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The Lovin' Spoonful



Right on the tails of the Beau Brummels and the Byrds, the Lovin' Spoonful were among the first American groups to challenge the domination of the British Invasion bands in the mid-'60s. Between mid-1965 and the end of 1967, the group was astonishingly successful, issuing one classic hit single after another, including "Do You Believe in Magic?," "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice," "Daydream," "Summer in the City," "Rain on the Roof," "Nashville Cats," and "Six O'Clock." Like most of the folk-rockers, the Lovin' Spoonful were more pop and rock than folk, which didn't detract from their music at all. Much more than the Byrds, and even more than the Mamas & the Papas, the Spoonful exhibited a brand of unabashedly melodic, cheery, and good-time music, though their best single, "Summer in the City," was uncharacteristically riff-driven and hard-driving. More influenced by blues and jug bands than other folk-rock acts, their albums were spotty and their covers at times downright weak. As glorious as their singles were, they lacked the depth and innovation of the Byrds, their chief competitors for the crown of best folk-rock band, and their legacy hasn't been canonized with nearly as much reverence as their West Coast counterparts. Leader and principal songwriter John Sebastian was a young veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene when he formed the band in 1965 with Zal Yanovsky, who'd already played primitive folk-rock of a sort with future members of the Mamas & the Papas in the Mugwumps. Sebastian already had some recording experience under his belt, playing harmonica (his father was a virtuoso classical harmonica player) on sessions by folkies like Tom Rush and Fred Neil. The Spoonful were rounded out by Steve Boone on bass and Joe Butler on drums. After some tentative interest from Phil Spector (who considered producing them), they ended up signing with Kama Sutra. Sebastian's autoharp (which would also decorate several subsequent tracks) helped propel "Do You Believe in Magic?" into the Top Ten in late 1965. The Lovin' Spoonful were torn asunder by a drug bust in 1967. Boone and Yanovsky were arrested in California for marijuana possession, and evidently got out of trouble by turning in their source. This didn't sit well with the burgeoning counterculture, which called for a boycott of Spoonful product, although the effect on their sales may have been overestimated; most of the people who bought Spoonful records were average teenage Americans, not hippies. Yanovsky left the band in mid-1967, to be replaced by Jerry Yester, former producer of the Association. The band had a few more mild hits, but couldn't survive the loss of John Sebastian, who effectively closed the chapter by leaving in 1968, although the group straggled on briefly under the helm of Butler. Sebastian went on to moderate success as a singer/songwriter in the 1970s. Live at the Hotel Seville, the first new Lovin' Spoonful album in three decades, was released in 1999. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
  2.   Summer in the City
  3.   Do You Believe in Magic
  4.   Daydream
  5.   Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind?
  6.   Rain on the Roof
  7.   Nashville Cats
  8.   You Didn't Have to Be So Nice
  9.   Darling Be Home Soon
  10.   Six O'Clock
  11.   Coconut Grove
  12.   Younger Generation
  13.   Younger Girl
  14.   She Is Still a Mystery
  15.   Full Measure
  16.   Warm Baby
  17.   Butchie's Tune
  18.   Fishin' Blues
  19.   Lovin' You
  20.   Pow!
  21.   You Baby
  22.   Wild About My Lovin'
  23.   Let the Boy Rock and Roll
  24.   Bes' Friends
  25.   Blues in the Bottle
  26.   You're a Big Boy Now
  27.   Jug Band Music
  28.   Unconcious Minuet
  29.   Revelation: Revolution '69
  30.   Alley Oop
  31.   Big Noise from Speonk
  32.   Henry Thomas
  33.   Voodoo in My Basement
  34.   4 Eyes
  35.   Amazing Air
  36.   Try a Little Bit
  37.   Only Pretty, What a Pity
  38.   Forever
  39.   Priscilla Millionaira
  40.   Darlin' Companion
  41.   The Finale
  42.   Barbara's Theme
  43.   Dixieland Big Boy
  44.   Wash Her Away (From the Discothedque)
  45.   End Title
  46.   Phil's Love Theme
  47.   A Cool Million
  48.   Respoken
  49.   Unconscious Minute
  50.   Pow Revisited
  51.   Gray Prison Blues
  52.   Day Blues
  53.   It's Not Time Now
  54.   Night Owl Blues
  55.   Other Side of This Life
  56.   Almost Grown
  57.   Me About You
  58.   Never Going Back
  59.   Lonely (Amy's Theme)
  60.   Didn't Want to Have to Do It
  61.   Don't Bank on It Baby
  62.   Boredom
  63.   Good Time Music
  64.   Money
  65.   Only Yesterday
  66.   There She Is
  67.   Words
  68.   Old Folks
  69.   March
  70.   Miss Thing's Thang
  71.   Letter to Barbara
  72.   Girl, Beautiful Girl (Barbara's Theme)
  73.   Peep Show Percussion
  74.   Kite Chase
  75.   Lookin' to Spy
  76.   Speakin' of Spoken
  77.   Searchin'
  78.   War Games
  79.   Bald Headed Lena
  80.   Jug of Wine
  81.   The Prophet
  82.   Try and Be Happy
  83.   Eyes
  84.   (Til I) Run with You
  85.   Sportin' Life
  86.   Introduction to Flick
  87.   On the Road Again
  88.   My Gal
  89.   Close Your Eyes
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