lundi 9 février 2004

One Toke Over The Line

It's 1967 and you're a high school senior in suburban New York. Homework's a drag and you're sick of being stuck in the middle of nowhere miles away from where the action is. What to do? C'mon, man, you start a baroque pop band. It ain't exactly rocket science.

Fortunately for those of us stuck in less sensible times (today they'd be a hardcore band called the Charred Grass Clippings On A Bleeding Godless River of Death) the Blades of Grass had their shit together. They even had a minor hit with "Happy," which reached #87 on the charts but was cock-blocked by the Sunshine Company's higher-charting version. To their great dismay, the same thing happened with second single "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" when Harper's Bizarre beat them to the punch.

Young as they were, members Mark Black (guitar/vocals), Bruce Ames (guitar/vocals), Frank Dichiara (bass/vocals), and David Gordon (drums/organ) managed to create a sound that in its best moments is on par with the creations of soft-pop genius producer Curt Boettcher. The striking vocal harmonies the Blades so prided themselves on invite comparisons to the Association's classic Boettcher-penned singles as well as fellow New Yorkers the Critters and the Left Banke (they even released a cover of the baroque pop giants' #1 hit "Walk Away Renee").

The Blades' lone album,
...Are Not For Smoking, is not completely free of filler, but highlights like "Just Ah," "Satin Slipper," "If You Love Her, Cherish Her, And Such," and "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" make it an extremely worthwhile purchase for sixties pop fans, especially if you're lucky enough to find a copy on vinyl.

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