|Rockin' in Riverside — in the basement, of course. From left: Bob Weisberger, drums and vocals; Rick Fournier, rhythm guitar and lead singer; Gerry Murphy, lead guitar; Norm LaBrie, keyboards and vocals. Images courtesy of Rick Fournier.|
We can thank Dottie Dyer and her "Zounds Of Sounds!" column in the Cranston Herald for preserving The Merchants Of Sound, making them ripe for discovery on microfilm nearly five decades after the fact. The Merchants join The Malibus and The Alibi as the only three bands to be featured in this short-running music column. Curious as to if the two songs mentioned in the article ever materialized on a record, I contacted a very surprised and amused Bob Weisberger. Turns out this crew did indeed record two songs at New England Recording Studios, from which seven acetate demo discs were made. The records are all lost to time, but luckily at least a low-fidelity recording of the tunes exits. (These literally sound like they were recorded by a 2007 flip-phone held in front of a speaker with the television on in the background, and then dubbed onto a third-generation cassette.) As of this writing, nobody can locate their 45, so these barely listenable dubs will have to suffice. But hey, better than nothing!
|Along with the Malibus and the Alibi, the Merchants were featured in the weekly Cranston Herald newspaper. |
(Click to enlarge)
“We Try Harder” is the slogan of The Merchants Of Sound as they launch this new series. The Riverside group consists of Richard Fournier, lead singer and rhythm guitar, Norman Labrie, organ, Gerry Murphy, lead guitar and Bob Weisberger, drums.
They’ve played at the Summer Festival at St. Brendan’s Church, Johnson & Wales Business School, our Muscular Dystrophy radio-thon at the Coventry Shoppers Park (over WWRI), local parties, and dances in the East Providence area.
Rich lives at 289 Burnside Avenue and hopes to become a commercial airlines pilot and also be in the recording field. His birthday is April 3rd and he’s a sophomore at La Salle. He likes The Doors and Frankie Valli. His hobby is writing offbeat poetry.
Norm lives at 91 Becker Avenue and his birthdate is May 17. He’s a sophomore at East Providence High and hopes to enter the electronics field after graduation. His hobby is photography and he likes Petula Clark and the Beatles
Gerry lives at 77 Burnside Avenue and is a sophomore at East Providence. He likes the Beatles and Eric Burdon. His birthday is November 16 and he has a gigantic string collection. His favorite song is “I’ve Got The World On A String” (couldn’t resist it!). He hopes to become an architect in the future.
Bob lives at 60 Winthrop Street and his hobby is his drums. Birthday time for Bob is March 12. He’s a freshman at La Salle and hopes to become a lawyer. He likes Englebert Humperdink, the Beatles and the Raiders.
The boys are hoping a record company will record their compositions, “Back To You” and “I Didn’t Know You Too Well.” They’ll be playing these tunes at their future engagements. Bill Corsair, WICE, expressed interest in the group and may have them at a future hop.
— Dottie Dyer, 10-29-67
We'll be sure to post label pictures and new rips if a copy of the 45 ever surfaces. Stay tuned.
|At Riverside Junior High School. From the left: Rick Fournier, Gerry Murphy, Bob Weisberger, Ray Gadouas (added on bass) and Norm Labrie.|
|Receipts from the session at New England Recording Studios! (Click to enlarge.)|
THE MERCHANTS OF SOUND
Back To You / I Didn't Know You Too Well
New England Recording Studios (acetate) August 1967
Back To You
I Didn't Know You Too Well