Force, born Stephen Friedland in Jersey City, New Jersey
in 1940, was first drawn to the stage at the age of eight
after watching his mother act in numerous plays at the Jersey
City Jewish Community Center Theatre. Friedland continued
to hone his performance skills throughout high school both
on stage and off, frequently improvising songs and sketches
at parties or at home on the piano. In the early '60s he
met Billy Gussak, a studio drummer who had played with Bill
Haley & the Comets, and began collaborating with the
seasoned musician — and father of his current girlfriend
— on songs. One of those tracks, "My Teenage
Castle," wound up as the B-side of Peggy March's 1963
"I Wish I Were a Princess" single. His success
at RCA eventually led him to the next phase of his career,
playing keyboards and guitar for the Tokens. During that
time he composed songs for Del Shannon, the Creation, the
Cyrkle and the Chiffons — the latter scored a minor
hit with "Nobody Knows What's Goin' on in My Mind But
left the Tokens in 1967 and recorded the heavily arranged
and deeply absurd I, Brute Force: Confessions of Love for
Columbia Records. Described by Brute as "a paradigm
of being far ahead of its time", the record swiftly
sank below both the critic's and the public's radar. Instead
of wallowing, Brute took to the sea, taking part in an expedition
with best friend Ben Schlossberg to swim the entire Bering
Strait — the "Cold War" stunt was aimed
at drawing attention to "the closeness of the Eastern
and Western hemispheres," and was featured in Life
magazine. 1969 saw the release of Brute's most memorable
single, "The King of Fuh" — the joke being
that the protagonist was referred to as "the Fuh King."
The track was championed by George Harrison and released
as a single on the Beatles' Apple label. That same year
he released Extemporaneous. Recorded live in the studio
in 1969 with minimal piano accompaniment before a small
audience, it was made up largely of comedy songs, political
jabs and absurd improvisations, and has since become a sought
after slab of vinyl — it was reissued with numerous
bonus tracks by Rev-Ola in 2004. Brute Force continued to
perform his non-traditional musical/comedy variety act throughout
the '80s, '90s, and into the millennium.
Brute Force started (then still as Stephen Friedland) as
a song writer in New York, before becoming a member of the
Tokens (The Lion Sleeps Tonight). In the second half of
the 60’s he went solo and released an album Confections
Of Love in 1967. In 1969 he made the single King Of Fuh
on the Apple label with the help of George Harrison (1969).
1971 - Brute Force / Extemporaneous
2001 - Brute Force / Tour
De Brute Force
(USA) Brute Force Records BFR5
29 tracks / 38:04 / no booklet
1. The World 2:47
2. Hello 3:47
3. KOF Live 3:53
4. Astronauts 3:57
5. Sufferin’ Surfin’ 0:49
6. Commercial 2:42
7. The Gun 4:14
8. The Burp 2:06
9. Five Minutes 1:06
10. Dwayne 5:25
11. Hail The Hare 4:52
12. The Hexagon 2:12
13. Driver’s Education 0:45
14. Uranus 0:55
15. Autopsy 0:24
16. Skepticism 0:45
17. Nutty 2:05
18. Enjoy It 2:55
19. The Reds Are Yellow 1:06
20. Hello Redux 1:00
21. The Tapeworm Of Love 2:22
22. I Find This Annoying 2:18
23. Ray Gun 2:06
24. Toys For Tots 2:21
25. Extremist Polka 2:29
26. Franchise Guy 1:33
27. King Of Fuh 3:06
28. Sad World 3:07
29. Vicky 2:13
Lyrics & Melody (c) 2001 Stephen
In 1969 Brute Force recorded
live, with an audience of around 40 people in the studio,
a second album Extemporaneous (released in 1971). It is
an extremely rare album, so we can call ourselves lucky
that Brute Force himself is making it available now on CD:
it forms the main part of the above CD, tracks 2 - 20. Brute
Force has added a few bonus tracks, including another rare
item, the once 1969 Apple single King Of Fuh (track 27).
A tape of this single came to the ears of George Harrison,
who heard it in Nat Weiss’ (Brian Epstein’s US partner)
apartment in New York. Harrison liked it so much that he
wanted to put it out as an Apple single. He added strings
by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra along with a bit of
percussion by himself and planned to release it on April
8, 1969. However, due to the lyrics, EMI refused to release
or distribute it. Which is why Harrison had some 2000 copies
pressed (backed with the track Nobody Knows) to distribute
it via mail order. It didn’t work out, however, and in 1971
Brute Force released the single on his own label, albeit
coupled with a different track, Tapeworm Of Love, from his
first solo album (and also a bonus track on this CD, track
Brute Force was very kind to
answer a few questions exclusively for Beatles Unlimited
BU: You first enjoyed succes in the Tokens. In the
book Beatles Undercover it is said that you first recorded
the King Of Fuh song with this group. Has this version of
the song also been released on record prior to the Apple
release? (or at all)?
Brute Force: I just listened to the Brute Force 45
and it seems to me it’s the same track as the Apple track.
I don't think the original track as produced with the Tokens
was ever a release. The B side was the original version
of "The Tapeworm of Love" which is now on "Tour de Brute
BU: You gave a tape of the song to Tom Dawes and
via via it got to George Harrison who heard it and remixed
it. Was this your intention?
Brute Force: My intention was to get it to the Beatles.
I didn’t pick out which Beatle. That was Fate.
BU: Sometime in the 60's you adopted the name Brute
Force. Can you elaborate this; how you got it, why, etc.
Brute Force: In "Cool and Strange Music Magazine",
see my web pages at www.interstellarcafe.com/bruteforce,
there's a good account of this. During some recording sessions
of my music, and of me as artist, produced with the Tokens
I was searching for a psuedonym. I had a feeling that Stephen
Friedland was not appropriate as the name for a rock singer.
I had come up with Krude Brute. Then, at this session we’re
all talking about a "name" for "me" . I mentioned Krude
Brute and everybody thought for a few seconds and Jay Siegel
the lead singer of Tokens blurted out "Brute Force!", and
so my pseudonym was born. In retrospect, had I stuck with
my given name, I probably would have been taken more seriously,
and respected more for being what I was: a young handsome,
vibrant Jewish man. Not to say that I’m any less of that
description, only not quite so young, and lines have etched
my face as time’s graffiti plays its artistry.
BU: Maybe a bit predictable, but the single didn’t
receive any airplay. What was your reaction to it?
Brute Force: Well in a couple of years I produced
a release of it on Brute Force Records, so I didn’t accept
the censorship and language taboo, and sought to open the
mass megalithic mind even a millimeter more. Yet the same
entrenched fear was inside the mind and hearts of the radio
program managers, a fear not of the melody, more with the
lyrics (although the lyrics have nothing to do with sex,
only with the Beauty of the world, and Individuality), but
the awesome fear which grips a human being upon looking
at the sky and envisioning one’s place in the universe,
and also the fear of leaving ones pigeonhole job (as program
manager, perhaps)and standing in the unemployment line.
I recognized the supreme hypocrisy of people who would "love"
King of Fuh, laugh at it, yet not play it. The Internet
radio show Friendly Persuasion,
played King of Fuh. It marked the first time in 33 years
that I had heard KOF played. The Apple release was played
once by Johnny Michaels on WOR-FM, back then. Once. The
way I heard it, "The board," (the telephone incoming call
board)," lit up like a Christmas tree."
BU: Was it difficult to get it back from Apple and
release it yourself (on Brute Force Records? Was this perhaps
the reason you started the record label.
Brute Force: Not difficult, a bit too casual. Probably
BF Records was started to keep The King alive, yes. Also
a young man named Jeff Cheen was a partner with me at that
time. A very energetic man, who believed in KOF, and helped
me get BF Records started.
On the near horizon are updates for the uninitiated, friends,
and family on http://www.interstellarcafe.com/bruteforce.
Emails to BF at firstname.lastname@example.org
A video by daughter, Lilah Freedland, (spelling correct),
of BF singing a heretofore unheard song exploring the realms
of reincarnation, oblivion and life forms other than human,
will be shown in a British art gallery,Serpentine, within
the next 30 days.
Brute’s Force Worldwide
146 East 98th St, #2
NYC, NY 10029
THE PROCLAMATION OF TRUTH IS FEARLESS.
IF LOVE IS BLIND, THE INTERNET IS BRAILLE.
In the contacts that Beatles
Unlimited had with Brute Force we thanked him for all he
had done ‘up to now’. This prompted Brute Force to write
the following poem:
(Usually new friends inspire
me with their own words, and so have you with the phrase
"...up to now.")
UP TO NOW
Up to now there were flowers
there were rifles and foxholes.
Up to now there was sunshine
in the eyes of the young.
Up to now I concluded
that this may not be forever,
may not last as the empty
sky does, up to now.
Up to now there was lingerie
languid on the rocker.
Only diaries and such
or whispers told the truth.
Up to now there were statues
that never felt a handshake
or the vehemence of action
or the righteousness of proof.
Up to now.
But then how can one decipher
the next moment, anyway?
You say you want me yet
do I know for sure you'll stay.
At least you haven't gone away, up to now.
How can anyone predict
the scheduled joy and pain?
All I do is what I do.
And we meet on common ground.
And I write you once again.
So I'll accept the lilac's petals.
And with reluctance the new war.
Hold out my hands to children,
for afterall: what am I doing?
And what do I live for?
Up to now.
Up to now there was music
that flowed through the human mind
and words uncalculated
that seekers of truth find.
And folks generous and kind...
up to now.
2001 - Apple Compact Disc UK Singles Collection
(UK) CD ASINGLE 11
203 tracks / 715:36 / 64-page booklet + 8-page foldout +
3 12-page foldouts
(bootleg 10-CD set in box)
Disc 9 CDP 12181931-9 / 20 tracks / 66:29
19. Brute Force - King Of Fuh 2:53
20. Brute Force - Nobody Knows 2:54
19, 20 (Stephen Friedland)
19, 20 Produced by The Tokens (and Stephen
Friedland), remixed by George Harrison.
Stephen Friedland (vocals, keyboards
Harrison was responsible for the addition
of strings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a bit
of percussion added to "King Of Fuh", while he left "Nobody
King Of Fuh also appeared on this bootleg collection. However,
on the Tour De Brute Force CD, the quality is much better
by all standards. Apart from the fact that there is much
less noise and hiss, the track there has a much clearer,
almost 5 seconds longer, fade. The track on this Apple collection
also runs 7 seconds faster.
Brute Force: http://www.interstellarcafe.com/bruteforce/.
Visit this site if you like to order this CD from the artist
himself; tell him, you got it from Beatles Unlimited and
he will write you a personal note as well!