Flock Rocks Greatest Hits - The Kretschmann Years

The Flock's humble beginnings date back to the Spring of 1996 and a rather inauspicious 1-10 debut season mark. Predictably, this led to turmoil within the group. But with the tireless efforts of founder and leader Jon Passman and the yeomanlike work ethic of blueliner Stefan Kretschmann, the Flock was able to forge an identity. By fall of 1997, despite limited local success, the Flock felt ready to take its show on the road.

An early January 1998 date in Duluth, MN introduced the rest of the world to the Flock experience, and with that the North American tour was underway. A Friday night jam session at Mr. D's got the party started, and it was here that the Flock was introduced to one of their greatest influences. Ground Zero, the Mr. D's house band, made their mark with such classics as Don't Tell Me You Love Me, and everyone put their hands together for Too Much Time on My Hands. The makings of rock greatness filled the air that night.

Unfortunately, so too were the cracks in the armor. The first experience with the nightlife that follows rock stars and athletes on the road proved too tough for the crew from the north side of Chicago, and a 9 am date with the Bullwinkles resulted in a 21-0 pasting. Na´ve no more, the Flock spent the next two days learning the hard lessons of life on the road.

Back in the studio, the Flock wasted little time turning out their first album, Opening a Can of Whoop Ass. Produced by Flock stars Glen and Joel Weinberg and Dan Ziolkowski, Whoop Ass received rave reviews from listeners. In addition to the heavy Ground Zero influence seen in tracks like Turn Me Loose, the Flock's ability to raise the roof and widen the room bursts through on hip-hop tracks like Gettin' Jiggy With It and The Humpty Dance. But it was a song that had been played hundreds of times in the back offices of Skokie by Kretschmann, Brent Osland, and Mike Wenz that put the Flock on the music map. Rubberband Man raced up the charts and rocked audiences everywhere.

But commercial success was fleeting. Few would have guessed that it would be nearly four and a half years before the Flock released their next album. Turmoil, turnover, and crisis were the name of the game both on and off the ice. Things began to turn sour with the ill-fated fan appreciation day in April of '98, where legions of fans turned up to show the Flock their love. Alas, the mob turned angry when it turned out that the Flock didn't have a game that night. An exhibition did little to cheer their spirits.

As Spring turned to Summer, and Summer to Fall, changes in the group's personnel continued as well. Osland was the first casualty, missing the fall '98 campaign. By spring of '99, Allan Spear had left the team, and Peter Woelflein began his on-again, off-again relationship with the group. In spite of this, the Flock kept kicking around lyrics and working hard in the studio. That year brought back-to-back double-win seasons on the ice as the legions of Flock fans grew. If rock stars have groupies and athletes have groupies, it's a wonder that crossover celebrities like the Flock had time for anything else.

In 2000, groupies began to become spouses, however, as Wenz took Kristy Oxby as his wife. This was followed up by the first tour in nearly 30 months, a Quad-City tour through Illinois and Iowa. The trip was a rousing success off the ice, though it marked Wenz's last appearance for two seasons. Rumors abounded: Was Kristy a modern-day Yoko Ono? Was Wenz headed off to Betty Ford? Or a better team in a better climate? No one knew. The Flock rocked on in his absence, though.

Meanwhile, wedding bells kept ringing. Brent Osland, Erich Hirsch, and Jon Passman all would go to the altar over the next few seasons. Osland took Flock superfan Shawn Koloms as his bride, while Passman orchestrated an on-ice proposal to superfan Tracy Fierer. As the gang began to settle down at home, they also settled into a groove on and off the ice.

The Quad-City tour became a ritual for the Flock, as they returned again in 2001 for what would be the second of five trips so far. Playing with some local house guys added some fun to the mix. Still, the personnel changes made it difficult for the group to define its artistic vision, and no studio albums were forthcoming.

Constant touring kept the group in front of their fans, and they developed quite a road following. It was fitting, then, that a performance in Rosemount, MN in the Spring of 2002 marked the live debut of Matt Valle. Valle had been to Flock Rocks like Robert Hunter was to the Grateful Dead, contributing solid lyrics without ever hopping on stage. Valle, joined by Jonny and Wayne (that looks funny together) helped carry the show in Rosemount. It would be Valle's only appearance with the group.

Spring of 2002 was the most successful on-ice season in Flock history, as they notched an 8-4 mark. The success on the ice was just a precursor to what would be the most prolific period in Flock recording history. A Chitown Party that summer with some of their Quad-Cities playas was a smashing success, and their annual Quad-Cities tour in September put a rousing end to what fans were calling the Summer of Flock.

Following the Quad-City tour in 2002, the albums came out at a blistering pace. Flock Rocks III: Rockin' the Nation Without Hesitation took some risks compared to the group's first offering, with tracks like Sister Christian, Afternoon Delight, and of course It's So Unusual clearly aimed at the female audience. But tracks like Jump Around spoke to the hardcore fans, and In My Dreams honored the group's close relationship with heavy-metal rocker Don Dokken.

2003 brought Flock Rocks 4: It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Flock and Roll). The hard years of turmoil resulted in the most critically acclaimed Flock album yet, with inspired tracks like Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Mama Said Knock You Out, and Youth Gone Wild. The '03 tour was the longest yet, with performances in exotic, world-class locales like Omaha, NE. The title track paid homage to life on the road, as did East Bound and Down. The Flock, this rag-tag band of ice-bound athletes, was truly doing what they said couldn't be done.

After over four years without an album, followed by two in such short succession, Flock fans were wondering what the group had been up to from '98 until '02. So at the end of the Spring '03 season, Kretschmann went to work in the studio. He digitally remastered some great tunes from the archives, producing Flock Rocks 2: The Lost Album. The group planned to release the album in conjunction with a breakout Chicago performance, but the cold, hard financial realities that define the broomball business forced the cancellation of the show. FR2 was a throwback, aimed clearly at the band's core following and harkening back to a time before groupies when broomball and music were more pure. Kretschmann's influence on the album is unmistakeable. Rock Soldiers and Smooth Up In Ya had wide appeal, but the inclusion on this album of The Zoo offers some insight as to the heated disagreements that were going on within the group during their hiatus.

Like Law & Order, CSI, and reality television, the Flock decided that it was time to strike while the iron was hot. In a rare move probably driven more by marketing than artistic vision, they released both FR5 and FR5.5 in support of the '04 Quad-City tour. FR5 showcased the between-song banter that made the Flock live experience so popular with fans, but didn't skimp on the business end either. You're the Best served as the perfect opener to an album packed full of fun. Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta captured the mood of Flock life. And Faithfully, long a tradition at Flock weddings, finally made its commercial debut. FR5.5 was a double-album, led by Leaving on a Jet Plane, an ode to the end of the Flock's tour bus days.

From September 2002 to September 2003, the Flock had been on three tours, released five albums, and managed to throw in a few victories on the ice as well. It was time to slow down just a bit. The Fall '03 regular season was lost to a labor dispute, but frankly the group needed the time off. The shorter schedule still allowed for another Omaha tour in Spring '04 and a Quad-City tour that fall. Flock Rocks 6 and Flock Rocks 7 came along with those tours, and the Flock turned out hits like Rock Superstar and In da Club.

The Flock rocks on in the Spring of '05, but it's an older, wiser group now. Glen Weinberg became the latest to hit the altar after the Fall tour, inking the deal with superfan Danielle DuBrule and thinning the ranks of available groupies in the process. Who will be next? The smart money's on brother Joel, but we're not that smart so our money's on the Robert Crown's new most eligible bachelor, Jonathan Carroll.

Kretschmann's hanging them up with this season, and his influence on and off the ice will be sorely missed. Where will the Flock saga turn next? It's anyone's guess, but if the cannons on the never-before-released track For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) which appears on this album is any indication, these guys are not afraid to break the mold. For now and forever, Flock, we salute you.

THE FLOCK: Stefan Kretschmann, Jonathan Carroll, Joel Weinberg, Jon Passman, Glen Weinberg, Brent Osland, Mike Wenz, Dan Ziolkowski, Erich Hirsch

1 For Those About to Rock AC/DC New!
2 Detriot Rock City Kiss FR 1
3 Rock Superstar Cypress Hill FR 6
4 You're The Best Bill Conti FR 5
5 Leaving on a Jet Plane Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies FR 5.5
6 Don't Tell Me You Love Me Night Ranger FR 1
7 In My Dreams Dokken FR 3
8 Mama Said Knock You Out L.L. Cool J FR 4
9 Rubberband Man The Spinners FR 1
10 Eastbound And Down Jerry Reed FR 4
11 Too Much Time On My Hands STYX FR 1
12 Rock Soldiers Ace Frehley FR 2
13 In Da Club 50 Cent FR 7
14 Jesse's Girl Rick Springfield FR 7
15 The Warrior Scandal FR 6
16 The Zoo Scorpions New!
17 Smooth Up In Ya Bullet Boys FR 2
18 Jump Around House of Pain FR 3
19 Faithfully Journey FR 5
Created By: Mike Wenz, Musical Advisor: Brent Osland
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