Sunday, December 11, 2011

VA - Nuggets, Vol. 5 Pop, Part Three

Volume Five
Pop, Part III

A little sappier than the previous "pop" installments of this series. Highlighted by obscure, minor hit singles by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Knickerbockers, the Association, and the Lovin' Spoonful.[allmusic]

Label: Rhino Records 
Series: Nuggets – RNLP 029
Format: Vinyl, LP, Compilation
Country: US
Released: 1985
Genre: Pop, Rock
Style: Vocal   [discogs]

A1 Knickerbockers, The – High On Love (M) 
A2 Vacels, The – You're My Baby (And Don't You Forget It) (M)
A3 Vogues, The – You're The One  (M)
A4 Hackamore Brick – Got A Gal Named Wilma (S)
A5 Lovin' Spoonful, The – She Is Still A Mystery (S)
A6 Association, The – Pandora's Golden Heebie Geebies (S)
A7 Mojo Men, The – Sit Down I Think I Love You (M)
B1 American Breed, The – Bend Me, Shape Me (S)
B2 Cherokee – Girl, I've Got News For You (S)
B3 Grass Roots, The – Where Were You When I Needed You (S, original with P.F. Sloan's lead vocal)
B4 Electric Prunes, The – Everybody Knows You're Not In Love (M)
B5 Tradewinds – Mind Excursion (S)
B6 Strawberry Alarm Clock – Tomorrow (S)
B7 Primrose Circus – P. S. Call Me Lulu (M)

Bend Me, Shape Me   Here [ff]
or Here [zippy]

 Liner Notes 

"In the era these records deal with, Pop meant more than overblown video vom set to cheesecake soundtracks; Pop was practiced as art!" So noted Edwin Pouncy when he reviewed the first two volumes of "Nuggets—Pop" in Sounds magazine. What inspired the Nuggets "Pop" volumes was considerably more than "let's have hits so we can make a lot of money." It was an era of challenge, experimentation and artistry. Initially the presence and accomplishments of the Beatles were so alluring that thousands of American teenagers formed rock bands to ape them, and other British bands. The KNICKERBOCKERS' first hit, "Lies," was mistaken for a Beatles single by many listeners. The similar "High on Love" effervesed with a confidence and energy that belied the Bergenfield, New Jersey group's straight appearance. Other, similar groups from the East Coast, the VOGUES (from Pennsylvania) and the VACELS (from Long Island) had hits with "You're The One" and "You're My Baby ( And Don't You Forget It)." "You're the One" was composed by Petula Clark and her husband Tony Hatch.Petula had a top thirty English hit with it around the same time as the Vogues'American version climbed to number four, nationally. The Vogues later evolved into a successful lounge group, racking up an impressive list of hits that included "Five O'clock World." Meanwhile, The Vacels hold the distinction of having had the first record released on the Kama Sutra label. Los Angeles based groups, less rooted in conservative traditionalism, seemed to embrace the various post-Beatles trends much mere quickly than those based in older cities like New York. Folk-rock was no exception, with the Byrds. Turtles and Grassroots all hitting the charts. The latter two evolved into exceptional pop bands. The GRASSROOTS "Where Were You When I Needed You" was originally recorded as a songwriting demo, probably for Barry McGuire. The demo turned out so well (P.F. Sloan sings and plays guitar) that it became a hit as a transitional Grasssroots single (see Nuggets Vol. 6). Grassroots lead singer Rob Grill's voice replaced Sloan's for inclusion on the group's "Greatest Hits" LP, but included here is the original, hit version. "Girl, I've Got News For You" easily sounds like it could have been a Top Ten smash by the Grassroots (and was in fact produced by Grassroots producer Steve Barri), but the performance is by CHEROKEE, aka the Robbs. The Robbs are best known for their 1966 regional hit "Race With The Wind," and for being regulars on the "Where The Action Is" TV Show. As the 60's srilled into the 70's, the group's name was changed to Cherokee. These days the Robb Brothers can be found operating Cherokee Studios, one of Hollywood's top recording complexes.
A side from one's personal enjoyment, it soon became evident that the consumption of drugs often inspired outrageous creative leaps. Even a band that had as straight an image as The ASSOCIATION was affected, and came up with a very strange record like "Pandora's Golden Heebie Geebies" which was named after the controversial Sunset Strip nightclub Pandora's Box, that was conveniently demolished when hippiedom reared its anti-establishment head. Later on, apparently, the Association were so embarrassed at their psychedelic forray that they left the song off of their "Greatest Hits" LP.
A large attraction of LSD was its enhancement of color. Musically, this translated to a variety of tones and textures, as well as an enchanting quality. Typical was The MOJO MEN'S "Sit Down I Think I Love You" which sounds similar to the Mamas and Papas.For the recording, arranger Van Dyke Parks brought this former San Francisco bar band a new Steve Stills composition in an effort to provide a new direction.
The STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK needed little more than their name and look - a debut album cover of Authentic Indian fashion gone away, looking like the group had been the victims of an ice cream fight - to enshrine them as flower power archetypes. They appeared, along with the Seeds, in the period film "Psych-Out" and had a few hits. Their second, "Tomorrow," is a simple love song that would have sounded trite had it not been given a churning arrangement of swirling organs and sustained guitar fuzz. Guitarist Ed King later joined Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Gershwin-like strings and woodwinds color the intro of the LOVIN' SPOONFUL'S last top thirty hit, "She's Still A Mystery," which fades to the accompaniment of a Dixieland band. The group's head-in-the-clouds good-timey personality seemed perfectly compatible with the heady euphoria that was prevalent in the era. The song is from the group's last LP before John Sebastian left, the "Sgt. Pepper"-ish "Everybody's Playing." While the ELECTRIC PRUNES better known sides (available on other "Nuggets") were more manic, the obscure single "Everybody Knows You're Not In Love" finds them with a charming love song. Originally from Seattle, but later based in Los Angeles, the group benefited from the production of Dave Hassinger (best known for his remarkable engineering of The Rolling Stones' "Aftermath"-era records). Once during a press party, the group served a dinner of prune juice, prune salad, prune meat pie, stewed prunes and prune dessert."Mind Excursion by New York's TRADEWINDS shows how even (presumably) straight groups co-opted the trend by utilizing a suggestive title that, in actuality, encouraged a positive physical adventure rather than a head trip. As conventional as Chicago's AMERICAN BREED's powerful top fiver, "Bend Me, Shape Me" was, their previous release was the timely "Step Out Of Your Mind." "Bend Me, Shape Me" was, their biggest hit, but was actually the eighth recorded version of the song. Producer Bill Traut (Nazz, Shadows of Night) recollected that it wasn't until 2:00 a.m. when the singers became hoarse, that the proper texture of their voices was achieved for the hit recording. The group reformed in 1985. While HACKAMORE BRICK's "Got A Gal Named Wilma" dates from 1971, it easily could pass as a 1960's artifact. Among the more obscure groups present, their only LP aroused some attention from Richard Meltzer's rave review in Rolling Stone, when he likened their sound to that of the Zombies. Says Richard, "Live, they were more guitar heavy, and had a sound that was like an early 60's psychedelic band. The fact that they couldn't find a regular drummer probably prevented them from playing much outside of Brooklyn."

Nuggets is a series of releases dedicated to preserving the hits and undiscovered gems of the first psychedelic era...

Vol. 01  Vol. 02  Vol. 03  Vol. 04
            Vol. 06  Vol. 07  Vol. 08
Vol. 09  Vol. 10  Vol. 11  Vol. 12

No comments:

Post a Comment