Friday, October 17, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Cobras - I Wanna Be Your Love


New England battle of the bands continues on this bitchin' Friday!

This is one of those killer songs I almost forgot about. Until today when I pulled out an old vinyl comp that had been sitting in my bins for about 25 years untouched. I Wanna Be Your Love is the first song on New England Teen Scene Vol 2.

Little is known about this band, but a bit of digging around on the internet has turned up a few hints. One sight claims the boys are from Smyrna Mills, Maine. This is beyond a small town nestled near the Eastern border of Maine with Canada. How these lads found enough people to form a band is beyond me. But, hey, stranger things have happened. 

More digging shows that The Cobras were a trio. Gary Leavitt was on vocals and guitar. His brother Jay Leavitt on drums. I don't know who was playing that bitchin' bass. The Cobras lone record was released in 1966 (weren't they all?) on Big Beat Records (the label's only release) and produced by a cat named Bobby Herne. He is the same guy that recorded the legendary Shaggs record, Philosophy of the World, in Revere, Massachusetts. Us Flipsters are betting The Cobras made the same trip from the north woods of New England down to Revere to record their disc. We're also betting that dad drove the station wagon.

I Wanne Be Your Love is a wild stomp of a song with a quasi-Bo Diddley beat on crack and wild screaming and demonic Jagger influenced vocals. The bass work is top notch and pounding. I particularly dig the run after the first verse and at the end of the guitar solo. The guitar solo is quite impressive (again...Smyrna Mills?!?!?!?!). Banging drums and some depraved lyrics like "your eyes are colder than ice cream" make this an A+ gem. A Mount Garagemore, if you will. 

I Wanna Be Your Love was written by Levitt-Levitt (note that their names are misspelled). One source shows Gary Leavitt as passing away in 1975. Jay Leavitt is apparently still kickin' around Maine. Contact us Jay, let us know about this recording and clear up some info on this cool record!

19 comments:

  1. Would love to have been a fly on the wall watching these guys record this track.
    Matt @ Nitro-Retro

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    1. jay lives a half mile down the road his son leigh leavitt plays drums to you can you tube him he played in the 2008 guitar center play off plus he is on google

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  2. http://www.myspace.com/euclid1970

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  3. How is this song not from Australia? Would fit right into the Ugly Things comp.

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    1. excellent point. It does sound very Aussie. A bit of that frantic and ragged approach they did so well.

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  4. More of a "leg bone connected to the thigh bone" beat. Just sayin'.

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    1. Both, if you consider how it is sung. It's close to a Bo Diddley as you noted, but I think there is a distinction.

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  5. Ruthann Leavitt-GrantJanuary 30, 2015 at 12:57 AM

    I was married to Gary Leavitt and sang backup on this 45,as I was the female singer for the Cobras when we recorded this in 1967. I recall sleeping on mailbags while the guys laid the instrumental track. Later we changed our name to the King Cobras and then again to Lavenhook. We played at many colleges and niteclubs in New England for 3 years.

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    1. Ruthann - That is great info. Do you have any photos from those days you want to share? We could definitely update the page with some photos. I've never seen one of the band.

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    2. They had a sister, Holly, who performed with them. I knew them in Smyrna Mills Maine. I recall a performance of The Cobras at Ricker Classical Institute's Putnam Gymnasium around 1965.

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    3. Just published above. David Currier, originally from Smyrna, now Pahoa, Hawaii

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    4. My dad was friends with Gary back in those days and knew Jay, Ruthann, Bobby Herne, etc. I grew up with pictures of The Cobras, King Cobras and Lavenhook in our family photo albums. I also grew up listening to my dad's copy of Euclid Heavy Equipment and heard all the stories, great music.

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  6. Hey Ruthann, You may not remember me but I am Greg Dame from York. I played in atlantis with Bob Herne who played with Gary. I had a lot of great times with Gary and Jay. Was so sorry to hear about Gary

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  7. The Flip Side Instant Heartache is also a killer. Dale from Maine

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  8. Yes Greg Dame I remember you. "There she is"!! Wonderful voice and a nice guy!How I'd love to have photos of King Cobra and Lavenhook if anyone has them as I have none. Thanx,Ruthann Leavitt Grant

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  9. Hi Ruthann, my name is Sandy Alexander and I played with the King Cobras
    the summer of '68. I have some photos from our gig around Labor Day at
    a place on York Beach. They are not great photos but they are in color and
    you are in most of them. If I could figure out where to send them I would
    be happy to make copies for you.

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