Sunday, April 15, 2012


Trikk (1988)
Clockwise from top: Patrick Smith, Donte' Smith,
Al Martinez, Mark Martinez

Al Martinez interview conducted March 2012.

In 1988 Al Martinez’s life changed forever when he received a phone call from a radio station deejay in Pueblo.

“Magic FM disc jockey JJ Valentine played a record we made, and he said the phones lit up,” he said.

That record was actually a cassette demo of “Tonight You’re Mine,” a song he and childhood friend Patrick Smith put together with Patrick’s brother Donte', and Al’s brother, Mark. The group sent out the demos to local stations in hopes of getting airplay.

Calling themselves Trick (Patrick’s nickname), the Colorado Springs-based group, which formed just a year earlier, quickly released “Tonight You’re Mine” as a 12” single (Upward Thrust - Trick01 - 1987). The disc was recorded at Startsong Studios, in The Springs, and produced Rich Mouser.

Listen to sample of "Tonight You're Mine"

“We shot the cover of the single out at Prospect Lake. The original picture had us standing on the ice in the middle of the lake, but the shot really didn’t work. So we used my 1976 Corvette.”

“Tonight Your Mine” caught the attention of the Aanco record label (which in 1983 released Norbie Larsen’s I’d Rather Be in Colorado). The record brass liked the sound, but not the spelling of the band’s name – changing it to TRIKK.

Side One:
I Can't Wait Forever
Tonight You're Mine
Do You Like It

Side Two:
Never Say Never
Midnight Lover
I Can't Get Used to This Feeling
Still Waiting

Al Martinez, along with Rich Mouser, produced the group's first LP, Never Say Never (Aanco 28802-1988), and quickly released it to a national audience. After getting favorable attention from Radio and Records magazine, the album would generate three singles from the mellower cuts on the record, "Never Say Never," "Tears," and “Tonight You're Mine," and one of the dance tracks, "Midnight Lover."

Listen to a sample of "Midnight Lover"

“Tears” would go on to be #1 on Magic FM’s countdown,” he said.

The band caught the attention of Bertie Higgins (“Key Largo” fame), who wanted to record the song “I Can’t Get Used to This Feeling.”

“Our record company tried to put that deal together, then Bertie wanted us to sign the publishing rights over to him. I told Aanco, that if Bertie records a demo, and if it’s better than mine, then he could have it. He didn’t take the deal.”

In 1991, A&M records called a meeting with the group in Denver.

“They told us we were very marketable, and that our sound was good, but they were moving more toward alternative music, more grunge. They asked if we could go that route with our music. We tried that sound, but it just didn’t work. They ended up going with the Gin Blossoms and Blind Melon.”

"That same year we went to Seattle and recorded what was to be our next release, This Time."

The LP spawned two singles, “I Love Italian Girls,” and the title cut.

“Both got airplay in Iowa,” Martinez said.

After six years together, the band decided to take a break. Patrick headed to law school; Al got married and opened his own studio. The hiatus would last four years, when, in 1998, Trikk reunited with Eddie Adkins on guitar, and Dave Copeland on bass. The group would soon welcome Dave’s brother, Lyndon.

“About the time we went into the studio to record The Final Battle, I started concentrating on songwriting, engineering and production,” said Martinez. “The band felt that Lyndon brought a vocal style to the group that would elevate us up one more notch—which it did.”

“The album can be best described as kind of a 80s retro sound – stuff that influenced us when we were kids. We put out samplers around the Colorado Springs area, and felt really good about the project.”

But friction among the members started to unravel the group, and the final CD was never released.

“The real issue the group was having, was a divided loyalty over which songs would be on the album. I think Dave felt pressure to side with his brother, Lyndon. Hence you have a lost of interest, and that’s when Lyndon and I began to work on solo projects. I then had an opportunity to get to Los Angeles, and I took it, and that was pretty much it.”

Of the original members, Al Martinez went on to open his own studio (Innovative Studios), where he continues to record his own music. Patrick Smith is a lawyer in Portland. Mark Martinez has his own landscaping company in Colorado, and Donte' is an executive for Popeye’s Chicken.

Last year the band received a resurgence of interest, thanks to – Justin Bieber.

“His fans would Google his hit “Never Say Never” and our song would come up. Of course, they aren’t one in the same.”

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Evangelist Elma and the Children of Truth

Side One:
Get Ready
Fill My Cup
I Can't Help But Serve the Lord
O Happy Day
Sweet Sweet Spirit

Side Two:
Swing Down Sweet Chariot
God is So Real
Get Ready

I'm a sucker for gospel albums. While I haven't been a church-goer in decades, I nonetheless understand the heart and soul that goes into these records. That, and the fact that they're the most overlooked, and plentiful pieces of vinyl at most thrift stores will make the genre one I probably post more than occasionally on here.

The local gospel LPs I usually find are fairly generic, with Osmond-looking families, posed in matching clothes, and a matriarch in a gravity-defying beehive. As I almost always bring my portable turntable when I hunt for vinyl, it becomes apparent rather quickly that most of these albums will have sanitized songs, and really nothing worthy to write about.

This was not the case when I put my needle on "Get Ready (Jesus is Coming)."

Listen to sample of "Get Ready (Jesus is Coming)"

Elma Howze began her preaching career in 1950. The first House of Prayer started in her living room in Colorado Springs, in 1974. It soon moved to 203 E. Bijou (the current location of the YMCA, and across the street from the First Presbyterian Church), and later located to 324 N. Wahsatch.

God Is So Real was pressed on the prolific Colorado Springs-based John Law Enterprises record label (4105N10--no year), which was known for releasing numerous local Christian recordings throughout the 1970s. Since the songs were recorded at the church, the production is pretty dismal, and obviously best experienced live.

Michael Harp is the stand out performer, as the lead tenor in the Children of Truth. He's backed by Denise Waldon, lead soprano; Eddie Philon, barritone; Deborah Vaughn, 1st alto; Metta Huff, 2nd alto, and Demitta Clausell, 2nd soprano. Musicians include Fred Huff, drummer (and album producer); Beverly Harp, piano; David Vaughn, lead guitar, and Paul Jackson, bass.

Listen to sample of "God is So Real"

Elma Howze left Colorado Springs in 2001 to form the House of Prayer in Mcintosh, Alabama.