Drummer Rich Legault, bassist Denny Lewan, singer/guitarist Mike Peace and rhythm guitarist Ben Wiesneiwski were all members of the Wisconsin-based Attila and the Huns. Formed in 1964, the band became quite popular on the local dance and club circuit, eventually releasing a self-financed 45 "CHERYL" and "THE LONELY HUNS" on the Sara label. In 1967 the band placed second in a local battle of the bands contest and caught the attention of businessman/manager/producer Lennie LaCour.
Singer/guitarist Mike Peace picks up the narrative: "Lennie was a gimmick kind of guy, who had his success in show biz due to an Orange Crush commercial that he sang vocals on as an artist know as the "Big Rocker". He was always trying to catch a trend or some bandwagon to ride along with it. The Hula Hoop was enjoying a big come back around 1968 so... the first release he did with us while were were still working as Attila and the Huns was a song called 'Hula Shake' which he wrote about a "new dance sensation that was sweeping the nation called the Hula Shake". It was such a contrived concept that it didn't stand a chance in the marketplace. I wrote the flip side 'Hurry Back', but Lennie didn't give me any writer credit for it. The 45 only shows his name as writer. This was by far the better of the two songs but it wasn't the push side of the record.
LaCour managed to get Chess Records interested in Attila and the Huns. Under his tutelage the company financed some recording sessions in the Chess Studio and even prepared cover art for a projected album, but nothing came of the deal.
Chess wouldn't release the album so Lennie had to buy the license rights to his own production. This was the original cover that was designed for Chess, but since they did not want to release it at the time, Lennie bought the license rights from Chess. The cost of a color cover was above his budget and he convinced us to change our names to "The Filet of Soul" so the cover was made black and white and the new name tacked on top of the old picture. This photo won a photographers blue ribbon at the Indian Head Photographers Convention around 1971. I set up a camera and shot the photo on an auto time shutter release setting.
Released by LaCour's Dynamic Records label 1969's blue-eyed soul single "Sweet Lovin'' b/w "Do Your Own Thing" (Dynamic catalog number 1002) was Lennie's next release for us and served as our debut under the new name 'Filet of Soul' - also Lennie's idea. This one was an immediate local Wisconsin hit. I remember driving to a gig and hearing "Sweet Lovin'' playing on my car radio. I had my radio buttons tuned for three local stations that I knew had our record. I was driving alone and out of curiosity I switched to WSTP Stevenspoint to discover they were playing it at the same time. WMRL Merril was the other station so I pushed that button to find it was also playing the song. I was bouncing up and down on my car seat and was so excited that I had to pull off the road, honk my horn and scream at the top of my lungs. I was sure that we would be appearing on the Ed Sullivan show next but it turned out that Lennie hadn't bothered to secure any kind of record distribution deals so record sales simply didn't happen. Turns out that Lennie believed that if a song was "hot" enough the distributors would contact him. But bigger stations were extremely reluctant to play records that didn't have distribution agreements since sales were what showed a song was hot. He had good intentions but not enough marketing savvy to help The Filet of Soul make it.
While the single did outside of the local area, LaCour signed the band to his own Magic Touch label, financing another release - 1969's 'Proud Mary' b/w (Get Out, Get Out) We Want Peace' (Magic Touch catalog number 2078). Like the debut their sophomore release did nothing commercially, but LaCour continued to support the band, financing an album on his small Chicago-based Moniquid Records.
Produced by LaCour (he also contributed a couple of songs), 1970's "Freedom" was different from a lot of era albums in that it showcased a largely original set of material. Largely penned by Peace (there were two covers), the album showcased an interesting mix of blue-eyed soul ('Treat Her Right'), top-40 pop ('Here's Where I Get Off') and tougher rock material ('Come To Me').
As lead singer Peace had a great voice that was more than capable of handling the band's diverse repertoire. It was all performed with the kind of naive enthusiasm that more than compensated for whatever performance short comings the band had and for the somewhat low-fi sound and production. Interestingly virtually every one of the twelve songs had commercial potential, but these guys were at their best when playing straight ahead rock - the wah-wah guitar propelled title track, 'Big City U.S.A.', the fuzz-driven 'Standin At the Wrong Machine' and the raging garage screamer 'Steppin Into You Fire'. There was also a nice cover of The Zombies' 'Tell Her No'. Certainly not the most original album you've ever heard, but thoroughly charming and one that I continually spin.
"Freedom" track listing:
1.) Freedom (Mike Peace) - 4:02
2.) Come To Me (Mike Peace) - 2:04
3.) Here's Where I Get Off (Mike Peace) - 2:45
4.) Tell Her No (Rod Argent) - 2:00
5.) Sweet Lovin' (Mike Peace) - 2:57
6.) Treat Her Right (Roy Head) - 2:11
1.) Big City U.S.A. (Richard LaGault) - 2:45
2.) Standin At the Wrong Machine (Lenny LaCour) - 2:32
3.) Get Ready (Oliver/Lumpkin/Broadus) - 2:42
4.) Steppin Into You Fire (Lenny LaCour) - 3:37
5.) Learn How To Love (Mike Peace) - 3:20
6.) Do Your Own Thing ((Lennie LaCour/Mike Peace) - 2:06
In the mid-1970s the band changed their name to Filet of Sound, recording a pair of albums and a string of singles. Starting in the early-1980s Peace when on to record as a solo act and has an interesting website at:
There are at least two other bands with the same name. There's a mid-1970s outfit that recorded for Mercury featuring guitarist Joe Lynn Turner and a late-1990s Athens, Georgia based folk-rock outfit.
Thanks again to Mike Peace for all of the additional information on the band. M. Peace (January 2006)
I don't even have a copy of the album myself anymore. Lenny LaCour gave us about 50 and kept the rest of them all in a safe someplace. We sold our 50 in a few weeks playing club dates and then could not get anymore. Is your copy autographed? Most of the ones we sold were signed by the band members.
Lenny wrote some of the lyrics but the band did all the music. We also wrote a few of the lyrics but Lenny as producer got credit for them as well.
Looking back at what we had done it really wasn't all that bad. 90% of the songs were written in one evening and recorded in the studio the next day in about 12 hours. Using studio B which was just 4 tracks, we played all the instrument tracks first then went back and added the vocals. Dave Purple was the engineer and he was fantastic. He later went on to receive a Grammy for engineering the music for the movie "Shaft"
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