle Eastern look. This was also reflected in our later musical compositions where all the eastern influence emanated from Stan and me and not from our Israeli counterparts. When the photographer showed up we made our way down to the Ha’ Yarkon river that flows through Tel-Aviv where we took some shots by a boat house. Then we drove over to Old Jaffa using some of the old Arabic buildings as back drops.
The Churchill’s music and approach to the changes in that music did not happen over night. We were still required in many ways to play the popular tunes from the radio in Israel. These songs were introduced to the band via Miki, Haim and Ami. Stan and I realized and accepted that the band’s transition to become a totally original group would have to be gradual. So the pop music was coming from the Israeli members of the band and our manager Yehuda Talit, who was very wary of Stan’s and my presence in the group. He was continually asking us how we thought the audience was accepting the band. He obviously wanted us to keep playing the pop hits which was what the Israeli audience wanted to hear. His commission from the Churchill’s work was his income and he would not have been happy if the band’s popularity decreased due to a drastic change in the group’s music. He could have been faced with a decrease in gigs and difficulty selling the band. As long as we featured the current hits in our repertoire Yehuda and the audience were happy. They looked upon the other stuff that we did with indifference. Of course we did get the occasional hecklers, who after we had played something they did not recognize, would approach the stage and ask why we were playing that music as nobody had heard it before. Remember, in Israel at that time bands were judged by the music that they played and not the way they played it. So for example, if a completely awful band played a top hit and an excellent band played an unknown number, the awful band would be considered great and the excellent band would be garbage regardless of their musical expertise. Many of the Israeli bands that we played with hinted that they would like to play different music than the pop songs but none of them did at that time. They knew that it would be musical suicide to do that in Israel. Even the Lions, the best liked band in Israel would not try anything out of the ordinary. Their bass player Danny Shoshan was the only member who would have liked to have branched out into more serious music. His chance would finally come about eighteen months later when he would join the Churchills, later to become a key performer and song writer in Jericho Jones and Jericho.
At a band meeting one Friday afternoon Yehuda discussed with us the possibilities of making a record. He said that there was a good chance that CBS of Israel would be interested in releasing a single by the Churchills. I was rather surprised when it was suggested that we record Too Much in Love to Hear. This was the B side to Pop Art Goes Mozart. One time when we were all gathered at Sokolov Miki was sifting through my records when he came across the Tornados single and put it on the turntable. Miki asked me who wrote the song and I explained that I did, along with Pete Holder. So it was decided that we would record that song along with “Talk to Me”, a song written by Stan. We had been playing Talk to me in the Churchills’ set so we all knew our parts in that. I showed the band the chords to “Too Much in Love to Hear” and we began to talk about the arrangements of these songs. We were told that the record would be produced by Alex Weiss who was at that time a renowned musician, composer and conductor in Israel. Stan and I had no idea who he was but we figured that he must have been pretty good judging by the excitement generated by the rest of the band and Yehuda. He would also arrange string accompaniment for both songs. There would also be a brass section.
The session was to be recorded at Kholinor Studios Tel-Aviv. We were scheduled to arrive at the studio at 7.30 am. Stan said “What are they out of their fuckin’ minds?” We didn’t usually go to sleep till around 6 am. Stan and I were forced to have an early night and crawled into bed at around 4 am. Three hours later we dragged ourselves out of bed, smoked a joint (we didn’t drink coffee in those days) and walked over to the taxi stand on Nordau Street. At the studio we met Yehuda and the rest of the band and were introduced to sound engineer Amnon Roberman and his assistant Dori. Amnon did not look like a sound engineer; he looked more like he should have been working in a butcher shop or a deli. He had his black hair slicked back and had one leg shorter than the other. He wore an elevated boot which he kind of dragged when he walked. As we were setting up the amps under the direction of Dori, Yehuda walked over to us with a guy he introduced as Alex Weiss. We all shook hands. He first appeared to me to look like a trumpeter from the 50’s. He had greasy black hair combed back, wore glasses and sported a thin moustache. He spoke very good English and was a very pleasant person to work with. He also had a nervous “twitch”. As he was talking to you he would place one hand on his hip, stick out his chest and twitch forward just like he was going to begin to dance a tango. Haim Romano impersonated Alex to a tee and in the weeks to come Haim would have us on our knees with laughter. Ami Trebich maintained that Alex was an asthma sufferer and that was why he had that twitch. Alex oversaw the recordings of the two backing tracks. As Stan was the singer he was in the control room together with Alex, Amnon and Yehuda while we were putting down the backing tracks. Stan took part in the production of that record. I could see him contributing ideas and explaining how we wanted it to sound and holding discussions behind the large window between the studio and the control room.
I believe that this was one of the first recordings of its kind to be made in Israel. Most of the recordings prior to this were either classical, folk music and for the most part were recorded using acoustic instruments. Taking all of this into consideration and with directions from Stan and Alex Weiss we got the two basic backing tracks down without any major problems. We all listened to the tracks in the control room and agreed that it did not sound bad by any means. We then proceeded to put on the vocals. Stan did the vocals on Talk to Me which turned out to be very good. We as the rest of the Churchills did the vocal backing. When I started with “Too Much in Love to Hear”, Alex Weiss walked over to me and almost breaking into a tango he said “That’s right, just tell the story”. Once we had finished with the vocals Haim dubbed a guitar solo onto “Talk to Me”. While Haim was in that process Stan and I discussed what type of solo we should put on “Too Much in Love to Hear”. Stan said that he thought we should put a Hendrix style solo which I would play and then we would reverse it and play it backwards and dub it on to the track. We sat together and got a good sound on my guitar with plenty of sustain and distortion and I practiced along with the backing track. Amnon was looking concerned and called Stan into the control room where they talked back and forth until Stan returned. “They think that we’re crazy, Robbie, they tried to tell me that they can’t record a guitar like that. I told ‘em that Hendrix records like that in England and that’s the sound we want”. I resumed my work on the solo and I realized that it could not be a melodic type of solo as it would not fit with the backing track when it was played backwards. I decided to keep it as simple as possible and basically slid my fingers up and down the strings from octave to octave. We could see Amnon peering through the window shaking his head with disapproval. I said to Stan, “Wait till we tell him that we want to reverse the tape and play it backwards he’ll shit his pants!” We got the solo down with Stan staying in the studio with me. He let out a scream at the beginning of my solo and also shouted “We are the tit men of Tel-Aviv” Yehuda was beside himself and complained profusely to Stan when we entered the control room to listen to the play back. “You can’t say that on a record”. Stan replied telling Yehuda not too worry as it would be backwards and that nobody would understand it. Amnon swiveled round on his chair with a look of amazement, asking what did we mean backwards? Stan explained that we wanted him to reverse the solo along with the scream and the “tit men” part as they were together on the same track and then mix it in with the backing. Amnon almost fell out of his chair and with his eyes popping out of his head said that it couldn’t be done. We explained that it could as we had heard it on the Jimi Hendrix album Are You Experienced. The result was that Amnon and Dori jabbered away in Hebrew with their hands waving in the air and with some input from the rest of the Churchills they eventually agreed to do as we asked. We were not present when the strings and brass were put on. After that session Alex Weiss was given the tracks and he went off to write the parts and they were recorded later.
Today, when you listen to those tracks you hear “Talk to Me”, superbly sung by Stan Solomon in a soulful voice with good backing vocals from the Churchills and tasteful orchestration; basically a traditional recording and rendition. “Too Much in Love to Hear”, on the other hand was different and interesting in its concept. Here we had a good melodic song, sung in a pop style voice combined with a group sound that was embellished with a typical almost 50’s sounding brass section, with classical style strings layered in; suddenly attacked in the solo by an imposing backward guitar, a scream and some unrecognizable utterance. Although maybe not the most tasteful addition to the song it did display surprise and at the same time it was an illustration. It showed a desire by the band, or certain members of the band, to break away from the traditional and to enter and explore a new way of presenting their music.