Last Band Standing (CD Box Set) By The Ides Of March

August 29, 2015

a10The Ides Of March were a band that could have, a band that should have, but in the final analysis a band that only almost did.

The Ides Of March was formed in the mid-1960’s by teenagers Jim Peterik, Bob Bergland, Larry Millas, and Mike Borsh. They had immediate success with a moderate national hit in 1966 with “You Wouldn’t Listen.” By the end of the decade they had added a brass section and produced their biggest hit “Vehicle,” which reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 during 1970. There have been some stops and starts for the band but a half century later they are still standing.

In celebration of their 50th anniversary, they have released a definitive 5-disc box set covering all parts of their career. Their first four studio albums, Vehicle (1970), Common Bond (1971), World Woven (1972), and Midnight Oil (1973) are presented in all their remastered glory. There are tracks from their early days and their comeback in the 1990’s. The fifth disc is a DVD of a live performance of 15 songs recorded May 31, 2014, at Chicago’s House of Blues. Just about everything and anything that you may have wanted to hear from the band is here.

Their sound was more soulful than Blood, Sweat & Tears and had a harder edge than Chicago, which may have been the rub for long term commercial success. Their first two studio albums were probably superior to those of the BS&T and Chicago but were just out of the mainstream. That fact, combined with a similar musical approach, made it difficult for them to compete for essentially the same fan base.

Vehicle and Common Bond are a trip back to the early 1970’s in a good way. The albums have a flow and their use of the brass instruments as equal partners to the guitars and keyboards was unique and creative at the time. The vocals have a gritty and soulful quality.

There are several new tracks that bring their recording career full circle. “Who Am I” features the brass section and would have been at home on their early albums. “Too Far To Turn Around” is a group effort, while the title track features guest Steve Cropper.

Their concert footage brings the band into the present a half-century after their birth. Old television appearances, new interviews, and rare photos are some of the included extras.

The Ides Of March are one of those bands you cannot help but like and appreciate once you have heard them. Last Band Standing: The Definitive 50 Year Anniversary Collection is a wonderful ride through their career.  A necessary release for any fan of the band or of good music.




Vehicle By The Ides Of March

October 25, 2014


The Ides Of March may not have garnered the commercial success of Blood, Sweet, & Tears or Chicago but back in the early 1970’s, they were one of the leading practitioners of the brass/rock sound that was so popular at the time.

Guitarist/vocalist Jim Peterik, guitarist/keyboardist Larry Milas, bassist Ray Herr, and drummer Michael Borch began in the Chicago area as the Shon-Dels in 1964 before changing their name in 1966. They were a garage type band who managed to have a huge local hit single with “You Wouldn’t Listen” that went on to become a moderate national hit.

The band added a brass section of Bob Bergland, Chuck Soumar, and John Larson in the late 1960’s and that made all the difference.  They signed a contract with Warner Brothers and their first release “Vehicle” became the fastest selling single in the company’s history to date. They quickly released their first album, which was also commercially successful and has now been reissued with bonus tracks.

The album was patterned on the sound of Blood, Sweat & Tears but veered from that style on several extended tracks, which were a little grittier and more improvisational than the slick pop of B,S,&T.

“Vehicle” was a perfect radio song.  It has an opening blast of brass, a passionate vocal by the 20 year old Peterik, and a melody that grabbed your attention. They traveled in a very different direction with “Home” and “One Woman Band,” which were delicate ballads. They ramp the energy back up with “Factory Band,” which could have been right out the Creedence Clearwater catalogue.

The seven minute cover of “Wooden Ships/Dhama For One” and the almost ten-minute “Symphony For Eleanor (Eleanor Rigby)” are symbolic of their stage act, which relied more on improvisation.

The album was reissued a decade or so ago with a less than adequate sound. That issue has been corrected as the sound is now clear and crisp. A booklet gives a fine history of the band and album.

Sometimes bonus tracks add little to an album but the four extra tracks here not only fit in well with the original release but enhance the overall experience.  The single version of “Vehicle” is required listening for any fan of the era. The non-album single “Melody” is almost as good and why it failed to receive any chart action remains a mystery. Add in two Jim Peterik compositions, “High On A Hillside” and “Lead Me Home Gently” and you have a much stronger album.

The Ides of Match split in 1973. Peterik went on to become a member of Survivor, penning and singing such tunes as “Eye Of The Tiger,” “The Search Is Over,” and “High On You.” In 1990 all seven original members reunited and continued together until the deaths of Herr and Larson in 2011 from cancer.  Peterik, Milas, Bergland, and Borsh, with some new additions, are still out on the road today.

Vehicle remains one of the great lost albums of the early 1970’s. The music has held-up well and  remains fresh.

Vehicle 45 by The Ides Of March

June 23, 2010

The Ides Of March formed during the mid-sixties. They were an eight piece band with a brass section. At their best they rivaled Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears. The best known original member was vocalist Jim Peterik who would go on to form the band Survivor.

They reached their commercial peak during 1970 with the single “Vehicle” which reached number two on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE singles charts and number one on CASHBOX.

It was an infectious rock song with the brass providing the foundation and remains one of the better, if forgotten, songs of the early seventies.

The original members of The Ides Of March reformed during 1990 and have been on the road and in the studio since that time.