It’s been 45 years since a Hamilton band called The Brotherhood performed together at Taft High School, but the group now has record deals on two continents.
An earlier version of the band, The Revised Brotherhood, also has a deal with a German company for a single released in 1971 called “Tragedy.” Both the album, called “Stavia,” and the single have cult followings worldwide.
The number 45 must be their lucky number, because last year — 45 years after the Revised Brotherhood issued a 45-rpm single called “Tragedy,” they reached a deal with a German label to reissue it. In an unexpected quirk, the band called The Revised Brotherhood actually existed before The Brotherhood.
Recently, “We were contacted by a small record label in Spain, saying that they wanted to reissue Stavia,” said John Hurd, 64, lead singer of both groups and a Badin High School graduate. The label, Guerssen Records, wrote him, with an opening sentence of, “I guess you know your album was bootlegged in France?”
“I already knew that,” Hurd said with a laugh.
Hurd insisted that the deal, for the production of 500 copies of Stavia, be non-exclusive, in case another label also wanted to make a deal. It’s a good thing he did, because Shake It Records in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood, which is a record store and a label, also plans to reissue 500 copies of the album, probably in early 2018.
Hurd visited Shake It, asking if they would be willing to sell copies of his 45, and the man told him, “I’ve been looking for you for a long time, couldn’t find you.” Hurd said the man told him, “I want to make you an offer to re-release your album, Stavia. That’s a great album.”
Darren Blase, a co-owner of Shake It, said Stavia “has always been this fascinating record, because there’s sound like Blood, Sweat and Tears, and there’s parts that sound like Neil Young, and then there’s this organ and flute,” Blase said. “It’s just an odd record for this part of the country, and it’s always been this pretty mysterious record.”
Band members of The Brotherhood included Donny Hoskins on drums; Jeff Hanson guitar and vocals; Hurd on Hammond organ, electric piano and vocals; MJ Coe on flute,guitar and vocals; and Bill Fairbanks on bass guitar piano and vocals.
“You know, you ask around, and nobody really knows about it, said Blase, who calls Stavia a southern Ohio “Holy Grail record that I’ve always been wanting to find more about, and I found out that John worked with one of my employees’ lives at Miami University.”
Here’s how Blase describes Stavia: “It’s not a psych(edelic) record, it’s not a rock record, it’s not a soul record. It inherits this kind of odd space, and there’s not a lot of records that sound like that. And I’m a big fan of Rite Records, a company down here that put it out. And there’s people down here that just collect Rite stuff. “
Stavia will be part of a Shake It reissue series called Reissues from Ohio.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Hurd said. “It was one of the best days of my life, as far as being a musician, being in a store, surrounded by all these famous people’s records, and then this guy, knowing who I was, and then offering me a record deal.”
“It was like, ‘Huh? Really?’” said Hurd. He also was impressed with the technical abilities to remaster the recordings.