Rod Deal & The I-Deals
Susie & I were on the road, promoting my band The RHYTH-O-MATICS’
new album “Walking In The Shadow” that had recently been released. In Garberville, a small town in Northern California’s Humboldt County, we discovered an interesting-looking cassette in the local music store. That was Rod’s “Police State”. Although recorded in a local 4 track studio, the elements
of the I-Deals’ music were apparent to Susie & myself. We were immediately interested in producing an album for the band, but we were very busy with our own project at the time.
I had dropped off a few promotional copies of The Rhyth-O-Matics to KMUD,
which was then and still is probably the best radio station in the country. I got a call from one of the DJs, saying he really liked the album and was playing it regularly. It was Rod Deal! We arranged to get together in the near future.
Susie & I called Rod from Redway & he gave us directions to his house. We
were to drive past Whitethorn and wait at a small bridge. Rod drove up on an
ATV and motioned for us to follow him up a dirt road to his small cabin in the Redwoods. He was thin, wore glasses & had long dreadlocks. We were there for about five minutes when he asked us if we wanted to see his plants. We walked down a path to a small clearing between the trees, where Rod had several large marijuana plants growing. He inspected some damage where deer had managed to chew through a section of chicken wire he had wrapped around each plant for protection. He repaired the hole & we went back to his cabin and kicked back for a while. Rod was a very trusting soul, and told us all about himself and his struggle against government forces invading the region.
We made plans to bring The I-Deals to Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco to record an album.
I listened to every tape Rod had ever made and picked what I considered to be his best songs. The rhythm section, Randy & Doug, were very strong. Rod’s vocals were rock solid. Ty Anderson, their new lead guitarist, was killer.
Jimmy Durchslag, the trombone player, was also killer and had a good ear for thematic horn parts. Kathryn Manspeaker also had a good voice and played a good reggae bubble keyboard. The weak points were percussion, some of the arrangements, and that a lot of the material sounded alike. There were some great strong songs, some that were not-so-great, and some that could be great with a lot of work.
We narrowed things down to about ten songs and I contacted every member of the band and discussed with them my plans for each song. They had been a very close-knit group and didn’t know Susie & I, but were receptive to some new ideas that we put forth for some of the songs, and I think were relieved that we vowed to maintain the integrity of some of the songs that had been around for a while. The percussionist was the exception. He told me he would be busy on the recording dates, recording his album, that his involvement with the group was “limited”. I thought to myself “Great!” and called Joni Haastrup, a great Nigerian artist & percussionist, and Ed Mann,
who was, at the time Frank Zappa’s percussionist, and they both agreed to come and play on the album.
We locked down our favorite engineer, Terry Becker, who, besides having engineered Kansas’ “Dust In The Wind”, Jackson Browne and other chart toppers, had just finished my Jimmy Foot album “Rhythm Addict”. She was just incredible and shared a similar background with Susie, an accomplished engineer in her own write.
The I-Deals came down & the basic tracks were recorded. Then Joni & Ed came in to lay down the percussion. They had never worked together before and they were truly great and had a lot of fun. When we laid down the horn tracks, Peggy Andrews really stepped up to the plate. She hadn’t been playing sax for very long, and had some trepidation, but I think she really came through. Jimmy and Ty played some really great solos. My favorites are in “Marijuana Man”. I wanted a full-on Ska version and that’s what we got. Rod came in and did his usual fantastic job on vocals, and one day, when we were finished early, I had him & Ty go into the studio and record a couple of acoustic songs. “Earth, Air & Sea” was originally slated for a slot on the album, but a mic stand noise kept it off. We’ve since fixed that problem with the advent of modern digital technology and that song appears as a bonus track here.
This album was certainly one of the most satisfying I have ever produced. Susie, although very busy at the time managing Hyde Street Studios, put in many hours and worked very hard with myself & Terry on the mix. I am contacted every other day by someone, somewhere who wants a copy of this album and I am glad we could get this re-released CD extra on the market.
Rod died several years ago, and the world lost a very great soul; someone who had the courage and conviction to stand up for all our rights; someone who put himself on the line for what he believed was true and right. His music, through this album and others will live on, as will his legacy as a true Humboldt County folk hero.