A Trifecta for Success

October 26, 2010

Brute Force the King of Fuh and the Beatles

October 11, 2010



Brute Force the King of Fuh and the Beatles

October 9th, 2010 10:47 pm ET

click on pic for full size
Brute Force; the man, the image, the
trademark in a pose accenting his
educated eyebrows
Photo: Photo/Wayne Koopell

Brute Force; the man, the image, the trademark in a pose accenting his educated eyebrows

As a songwriter, when you write a phrase that may sound like a ‘dirty word’ do you realize you will be enmeshed in a censorship battle lasting more than 40 years?

The word, which is in the popular lexicon, can be used as a verb transitive and intransitive, active or passive. It can be used as an adverb and a noun or even an adjective. It may also be inserted into other words in a more flowery artistic way. It is arguably the most universally censored, yet utilized word there is. It starts with an ‘F’ and ends with a ‘K’.

When recording artist Brute Force, AKA Stephen Friedland, put two words together that sounded like that word, he provoked laughter, serious thought and the ire of the establishment.

Provocation is only one aspect of Brute’s heavy/funny world. His many followers would agree.

Over the years he ‘dynamited open’ the creative envelope of performance with his thoughtful consciousness and a boundless wit.

Brute wrote and performed with The Tokens in the 1960s and wrote songs for artists Peggy March, Del Shannon, The Chiffons and The Cyrkle among others.

John Lennon and George Harrison became aware of the American recording artist and songwriter when he penned his song entitled ‘King of Fuh’. The song had been produced by The Tokens about a ‘Fuh King,’ in NYC the track was admired by Harrison and Lennon who were always willing to push the pop culture envelope.

Harrison took the track back across the pond and put it on Apple. He then added 11 strings of the London Philharmonic, arranged by John Barham.

Capitol/EMI raised its aforementioned ire and squashed the suggestive song, which became the rarest Apple release. Apple Records knew that partner EMI would never distribute it, so the company pressed and distributed copies themselves in 1969 (catalogue number Apple 8).

Finally, the artist issued the record on his own label, Brute Force Records. More recently, Revola issued both ‘King of Fuh’ and its original B side Nobody Knows as bonus tracks. Also, in the UK, RPM includes it on their comp, Lovers from the Sky.

Aside from the past corporate anger, now the cream will rise. Much delayed fame seems to be coming together for Brute who is on the verge of breaking free of his cult status and becoming a pop culture icon through a combination of events.

What goes around comes around and on October 26th Apple Records will, in worldwide release, promote the CD Come And Get It, The Best of Apple Records’ first commercial multi-artist compilation which includes Brutes’ recording of King of Fuh.

This may be the most public release of a previously long censored song and will certainly provide visibility for Brute.

In addition, Andrew Fuller’s production company Razor Films is in production of a feature length documentary film which tells the story of Brute Force, one of Apple’s rarest censored recording artists. Bradley Beesley, best known for his work with The Flaming Lips, is the executive producer. The 2 Virgins album by John and Yoko with its cover nudity, being another.

The film is being directed by Ben Steinbauer, acclaimed film documentarian, who’s most recent film, Winnebago Man, is currently playing in theaters nationwide.

Brute wrote and recorded the LP I, Brute Force, Confections of Love for Columbia Records in 1967 which is being re-issued by Bar-None records in collaboration with Sony records.

Watch for these events to herald the rebirth of a performer who has always been a trailblazer in the musical arts.

click on pic for full size


February 14, 2010

Brute’s Force Maryland Leader Donald Keesing has created this new Facebook Group , 4 y’all…

New York Press Review

July 4, 2007

from New York Press Review:

Brute Force is Back
A rock legend (that never quite made it) returns

When one thinks of rock ’n’ roll legends, Stephen Friedland isn’t a name that comes to mind. But under the pseudonym of Brute Force, he’s been an underground musical icon since the late 1960s. A singer and songwriter, his biggest claim to fame was having his 1969 song, “King of Fuh,” released by the Beatles’ record company, Apple—only later to be censored. Frustrated with the industry and the lack of success, Friedland dropped out of the music scene for almost two decades.

But the 66-year-old Friedland is now on the comeback trail. With a band of younger players, he’s performing his music once again to live audiences. The group, also named Brute Force, consists of Friedland, his daughter (and backing vocalist) Lilah Friedland, drummer Christy Edwards, guitarist Peter Pierce and bassist Steve DeSeve.

“It’s fun to play with a band,” says Friedland, “and to play my music, and for people to know about my musical track record and what I’ve done.”

Brute Force’s story is as eccentric as some of his songs. It began in Jersey City where Friedland learned to play piano at age six. Influenced by the Danish pianist Victor Borge, Friedland wrote melodic and humorous songs that carry a deeper, satirical meaning, hence the term “heavy funny.” “I guess I saw absurdity in life,” he explains. “I was very interested in the juxtaposition of things, why things happened.”

In 1964, while in NYC as a young adult, he met the producers Hugo and Luigi, who co-wrote the Elvis Presley hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” They introduced Friedland to The Tokens, known for their hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” Not only was Friedland hired as a songwriter for The Tokens’ music publishing company, he also became the group’s keyboardist.

In 1967, Friedland recorded as Brute Force with the album, I, Brute Force, Confections of Love, which was produced by John Simon, later renowned for his work with The Band. In late 1968, Brute Force recorded his song, “King of Fuh,” which is about a furry king in a magical land. The music and lyrics begin innocuously until they get to these lines: “I said the Fuh King—he went to wherever he wanted to go/Mighty mighty Fuh King/All hail the Fuh King.”

After the song was recorded, a musical friend of Friedland, Tommy Dawes of The Cyrkle, forwarded it to his manager, Nat Weiss, who knew Beatles manager Brian Epstein. According to Friedland, George Harrison was very receptive to the song and said so in a phone call. But according to Friedland, Capitol/EMI, which was Apple’s distributor, refused to release “King of Fuh.” Eventually, Apple privately issued the single for U.K. release. “They decided it was just too much for their small minds,” Friedland says of Capitol/EMI. “They had no compassion for a young 28-year-old artist. I was on the brink of international recognition. They decided that it would not happen.”

Friedland and his wife, Cynthia, then moved to California in the early 1970s to further his music career. He founded his own record company whose first project was releasing “King of Fuh” domestically. As he drove to radio stations in California to convince programmers to play the single, Friedland was met with rejections.

Brute Force’s career went downhill throughout the ’70s and so did his personal life—his marriage broke up soon after returning to the East Coast. Trying to make a living, Friedland worked as a paralegal at his father’s law firm in Edison, NJ. He also sought counseling. “I became very confused,” he said. “I needed help from people who could hear me speak, describe my thinking and give me some suggestions.”

After straightening himself out and wanting to get back into showbiz, Friedland performed under his real name on the comedy club circuit during the ’80s and ’90s. He had also done background work in movies such as Ghostbusters. By that time, he had already moved to NYC where he currently resides.

Around 2001, Friedland received an email from Gareth Jones, the leader of the U.K.-based rock band Misty’s Big Adventure. Jones came across the old Brute Force song “Tapeworm of Love” online and got hooked. “I was surprised to learn that he’d never had a band to play his songs,” Jones said. “And we had started covering “Tapeworm of Love” in the Misty’s live set. I guess we figured how hard would it be to just have Brute singing it instead of me!” Upon Jones’ invitation, Brute Force emerged out of retirement and joined Misty’s on stage in England. “It just put another spark of vitality that I really needed to get my music going again for sure,” he says. “Those people over there were like a godsend. A whole group of people all of a sudden playing my music, and me singing it.”

Now with his own band, Friedland is once again playing Brute Force’s songs at rock clubs. On the Web, Friedland promotes Brute Force by selling CDs and other items. “What I am looking forward to in music and song” he says, “is to communicate ideas, to transmit ideas of a valuable nature, so people will come away refreshed and more aware of their world.”

SXSW Review!

March 18, 2007

Review of Brute Force and Daughter of Force performance at SXSW by the San Antonio Express News.

Hector Saldaña: I, Brute Force is the real weirdness at SXSW 2007


So the Stooges brought “The Weirdness” to Stubb’s on Saturday. That wasn’t where the real weirdness was at on this last full night at South By Southwest Music & Media Conference 2007.

Or should I say the loveable-ness, too.

The Creekside EMC at Hilton Garden Inn was that place, with the truly entertaining, if eccentric and delightfully bizarre father-daughter act, Brute Force & Daughter of Force.

Why was I there? Equal parts Beatles conspiracy theory and just dumb luck.

I ran into Daughter of Force — a very lovely and talented woman I would come to learn, whose name is Lilah (she refused to divulge any further information of that variety) — while in line for the Rickie Lee Jones concert at the Parrish II on Friday.

In fact, she was stylishly dressed more like Jones than Jones, in what I would describe as that old Annie Hall look. She invited me to see her dad at their official SXSW 2007 showcase.

Her soft-sell pitch was strong: she was cute and her dad might be legendary.

You see, um, her 66-year-old dad claims to have made the most collectible and rarest Apple Record single, “King of Fuh.”

If the legend is true, it goes like this: Back in the late ’60s, Brute Force managed to get a demo recording of his naughty track about the land of Fuh (whose lyrics plead “all hail the Fuh King, the mighty Fuh King”) to the Beatles’ George Harrison.

Harrison is said to have dug it enough to have slapped some London Philharmonic strings on the master tape and re-mixed it.

When EMI and Capitol refused to release it, Apple pressed a small run of 45 rpm vinyl records because Harrison and John Lennon liked the subversive joke, which today on the collector’s market goes for $900 to $1,200. The B-side was the girl group the Chiffon’s song, “Nobody Knows What’s Goin’ On (In My Mind But Me).”

In his erratic career, Brute Force also toured with the Tokens, recorded the album, “I, Brute Force — Confections of Love” on Columbia Records and worked as prop comic under his given name, Stephen Friedland.

Fast forward from 1968 to SXSW 2007, and there is the dapper Brute Force in a suit and tie walking up to the lone upright piano onstage, followed by Daughter of Force, who has transformed into a vision of loveliness in a sweet dress.

Only the barely visible tattoos on her elbows of the words “thunder” (on her left) and “lightning” (on the other), and the feeling that Brute Force might have walked out of “The Shining” for real, offers any hint that this might be strange — and fun.

No one was disappointed.

The duo, which plays onstage like the Smothers Brothers of old with Daughter of Force playing the straight man to her quirky father working his out-of-control James Mason eyebrows to full comedic effect, opened with the simple, welcoming song, “Hello.”

Anyone within earshot couldn’t help but smile during “Let’s Put Them All Together,” a song whose twisted hook is a catchy, irreverent litany of the major religious prophets.

The patter between father and daughter was cute: pop comes across as a wild man and Lilah, an installation artist in New York, looks sort of protective and befuddled. Make that fuddled, because she’s a character, too.

She throws in ironic lines like, “On a lighter note,” before presenting the song, “We’re On a Collision Course with Doom.” The song offers a stuttering “My Generation” moment when the word “collision” is transformed into “cocoa, cocoa, cocoa-collision.”

Maybe their act is a cosmic joke, an act of sugary defiance and confrontation the way that Frank Zappa and Andy Kaufman once worked. But Brute Force & Daughter of Force was hardly testing the limits of their audience.

Rather, they arrested and engaged them — a rarity at SXSW 2007.

“Love Saves” veered toward traditional blues and was perhaps the closest thing to pop in their repertoire. “Space Mission” fractured that assessment with its silly falsetto vocal, as did “To Sit On a Sandwich,” which reminds that there’s nothing better than sitting on a sandwich or skipping through the coleslaw.

But it should be noted that the lovable duo, who have been performing together for 10 years, do harmonize and sing unison beautifully. He is a talented pianist.

Between numbers, Brute Force would stand up and bow oddly and drawl like John Wayne whenever he said, “Thank you.”

And just when I thought this night would pass into history without a unicorn reference, I learned it was probably inevitable when the pair sang “Golden Unicorn.” “The unicorn lives, even though he loses his horn,” Brute Force said, explaining the lyrics. “It’s like deers and antlers.”

Before closing with the requisite “King of Fuh,” the two did deliver an absolutely amazing gem, a song that Brute Force wrote back in the ’60s called “Stones.” With its “roll them stones” double entendre lyrics, this one was a genuine, timeless R&B tune. It should have been a hit.

After the gig, his first ever at SXSW, Brute Force talked about his odd career.

“I always played on the black keys,” said Brute Force, recalling how he first learned on the family piano as a child and make up melodies. He took lessons, but the basement was where he learned to create.

The New York native said that he quit college in his 20s, but that luckily “my family was able to tolerate me.”

He can’t remember if he was stoned when he wrote “King of Fuh.” He might have been high, he admitted, because he recalled it was inspired by a story or poem about a furry king. He heard it wrong, he said.

He kicks himself for not hanging on to more copies of his rare Apple Records record. He only has one copy. “It’s the rarest 45 ever,” he likes to say.

“I was a censored artist,” he added. “I dug down deeply into language taboo.”

About the possibility of fame and fortune in the 1960s because of the Beatles connection: “It was all ripped away from me at the age of 28, can you imagine?”

But Brute Force is happy and resigned to his cult status. He’s survived with a bigger-than-life personality and a sense of humor, albeit strange, weird and sweet. This ’60s casualty is articulate and sly — and has a growing legion of fans thanks to the Internet and

Brute Force & Daughter of Force definitely passed the Sandy’s ice cream cone test (they’re every bit as pleasurable) and it’ll be worth seeking them out next time in New York. They’ve got a good thing going at the Player’s Club on East 20th Street.

Does he have big plans? There’s an off-Broadway musical, a one-man show and comedy act.

Oh yeah, and he’s trying to change the pledge of allegiance. His goes like this: “I pledge allegiance to my planet and to the universe all around and within me, one spirit indivisible with eternity for all.”

Ten That You May Have Missed in 2004

January 1, 2005

from top 10 article by Gary Pig Gold

Brute Force Tour de Brute Force
After recently reading all about how Jan and Dean met Batman at the gala Gotham release party for Routledge’s Lost In The Grooves book (Get Your Copy Today!), I was followed on stage – well, onto the floor near the Housing Works store’s rear windows, I should clarify – by the one and only, authentically legendary, all-singing all-playing Stephen Friedland. Now, you should all know this anti-icon much better by his nom-de-disque Brute Force or, to any Apple Record completist out there, the King of Fuh (the shoulda-been-hit side of one of Beatle George’s – and my – fab fave 45’s ever ). Well for those unfortunate out there who may have completely missed out on this all, the Man the Myth Himself has conveniently compiled this copious, 30-track 74-minute compendium of mock-operatic odes to livestock, lunar modules, hair/hare and soldiers both toy and otherwise, which includes not only his entire unreleased (Tokens-produced!) 1969 Extemporaneous long-player, but two – Count ’em! – versions of “The King of Fuh.” In a word, or two then? Required Listening. And yes… May, um, the Brute be with you.
– by Gary Pig Gold

BBC Oxford Music Review

May 1, 2004

BBC Oxford MusicReview of May 4, 2004 show with Misty’s Big Adventure.

Brute Force/Misty’s Big Adventure @ The Cellar
by Jon Surtees

A 60’s legend combined with the stars of the future, that’ll be a Trailerpark night then…

Misty’s Big Adventure are a top ten band waiting to happen. They have tunes, vibes, lyrics and quality to rival anyone currently residing there.

Fronted by Grandmaster Gareth and featuring an array of musicians Jools Holland would be proud of, Misty’s at times make an almost perfect noise.

It is impossible to tie this down to any one element of their multi-faceted sound. The combination of sax, trumpet and scratch DJ gives them uniqueness, whilst the more conventional instruments of guitars, drums and keyboards are utilised brilliantly.

Drawing influences from bands as diverse as The Beatles, The Specials and Captain Beefheart, Grandmaster Gareth and his merry mob are constantly exploding their happy bombs in the minds of any onlookers. Failing to smile during a Misty’s Big Adventure set is now considered a medical definition of Riga Mortis. Their single ‘I Am Cool With A Capital C’ is a stand out tonight, as is Gareth’s tribute to compilation tapes, ‘Home Taping’s Killing Music’. Tonight, as always, Misty’s were simply brilliant.

The crowds disappointment at Misty’s curtailed set was soon allayed when Brute Force took the stage, backed by the entire Misty’s band. Bedecked in a dapper suit and mesmerising eyebrows, Brute carried on exactly where Misty’s left off. His opening song, ‘Hello’ was the perfect example of how to use measured tweeness to get an audience onside without ever going over the edge into self indulgence.

His set continued in the same vein, including a rather bizarre duet where his daughter played the role of his wife and his last two songs, ‘The King of Fuh’ and ‘Tapeworm of Love’ which were genius slices of 60’s melodies brought bang up to date by a intricate musical mind and a mad 9 piece ensemble.

Once again TrailerPark succeeds with the business of bringing unabashed quality to Oxford.

TrailerPark returns at The Cellar on Tuesday May 18th with Tiger Club, Zea and Persil and hits The Zodiac vs Jet White on Wednesday May 19th with Crack: We Are Rock, The $hit and Piney Gir.


December 1, 2002

Reviews of Brute Force performance at Scramarama, the two day rock and roll and film festival at the Palace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, Saturday, November 3rd, 2002.


“Brute Force (celebrated in Scram #3 and again in this issue) was the most unlikely Scramarama performer, more so than even the Music Machine. Who would believe it would be possible to lure this mysterious sixties auteur out to California, or that when we did he would deliver a performance powerful enough to captivate every soul in attendance? I tracked down Stephen Friedland early in the planning stages of the fest, meeting with him and daughter Lilah in a NYC jazz bar. My pal Keith Bearden came along for moral support, because I was frankly intimidated and somewhat starstruck by Brute! He quickly put us at ease with his charming conversation, and demonstrated his people skills when a drunken East Indian joined our party and shared a lifetime of pain and resentment. Brute patiently drew this troubled person out, calmed his outbursts, and sent him on his way. A couple days later I met again with Brute and journalist Dawn Eden, and tentatively asked if he’d be interested in playing Scramarama. To my delight, he immediately agreed. While financial concerns and the events of September 11 inserted some snags in the works, this was one artist that I didn’t want to let get away. Special thanks go out to Andy Zax, for all his encouragement when it seemed least likely to fly. I knew it was all worth it from the moment Brute sat down at the electric piano and started playing those weird and wonderful songs. His performance, encompassing music, prop comedy and audience participation, was incredibly moving and hilarious. We didn’t want him to leave, and now we all want him to come back.
– by Kim Cooper, Scram Magazine


“But Scramarama was great for so many other reasons, like my first experience with Stephen Friedland, who performs solo under the name Brute Force. He was once on Apple Records, and had his Apple single, “King of Fuh” (reverse the words), banned. He played in and to the vacant spaces of the giant theater. I sat in the first balcony, by myself, spying on him. He played a small electric piano, these really lovely melodies with absurd lyrics, like “To Sit on a Sandwich,” which has this timeless, intense urgency and yet it really is literally about sitting on sandwiches. And the one about the world being full of so much bullshit, a song about cows, had this really appealing tumbling piano riff. Brute Force did comedy too, like inventing a new pep-rally cheer for downcast Hollywood . . . acting out sounds of various letters of the alphabet and props he played with . . . and then finally the simply beautiful, dainty ballad about the fuh king, such a pretty and emotional (and yes, silly) song no matter which level you take it on. Mr. Force was a wondrous revelation to me, and I was inspired and charmed by his multi-leveled, intelligent and loving approach to his performance. Plus he was hilarious. Plus his songs were glorious.”
– by Falling James, Entertainment writer, LA Times

Scram Magazine

February 1, 2002

Scram Magazine Issue 15This interview originally appeared in Scram Magazine Issue #15.

Brute Force Speaks! An Interview with Stephen Friedland by Michael Lucas

When presented with the contact information for Mr. Stephen Friedland by Scram editrix and amateur gumshoe Kim Cooper, I was somewhat daunted. Would the story behind the Brute Force legend (as captured on the Columbia LP Confections of Love, an album which has fascinated me for upwards of a quarter of a century) be worthy of the superhuman notions I’d developed around this enigmatic creation? When I finally worked up the gumption to face the challenge, I was relieved to find that not only were the missing portions of the Brute Force saga anything but prosaic, but that Mr. Friedland was himself an extraordinary individual and extremely gracious to boot.

Brute’s appearance at the Scramarama was, for me, a special highlight in an already stellar lineup. I don’t feel that my life would have been complete without witnessing his awe-inspiring performance, which exceeded all expectations.

I could blather on indefinitely, but let’s get to the main event instead. Ladies and gentlemen… Mr. Stephen Friedland… Brute Force!

SCRAM: What was your involvement in the music world prior to Confections of Love?

BRUTE: When I was 24 I had a girlfriend, Bunny. Her father was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Billy Gussak, who played with Bill Haley. Billy had a piano in his house and took a liking to my songs. We collaborated on “My Teenage Castle (Is Tumblin’ Down).” Billy introduced me to record producers Hugo and Luigi at RCA. They recorded “My Teenage Castle” with Little Peggy March. They had also worked on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)” with the Tokens, and they turned me onto them. I went to the Tokens’ office and played a few songs; they hired me as a songwriter and soon I joined their group, and became a Token.

SCRAM: This was after “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and the hot rod album?

BRUTE: Yes, 1965. I was about twenty-five years old at the time.

SCRAM: You also wrote the classic “Nobody Knows What’s Goin’ On (In My Mind But Me),” which was recorded by the Chiffons. My editrix promised to flay me alive if I didn’t get the scoop on that song.

BRUTE: What is a thought? Where does a thought come from? How does a person feel about their thoughts? About secrets? These are some of the questions which might prompt an understanding of “Nobody Knows What’s Goin’ On (In My Mind But Me).” Texturally, it’s a love song: a person loves another person, to everyone’s disapproval, and because of societal pressure (who knows: parental, peer group, cultural), everybody says, “Give it up.” But what do they know? This leads the person to realize that, “Nobody knows what’s goin’ on in my mind but me,” a flat out declaration of independence, of individuality and of privacy of one’s thoughts. Freedom of thought. The song is very concerned with this larger issue of privacy of one’s thoughts, and to that extent is courageous in this day of Big Brother. There is a point, however, which the song doesn’t explore: the point when not expressing one’s thoughts can be an unhealthy thing to do and all the energy, whatever it is, just keeps building up and can become too much to bear for the “thinker of thought.” Secrecy is a subtextual element in the song. Keeping secrets, obviously, is a must when nobody else knows what’s going on in one’s mind. As a songwriter at that time I was exploring the workings of the human mind and, through a lovestory lyric, expressing my own feelings about love–interracial love perhaps–and the invasion of one’s mind by friends, family or government. The melody, I remember, during its creation, as being especially entrancing in the chorus, almost hypnotic in its repetition, enhanced by the lyrics, floating over the chord pattern, which are concerned with the mind. The mind singing about the mind. The song was produced by the Tokens while I was a member of the group. It was a chart record, which was very exciting, and I still receive royalties. Years later, I recorded “Nobody Knows” as the b side for the Apple single “King of Fuh.” I produced this with the Tokens: the cellophane wrapper from a box of Kool cigarettes, which I was chain smoking at that time, was used to produce a sound effect while I played piano. My rendition was very much more agitated and frenetic than the Chiffons’ rendition. I haven’t seen any of the Chiffons since that time, except on TV ads for compilation CDs, but I feel very lucky to have known them and to have had our paths cross and come out with a hit. And if you want to know any more, all I can say is…”Nobody knows what’s goin’ on in my mind but me.” But you can always ask!

SCRAM: Was your split from the Tokens an amicable one?

BRUTE: Yes. We were still friends. They produced the second Brute Force album–

SCRAM: A second Brute Force album exists?!?

BRUTE: Yes, Extemporaneous.

SCRAM: Whoa, whoa. I’ve heard extremely vague rumors about a second LP, but since I could never find any real evidence of it, I thought that it was just someone’s confusion of Brute Force with the Brute Force Steel Band.

BRUTE: No, produced by the Tokens in 1969 on BT Puppy Records, which was run by the Tokens and their manager at the time. It’s a piano/voice and spoken word recording made at Olmstead Recording Studios in N.Y. City with approximately forty people in attendance. It’s called Extemporaneous because many of the songs I sing when I perform are extemporaneous. The format of the album I planned in advance: I then added a lot as we went along. It was an electric evening during which everyone had lots of fun.

SCRAM: It’s an extremely difficult record to find.

BRUTE: Yes, it was distributed in a limited manner. I’ve actually included it in the new version of my Tour de Brute Force CD. [Which is recommended in the strongest manner possible as an essential addition to any music lover’s library, and also serves as an excellent introduction to Brute, if needed. -ML]

SCRAM: Were the songs similar to those on Confections of Love?

BRUTE: It was in what I’d term the Brute Force genre, “Heavy Funny” songs.” Peace songs. Comedy songs. Spiritual songs.

SCRAM: Now, back to Confections.

BRUTE: That was made shortly after leaving the Tokens. It took about three months to record, as I recall.

SCRAM: The Brute Force persona seems to combine qualities of beat poet, suave romantic crooner, and holy fool trapped in a world not of his making. Did the character of Brute Force arise out of the songs which you happened to compose for the album, or were the songs written with Brute Force in mind?

BRUTE: The characters that you mention have appeared, Zeliglike, from time to time. If a songwriter becomes anything during the writing of songs, it is another degree of being a songwriter. This is the way I put it:


Here we have two ways to understand the phenomenon which is presented to us, to decipher half the truth…(We, the living, alas, can understand but half of what this reality is.)… Seeing the feather fall we can describe it in any of the ways available. Both descriptions are secondary to the phenomenon anyway, the seeing of the real feather, and the mental seeing of the feather, as one would write a story. One may be called fact. One may be called fiction. Take your pick. This is the fulcrum upon which the media matrix see-saws, back and forth, creating a delerium of confusion, of artsy, slick, award-winning confusion: blistering the eyes with impossible editing not meant to be understood by the eyes; puncturing the eardrums with commercials spoken too quickly for the ears to understand; ripping off the public’s face with in-your-face moviescreen egomanical sex/sport/violence/playgames.

Now… the naming of the person, the ego who describes a truth or a fiction, compounds the illusion of communication and description. Should I have only been called Stephen Friedland, perhaps the whole trip would have been different. But the pseudonym was perceived as false by anyone and everyone, although people go along with the projection of the ego, for they themselves have an ego trip and are basically kind to accept Brute Force. However, my work and the appreciation of my person would have been initially appreciated in a more serious manner… young, Jewish songwriter. “Brute Force” incorrectly avoided that.

SCRAM: Many of the songs on Confections have a certain subversive quality, especially in the way you make social commentary through playing with cliché and convention.

BRUTE: Well, look at the liner notes. It’s heavy stuff, although comedically spiced. “Mistress Peace sleeps with soldiers” might be considered a bit subversive, although my political view of the world is decidedly spaced out: observing space and understanding that conflicts on Earth are always in relation to the phenomenon of the Space Mission, the colonization of the Solar System and the creation of earth as a supply station for the Space Mission.

SCRAM: I’d like to get your impression of the individual songs, if I might. “In Jim’s Garage.”

BRUTE: Secrecy of younglove from their parents. “He may be greasy and dirty, but that’s just the mark of his honesty” says it for Jim and I hope most of the blue-collar class.

SCRAM: “The Sad, Sad World of Mothers and Fathers.”

BRUTE: Still applies to the gap between parents and their children, and the lack of communication between spouses who’d rather watch TV than find out what’s happening with their daughter in a car outside with… him! I guess if the daughter was loved at home she wouldn’t be in such a… position.

SCRAM: “Tierra del Fuego.”

BRUTE: Love song, Latino, transcultural, fun with words.

SCRAM: “No Olympian Height.”

BRUTE: Straight-ahead lovesong, extolling the lover, “Do what you will, I am yours.” This was a poem written about a girlfriend, Abby. The line in the song about Grecian urns is a reference to “Ode On A Grecian Urn” by John Keats, in which we read:

“Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.
That is all ye know on Earth,
And all ye need to know.”

SCRAM: “Cuddly.”

SCRAM: Dixielandish lovesong. Everyone, well almost everyone, likes to get cuddly with their love-mate. Singing of the lyrics, “Baby, dey don’t make ’em like dat any more” was inspired by the great Jimmy Durante.

SCRAM: “To Sit on a Sandwich.”

BRUTE: Absurdity of the world: we might as well go sit on a sandwich in our “advanced civilization.” This song contains perhaps the most onerous pun of the last half of the 20th century: “Prepares for the wurst.”

SCRAM: Brute’s Circus Metaphor.”

BRUTE: Love lost, the characters metaphorically played by circus characters.

SCRAM: “Brute’s Party.”

BRUTE: A sarcastic description of the boredom of parties.

SCRAM: “As Long as my Song Lives.”

BRUTE: Our Art survives us. Long after I am gone
Will Friedlandishemusik live on and on.
So would it be with a love, with a friend
that knowledge of them need never end
should they be remembered in song
as words and melody play e’erlong,
and as long as your craft gives
then too my song in your work lives.

Long after the creator passes, the song lives on, and who does the song immortalize? The lover. See, it’s as long as my song lives, which is forever, for a song is inanimate and not as frail as our flesh. A song doesn’t die. It is embodied in a device, etched in marble, written on a page, a CD UFO zooming into the unknown to be enjoyed by a new generation.

SCRAM: “Tapeworm of Love.”

BRUTE: I wrote “Tapeworm of Love” while I was still in high school. It was an authentic fifties song with piano triplets. When I played it for John Simon at Columbia he liked the lyrics very much, but felt that the fifties feel was not in sync with the year we were recording, 1967. Nostalgia for the fifties had not yet occurred, so I wrote another melody. I endeavored to bring the intensity of the whole metaphor of the internal gnawing and adventurous biting of the tapeworm inside the gut through the use of the sitar and an ancient Indian raga played on marimba. The song is a paradigm of Brute Force absurdism. Yet, a love song…

SCRAM: “Making Faces At Each Other.”

BRUTE: Here’s a new face I’ve just learned, it’s called “making you happy baby” and is pretty self-explanatory. Making someone happy is wonderful. It’s giving. To give. This song is pointing to the ability of people to respond to their genuine inner feelings rather than responding to the outer image, the face. “Love is the most beautiful thing on the face of the Earth. I wanna make the face of Love…”

SCRAM: Was it difficult getting such an unusual album released?

BRUTE: It wasn’t difficult getting Confections released. Columbia released a lot, and what stuck to the wall they went with. My stuff was just too ahead of its time.

SCRAM: There were no problems from upstairs?

BRUTE: Sitting at a conference table with the executives was, as I remember it, uncomfortable, because they played some songs and I was sitting there, in this conference room at a big oval table, and I was probably high on amphetamines. I would know how to speak with them today. Exactly what to say.

SCRAM: But there wasn’t any resistance to your lyrics, as being too “cerebral” or “intellectual?”

BRUTE: There was resistance and the album was ahead of its time. Now the story is changing. A trans-generational reality, occuring. There is a nine-piece band in Birmingham, England, Misty’s Big Adventure, personnel averaging 23 years old, playing “Tapeworm Of Love” and “Hello” from Extemporaneous (email At Scramarama, I met BF fans of all ages. Advertisements for BF are attracting fans from all over the world to write to Brute’s Force, the Brute Force fan club, at, in order to obtain BF music. The buzz is exciting and facing the situation, becoming less anonymous, has combated the resistance. Kind of a guerilla in the war of consciousness.

SCRAM: Any comments about the poetry on the back cover?

BRUTE: Yes, the couplet, “Mother Nature washes our genes, in her worn out washing machine.” When I looked at the back cover, I wondered why the next two lines were omitted. It’s really a quatrain which continues, “They’re hung up on the line to dry, by that old grouch, Father Time.” It would have made sense in the context of the album: you know, Mother, Father… lovesongs.

SCRAM: Are there any other Brute Force recordings besides Confections of Love and Extemporaneous?

BRUTE: At Columbia, I recorded a song I wrote in Russian and English titled “Hello Moscow,” a big band/ rock fusion. The session was catered, like a party, and attended by many invited guests, Leonard Cohen among them. The thread of the message was, “Hello Moscow, how are you doin’?” This was in 1967, the Cold War was in effect. In July 1968, with my lifelong friend Ben Schlossberg, I participated in an expedition to swim the Bering Strait from Alaska to Siberia. We made it half way to the Diomede Islands. It was documented in Life magazine, 9/20/68. The song itself, as was the expedition, is a natural extension of my weltanschauung. We live on a sundrop.

“There is one borderline, really, and that’s the edge of Earth: that roundness, that fullness, that mountained and vallied, water filled edge of Earth upon which we all live.” (Copyright 1969 Stephen Friedland)

I make Pledge of Allegiance to the Planet plaques. I burn into redwood the words:

I pledge allegiance to my planet.
And to the universe,
all around and within me.
One Spirit indivisible.
With Eternity for all.
(Copyright 1980 Stephen Friedland)

The synthesis of business relations and trade treaties is the modern day approximation of planetary nationality, what the military-industrial complex/media-matrix calls “globalism.”

SCRAM: And you recorded a single for Apple Records. How did that come about?

BRUTE: I had a girlfriend, Joanna. We were both at Monmouth College (now University) in West Long Branch, NJ. Around 1965, I moved to NYC. Joanna also moved to NYC, and by that time had met and hooked up with Tom Dawes. He was a member of the Cyrkle, who toured with the Beatles in the mid sixties, and were managed by Nat Weiss, a friend of Brian Epstein. I wrote a poem which turned into the lyrics, then composed a melody around 1967. Through Joanna I met her then-husband, Tom. Tom and I got to be friends and he said some good words about me to John Simon, who had been recording the Cyrkle for Columbia. I went to Columbia, played some songs live for John and that led to the, I, Brute Force, Confections of Love album. When I recorded “King of Fuh,” late ’68, I got the idea to bring a tape to him and see if he could get it to Nat and, who knows, maybe the Beatles. Well, that’s just what happened. A 1/4″ mix of the multitrack session of “King of Fuh,” recorded at Olmstead Recording Studios, was given to Tom. He brought it to Nat, who, I have learned, played it for George Harrison. George thought it was great, and he added strings from the London Philharmonic and kicked up the drums a bit. They released Apple 8 in May 1969, but Capitol/EMI censored it.


BRUTE: Basically, language taboo. It was a very nice song about the land of Fuh, which was ruled by a benevolent King. Since he was the King of Fuh, he was also known as the Fuh King.

SCRAM: Ah, I see.

BRUTE: The latest twist is that Ken Mansfield, in The Beatles, the Bible and Bodega Bay, makes it clear that John Lennon also had a hand in championing the record and pushing for its release in the U.S.A. Incidentally, “King of Fuh” has been added to the censored song database of the First Amendment Project at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Writer and software developer Antonio Caroselli, in Italy, is currently writing my biography, and a detailed account of the Apple experience will be included.

SCRAM: With what sort of projects are you currently involved?

BRUTE: To take my music around the world. To write songs and record them. To manufacture state of the art formats of my music and performances. To advertise and sell these products, and to stay centered amidst all the conditions: WORK, FAMILY, FRIENDS, MONEY, SURVIVAL, SEX, FEAR, WAR.

SCRAM: What is your act like these days?

BRUTE: I perform an off the wall, non-traditional musical variety act. Songs, jokes, props, characterizations and improvisational songwriting, and philosophic exhortations. Additionally, I perform my straight music, lovesongs, spiritual songs, along with pure melody, playing keyboard, and guitar.”

SCRAM: Where can we catch your act?

BRUTE: I play comedy clubs and music venues nationally.

It is possible to see me,
Look, at night into the sky,
see there the farther shore.
When you wake
to start the day
again a vision forward draws
you on to see me.
A need to go on.
A drive to pursue.
All that and so much more
within the orbs of your eyes
shall who I am filter through.
Think not this is fame driven.
Nor quest for moment’s adulation.
For you shall see me everywhere
And not the censors of Capitol.
Nor the censors of EMI shall stop
the proclamation of Truth is Fearless.