The Lovin' Spoonful

Rhino, 1990'_Spoonful

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


How an obscure and commercially unsuccessful old folk band like The Mugwumps could produce half the members of two Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame groups is beyond me. Cass Elliott and Denny Doherty would go on to form half of The Mamas and The Papas, while singer/harpist/autoharp player John Sebastian and lead guitarist Zal Yanovsky formed The Lovin’ Spoonful with drummer Joe Butler and bassist Steve Boone.

The Lovin’ Spoonful were inducted into The Rock And Hall Of Fame on the strength of a series of impeccably produced and extremely catchy single releases issued during the last half of the 1960s. Songs such as “Summer In The City,” “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice,” “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind,” “Do You Believe In Magic,” “Rain On The Roof,” “Daydream,” and “Nashville Cats” all reached the American Top Ten and sold millions of copies. Their sound was labeled good-time music, and while it may not have been essential to the development of rock ‘n’ roll, it was pleasant and extremely popular.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Lovin’ Spoonful’s catalogue has been reissued many times through the years and in many different formats. One of the best is Anthology, issued by Rhino in 1990. While it is not by any means a complete presentation of their music, its 26 tracks do cover the highlights, and for a singles band that is enough.

The group’s big hits are still recognizable five-plus decades later and are ’60s folk/pop at its best. The only single release to depart from this formula was the brilliant “Summer In The City” which topped the American charts during 1966. It was a gritty rock song, complete with sound effects that made you feel a part of the inner city. Rolling Stone ranked it as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

This CD does delve a little deeper into their catalogue. “Jug Band Music” was a whimsical look at their musical roots. The gentle “Younger Girl” was a hit for The Critters. “Pow” was used by Woody Allen in his movie What’s Up Tiger Lily. “Night Owl Blues” and “Butchie’s Tune” show the Spoonful could have a harder edge every once in a while.

The Lovin’ Spoonful may not come to mind very often but Anthology is a pleasant way to spend an hour or so, a trip back to the sunny side of the late ’60s. Given everything else that was going on at the time, it’s not a bad place to be.

Rating: B+

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