Saddled with a punny name they couldn?t stand (their label, Capitol, dropped the ?g? to capitalize ? no pun intended ? on the then-fashionable ?Be-In? craze), this Youngstown, Ohio quartet began their career as a cover band, The Premiers in 1964 and will probably always be remembered as the one hit wonders that gave us their classic, 1967 garage stomp version of the Isley Brothers, ?Nobody But Me.? Unfortunately, few owners of that golden nugget may be aware that the band also recorded this excellent 1968 sophmore effort. Unfairly abandoned by their label when several ?Nobody But Me? follow-ups tanked, the band was nevertheless big in Japan, where they enjoyed two subsequent #1 singles. Despondent over the lack of interest at home from both the public and their label alike, the band fulfilled their contractual tour of Japan and subsequently disbanded.
Most songs were written once again by producer/arranger, Lex De Azevedo and the band succeed in pushing the envelope beyond their previous frat/garage rock tendencies. The baroque pop of opener ?The Face? features string and harpsichord backing and is reminiscent of popular contemporary acts The Left Banke with a few lingering melodies that I thought I recognized from early Rain Parade recordings like ?One Hour ? Ago.? Of course, in their infinite wisdom, Capitol elected to bury this on the flip side of the album?s lead single, the otherwise uninteresting ?Every Time Woman,? which ventures perilously close to hard rock posturing, despite lead guitarist Richard Belley?s screaming, white-hot, fuzz solos. Mel Pachuta?s descending basslines are at the center of the tender ballad, ?Close Your Eyes,? although the album?s other straighforward pop charmer, ?If You Don?t Mind, Mrs. Applebee? inexplicably stops mid-verse! Belley once again whips out his fuzzbox for the album?s second single, ?I?ve Got To Keep On Pushing,? a hard-driving stomper that should have fared better.
The band?s lone original composition, Belley?s ?Cement? once again features flickering harpsichord backing, with nods towards the emerging country-rock inflections of The Byrds. The band continue to explore this direction more fully on the straightforward country-rocker, ?Two Of A Kind,? which could, as much as anything on ?Sweetheart of The Rodeo,? be flagged as one of the earliest examples of country-rock on a major label release. The fact that the band end the song with the famous (and rather lengthy) live decapitation of a piano, with saws and hammers flailing away in all directions, may indicate that this was all they had to say on the subject. The epic 8-minute instrumental jam, ?April 15th? (perhaps an ode to the dreaded US income tax filing deadline) brings all the band?s talents to bear: fluid, walking basslines, searing fuzz solos, and Mike Tatman?s galloping drums, and clearly indicates a Hendrixian influence. It also suggests the band could put on a killer live performance, but you?ll have to track down their subsequent (and rare as hen?s teeth ?Live In Japan 1968?) album to find out.
As is usually customary with all their reissues, Fallout append the original album with several bonus tracks, in this case, two rare 45s: their final single, the aforementioned Japanese #1, ?Hold On Baby,? which once again finds them raiding the Isley Brothers catalogue, and a non-LP B-side soulful cover of Ray Charles? ?This Little Girl of Mine, which bears more than a passing resemblance to other blue-eyed soul bands of the late 60s, The Box Tops and The Rascals. The former clearly explores the band?s Beatlesque inclinations with an arrangement that closely resembles the Fab Four?s interpretation of that other early Isley composition, ?Twist & Shout.? Unfortunately, the latter?s shouting brass arrangements and pulsating backbeat couldn?t help push the flip, ?Evolutions?? ?I?ve Got To Keep On Pushing? into the public?s consciousness. 7/10 -- Jeff Penczak (6 February, 2007)