Archive for the ‘Jimmy Webb’ Category

Spanky & Our Gang

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Listen: Like To Get To Know You / Spanky & Our Gang

God, I hated Spanky & Our Gang when they were current. As a kid, they just sounded like safe sonic sludge, a cross between The Mamas & The Papas and The Letterman. Being impatiently addicted to the English group image, this bunch were simply hideous visually, out of shape and way too American.

Add to that, they were signed to the US Mercury/Philips/Fontana labels. As far as I was concerned, any money and manpower directed toward them took away from The Herd, The Troggs, Manfred Mann, The New Vaudeville Band, The Pretty Things and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Trust me, this did not sit well.

Truth be told, I was kind of wrong. Indeed, they probably did rob those other acts of company resources, but musically, they were pristine. To be fair, as the years passed, I found Spanky & Our Gang to be a nagging guilty pleasure, and one that eventually carried no guilt. Their collection of hits and non-hits sound even better with age. In fact, very psychedelic, aided in no small way by some of the earliest stereo 7′ pressings I can recall.

Check out both the production and arrangement of any Spanky & Our Gang single, start with ‘Like To Get To Know You’. This was on the radio constantly in ’68 and rivals Richard Harris’s Jimmy Webb written/produced ‘MacArthur Park’ for the flowery mini symphony slot of the era.

The Strawberry Children

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Strawberry Children Picture Sleeve

Listen: Love Years Coming / The Strawberry Children

Turns out Johnny Rivers was a pretty hip cat, as I believe he’d be referred to at the time. Like his career, Johnny Rivers’ record label Soul City, was very Los Angeles centric. Having earned parent company Liberty a ton of cash, he was afforded an imprint and indeed quite the businessman, which occasionally populated the landscape during the 60′s. In short, he licensed his masters instead of allowing the label to own them. Not only as performer, but as producer and A&R alike, Johnny Rivers had talent, signing The Fifth Dimension to Soul City as well producing many of their hits. Reputedly giving Jimmy Webb his initial songwriting placements, Rivers teamed he and The Strawberry Children together. Never shy on picture sleeves, Soul City issued ‘Love Years Coming’ during the summer of ’67. It was almost a hit.

Looking back on one of my local radio station’s chart below, ‘Love Years Coming’ was that week’s pick hit. Look further though. Usually a very tight follower of the national Top 40, seems WNDR was burning it’s bra that summer as well. The sunshine was clearly powerful as acid pop singles aplenty were being played: Sagittarius at #15 (which they misspelled), The Third Rail, The Forum, The Merry-Go-Round, The Will-O-Bees, The Cyrkle, The Left Banke and pyschedelic folk hippie Marcia Strassman. Not to mention some decent soul/Northern soul: Linda Jones, The Sweet Inspirations, Betty Swanne and a portion, though not big enough, of UK stuff: The Kinks, The Spencer Davis Group

It was a great summer.


Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Baby I’m - A Want You / Bread

Listen: Baby I’m – A Want You / Bread BreadBabyImAWant.mp3

The Guitar Man / Bread

Listen: The Guitar Man / Bread BreadGuitar.mp3

I was filing a box of singles last weekend that I’d been avoiding for ages, with no recollection of how I ended up owning them even. Mostly likely Graham Stapleton saved these for me from his stockpile of 70’s promos, back when he dealt with all the BBC dj’s and pop press music critics. Check out past posts for more details.

They were all UK A labels – and the reason for avoiding them was not what you think. It’s because I knew it would eat up an afternoon to get through the 30 count box, once I started cleaning and playing them all. As it turns out – I had a great time.

Amongst them were two Bread 7’s. Like everyone, I had my nose in the air toward this band at the time. Yes, they looked like shit, and were no match for glam or The Kinks. But guilty pleasures were indeed a few of their songs at the time. I have to say, ‘The Guitar Man’ sounded pretty great on Sunday. In hindsight, these sit perfectly with any Glen Campbell or Jimmy Webb record probably considered more politically correct still.