By mrbagnall | 08 August 2020
No one lives forever. This is a mantra that sticks in my mind as I get older. And every now and then life has a way of reminding you of your mortality. Take this week as an example.
During my college years I became a fan of and friends with the guys in a Berks County, PA band named John Flywheel. Crunchy guitars, catchy choruses, a backbeat you could drive a truck through, and just enough musical flash to give you a groove and a bass line that made you actually air-bass. Jeff Paul, Keith Smoker and Jeff Scott formed the trio which grew out of the independent music scene in the Reading, PA area - a "close enough" suburb of Philadelphia.
Paul's song writing, Smoker's smoking bass and the Batom (using a tom as a combination bass drum) playing Scott cranked out chord driven power rock. If you've ever heard the song "What's the Frequency Kenneth" by REM, then you know exactly the sound I am describing. They were destined for great things. Except it didn't happen. Label drama, producer drama and life got in the way and they disbanded in 1997.
I remember Jeff telling me once that he never put the lyrics to his songs in any of the notes for recordings. He said he wanted people to hear what they heard and make their own meaning to their songs. Which makes a lot of sense. Allows the listener a certain sense of theatre of the mind and decide for themselves what their songs mean to them.
A reunion concert in 2017 was a welcome trip back to a time when music was made by real musicians.
Tragically, Jeff Paul passed away this past week. Way too young. I have many recordings and some video from that time that I want to share. The first is their signature song off their "Early Girl" album called "Baggage of Love"
Here is some video from a 1994 appearance on York College Radio, what was then 88.1 WVYC. The final bit is a song they recorded in our studio. An acoustic version of one of my favorites, "Lana".
Rest in peace Jeff. Know that you are missed and the world is a little darker today without you.