Nuggets: It’s Cold Outside by The Choir

Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years 1965 to 1968 and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.

Track 64/118: It’s Cold Outside by The Choir
From: Cleveland, Ohio
Aphoristic Rating: 8/10

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE – The Choir [2:46]
(Daniel Klawon)
Personnel/DAVE SMALLEY: vocals, guitar * WALLY BRYSON: lead guitar, vocals * DANNY KLAWON: guitar * DAVE BURKE: bass * JIM BONFANTI: drums
Produced by NAJWEB HEDAFY (NEIL GANIM & DENNY GALLIGAN)
Recorded in Chicago, IL
Canadian-American single #CA-203 (9/66); Roulette single #R-4738 (5/67); Pop #68

The Mods formed in Cleveland in 1964. Inspired by The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, they opened for The Yardbirds and The Dave Clark 5. When the group, aged in their mid teens, recorded their debut single ‘It’s Cold Outside’, their record label made them change their name to The Choir.

‘It’s Cold Outside’ deviates from the usual garage rock style – with a light and innocent sound that recalls the early British Invasion. It was recorded in September 1966, but not released until May 1967. It’s out of step with the tougher and more psychedelic sounds of 1967, but it’s a strong song regardless. It was very popular on Cleveland’s three Top 40 radio stations, although it only peaked at #68 on the nationwide Billboard charts.

The Choir had a relatively short career, releasing a handful of singles between 1967 and 1970. They recorded an album in 1968, unreleased until 2018, and reunited for two concerts in 2006. Drummer Dann Klawon, who wrote ‘It’s Cold Outside’, became an electrical contractor.

The Choir’s biggest contribution to pop culture is the spinoff band they spawned. Dave Smalley, Wally Bryson, and Jim Bonfanti linked up with singer Eric Carmen and formed 1970s power-pop band the Raspberries. The Raspberries included ‘It’s Cold Outside’ on their 2004 live album Pop Art Live, alongside their own classics ‘Go All The Way’, ‘Let’s Pretend’, and ‘Overnight Sensation’.

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20 Comments

  1. When I read the members of the band…I thought wow that’s the Raspberries! It may have been more successful a year earlier…good song though…it fit that British sound.

  2. Nuggets truly is the gift that keeps on giving. While “It’s Cold Outside” perhaps isn’t the most original tune, I like its ‘60s British Invasion flavor. I’m not sure calling the band The Choir was helpful!

    • Yeah, I think there was probably a better name out there than The Mods or The Choir. The Mods is probably not a good name for a US band, even though they’re massive Anglophiles.

  3. I love this song, superb Beatles-influenced, early power-pop. The photo above (evidently on a belated CD release) is a later lineup without Bryson or Smalley, both of whom had played on “It’s Cold Outside.”

    • Cool – I take it you knew it already?

      It’s often pretty hard to find nice photos of these semi-obscure 1960s bands. I just found the nicest one I could. Even harder to find a photo with the guy who wrote the song, because it seems he didn’t stick around very long.

  4. I really like these retro reviews. I’d never heard of this band, even though I know and love Patti Smith. Maybe you could have some of your members review, say, their favourite album of all times. That would be interesting. Some of the younger members (like me) could review some contemporary albums too. All adding to our knowledge of music culture. Just an idea.

  5. I give it a 7/10 cuz it sounds like they actually recorded it in their garage. On an old cassette recorder. That’s what it sounds like. lol

    • I don’t really mind some rough-sounding recording on Nugget – it’s all part of the experience. I’ve never been an audiophile anyway.

  6. Yes, I have a Choir compilation CD, Sundazed Records, different photo. Plus, I once worked with a guy (and jammed with him) here in Ohio who said he knew Wally Bryson, so I know what Bryson looks like.

  7. Good tune. Never heard before it but like what I hear. Why wasn’t this a hit? Love that modulation. And the Raspberries? That’s huge. “Go All the Way” is a great song, not so crazy about Carmen’s solo work.

    • I think it might have a had a better chance of being a hit a year or two earlier – recorded in 1966, but not released until 1967.

      Carmen seems like he’s gone off the deep end on conspiracy theories, but I have a huge soft spot for his ‘Dirty Dancing’ song ‘Hungry Eyes’, mainly for Carmen’s vocal.

  8. No, actually I meant it as a compliment. Otherwise I would have just gave it a 5 or a 6. It’s nostalgic for me cuz when I was like 8 years old my prize possession was one of those cassette recorders which I wanted for Christmas really bad. But there was no way you could hook it up to the radio or a stereo to record off them, so you just had to hold the whole thing up to the radio speaker to record. And it only had a jack for a single earpiece, so you couldn’t even use headphones. And that muffled sound like this song is how everything sounded. It reminds me of that.

  9. And I didn’t get my own stereo system till I was about 12 I think and it was one of those ones that had plastic speakers and everything. But it did have a built-in cassette recorder so at least I was able to record off of the radio or turntable. But a few years later my parents gave me their old system for my bedroom and it was pretty decent. It had big old Altec speakers and even an equalizer, so I was just in ecstasy as you can well imagine.

    • My first “stereo” was terrible. It was a tiny tape player/radio with tiny speakers that my mum encouraged me to get from a mail order catalogue.

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