New England’s Blades of Grass were every bit as good as any of the other so-called sunshine pop groups that surfaced in the psychedelic summer of 1967, and if it weren’t for a run of just plain blind bad luck, might have had a chance for bigger and better things. As it was, they managed just one album and a handful of singles before calling it quits. The group’s biggest success was a version of “Happy,” which charted well on the east coast, but unfortunately had to compete with the Sunshine Company’s rendition, which stole most of the airplay in the rest of the country. Amazingly, Blades of Grass turned around and subsequently repeated the same scenario with “I Love You Alice B. Toklas,” competing with the version by Harpers Bizarre, leading one to wonder if it wasn’t bad management rather than bad luck that ultimately haunted them. The group’s sole album, Blades of Grass Are Not for Smoking, is presented here in its entirety, along with some non-LP singles, and the end result is a light, soothing collection of baroque pop, heavy on angelic harmonies and ornate orchestration. Unfortunately most of the tracks are covers, and there really isn’t much of a future in covering songs like the Beatles’ “Help!” even if your version is solid and surprisingly effective. Fans of sunshine pop and light psychedelic pop will find a lot to like here, as long as no one expects anything too radical or innovative. Highlights include “Happy,” the airy “Just Ah,” and “Help!” which would have certainly given the Blades of Grass a huge hit if the Beatles hadn’t already previously taken care of that…..by Steve Leggett ……………….
In 1967, one of the most highly competitive periods in popular music, four college students from South Orange and Maplewood, New Jersey were having their own summer of love; one that brought about thrills beyond their wildest dreams. During that monumental year, the Blades Of Grass managed to land a deal with Jubilee Records, tour with some of the biggest names in pop, including the Fifth Dimension, the Dave Clark Five and Neil Diamond, and score a modest hit with a Tony Michaels-Vinny Gormann-penned song called “Happy.” Rev-Ola is proud to present the Blades Of Grass’s entire released output on CD for the first time ever. Featuring rare photos, extensive liner notes by Steve Stanley, and commentary from original band members…………….
The songs on this CD, recorded circa 1967, are delightful. The harmonies are beautiful and the production is lush. There is a definite Beatles influence: the band members are Americans, but there is a pronounced British inflection in some of their vocalizations. The CD includes cover versions of songs by the Beatles (“Help!”), the Hollies (“Charlie and Fred”) and the Left Banke (“Walk Away Renee”). The opening number, “Happy” ranks right up there with the best of the Association. “Pageant” reminds me a bit of the Moody Blues, and “Satin Slipper” is very reminiscent of the Left Banke’s “Pretty Ballerina”. My favorite track is probably “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas”, a frothy, Sgt. Peppery bit of psychedlic pop. Though highly derivative, this CD is a lot of fun. I consider it a real gem………ByKevin Kaczmar…………….
By mid-1967 the airwaves and juke boxes were full of the so-called “sunshine pop groups” clamouring for the public’s attention in that well-named psychedelic summer and among them was this eastern band that gave themselves a name that fit right in with the times - The Blades Of Grass (Dave Gordon, Bruce Ames, Frank Dichiara and Marc Black). Like just about all the others they were backed by full unconstrained orchestration, but whereas many of the others, like The Sunshine Company and The Association banked a number of hits, their lack of original material likely prevented them from ever achieving more than one. ………………..
Oddly enough this east coast version of California Sunshine Pop, sounds as if it was picked up along the sunny shores of California. This release is very close to groups like The Parade, The Merry-Go-Round, and other signature groups of the mid to late 60’s. Their version of the Sunshine Company’s hit “Happy” is much more mellow and heart-felt having directly competed with that version mere months apart. “Walk Away Renee” is another simpler version that is a good blend of The Left Banke’s and The Four Tops’ versions. The remaining cuts have many unique arrangements and are very appealing……..ByTerry A. Wyatt……..
Personnel: Bruce Ames — guitar, vocals Mark Black – guitar Frank Di Chiara – bass Dave Gordon – drums
Happy2:20 Just Ah2:28 Help2:41 The Way You’ll Never Be2:49 You Won’t Find That Girl2:15 Leap Into The Arms Of Love2:39 Just Another Face2:36 Or Is It The Rain2:26 Walk Away Renee2:31 That’s What A Boy Likes2:46 Tomorrow Is My Turn2:25 Satin Slipper2:00