The Grass Roots – Leaving It All Behind

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Over the course of their first four studio albums, The Grass Roots had changed artistic directions numerous times. Released in 1969 on Dunhill Records, Leaving It All Behind was no exception. The band had lost lead guitarist, Creed Bratton (yes from The Office), and replaced him with two guitarists and a keyboardist (Terry Furlong, Brian Naughton and Dennis Provisor respectively). With the additional guitarist and a first-ever keyboardist, the band decided to go towards a more blue-eyed soul kind of sound. Over their previous four albums, the band had evolved from folk rock to psychedelic rock to sunshine pop, all of which would continue to influence the band. This new sound yielded the band two charting hits––”Wait a Million Years” and “Heaven Knows”––both which feature Dennis Provisor and horn musicians prominently in addition to Rob Grill’s powerful vocals. While these songs were the most commercially successful ones on the album, they weren’t enough to set the band apart. The songs sounded so similar to other blue-eyed soul and sunshine pop songs of the time, causing them to get lost in the cookie-cutter classics heard on oldies stations today. Despite these more formulaic songs, the band does produce a couple more creative numbers. “Truck Drivin’ Man” is like nothing else on the album; in fact, it sounds more like a folk rock song that one might find on The Grass Roots’ debut album. This song was written by the drummer, Rick Coonce, and is a breath of fresh air on an album that is soaked with low-hanging pop/soul tunes. In addition to the cookie-cutter songs, the band also struggles to fully flesh out some songs. Several songs including “Back to Dreaming Again” and “Walking Through the Country” seem to be decent shells of songs, but they contain too much filler and fluff for the songs to really accomplish anything. By the time the album ends, listeners may feel like they’ve wasted too much time just to hear a couple of decent tracks. Unfortunately, this is not a new problem for The Grass Roots. They never had a really killer studio album because they rushed albums to production with a few decent tracks and a lot of fluff. I have never made this recommendation for any band, but for this band, instead of buying this album, buy one of their many hits records. One of their hits records is equal to one studio album of a fairly decent band from the 60s. C-

The Peppermint Rainbow – Will You Be Staying After Sunday

ImageThe Peppermint Rainbow first came to notoriety after Mama Cass Elliot from The Mamas and the Papas recommended them to Decca Records after attending one of their shows. The band was soon signed, and in 1969 they released Will You Be Staying After Sunday. Although this would be there one and only record, they seemed to have left their mark on the sunshine pop genre. Several of the album’s songs, most notably the title track “Will You Be Staying After Sunday” and “Walking in Different Circles,” feature prominent upbeat vocal harmonies and simplistic yet catchy rhythms. With a good combination of both male and female vocalists, The Peppermint Rainbow thrive in vocal heavy tracks. Interestingly enough, the band also flirts with psychedelic pop on tracks such as “Pink Lemonade” and “Green Tambourine.” These songs (my personal favorites) incorporate traditional psychedelic pop features like distortion and surrealistic lyrics in order break the monotony of incredibly cheerful sunshine pop songs. These two songs do a lot to bring the album familiarity and quality. For all of the positive aspects of the album, Will You Be Staying After Sunday lacks several key things to truly set this album apart. Although The Peppermint Rainbow often sound fresh, they struggle to find their own identity through a myriad of covers and sound-alikes. The album also fails to be consistent. When the tracks aren’t enjoyable, they can be dreadful––songs like “Jamais” and “Sierra (Chasin’ My Dream)” come to mind. This lack of consistency is perhaps why the band’s post-album recordings failed to materialize into a second album despite a mildly popular debut. Overall, this album is a fairly decent 60s sunshine pop album with some very solid tunes. If you enjoy sunshine pop or are willing to dabble outside of your comfort zone, then you should pick up this album. If you are into harder rock ‘n’ roll bands, there’s plenty of other talented bands reviewed below.  B-