Listen: Where Were You When I Needed You / The Grass Roots
Where Were You When I Needed You / The Grass Roots
These guys had a string of sizable and worthy successes through the late 60′s and into the 70′s. Pretty poppy but very musical stuff, including a few covers of should-have-been hits, like The Marmalade’s English smash ‘Lovin’ Things’ and The Forum’s ‘The River Is Wide’. All their records past the first few incorporated soul, brass or percussion heavy songwriting in an English sounding setting.
The early stuff seems most non-existant, even though their second single, ‘Where Were You When I Needed You’, became a hit, perfectly marrying a British Invasion image with west coast folk rock jangle, and peaked at #28.
Listen: Only When You’re Lonely / The Grass Roots
Only When You're Lonely / The Grass Roots
It’s followup, ‘Only When You’re Lonely’, in a very similar style, had a brief moment at #96, and is largely forgotten. Too bad, it’s a good one.
The whole Grass Roots story is a bit manufactured. The act was basically an outlet for writers and Dunhill Records owners PF Sloan and Steve Barri to latch onto LA’s folk rock movement, which had an undeniable UK slant, much like The Sir Douglas Quintet purposely went British Beat to gain success. In actuality, The Grass Roots’ first three singles were by an entirely different band from the one that followed and proceeded to have hits.
Their original sound, of which ‘Only When You’re Lonely’ basically concluded, rivaled The Byrds, who clearly ran with both it and the image in their teeth, thereby claiming the prize of massive success.
I have a nagging instinct The ‘Only When You’re Lonely’ Grass Roots easily had the initial footings of a great band to be. Early clips, there are very few, show them possessing a natural body language, much closer to say, The Seeds, than the later successful lineup, more easily compared to clumsy high school football team players, true visual eye sores indeed, like The Turtles or The American Breed.
Were the original Grass Roots destined to be the real deal, we will never know.