Thursday, February 2, 2023

The Clique - Sugar On Sunday The Definitive Collection (1967-70 us, gorgeous baroque sunny beat psychedelia, 2006 remaster)

The sole album by the Clique is in reality the last full album cult hero Gary Zekley would produce. (Though the Austin-based band, also renowned in garage-psych circles for the first known cover of a Roky Erickson song, had recorded several previous singles, they did not play on the album; only singer Randy Shaw appears, with backing vocalists and musicians pulled from Zekley's usual stable of L.A. session pros.) 

Although the album spawned a Top 40 hit in the Tommy James-penned "Sugar on Sunday" and is best known for containing the original "Superman," an underground garage rock classic given a new commercial life when R.E.M. covered it on Lifes Rich Pageant, it's not really Zekley's best work. By 1969, Zekley's brand of sunshine pop was out of commercial favor, and too much of The Clique is taken up with blatant copies of the current AM chart favorites. "Hallelujah!" is a blatant Blood, Sweat & Tears rip-off, and "Judy Judy Judy" is pure Three Dog Night (with the "Sock it to me!" chorus shamelessly added to tie into Laugh-In star Judy Carne's popularity). For all the shameless hucksterism, though, Zekley still manages a few gems, particularly the Tommy James-like "Little Miss Lucy" and the hyper-dramatic "My Darkest Hour." (The cover of the Bee Gees' "Holiday" is nice, too, though it adds little to the original.) And, true, "Superman" deserves every bit of its acclaim; it's by far the best song on the album. 

The Clique is perfectly listenable and occasionally terrific, but this is not Zekley at the peak of his powers; try the Yellow Balloon's self-titled disc or the Fun and Games' Elephant Candy for that. The Varese Sarabande reissue adds seven tracks from demos and singles, including two songs produced by Tommy James and featuring the Shondells as Shaw's backing group. 
by Stewart Mason
1. Sugar On Sunday (Mike Vale, Tommy James, William Stevenson Jr) - 3:09
2. My Darkest Hour (Gary Zekley, Mitchell Bottler) - 2:47
3. Holiday (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb) - 3:11
4. Hallelujah! (Gary Zekley, Lucylle Manns, Mitchell Bottler) - 2:22
5. I'll Hold Out My Hand (Al Gorgoni, Chip Taylor) - 2:36
6. Judy, Judy, Judy (Gary Zekley, Mitchell Bottler) - 2:32
7. Little Miss Lucy (Gary Zekley, Mitchell Bottler) - 3:17
8. Soul Mates (Sam Weatherly, Fred Allen Roberts) - 2:11
9. (There Ain't) No Such Thing As Love (Gary Zekley, Mitchell Bottler, Twain Baskin) - 2:31
10.Superman (Gary Zekley, Mitchell Bottler) - 2:33
11.Shadow Of Your Love (Diane Colby) - 2:54
12.Sparkle And Shine (Robert King, Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James) - 2:30
13.I'm Alive (Peter Lucia, Tommy James) - 1:58
14.Memphis (Chuck Berry) - 3:31
15.Southbound Wind (Kerry Magness, Steve Lalor) - 2:31
16.Superman  (Gary Zekley, Mitchell Bottler) - 2:33
17.Shadow Of Your Love  (Diane Colby) - 2:47
18.Splash 1 (Roky Erickson, Tommy Hall) - 2:37
19.Stand By Me (Larry Lawson) - 1:56
20.Love Ain't Easy (George Klein, Mark James) - 2:38
21.Gotta Get Away (Bob Brogan) - 1:51
Bonus Tracks 12-21

The Clique
*Larry Lawson - Vocals, Keyboards, Saxophone, Trumpet 
*Cooper Hawthorne - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals 
*David Dunham - Saxophone 
*Bruce Tinch - Bass 
*John Kanesaw - Drums 
*Randy Shaw - Vocals 
*Sid Templeton - Guitar (1969) 
*Oscar Houchins - Keyboards (1969)
*Jerry Cope - Drums (1969)
*Tommy Pena - Bass (1969)
*Hal Blaine - Drums
*Ben Benay - Guitar, Harmonica
*Ray Pohlman - Bass
*Leon Russell - Keyboards, Piano
*Don Randi - Keyboards, Organ, Harpsichord