Originally formed in 1964 as the Classics (adopting the name CFUN Classics when they gigged to promote local Vancouver, BC radio station CFUN-AM), the group were featured as the house band on Let's Go, a weekly TV show. In 1965, they released two singles as the Canadian Classics — "Til I Met You" (Jaguar 2002A) and "I Don't Know" (Valiant 723). The band reinvented themselves as the Collectors in 1966. With former horn player Howie Vickers handling lead vocals, they cut "Eyes" and "Don't Feel Bad" — both of which later appeared on the History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Volume 4 (VRCA 004; 1991.) "Eyes" — a fine folk tune seasoned with tasty guitar and just a dash of psychedelia — is easily the better track. "Don't Feel Bad" has a vague "On Broadway" feel. More elaborately produced, it also seems a less genuine effort. By 1967, in addition to lead singer Howie Vickers, the Collectors included Claire Lawrence (tenor sax, organ, recorder, flute), Bill Henderson (lead guitar), Glenn Miller (bass) and Ross Turney (drums) — the band's "classic" line-up. Recordings from this period include the Vancouver smash hit "Lookin' at a Baby" (New Syndrome 16, 1967, subsequently reissued on the History of Vancouver Rock, Volume 3 VRCA 001, 1983) and two other 45s, "Fisherwoman" and "Fat Bird." "Lookin' at a Baby" is MOR flute-pop floating amidst heady clouds of psychedelia. Vickers' departure from the Collectors in 1969 necessitated Henderson's promotion to lead vocalist. Eventually, the band rechristened themselves Chilliwack.
1 What Is Love (3:53) 2 She (Will-O-the-Wind) (3:53) 3 Howard Christman's Older (5:10) 4 Lyndia Purple (2:48) 5 One Act Play (3:43) 6 What Love (Suite) (19:05)
Listening to this trippy psychedelic effort, one can't help but feel a certain sense of irony. Barclay James Harvest were known as a "poor man's Moody Blues," but the Collectors could just as easily have qualified for the label — their attempts at serious (or pretentious, in the case of "Howard Christman's Older") composition, the soaring choruses, the flute noodling in the background, will all recall the English group. What's more, the two bands have surprisingly similar backgrounds, having evolved (or devolved) from R&B inspiration to art rock and progressive rock. Howie Vickers isn't half the ballad singer that Justin Hayward is, but this band does play hard, especially Bill Henderson's lead guitar, which tries hard for some engaging pyrotechnics. That would matter more if some of the music here were a bit more original — "Lydia Purple" is such an "Eleanor Rigby"-influenced piece that you can practically predict the lyrics the first time around. The album's finale, "What Love (Suite)," is a rambling 19-minute piece marred by pseudo-Gregorian chant filler for several minutes of its opening, some vigorous playing (especially the guitar), and a cool tenor sax break about 14 minutes in that comes too late to save anything. It's all pompous and overblown enough to make "Legend of a Mind" sound like "Roll Over Beethoven," although these guys at least had the sense to play hard rather than pretty, which makes it a little more diverting than it might otherwise have been. Dave Hassinger produced, so it's not like the band didn't get every break making this record.