Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Lemon Drops-A Classic Collection:Crystal Pure / The Lemon Drops' Second Album[67-68]

The Lemon Drops were a band from the northwest Chicago suburbs in McHenry County.Formed in the mid-1960s by the Weiss brothers and some other like-minded high school students,they were the recipients of a rather unique gift in that the older brother of two of the band members was a partner in the local label.Jeff Brand (bass), Bobby Lunack (rhythm guitar),Gary Weiss (drums),Eddie Weiss (rhythm guitar) and Danny Smola (vocals),who began rehearsing in the Weiss home when they were between 14 and 17 years old.With lead guitarist Ricky Erickson in tow and later an official member,they cut their first record,"I Live In the Springtime," for Rembrandt,a local label co-owned by one of the Weisses' elder siblings."I Live in the Springtime" got an enthusiastic reception locally and was played as far away as New York.The bandmembers became celebrities among the local kids when they were thrown out of school for their long hair.By that time,they were on their second single,the angry anti-Vietnam rocker "It Happens Everyday," and soon after had a new lead singer,Dick Sidman.The band slipped easily into the psychedelic blossoming of the Summer of Love,adding more overt flower-power references to their mix of sounds.It looked as though RCA was interested in the group,but a mix-up prevented the tapes for their third single,"Sometime Ago"/"Theatre of Your Eyes," from getting to the company in New York on time.A potential contract with Uni Records came to nothing and their third single,as well as a dozen tracks cut live in the Weiss home in January of 1968, went unheard.A few more songs were cut on behalf of Buena Vista Records,but the death of the label head scotched the deal and a potential contract with Alden Records fell apart,along with the group,following an acid party at the owner's Los Angeles mansion in the summer of 1969.

1.I Live In The Springtime
2.It Happens Everyday
3.Sometime Ago
4.The Theatre Of Your Eyes
5.Popsicle Girl
6.Flower Pure
7.Paperplane Flyer
8.Talk To The Animals
9.Fairy Tales
10.Hi,How Are You Today
12.Sleeping On Colours
13.Sometime Ago (Acoustic Version)
15.Learn To Fly
16.Flowers On The Hillside
17.Flower Dream
18.Flower Child Eyes And Arms
19.My Friend
20.To The Tower
21.Death Calls
22.Hi, How Are You Today
23.Love Is A Word
24.I Like You

The Collectables Records being reviewed here contains 24 songs that were to have been two albums by the band.The first twelve constitute sessions done in New York City for RCA that were never produced and released the second twelve are the so-called basement tapes.Most of the music is decidedly psychedelic in nature,replete with "nudge,nudge,wink,wink,then smirk" titles and lyrics about drugs.This includes a song where " Hi! How are you?" transforms into "How high are you?" Looking back on it,one has to wonder just how idiotically naive and simplistic we were at the time.The earlier material is very directly linked to the 1967 timeframe with a spoken intro lifted (in)famous 78 rpm cut on Moby Grape's "Wow." The songs themselves are pretty harmless,lightweight fare some of the material sounds a bit like The Association trying to be overly hip.The standout cut on the first' album is "I Live for the Springtime," written by the band by the older brother/label owner at a time when band-written original material did not exist.Not psychedelic in the least,the above excellent harmonies evoke a Beach Boys feel more than anything else.Of the rest little can be said beyond it's being more-or-less emblematic of the output one would expect from a group of teenagers at the time.The material of the `second' album sounds like demos, workups and frankly, fragments that are performed in a manner that suggests fractured morale and ego.The Hi/High song appears again,as does a cymbal on a couple of tracks.Why someone had a cymbal but not a drum kit is an issue lost to history.
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