Hudsen Bay Co.
Hudsen Bay Company
This Dunwich-produced act was a regular at Chicago’s top tier sixties teen clubs including ‘Like Young’ in Old Town and ‘The Cellar’ in suburban Arlington Heights. Besides one overlooked pop-rock gem, “I See Her Face”/”You” released on Smash Records, they were also responsible for a pair of superb garage discs in an earlier guise as the Delights. It is overlooked achievements like these that led one person who was there to describe the Hudsen Bay Company as “the most famous ‘unknown’ Chicago band ever.”
As the Delights, they had already been knocking around for several years, generally in an R&B bag. The multi-talented group, consisting of Jerry Germansen (keyboards, vocal), Greg Grimes (lead vocals, sax), Bob Buff (drums), Luis Sanjurjo (bass, vocals), Vince Schraub (guitar, vocals), and Norbert Soltysiak (sax, tambourine, vocals), should have struck gold with their first single, a cover of “Long Green” that laid waste to the Kingsmen original. The record was co-produced by famed Chess Records engineer Ron Malo and Buckinghams producer/manager Carl Bonafede; the latter who also managed the Delights at the time.
Judging by their second release on the Quill label, “Just Out of Reach”/”Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Moment”, the Delights evolved into a more sophisticated sound indebted to British exports the Zombies. Indeed, “Just Out of Reach” was the very same obscure Zombies song.
By ’67, the band had signed with Dunwich Productions. Their debut under the newly-christened Hudsen Bay Company moniker owed more debt to the Zombies (singer Grimes sounded uncannily like Zombies frontman Colin Blunstone, a high compliment). But “I See Her Face”, written by guitarist Schraub, had other elements added in the mix, most conspicuously a horn arrangement reminiscent of Dunwich chart toppers the American Breed. Greg Grimes’ “You” was a jazzy, atmospheric number that captured the group’s exquisite vocal harmonies. Additional recording was completed at the same time as the single. But when Smash failed to order a follow-up, the material was forgotten… much like the Hudsen Bay Company. But this is a group that could do it all, from gritty R&B and British-style rock to the overlooked pop perfection of these Dunwich tracks.