May 18, 2009
GRASSROOTS - FEELINGS (ABC-DUNHILL 1968) + 2 bonus
The name "Grass Roots" originated in 1965 as the name of a band project by the Los Angeles, California songwriter and producer duo of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri. Sloan and Barri had written several songs in an attempt by their record company, Dunhill Records to cash in on the budding folk rock movement. One of these songs was "Where Were You When I Needed You," which was recorded by Sloan and Barri and a now forgotten line-up of studio musicians. Sloan provided the lead vocals and played guitar. The song was released under "The Grass Roots" name and sent, as a demo, to several radio stations of the San Francisco Bay area.
When moderate interest in this new "band" arose, Sloan and Barri went to look for a group that could incorporate The Grass Roots name. They found one in a San Francisco group named "The Bedouins" and cut a new version with that band's lead vocalist, Willie Fulton. In 1965, the Grass Roots got their first official airplay on Southern California radio stations, such as KGB(AM) in San Diego and KHJ in Los Angeles with a version of the Bob Dylan song, "Mr. Jones (Ballad Of A Thin Man)." For some months, The Bedouins were the first "real" Grass Roots — but the partnership with Sloan and Barri broke up when the band demanded more space for their own more blues rock-oriented material (which their producers were not willing to give them). Willie Fulton, Denny Ellis and David Stensen went back to San Francisco, with drummer Joel Larson the only one who remained (he was to become a member of a later Grass Roots line-up, as well). In the meantime, the second version of "Where Were You When I Needed You" peaked in the top 40 in mid-1966; an album of the same name sold poorly, probably because there were no Grass Roots anymore to promote it at the time of its release.
The group's third — and by far most successful — incarnation was finally found in a Los Angeles band, called The 13th Floor (not to be confused with the 13th Floor Elevators). This band consisted of Creed Bratton, Rick Coonce, Warren Entner and Kenny Fukomoto and had formed only a year earlier before submitting a demo tape to Dunhill Records.Rob Grill was recruited into the band when Fukomoto was suddenly drafted into the army. The band was offered the choice to go with their own name or choose to adopt a name that had already been heard of nationwide.
They had their first top 10 hit with "Let's Live For Today" in the summer of 1967 as The Grass Roots. With Rob Grill as lead singer, they recorded a third version of "Where Were You When I Needed You." The band continued in a similar hit-making vein for the next five years ('67-'72). In the beginning, they were one of many U.S. guitar pop/rock bands, but with the help of Barri and their other producers, they developed a unique sound for which they drew as heavily on British beat as on soul music, rhythm and blues and folk rock. Many of their recordings featured a brass section, which was a novelty in those days among American rock bands, with groups like Chicago just developing.
The Grass Roots songs hitting the radio in these times include "Things I Should Have Said" (1967), "Midnight Confessions" (1968), "Bella Linda", "Lovin' Things", "The River Is Wide", "Wait A Million Years", "Heaven Knows" (1969), "Walking Through The Country", "Baby Hold On", "Temptation Eyes" (1970), "Sooner Or Later" (1971) and "Two Divided By Love" (1972).