Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds’ The Basement Tapes, Vol. III – Home Recordings 1958-1959

Between 1958 and 1959, Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds made a series of recordings in a home studio located in the basement of a private residence in Weston, Massachusetts. The Basement Tapes, Vol. III: Home Recordings 1958-1959 is the final EP from the collection of demos, alternate takes, and early versions from the band’s busy early years and features pianist Art Bearon, saxophonist Harry Lewis, guitarist Hap Snow, and drummer Stefano Torossi doing covers of rock and blues classics as well as original compositions.

Hap Snow's Whirlwinds - The Basement Tapes, Vol. III: Home Recordings 1958-1959 EP

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds – The Basement Tapes, Vol. III: Home Recordings 1958-1959 EP

The five-track EP opens with an alternate version of “Chop It” that uses hand claps and neither includes the skit found in the full version on Volume I nor the yells from another alternate version on Volume II. The fourth track is an early version of this instrumental written by Hap Snow.

Hap Snow's Whirlwinds - Chop It 1958 Trans Radio demo

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds – “Chop It” (1959) Trans Radio demo

The second track is “Macabre #1,” an early look at the tune that became “Banshee,” the band’s Fleetwood Records’ A-side cut the following year at Boston’s Ace Recording Studios. Credited to Art Bearon, Hap Snow, and Stefano Torossi, the composition evolved over four demos before the final version was released as a 45 single in 1959.

From “Macabre” (1958) home demo to “Banshee” (1959) studio demo

Pianist Art Bearon also penned “The Woolly Bear Stomp,” the third cut. “Let’s Have a Party,” the final track, was written by Snow and also features the band’s founder on lead vocals. The final version of “Let’s Have a Party” was recorded by Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds, with saxman Len Arnold (aka Leonard Hochman), on their second trip to Ace in 1960–see the In The Studio EP below.

Hap Snow's Whirlwinds - The Woolly  Bear Stomp 1958 Trans Radio demo

Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds – “The Woolly  Bear Stomp” (1959) Trans radio demo

A video for Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds’ The Basement Tapes, Vol. III: Home Recordings 1958-1959 featuring Art Bearon on piano, Harry Lewis on saxophone, Hap Snow on guitar, and Stefano Torossi on drums is on YouTube. Tracks include:

  • “Chop It” (Alternate Version with Handclaps) (Snow)
  • “Macabre #1 (Banshee Early Version) (Snow-Bearon-Torossi)
  • ‘The Woolly Bear Stomp” (Bearon)
  • “Chop It (Early Version)” (Snow)
  • “Let’s Have a Party (Early Version)” (Snow)

The two earlier volumes of The Basement Tapes, as well as In The Studio: The Complete Recordings 1959-1964 and The 1963 Acetates, Part II: Early and Alternate Tracks are located on SoundCloud and YouTube.

Hap Snow in 1960

Hap Snow in 1960

An audio file for Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds’ In The Studio: The Complete Recordings 1959-1964 EP is online:

Music from the later years of the Massachusetts rock band that started at Williams College in 1958 and continued to perform through 1966 is found in video for The 1963 Acetates, Part II: Early and Alternate Tracks, featuring Bill Elgart on drums, Steve James on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Michael Kaye on piano and vocals, and James K. “Hap” Snow on lead guitar and vocals. These original compositions by Steve James (aka Steve Fradkin) were recorded at a home studio in Massachusetts around 1963:

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