Saturday, May 21, 2011

THE FLOCK - CAN'T YOU SEE (That I Really Love Her)

Before they became a "heavy" (read: boring) rock band featuring the electric violin (!), The Flock were actually one of Chicago's better garage rock groups. Unfortunately, whenever The Flock are mentioned in any history of rock music, their early singles are cruelly ignored, while their later LPs are written about at great length.

The group started out in 1965, out of Sullivan High School in Chicago. They were a typical cover band of the day, playing everybody's hits in small clubs all over Chicago. One of the things that made the Flock stand out from other groups was that they would cover all kinds of material - they were just as comfortable doing Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett tunes as they were playing "Louie Louie". Plus, they were one of the first white groups in Chicago to incorporate a horn section in their live appearances! For a great interview with Fred Glickstein of The Flock, talking about the early days, click here.

One of the many great things about Chicago in the mid-60s was radio station WLS. Started in 1923 by the Sears-Roebuck Co., the call letters stood for "World's Largest Store". Chicago's Sears Tower is also the world's tallest building (I think; I haven't thumbed through the Guinness Book of World Records lately). WLS (890 AM on your dial) was the station that most of Chicago listened to. But unlike most large stations with tight playlists (WABC New York, anyone?), WLS gave a lot of airplay to local Chicago acts like The New Colony Six, The Buckinghams, The Cryan' Shames, and the Young Chicagoans.

Soon The Flock was signed to the local Destination label, and they debuted with the above 45 in November, 1966. It soon hit the WLS charts, peaking at #23. Unfortunately, outside of Chicago, the record was a stiff. But this is a moody garage masterpiece (and the flip, "Hold On To My Mind", is a good rocker) that should have been a bigger hit than it was.

After two more 45s for Destination (and one for Destination's parent company, USA Records), The Flock were snapped up by Columbia Records in late 1968. By this time the group had added violinist Jerry Goodman to the line-up. They released two LPs on Columbia - The Flock, produced by Brit bluesman John Mayall (yawn), and Dinosaur Swamps. They even had a semi-hit single on Columbia, a remake of the Kinks' "Tired Of Waiting For You", though, interestingly enough, the group credited THEMSELVES for writing the song instead of Ray Davies!! But in 1970, Columbia's Clive Davis decided that The Flock didn't need their lead violinist and convinced Jerry Goodman to leave the group to join with John McLaughlin in the Mahavishnu Orchestra (double yawn). After this trenchant move by Clive Davis (one of the biggest schlock-meisters the music world has ever known), the group, having already recorded tracks for their third LP (which never got released), lost focus and broke up.

The way most folks tell the story, The Flock were a "serious" jazz-rock group who made two brilliant LPs for Columbia in 1969-1970, and oh yes, they had a few early singles in the Chicago area. But in MY little corner of the world, The Flock were a brilliant garage band who later morphed into something weird and freaky, and not in a good way. THIS is the best record they ever made, and I don't give a hoot about what any rock critics say (not that I do, anyway).....

The Flock - Can't You See (That I Really Love Her) - Destination 628 - 1966

6 comments:

  1. A good two-sider to be sure, although I like "Are You The Kind" even better. I've never heard the Flock's albums. Can't imagine that I'd like them.

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  2. one of my favourites! would you care to upload the flip to?

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  3. Their later albums are very good. The band was way ahead of it's time and the Columbia stuff should not be so easily dismissed.

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    1. I've heard the Columbia stuff. Not my cup of tea. But hey, if you like it, great!

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    2. BTW The "Columbia Stuff" would have been better if not for the production by McClure who was a classical producer. The albums never came close to the live performance.

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  4. Mayall wrote the liner notes John McClure Produced. You're all entitled to your opinions but for two years I roadied and Mixed live sound and in those two years never once were they not called for a standing "O" and encore even in front of 250,000 at the 1970 Bath Festival where Led Zepplin and the BBC had to pull the plug to get them off stage which was the only way with 250,000 people screaming for more

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