June 5, 2012
Interviewed with my ‘ol buds, Phil and Mitch Margo (The Tokens), by Mike McCann Entertainment and Sports Journalist on Premier Radio Network. Mike’s a super pro who I’m happy to know. The interview ranged from back in the day to today… how I got King of Fuh to George Harrison, & the recent Apple Records compilation, Come and Get It, The Best of Apple, and the subject of language taboo … Phil’s book, The Null Quotient… 3 of my songs on a new compilation, It’s A Happening World, on Real Gone label, I wrote back when I was a Token, writing songs for their publishing company,…Phil’s musical…Mitch’s song which was inspired by his Mom… my musical based on King of Fuh…… The documentary, BRUTE FORCE, currently screening at different venues in the USA. I got in some plugs for upcoming performances. It felt so good to be there.
In the biography, George Harrison Living In The Material World, by Olivia Harrison, George writes about a day in his life in his diary from Jan. 10, 1969, and King of Fuh was included! The diary entry also appears in the documentary of the same title, directed by Martin Scorsese, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOWUle0grm8, with the words read by George’s son, Dhani.
An article by Paul Theroux in Newsweek Magazine of 10/03/11 describes that day in George’s life:
“Harrison’s departure from the Beatles was abrupt and without regret. Scorsese has footage of some singular bickering between George and Paul. In what seems just another detail in a busy day, George writes in his diary for Jan. 10, 1969, ‘Got up went to Twickenham rehearsed until lunchtime—left the Beatles—went home, and in the evening did King of Fuh at Trident studio, had chips later,’ as we learn in the film.”
Thanks to George for including the Fuh King in his diary.
11/4 Secret Project Robot, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Brute Force the King of Fuh and the Beatles
October 9th, 2010 10:47 pm ET
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. http://brutesforce.com
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). http://applerecords.com
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. http://razorfilmsla.com
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. http://bar-none.com/
Watch for these events to herald the rebirth of a performer who has always been a trailblazer in the musical arts.
Apple Records is releasing a compilation of Apple Artists
Brute Force/King of Fuh is included as one of 21 tracks.
Book Beatles Deeper Undercover by Kristopher Englehart,
with a chapter on BF. Go to Amazon.
RPM UK compilation, Lovers From The Sky, release 4-20-10,
contains King of Fuh.
Brute with Daughter of Force and The de fault Rock Band
appearing at Beefstock Music Festival, Oneida, NY, 4/10, 9:30 pm.
Mini-tour in UK with Daughter of Force & Misty’s Big Adventure, 5-1-10.
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.”
OK. How did the show go? Well, since I wrote it it’s kind of awkward to say anything about it, but I can tell you that we packed The Players Theatre, 6-20-06, with 200
people. There was a copius amount of laughing, and applause. Overall the audience was very entertained, as was evidenced by the many generous appreciations from
people after the show. The show brought the BF heavy/funny genre to 200 people for a 90 minute trip into the beautiful Land of Fuh.
It was cool…as people came in a ” passport clerk” handed out “visas” to the Land of Fuh.
The stage was covered in astroturf and the back wall covered with a backdrop depicting the Land of Fuh.
Our Director, David Copeland took the book and gave it life, made the people and Land of Fuh a living reality. The roughly two 1/2 months of auditions and rehearsals, under his guidance was for me a fantastic experience.
Our cast Lilah Freedland (Daughter of Force), Alex Perez, Erin Evers, Melissa Schoenberg, Mai Sakamoto, Erikka Walsh, Lesley Middlebrook, John Nasta, McGregor
Wright, Melissa Meli, David Doumeng, Sandra Laredo, and Brute, were super excited going into the evening and more so after. All made the fantasy live. A fantasy land where Love overcomes Hate and War.
Again, I can’t be a critic here. What we did is to workshop the script, successfully present the musical, and start the buzz, a continuation of the buzz started way back in 1969 when Beatles Harrison and Lennon created Apple 08.
In coming months I shall be raising money for a run off-b’way and if any of you want to invest in King of Fuh, The Musical, or know people who invest in live stage, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. This show has, as they say, “legs”.
I am depending upon you, O Mighty Brute’s Force, to do your best, to let your family and friends know that they’ll want to take a trip to the Land of Fuh, when the show runs again.