Saturday, October 9, 2021

The Association - Insight Out (1967 us, beautifully textured harmonies and choruses into folk rock garage punk, novelty tunes, and psychedelia, 2008 japan bonus tracks remaster)

Who's trippin’ down the streets of the city / Smilin' at everybody she sees / Who's reachin' out to capture a moment?  Everyone knows it’s Windy!

And most everyone knows Ruthann Friedman’s 1967 pop classic which not only hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart but was featured on The Association’s third album and first long-player for Warner Bros. Records, Insight Out.  But everyone would be forgiven for thinking that the LP was entitled Windy, so prominent was the name of the single on the album cover.  But there’s much more to Insight Out.

Helmed by producer Bones Howe, beginning a short but important relationship with the group, it also boasts P.F. Sloan’s shimmering “On a Quiet Night,” and two songs by the team of Dick and Don Addrisi. The first, the ebullient “Happiness Is,” could virtually be the calling card of the entire sunshine pop genre.  The second, “Never My Love,” was an instant standard.  It climbed its way to a No. 2 chart placement, and BMI actually ranked the song the second-most played hit on radio and television of the entire twentieth century.  (For those wondering, it was sandwiched between “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” at No. 1 and “Yesterday” at No. 3.  Not bad company, eh?)  Mike Deasy, known more as a top session guitarist rather than a songwriter, brought in a strong song of his own, “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’,” which was outfitted with a timely sitar arrangement.  Now, all of those songs and more are yours to savor on a deluxe, expanded mono edition of Insight Out from Now Sounds, following the label’s reissues of three other albums by the classic band of harmony purveyors.

The success of Insight Out was far from pre-ordained.  The band had become accustomed to a revolving door of producers, with Curt Boettcher having helmed their debut And Then…Along Comes the Association and Jerry Yester in charge of its follow-up, Renaissance.  Yester hoped to continue working with The Association, but his productions of “Never My Love” and the antiwar “Requiem for the Masses” hadn’t met with much favor by the Valiant Records brass.  Jules Alexander had exited the group for a pilgrimage to India.  And The Association's Valiant home was about to be purchased by Warner Bros. Records, along with the band's contract.  After the lofty heights scaled by “Cherish” and “Along Comes Mary” from the first album, the two singles off Renaissance failed to make much of an impression.  Enter Bones Howe, originally an engineer with a varied C.V. who had scored successes producing The Turtles on such songs as P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri’s “You Baby” and Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”

As Howe recalls in reissue producer Steve Stanley’s comprehensive liner notes for the new edition, ““I made a deal with their manager, Pat Colecchio.  Initially he called me up and said, ‘The guys are going to write some songs and you can bring some songs to them.’ And I said, ‘Well look, are they going to turn me down on every song because they didn’t write it?’ And Pat said, ‘You bring songs to them and they’ll bring songs to you. If you both like them, you can record them.’ And I thought that was fair enough; I’m sure that we can find some common ground. And ‘Never My Love’ was one of those songs. That, in my estimation, was one of the best records I ever made.”  Considering Howe also produced those Turtles hits, The 5th Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” The Monkees’ “Someday  Man” and music for artists ranging from Elvis Presley to Tom Waits, that’s no small praise from the modest producer.  (I won’t spoil any more of the interviews you’ll find excerpted in Insight Out’s 16-page booklet, including reminisces from Ruthann Friedman, Dick Addrisi, P.F. Sloan and Association members Russ Giguere, Jim Yester, Terry Kirkman and Larry Ramos!)  Though the members of The Association were accomplished musicians, the studio veterans of Los Angeles’ Wrecking Crew were brought in for the sessions.

By April 1967 the Valiant deal with Warner was sealed, and hopes were high for the band’s debut on the Burbank-based label.  Howe and The Association had, indeed, found common ground.  The group had found a new member, as well.  Larry Ramos had spent some four years as a member of The New Christy Minstrels, honing the vocals that would make him an integral part of The Association’s blend.  He would also serve as lead guitarist.

That debut single would be Friedman’s “Windy” b/w “Sometime,” a Russ Giguere composition that would appear alongside “Windy” on the new album.  “Windy” went to No. 1 that July, and by September, the LP Insight Out had climbed all the way to No. 8 on the LP chart, the group’s most successful studio album.   The hits just kept on coming; “Never My Love” nearly matched the quick success of “Windy,” hitting No. 2 in November and No. 1 on the Cashbox chart.

In a marked change from the entirely self-written Renaissance, only five of the eleven songs on Insight Out were penned by band members, but each song was choice.  Ted Bluechel’s lush, romantic “We Love Us” is as irresistible as Jim Yester’s “When Love Comes to Me” is buoyant.  Russ Giguere’s “Sometime” is very much of its time, with an inward-looking lyric befitting the album’s title of Insight Out: “Is there heaven on Earth?/If there is what’s it worth?/Are we really living/Or are we a shadow/Of what life can be?/Is the answer inside of me?”  Terry Kirkman supplied the nostalgic throwback “Wasn’t It a Bit Like Now?” (“Instead of groovy, it was keen/And jeepers, it’s wow!/It just doesn’t seem that different now”) as well as the stirring album closer “Requiem for the Masses.”

A generous eleven bonus tracks have been included on Insight Out, doubling the album's number of songs.  They include “Autumn Afternoon,” the Addrisi Brothers song that was Howe’s first production for The Association.  It’s been rescued from the Warner Bros. vaults to make its debut here.  It’s joined by six instrumentals that offer a window into the rich, lush arrangements crafted by Howe, Clark Burroughs, Ray Pohlman, Bill Holman and the band members themselves.   You’ll also find both sides of the two mono singles from the album, “Windy” b/w “Sometime” and “Never My Love” b/w “Requiem for the Masses.”
by Joe Marchese, November 1st, 2011 
1. Wasn't It a Bit Like Now? (Terry Kirkman) - 3:31
2. On A Quiet Night (P. F. Sloan) - 3:21
3. We Love Us (Ted Bluechel) - 2:25
4. When Love Comes To Me (Jim Yester) - 2:45
5. Windy (Ruthann Friedman) - 2:56
6. Reputation (Tim Hardin) - 2:39
7. Never My Love (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 3:10
8. Happiness Is (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 2:13
9. Sometime (Russ Giguere) - 2:38
10.Wantin' Ain't Gettin' (Mike Deasy) - 2:20
11.Requiem for the Masses (Terry Kirkman) - 4:08
12.Windy (Ruthann Friedman) - 2:59
13.Never My Love (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 2:55
Bonus Tracks 12-13

The Association
*Russ Giguere - Vocals, Guitar
*Brian Cole - Vocals, Bass
*Terry Kirkman - Vocals, Brass, Woodwinds
*Jim Yester - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Larry Ramos, Jr. - Vocals, Guitar
*Ted Bluechel Jr - Vocals, Drums
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Hal Blaine - Drums 
*Joe Osborn - Bass  
*Mike Deasy - Guitar
*Larry Knechtel - Keyboards
*Ray Pohlman - Bass  
*Dennis Dudimir - Guitar
*Al Casey - Guitar
*Gary Coleman - Vibes, Percussion
*Arthur Breigleb - French Horns
*Gale Robinson- French Horns
*Vince Derosa- French Horns
*Richard Perissi- French Horns
*Ian Freebairn Smith - Trumpets
*Jules Chaikin - Trumpets
*Oliver Mitchell - Trumpets
*Bob Edmondson - Trombones
*John T. Johnsosn - Saxophones
*Gene Cipriano - Saxophones
*Bud Shank - Flute

1966-69  The Association - Original Album Series (2016 five discs box set)