Monday, January 10, 2011

Helping Out Our Readers (Part One)

We've received quite a few inquiries for our "Helping Out Our Readers" lately ... so we'll split this into Two Parts this week in an effort to answer some of your questions!

Who sang the lead on these two early Grass Roots tracks?
"Eve Of Destruction" sounds like Phil's voice, but I'm not sure.
And what about their version of "You Baby"?
Are either of these Bill Fulton?

Or did he actually sing any of these cuts on the first LP (after he did "Where Were You When I Needed You")?
David Lewis
We covered the unusual history of The Grass Roots a few years back in FH ... this was yet ANOTHER instance where we ALL learned something in the process!!!
Best as I can recall (weird, but I couldn't find this one in the archives anywhere ... but I'm guessing we covered this in either 2007 or 2008), songwriters P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri signed a deal with Lou Adler's Dunhill Records label. The original intent was simply to place their music with the label as songwriters and producers and, almost on a whim, they began referring to it as "The Grass Roots" project, more as a way of signifying their start-up with the label (in a folk / rock vein, similar to say what The Byrds and / or The Turtles were doing at the time), than anything else.
Their first release (a cover of the Bob Dylan song ... again, in true Byrds / Turtles fashion) ... "Mr. Jones" failed to chart ... but got the songwriting duo looking for a REAL band to fill the role of the now officially christened Grass Roots.
They recruited a band out of San Francisco called The Bedouins, which featured lead singer Bill Fulton, and Bill and some of his bandmates came into the studio to recut some of the existing Sloan / Barri tracks. Apparently there were difficulties from the very beginning as it was clear that Sloan and Barri would be calling ALL of the shots, which didn't set well with the members of the band.
The Bedouins (as The Grass Roots) cut another Sloan / Barri composition, "Where Were You When I Needed You", with Fulton on lead vocals. Here's where things get REALLY confusing.
After a falling out with Sloan and Barri, P.F. Sloan recut the track with his OWN vocals up front. (Actually, I may have that backwards ... in all likelihood, Sloan would have recorded it FIRST and then removed his OWN vocals to replace them with Fulton's ... but hey, I told ya it was confusing!!!)
However, a year later, when the producers / songwriters recruited a brand NEW band (The 13th Floor) to become The Grass Roots, Rob Grill redid the vocals yet again ... and since that time, ONLY the version with Grill's vocals upfront have circulated in print. (They recut the track for the first Rob Grill / Grass Roots album, "Let's Live For Today", released to cash in on their big hit single, and then the "NEW" version was also featured on the band's first "Greatest Hits" album, "Golden Grass" ... and that's been the ONLY version available since, always featuring Rob Grill's vocals up-front.)
I remember featuring all THREE of these versions way back when ... but again I believe these were as "wav" files back when Forgotten Hits was only being distributed via email. I'm checking with the ever-reliable Tom Diehl to see if I can get MP3 replacements for all three versions to feature on the website again! (Like I said, I can't find ANYTHING in the archives to support any of this so I'm going from memory here on virtually EVERYTHING!!!)
Anyway, from that point forward, singer / bassist Rob Grill (quite often trading lead vocals back and forth with rhythm guitarist / vocalist Warren Entner, which was a BIG part of their sound) handled all of the singing on The Grass Roots' biggest hits.
To answer your SPECIFIC question, it is MY understanding that P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri ultimately sang EVERY song as it was released on The Grass Roots' first album. (Also titled "Where Were You When I Needed You", it failed to chart.)

However, Bill Fulton did receive credit on the LP ... (chalk the experience up as part of his fifteen minutes of fame) ... so who knows!!! (Quite honestly, I'm not sure ANYBODY knows for sure anymore. I once read an interview with P.F. Sloan where he admitted that even HE couldn't tell the difference between the tracks ... and had long since forgotten which version of which songs were ultimately used on the LP!!!) Clearly, Sloan and Barri enjoyed BIG success with these two particular tracks ("Eve Of Destruction" and "You Baby") when they were covered by Barry McGuire and The Turtles respectively.
By now we all know that Rob Grill has continued to tour as the voice behind The Grass Roots ever since. (Despite our best efforts, he has never participated with us here at Forgotten Hits ... which is a REAL shame when one considers just how much press we've given this band over the past twelve years!!! lol) Health issues and the loss of his son have hampered Grill's appearances for several years now. The Grass Roots have long been associated with The Turtles' "Happy Together Again" Tour and, as was just announced in our pages a couple of weeks ago, will be joining the bill again next summer, too.
Grass Roots lead guitarist Creed Bratton has been a cast regular on NBC's comedy "The Office" since it premiered some six or seven years ago. His television character's name is ALSO Creed Bratton and, from time to time, he's managed to slip in a Grass Roots joke or reference as part of a scene, ad-lib or out-take.
Peter Noone told us a couple of years ago that Herman's Hermits was the very FIRST band in the world to record the Sloan / Barri track "Where Were You When I Needed You" (and even sent us a copy to share with our readers.) Sounds like P.F. Sloan was there for THAT recording session, too.
And, DIDJAKNOW? that in 1980 when Rob Grill decided to do a solo album (cleverly titled "Uprooted"), John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham all appeared on the album ... and then invited Grill to be their opening act for Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" tour.
I asked Tom Diehl if he could supply some of those original "variances" we talked about regarding The Grass Roots' recording(s) of "Where Were You When I Needed You" ... all of OUR copies had been converted to wavs for use in the old email version of Forgotten Hits ... and, as usual, he came through with some GREAT stuff ... including a 2006 version that P.F. Sloan cut with Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals! Enjoy! (kk)
I came up with two similar versions, the second is the version with Rob Grill on lead vocals, and the first features who I believe to be Bill Fulton (although P.F. was on vocals for some of their recordings on the first album, I'm not sure this was one of them). I do have P.F.'s demo of the song, though, as well as a version he cut with Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals.

P.F. Sloan's original demo version

The Rob Grill / Grass Roots version

The Bill Fulton / Grass Roots version

P.F. Sloan with Felix Cavaliere (of the Rascals), circa 2006

Eve of Destruction (from the first Grass Roots album)

You Baby (from the first Grass Roots album)
And, just for good measure, we're throwing in Peter Noone's Herman's Hermits version as well! (kk)

From The Grass Roots ... to Rock And Roll Roots ...

I was doing a google search and came across your blog this evening. I saw that you, like myself, collect Bob Stroud's Rock 'N Roll Roots CD's. I grew up in Chicago and share this special CD set with my father. Ever year since Vol. 4 came out, he buys the newest one and sends it to me for Christmas. (He is still in Chicago and I have long since moved to Los Angeles.)
Once I receive it, I burn him a copy and send it back to him. (He always tells me to keep the original as I'm the collector and he just wants the music) It's become a tradition between us for about 10 years now. Hard as I try, though, I can not hunt down copies of the first 3 volumes. It looks to be that you have copies of these 3, very cool! I am usually quite savvy tracking down and buying rare and out of print CD's and LP's (I have over 6,500 CD's and about the equivalent in LP's along with 4 boxes of Cassettes and even some 8 tracks for good measure). Needless to say I have a music addiction and am quite a collector even today in the age of digital. What can I say, that's what I grew up with. I'm sure you can understand that.
I am not foolish enough to ask you to sell me your copies ... I know better. Coming from a guy who just dropped $150 on a rare self released CD from a little to unknown band out of Champaign / Urbana on Ebay just yesterday. (Hum is their name, the CD Fillet Show ... it took me 17 years to find a copy!) ...
I also hope to someday track down my very own (and I will if it takes me the rest of my life). However, in the mean time can I ask you the very special favor of seeing if ANYONE who reads your Forgotten Hits publication might have additional copies of these first 3 volumes available?
Honestly, it is more for my old man than myself, as that was his era in the 60's. That being said, I too have a fine appreciation for that decade thanks to him as well. Truth be told I am into all different styles from 20's Jazz through today's Heavy Metal and all in between (well, I am not a rap fan or new school pop country but you understand my point).
Please, it would mean a great deal to me to be able to share copies of these with my father. Please help out a fellow music lover and the one whom gave me the appreciation I hold for it (my father) that has in turn formatted my entire life. Literally, I was even named after a song (Watching Scotty Grow written by Mac Davis made famous by Bobby Goldsboro). It would truly be a Christmas to treasure for both my dad and me (or at least late Christmas) if I had copies of Bob Stroud's Rock 'N Roll Roots Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Thanks for hearing me out and have a safe and blessed holiday and New Year!!
Peace Love Music
Scott Sroka
Best we can do is run your plea in our "Helping Out Our Readers" segment and see if we get any nibbles. (Short of scouring all of the local Chicagoland Used CD Stores, I don't know where else you're going to find copies ... these are LONG out of print and virtually impossible to come by ... the few that I have seen available online over the past few years have all been in that $150 price-category you alluded to in your email.) I checked all of the "usual" sources but didn't see copies listed anywhere at this time. Regardless, I wish you the best of luck and am happy to ask our readers (many of them avid collectors themselves!) on your behalf. If anybody out there HAS copies of "Rock And Roll Roots", Volumes 1, 2 and/or 3 available, please drop me a line and I'll put you in touch with Scott. (kk)

>>>On one message board, people suspect that the US 45 actually was a dub of another 45 which is why the intro may have been cut off and perhaps the ending faded slightly early, too. (Tom Diehl)
When I first heard it on CD, I was very impressed with its sound quality!! Jesus, you can hear people breathing!!! And since Kent also was, to some degree, I have to assume Tom may be right!! I can't "hear" what is posted on FH of Smile A Little Smile For Me, but isn't the ending horns just a repeat of those heard in the intro? If I recall correctly, WOGL-FM, 98.1, plays the "hit" version. They also play Dancing In The Moonlight (King Harvest), with decent sound quality, unlike what can be found on most CDs. Have to assume both are dubbed from 45s!! Best,
>>>Well, this short clip you sent sounds pretty good to me ... but, unfortunately, it doesn't cover the areas of the song where the key differences appear to be! Why don't you send me an MP3 of the whole thing and let's check it out!!! (kk)
What John clipped was in stereo. The actual 45 version doesn't exist in stereo, the horn overdub was apparently done live to mono and the stereo version contains the ba ba ba's. Some people have tried to remove that part and replace it with the horn version synced up to the rest of the track but it just doesn't sound right. As for Delta records they were a part of the Laserlight company. The quality on their recordings was all over the place, whatever they could get from the majors ... it was my introduction to some of the best sounding copies of many Shirelles hits and also the worst sounding copy of Winchester Cathederal by the New Vaudeville Band, so they indeed were hit and miss.

Love your web site!
My favorite feature of it is "Helping Out Our Readers."
I can appreciate the amount of work that most go into a feature like this and I imagine that many or most of your readers appreciate these efforts.
Thanks so much for what you're contributing to the world of music!
David Capps
We've assembled a pretty amazing network of knowledgeable music people who help us get to the bottom of some of these long unanswered questions (and oft-repeated mistruths) ... so WE enjoy doing "Helping Out Our Readers", too ... because, quite honestly, WE learn something new everytime we do it, too! (kk)