I first encountered The Gordian Knot on a random dig through the cheapo bins at a hippy record store. That day, I was in search of records with interesting covers that i could destroy for a school art project (although when it came down to it, I never had the heart to do any such thing) and the row of black-clad men bound with rope adorning the cover of Tones, their first and last album, definitely qualified it as interesting.
Beyond the 'they're-obviously-not-getting-it' vibe of the record's imagery and sleevenotes, Tones revealed itself to be, against all odds, a fantastic record. The feel of the album can be more or less summed up in what is for me its defining moment: at the end of "If Only I Could Fly," a southern-accented voice announces, "If I don't get myself some wings, I'm gon' lay right down and die!" Amen.
The band was formed in 1964 by a quintet of University of Mississippi students who took their dream and dragged it all the way to California, where they were lucky enough to prick up the ears of none other than Nancy Sinatra. They were invited to accompany her on a USO trip to Vietnam(!) and, upon returning, the Gordian Knot managed to win over the "celebrity-studded" audience at ultra-hip nightclub The Factory. Somewhere during these fifteen minutes of fame, Tones was recorded, released on Verve, and promptly forgotten.
It's a damn shame, though, because their glorious hybrid of the just-emerging style of country-rock with the soft-pop sounds of the Association et. al. should have been more than enough to stretch their fame out to at least thirty minutes. Like the Sir Douglas Quintet taking codeine with the byrds, they have the whole kooky southerners doing gorgeous bizarro harmonies routine down to a science. guitarist/singer/songwriter Jim Weatherly did go on to record several solo records as well as writing Gladys Knight and the Pips' #1 smash "Midnight Train To Georgia."
At any rate, the music of the Gordian Knot remains undeservedly obscure, even with the massive flood of reissues in the past decade. Somebody get Sundazed on the phone! If anyone wants to hear this record, I would be happy to rip the whole thing from vinyl.
Edit: The good people at Rev-Ola/Cherry Red, thee best reissue label in the world, have now reissued Tones!