Few bands could match The Association’s sunshiny harmonies and knack for taking middle-of-the-road cheesiness and turning it into pure solid gold.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: The Association
ALBUM: Waterbeds In Trinidad!
SERIAL: S 65009
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Jules Alexander – bass, guitar, vocals * Ted Bluechel – drums, vocals * Brian Cole – bass, clarinet, vocals * Russ Gigure – guitar, vocals * Terry Kirkman – drums, Winds, vocals * Larry Ramos – guitar, harmonica, sax, vocals * Jim Yester – guitar, keyboards, sax, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Silent Song Through The Land * 02 Darling Be Home Soon * 03 Midnight Wind * 04 Come The Fall * 05 Kicking The Gong Around * 06 Rainbows Bent * 07 Snow Queen * 08 Indian Wells Woman * 09 Please Don’t Go (Round The Bend) * 10 Little Road And A Stone To Roll
I dislike the term often applied to The Association as ‘folk rock’. From an American perspective and a reviewer who was never able to grasp the seriously over-rated Bob Dylan, the genre makes me think of a trio of guys in stripped shirts singing about working on the railroad, protest and the plight of the little guy.
What fun is that? Soft rock is more apt description and between 1966 and 1968 The Association charted five poptastic top ten hits with ‘Cherish’ and ‘Windy’ shooting straight to number one.
Laying the groundwork for the easy-going pop of Bread and The Carpenters, few bands this side of The Beach Boys could match The Association’s sunshiny harmonies and knack for taking middle-of-the-road cheesiness and turning it into pure solid gold.
As the tumultuous decade progressed, so did The Association. Dabbling in colourful psychedelia with 1968’s ‘Birthday’ and the self-titled follow-up, both were excellent albums but the hits stopped coming. Numerous singles fell by the wayside, totally ignored by radio and by the turn of the 1970’s the band were at a quandary.
Rock was now in the mainstream and competing with the likes of Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad changed the rules and a readjustment was required.
Signed to CBS by Clive Davis and bringing in producer Lewis Merenstein best known for his work on Van Morrison‘s much-lauded ‘Astral Weeks’ two years previous, ‘Waterbeds In Trinidad!’ mixed covers and originals with a pleasant rock/country rock sound.
The dazzling harmony vocals are still present but they don’t put the listener in sugar-shock as on previous albums. Highlights are many including the first single ‘Darling Be Home Soon’ with comparisons to America and the moving ‘Come The Fall’, both contain the type of material heard from the band before but with more grit and less sunshine.
The second single ‘Kicking The Gong Around’ is a tad unusual flirting with both jazz and funk idioms whilst the Carole King/Gerry Goffin penned ‘Snow Queen’ is the records standout and my favourite version of the classic song and worth owning for this track alone.
As I’ve stated elsewhere, The Association’s ‘Windy’ was one of the first pieces of music to inspire me as a youngster even though at the time I had no clue why. The song made me feel good (still does) and left a permanent imprint on my gooey grey matter that’s led to a lifetime of music appreciation.
For that I’m forever grateful and while ‘Waterbeds In Trinidad!’ is not The Association’s high point, it’s a decent record. It bookends nicely with one of their many greatest hits collections where the grooves are always warm and the sun is always shining.
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