Boomkat Product Review:
"‘Here Am I’ isn’t just the expression of a working-class hero’s musical fantasy circa 1976. It’s also a marvellous mashup of outsider-insider production styles; the best evidence of which is the synth-laden robot-rock of ‘Love You Anyway’. But how did it come about? At the end of the 1960s, Freddy Dengler was a veteran of the club circuit in his native Pennsylvania. Inspired in his boyhood by the decaying glamour of his father’s swingera nightclub, and then again in adolescence by the ubiquitous charm of The Beatles, he’d taken up the guitar as a teenager. This led to bands, and before long, Freddy was playing regular gigs with a group called The Other Side. Amidst the hard work of rock and roll were a couple of recording sessions, but unfortunately for Freddy, his bandmates didn’t share his enthusiasm for writing new material. By 1972, Freddy was in Florida with a wife and daughter, taking care of his ailing grandfather - and looking for a band to join. He eventually landed with an outfit named Cycle, playing hits of the day and fronting the group with his frenetic stage presence. When that band broke on the rocks of mid-70s decadence, Freddy decided he needed a new approach: Original songs, sung by an alter ego he dubbed Frederick Michael St. Jude. Shooting for the singles market, he wrote the material for ‘Here Am I’ and then went looking for a company to back him. Instead, while driving around Ft. Lauderdale in the summer of 1976, he found SRS International Recording Studios. A few demos later, they were convinced to go all the way and cut a whole album with Freddy for their Soul Deep label. Inspired by Bowie and one of Bowie’s own heroes, Anthony Newley, Freddy’s own crooning occasionally has the reedy warble of Paul Williams, but with the backing of a moving, grooving southern house band that verges the material toward the sort of pop music of Scepter-era B. J. Thomas. Freddy laid the tracks quickly, SRS personnel added strings and then, without his further input, overdubbed further, bringing an additional production edge with synthesizers and notably the robotic beat to the song ‘Love You Anyway’, that left Freddy “shocked and awed” when he heard the finished record. In the end, SRS and their Soul Deep label were deep-sixed in sudden and complete fashion; the Frederick Michael St. Jude album went into the world without solid representation and Freddy’s further musical endeavours were limited to a single in the mid-80s. But the show must go on, and Freddy has continued to take the stage as an actor (appearing twice on television’s ‘Miami Vice’) and further his creative side with children’s books and screenplays, as well as painting. Today, he is an archaeologist who managed to hang on to his own tapes from the now long-ago adventures of F.M. St. Jude, thus allowing Drag City to present a pristine reproduction of the wild sounds of ‘Here Am I’. Freddy’s vigorous delivery, sensitiveman lyrics and the Moogy synth touches make the album an unique and notable entry from its era. Faithful reproduction of the album artwork and an exhaustive essay from Brandan Kearney complete the experience with all thrills intact."