It’s that time of year!
When shopping for music, I love a bargain, I’ll admit. But I also like getting good sounding music. When those two rivers cross, its a joy worth celebrating.
Thus here I am writing about a fine sounding reissue from the good folks at Sundazed Records: a lovely restoration of the first album by New York’s famed Lovin’ Spoonful.
Without going into too much history, it is important that people — and by “people,” I mean you, Dear Readers! — be reminded that The Lovin’ Spoonful were one of the most popular and influential bands to come out of the 1960s music explosion. These guys performed on the Ed Sullivan Show multiple times (look him up if you don’t know the significance of that fact and his importance in breaking new music back in the day).
They had many hit singles on the charts and wrote the lion’s share of their own material. “Daydream” and “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind” were #2 hits and “Summer in the City” reached #1. Their first seven hits were consecutively in the Top 10 (a feat only topped by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, if the Wiki is accurate).
So here we are and Sundazed Records has put out a really lovely reissue of the first Lovin’ Spoonful album featuring their smash hit “Do You Believe in Magic?” This is a fine album of blues-infused jugband-flavored pop-rock ‘n roll, capturing the band with all their enthusiastic playful charm.
Wait, what’s that you say? Sundazed put out that reissue in 2002?
Um… yeah… I knew that.
But I’m willing to wager that not all of you knew about it…. More importantly, the album, which was selling for upwards of $25 previously, was on a huge clearance sale for a while. I got my copy for $8.99! And while I suspect that this sale will be over by the time you read this review, it did serve a good purpose and enable me to write this review (and thus my intro about bargain hunting!!).
“For The Win!” … as the kidz say….
The reissued album comes to you on lovely, perfectly centered, quiet gold vinyl, featuring four — count ’em, 4! — bonus tracks not on the original LP.And these bonus tracks are not throw-aways.
The previously unreleased version of “Alley Oop” rocks like mad. Other bonus tracks include the complete version of “Night Owl Blues” (not the 3:00 single version that graces the original LP) and alternate vocal versions of “Blues in the Bottle” and “Wild About My Lovin.”
It’s hard for some to comprehend that these guys were huge in the New York City / Greenwich Village music scene at the time. Band founder John Sebastian quickly became one of the most respected songwriters of his generation — and a much in demand session player for his scorching Harmonic playing. After many albums with the band, Sebastian went on to perform solo at Woodstock as he embarked on a fine fine solo career — his amazing first solo album reached the Top 20 in 1970 — that continues to this day (he still tours with his Jugband!).
So how does this reissue stack up to my original pressing? Really well! Yes, the original has a slight bit more presence and brightness about it. And certainly with the additional tracks added on to the single LP (two per side plus the extended “Night Owl Blues”) that squeezes the grooves a bit more in disc mastering (so you have play it a bit louder). Nonetheless, Sundazed Records founder Bob Irwin did a fine fine job on this and it sounds real real good — a very enjoyable listen.
Frankly, folks, please remember these are 1965 pop music recordings bearing a sound that was tailored for “AM” radio (‘member that?), probably made on a four-track recorder. So don’t go into this expecting to hear a recording of the fidelity of, say, Dark Side of the Moon or Abbey Road. But it sounds at least as good as Beatles For Sale and A Hard Days Night! If you are hung up on original pressings — and some of us are! — the bigger challenge is simply finding a pristine original copy to play. I’ve been looking for years and while I have one that is in good shape overall, its not easy to find a clean copy that hasn’t been played to death. This was a popular record!
Accordingly, if I were you and was interested in hearing The Lovin’ Spoonful again on vinyl, I’d grab one of the Sundazed reissues. The original Mono versions of their albums have just been reissued as well so those probably sound pretty fab too. Check ’em out at www.sundazed.com.