Blue Ash's fate mirrored that of fellow power poppers like Big Star -- not enough sales to back up all those critical hosannas. Youngstown, Ohio residents Bill Bartolin (vocals, guitar), David Evans (drums, vocals), Jim Kendzor (vocals), and Frank Secich (bass, vocals) formed in 1969, and soon won comparisons to the usual suspects associated with the tag: the Beatles and the Who.
Strong regional interest secured a deal in 1973 with Mercury Records, home of the New York Dolls. Both bands even had the same champion in A&R man Paul Nelson, who plucked Blue Ash's demo from an unsolicited tape pile. No More No Less appeared that year, and is best remembered for its raucously melodic leadoff track, "Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her?)." Critics fell all over themselves, but sparse sales dashed hopes of continuing with Mercury.
Evans was long gone when Front Page News finally appeared on Playboy's ill-fated label in 1977. The group's talent burned as brightly as ever -- though snowed under horns and strings -- but failed to improve its fortunes. There the story ended, although Blue Ash won a brief burst of notoriety when Anglo-poppers the Records covered "Abracadabra" for a 12" single in 1979. (The original version is also on Rhino's Poptopia! 70s Power Pop Classics compilation.) Secich enjoyed the highest profile after Blue Ash's breakup. When fellow former Ohioan Stiv Bators yearned to move beyond the shock punk of his former band, the Dead Boys, he teamed up with Secich on a May 1979 single, "The Last Year"/"It's Cold Outside." They felt sufficiently encouraged to then collaborate on Bators' 1980 solo album Disconnected, which has since been reissued on Bomp Records. (Ironically, Bators and Secich shelved a demo of the Glories' "I Stand Accused" after Elvis Costello did it for his Get Happy! album.) Secich also worked with ex-Dead Boys rhythm guitarist Jimmy Zero in Club Wow, which managed one single ("Prettiest Girl"/"The Nights Are So Long") during its two-year run from 1982 to 1984. ~ Ralph Heibutzki