The Live "Wrapper" Recordings
In the Fall of 1968, the band invested in a Roberts, 2-track, reel-to-reel, tape recorder.
Hoz, Jim Hosley, made most of these recordings 'on the fly' while mixing a Wrapper performance.
Two EV 664 microphones placed in front of the stage captured the 'live' sound, and that was mixed on a simple, 4-channel stereo mixer, into 2 tracks with a "line feed" of the vocals on both tracks (center).
As with any starving band of musicians, most tapes were recorded over and over multiple times, since new reel-to-reel tape was expensive.
These recordings were mainly used for reference material, and listened to for balance problems or new song arrangement ideas.
When there was a good recording of a good performance, the band would often take the time to sit together, listen to the tape, and talk about what made it work so well and how future performances might be improved.
The Plain Brown Wrapper only released three 45rpm records (6-songs) during their six year existence, all recorded at Dave Kalmbach's Great Lakes Studios (movie theater/studio) in Sparta, Michigan. Unfortunately, recordings of their first album were never finished as explained on the "About" page. "The Album" was being recorded at Great Lakes Studios in Fall of 1969 , but painfully, the vocal tracks were never completed before the studio was permanently closed.
However, Plain Brown Wrapper 'Live' performances were quite amazing and on this page you can get a sense of why the band was so popular. Most astounding was their versatility! This came from their musical training, and early band days of playing in bars and clubs. In those venues, performing a variety of popular cover songs was required and the Wrapper could play everything from James Brown (with 2 horns), to The Beach Boys, or a Broadway tune with 4-part harmony. Their versatility also had to do with the fact that 3 of the members switched between multiple different instruments and...each singer could take the vocal lead.
Beginning around 1969, the Wrapper practice sessions were no longer spent learning cover songs. Instead, rehearsals became a place to create original songs for upcoming concerts and possible recordings.
Often times a Wrapper song was a group project where everyone contributed to a song or its arrangement. Even soundman "Hoz" contributed to
many a song's creation.
There also was a 'Syndicate Sounds Studio' bootleg LP which was a compilation of "live" Wrapper recordings made at various Michigan rock shows,
but that record was only distributed locally.
For a short time in 1968, the Wrapper members
had a songwriting contract with Capitol Records! Sadly, almost none of their original songs were released on vinyl.
With the addition of singer/songwriter/drummer Gary Story in 1971, the Wrapper became a 5-songwriter group and later they recorded and released his song, "Stretch Out Your Hand".
"Thanks" to Hoz for documenting this music, which few have heard before now.
The Plain Brown Wrapper's "original song" repertoire started with Van Decker's first song and the Wrapper's first 45rpm release,
"And Now You Dream".
Then, Scott introduced a jazz/rock song (with 2 trumpets) called "I Can't Care". Well, that was only the beginning, because with the addition of Chuck and Dave, the Plain Brown Wrapper became a super songwriting team.
After Soaky (drummer) left the band, the group spend about 6 months searching for a good replacement. But finally they found an
extraordinary musician who was much more
than just a drummer.
His name was Gary Story. Gary, who had been performing with his own group in Flint, was more than any group could ask for. For not only
was he a good solid drummer, but also
a seasoned vocalist and talented songwriter. The
Wrapper immediately began adding his songs their repertoire.
One of the Plain Brown Wrapper's most famous songs was a closing jam which was about the perils of heron addiction entitled
"Don't Ride the Big White Horse"
Written by their first producer John Rhys Eddins,
it was originally a brief 3-minute demo recording for Capitol Records. But after the recording deal
fell through the band continued performing it till gradually it became an extended jam featuring a string of different improvisational sections.
For those who followed the band, every performance was different and always full of surprises!