George Starostin's Reviews



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Brian Donovan <> (27.10.2005)

The Spoonful are one of my favorites from the 60's. One fairly unique quality they had was an image of humility ; "Humble Pie" would have been a better name for them than the group headed by Steve Marriot and Peter Frampton. Consider some of their song titles: "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice," "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?" "Didn't Want To Have To Do It." Sebastian had a genial round shape to all his vocals, even when he was trying to sound tough ("Summer In The City") Still, they could rock when they wanted to, especially Zal Yanovsky on guitar ("Night Owl Blues" a guitar-hero solo before the guitar hero wave of the mid-60s).

I remember seeing these guys on TV and they sure looked geeky, with Zally ripping those strong riffs out of his guitar in the middle of "Do You Believe In Magic" with the biggest s**t-eating grin on his face, jumping around, and Sebastian holding that amplified autoharp in his arms like it was his girlfriend. With his long straight hair and granny glasses, Sebastian looked like John Lennon before John Lennon looked like John Lennon!

The band got torn apart with a drug bust, when Zal (a Canadian) had to turn state's evidence on some scumbag dealer or lose his green card. Giving evidence made him a leper in hippie circles and he soon left the band. Since he and Sebastian were really the senior partners in the firm that was quite a blow, though they tried to replace him with Jerry Yester (formerly of Modern Folk Quartet and "This Could Be The Night" fame you Phil Spector fans!)

I also think their interest in country music hurt them, at least with pimply-faced suburban adolescents like me who didn't like it. "Nashville Cats" came out in, what, 1966, ahead of most of the West Coast country of the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield that gets more comment now, and "Nashville Cats" was hardcore country-sounding. They were a little too far ahead of the country-rock trend I'm afraid. Then 1967 hit and Sebastian really didn't have the answers for the "psychedelic era." And by 1968 he was pretty sick of the whole affair. Oddly the band put out a post-Sebastian album which I'd be very curious to hear called "Revelation Revolution" with Joe Butler leading them. Butler also tried to assemble a Spoonful band a few years ago, but there was no point to it without Sebastian, who last I heard was leading a traditional jug band playing that music he liked the most.

I can't truly evaluate the individual albums since my Spoonful software is all from compilations, but I bet Do You Believe In Magic and Hums were the best. Call the first one the "best" and Hums the "quintessential" while the What's Up Tiger Lily? soundtrack would probably be worst, mainly for lack of true Spoonful originals or performances. They did another soundtrack, You're A Big Boy Now, with two excellent cuts I've heard, "Amy's Theme" and "You're A Big Boy Now."


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