Monday, June 06, 2005

Just the Right Sound: The Association Anthology

When I was just becoming a teen, one of my favorite rock bands was the Association. From 1966 to 1967 the group was quite popular, reaching high positions on the Billboard charts with “Along Comes Mary,” “Cherish,” “Windy,” and “Never My Love.” The band appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, and other variety television programs. In 1968 “Everything That Touches You” just cracked the top ten briefly. No song every came close again. The group did not immediately disappear, issuing singles and albums through 1973, but they were harder to find.

Allmusic suggests the popularity of the group waned because popular culture went in one direction and the group’s choice of material in another. I would agree, but there were other factors. Warner Brothers Records had other artists who were getting most of their promotional attention, the television appearances disappeared, and the disc jockeys did not play the new songs. I also think it is significant that the band members never became celebrities as individuals. There was no MTV or Internet to keep the group in the public eye, and only outrageous behavior got attention of the press. When Brian Cole died of a drug overdose in 1972, the group was already mostly forgotten.

In 1972 the band recorded Waterbeds in Trinidad for Columbia Records. As a single the company released “Darling Be Home Soon,” which had already been a big hit by the Lovin’ Spoonful. I always wonder if bad management was a major reason for the groups’ fading. Perhaps it was just time to stop.

For a long time it was hard to find much of the Association’s music at the record shops. Warner Brothers kept only the Greatest Hits album in vinyl through the 1970s and 1980s, and it was the only album released on CD until late 2002 when Rhino Records issued Just the Right Sound: The Association Anthology.

Just the Right Sound has 51 songs chronologically arranged on 2 discs, and includes some early recordings and 1980s reunion pieces that I had never heard. I recommend “One Too Many Mornings,” “On a Quiet Night,” “Requiem for the Masses,” “Goodbye, Columbus,” “Yes, I Will,” “What Were the Words,” and “Across the Persian Gulf.” to listeners who only know the big hits. These songs include rich and sometimes complicated vocal harmonies and sound very fresh to someone tired of the same old oldies on radio play lists. The set also includes an interesting booklet filled photos, history, and discography.


ricklibrarian said...

Members of the group were Terry Kirkman, Jules Alexander, Ted Bluechel, Jr., Brian Cole, Russ Giguere, Jim Yester, and Larry Ramos. When you search for information on the group via the Internet, you have to search their individual names because the group name is such a common word.

Balan said...

Rick has fairly well presented an accurate description of the Band. I am approximately his age. so I Lived thru those times when the Association was verry popular and well liked, at least in my area { Long Island, N.Y.}. However, at the time, there were so many groups forming/playing, Circa 1967/1968, Cream, Zepplin, Steppenwolf,Jefferson Airplane, The Dead, Janis, the Doors; Just to name a few, and by then, Well established bands: Beatles, Beach boys, Dylan and more. When you are a 16>18 year-old all this great music being thrown at us, had us all going in different Directions, with much "Overlappingof musical/cultural tastes. I personally fell in love with the Haunting sound of this band from California. So did many of my friends. their obvious particular sound could not be mistaken. It was exciting, mellow,mellodious,soothing,and had beatifull lyrics to boot! all in one package. They wrote, Played their many instruments, sang in many octaves/keys, and blended into a Fabulous band, too short-lived. I got the chance to see them At my old College { ST.Anselms,located in Manchester N.H. in 1969. They were awesome. Every nurse/Student At the college was there. Women escpecially loved the band, and there was quite a ruckus, at this Ultimate of "Mixers" as concerts were called in those days, in New England. Hope you enjoy this "Anthology" , of mine. Peace/love Get back to me if you wish, Alan

ricklibrarian said...

Thanks for the comments. I listened to the Renaissance album on the way to work today. It is the album over which they had the most control, and while it was not a big commercial success, it has a lot of good songs. I recommend it.