According to Discogs there are at least twenty bands called The Outcasts. It would be unfair to say there is only one band called The Outcasts that matters, so for once in my life I’ll be unfair…There is only one band called The Outcasts that matters! The one from Ashland, Kentucky, that only released one single back in 1968. A-side Loving You Sometimes is one of my fave cuts out there. It’s not easy defining the sound on this record. The voice of singer and rhythm guitar player Al Collinsworth is – in a way fragile – soulful goodness. The guitar doing the bridge seems to have the most colorful sound in the world with that lovely garage sound – plus neat backing vocals – in the background. It is 1.53 minutes of pure magic if you ask me, and that’s truly objective of course. It was recorded and mixed in only three hours. The original copy is heavily sought after and by no means cheap. I spoke to Al – who doesn’t even own a clean copy himself, you demonic collectors! – about the record and what not.
What record reminds you of your younger days, or your youth specifically?
Living in Virginia during the 1950s, I remember listening at nights to the Lennon Sisters singing “Tonight, You Belong To Me” on the radio. Being a small child of five years old, the vocal melody, harmonies and the warm message of “you belong to me” left a long-lasting impression on me. Other songs quickly followed, but this song was my first wonderful experience with a popular/hit record.
Then came the Beatles!!! When I learned that a Lennon was in the group, I wasn’t surprised at how quickly I became a Beatle-Maniac! And I still am today!! Songs like “Love Me Do”, “She Loves You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” were musical horizons.
In 1997, I worked for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in Los Angeles as a musician and recall that as I stepped off my first cruise ship on my very first day in California on Catalina Island, I heard “Love Me Do” being played loudly from a Catalina restaurant. That wonderful Beatle-Mania started all over again in a new land (island). I feel Beatle-manic even now as we speak!
What’s your favourite Beatles song?
Yes It Is
What got you into making music yourself?
I always remember singing with family, church choirs, school activities and hanging out with friends. My friend Steve Davis and I used to walk around our neighborhood singing, “Sherry” by the Four Seasons. I don’t know what the neighbors thought but we both loved that song! We both wanted to be Frankie Valli. So, that was my first informal group and it was such good fun. Just my friend Steve and I singing everything we could, no matter who was listening and competing with each other for the high notes.
Fave Frankie Valli / Four Seasons cut?
How did the Outcasts come into existence? And what or who were your musical influences back then?
About the time that Steve Davis and I were serenading our neighborhood and working our day and night jobs at the local Paramount Movie Theater, we met another singer, Ralph Morman. Steve and I would go to hear Ralph’s group The Outcasts whenever they played at the local teen shows, pizza parlors and parties. The Outcasts were always the best group in town, but at the time, I don’t believe that Ralph and I liked each other very much. Ha!! It was several years later that Ralph asked me to join the newest version of his group and for the first time I was paid to sing and play guitar. About 1968 The Outcasts were asked to make the “Loving You Sometimes” record. I tried to sing my song, “Loving You Sometimes”, as if Frankie Valli, The Beatles and the Lennon Sisters were all part of the same group. The track was picked by Plato Records to be the A side of the 45 rpm record. The Outcasts made it through several more years but gradually we all went our separate ways. Ralph later recorded and toured with both the Joe Perry Project and with Savoy Brown. Ralph and I kept in touch through the years and we did get a moment to reminisce about the group and our music before he died.
Now, it all seems like history, sometimes.
The record has a really specific sound. You mentioned you wanted to make it feel as if “as if Frankie Valli, The Beatles and the Lennon Sisters were all part of the same group”. That actually makes some sense to me, especially the Valli part, although by no means it sounds as if you were out to copy. Moreover, of all the 60’s garage 45’s I’ve come across this is by far one of the most authentic sounding ones. It’s got so much soul. I heard that you are also the one playing rhythm guitar?
I played rhythm guitar. It was a 1967 12 string Gibson ES 335 with a Fender concert amp.
Do you remember being in the studio recording this gem? What went down?
It was a hurry, hurry, step right up!!! We had 3 hours to record and mix everything. We did it all live!!! It took a few takes to get everything right. We practiced the singing a little while another band recorded ahead of us. We were playing the songs at jobs already, so we were ahead of the game somewhat. We drove from Ashland, KY to Cincinnati, Ohio in one car where we recorded with an engineer who had worked on some James Brown records. We then drove back to Ashland and played a live show that evening. It was a ton of fun and adventure. A lot of “are we there yet?” comments and laughter. Kids stuff.
The single on Plato Records is heavily sought after and is likely to leave the counter for no less than 400 bucks. Even reissues (or bootlegs?) go for quite an amount. Poor me. Was it a success – locally – when it was released? Did it get some airplay?
It did get local airplay and we got a few more jobs from it. I wish I had a good copy of it….
Why did the band part in the end? Did you take a break from music after leaving the band? I guess my question is: what happened next?
We did get to open one night for Neil Diamond when he was somewhat new. That was fun. But, like all groups, people moved on. The record faded away and families started. We did stay in touch somewhat with each other. It was a short shelf life, but a wonderful time for all of us. I’d do it again.
At last. A spaceship is descending above your house, a friendly stranger gets out and approaches you to ask whether he may take one record (could be any record) from your collection back into space, to play it for an extraterrestrial population. What record would you hand the stranger?
Foxtrot by Genesis