Blast From the Past: Chirco – Visitation

There’s an obscure (as in, “didn’t sell”) album from 1972 called Visitation by a group called Chirco. The disc is classified by some as progressive rock, but this reviewer hears more of a hard-rock-meets-horn-rock style. Neither the best nor the worst of its style, the album remains an interesting curiosity.

And it has something of a connection to – of all things – garage rock of the 1960s. Allow me to explain.

Vernon Joynson’s Fuzz, Acid and Flowers, the indispensable guide (long available in html format)  to U.S. psychedelic and garage music contains two listings relating to Barry Tashian, leader of legendary rock group The Remains. (My full-length feature/interview on that group will appear in an upcoming issue of the excellent print magazine Shindig!)

One listing is for the Remains themselves. But the other one mentions these Chirco fellows: “Barry was also connected with Chirco who released one rather rare LP The Visitation [sic] on Crested Butte.” The link to the Chirco listing notes that Tashian “helped the band record” their lone album.

“No,” Tashian assures me; he did no such thing. “But I know the group, and can tell you about them. The group was named after the drummer, Tony Chirco, who was a very fine studio and jazz drummer in Fairfield County, Connecticut.”

Tashian recalls the group’s vocalist. “Bobby Lindsay was, to me, a legendary singer. He was previously part of a group, Dick Grass and the Hoppers. They had a regional hit when I was in junior high school (“Mr. John Law” b/w “Please Dear”). “Mr. John Law” had a siren and the sound of a car motor and everything. They would appear on local rock n’ roll shows that I would go to in Norwalk, Connecticut. They were heroes to me, because they were up there. I was in the 8th grade.”

“Bobby Lindsay,” Tashian says, “could sing anything really high. And he had a great voice. I used to go to a function hall in Norwalk, Connecticut on Wednesday nights and watch that big band rehearse, and I just dug it. You know, all of the saxes and trombones and trumpets.” This was in the period just after the Remains broke up, a time during which Tashian says he was doing “not much. Pretty much just hangin’ out. I was staying at my mother’s house. But I used to like going to watch these guys rehearse. Tony Chirco, the drummer, was great. Duke Ellington stuff. Count Basie, whatever. I got to know Tony, and this group was recording, and was looking for material. I had this song called ‘Mr. Sunshine’ and I gave it to him. And the next thing I know he sends me a copy of the album which they recorded in Colorado.”

“I listened to it,” Tashian  says, “and it’s nothing like what I would do, and to me it’s totally different than anything I would expect of Bobby Lindsay’s vocals.” He recalls something Lindsay told him at one of Chirco’s rehearsals: “I’m giving this one more try, and if this doesn’t work I’m just gonna sing for the Lord.” Chirco’s album didn’t sell in large quantities, and despite later overtures from impresario Don Law, Lindsay never recorded again. He passed away some years ago.

So, mystery solved. I’m sure that one kept you awake at night.

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