[29 August 2012]
Whoa! These two records from 1966 and 1967 are psychedelic dude, and in the most commercially crass way. The songs here make ones like Tommy James and Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover” sound innovative and hip. Not that there’s anything wrong with bubblegum rock; the material here has all the charm of an American International Picture production from the same era (i.e., stereotypes of young people sold to teenage audiences). If this smells like pre-teen spirit to you, you are not wrong. The original material sounds like pastiches or imitations of contemporary hits. My favorite is “The Shut-In”, a simulated “Eleanor Rigby” that begins, “She keeps her heart in a doormat in front of the door.” Covers like the Rolling Stones’ “Lady Jane” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” are given hard driving instrumental interludes.
The two albums would be relegated to collections of crate seekers of the obscure if not for the fact that the band featured Terry Knight, Grand Funk Railroad’s producer for its first six records, and the band included future Grand Funk members guitarist Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer. Fans of Grand Funk would probably enjoy this disc because the instrumentals have that same pop-heavy feel. One could make a good drinking game guessing the ripped off songs from the time that are cut up into these ones. Or this could provide a good soundtrack for a discussion of who really killed JFK and other party games from the era.