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