In the mid ’60s, this Bay Area band straddled British Invasion, garage rock, and emerging psychedelic sounds. More important, they cut some of the most sophisticated rock and roll of the time, thanks to lead guitarist/composer Ron Elliott, and benefiting from Sal Valentino, one of rock’s great voices.
This eight-disc box covers their heyday and breakup. Initial hits “Laugh, Laugh” and “Just A Little” had a dark, moody quality; kudos to producer Sylvester “Sly Stone” Stewart.
The group also dipped into country music, covering Don Gibson’s “Oh, Lonesome Me,” complete with jangly guitar solo, and twisted the genre on “Just Wait And See.” Then they turned around and rocked out Jimmy Reed blues on “Ain’t That Loving You Baby.” Elliott’s name might not be whispered in guitar circles, but on the 12-string-packed “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” he out-jangled the Byrds.
They helped pioneer country-rock on the 1968 album Bradley’s Barn, with future-exec Lenny Waronker joining the band. Cut in Nashville, it featured session pros such as guitarist Wayne Moss, drummer Kenny Buttrey, and bassist Norbert Putnam.
The 86-page booklet includes copious notes by producer Alec Palo, with quotes from surviving band members. A fitting tribute.
This article originally appeared in VG’s December 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.