Tuesday, April 28, 2015

That Acapulco Gold - The Rainy Daze

That Acapulco Gold
The Rainy Daze
Uni Records  3002

The sole album by the Rainy Daze.  The band is largely known for the title track, "That Acapulco Gold," which was released as a single.  It achieved notoriety for being one of the first rock songs that was explicitly pro-marijuana.  I use the term "rock" lightly because the song sounds more like an old-timey music hall type song akin to Harpers Bizarre or Sopwith Camel.  It is about a couple who go down to Mexico on their honeymoon to score some Acapulco Gold - "ain't nothin' it can't fix."  The song was written by Tim Gilbert, the group's lead singer and rhythm guitar player and his college roommate John Carter, who later had a notable career as a record company executive and record producer.  The Gilbert/Carter team also were credited with "Incense and Peppermints" by the Strawberry Alarm Clock" as well as most of the songs on this record almost all of which I think are better than "That Acapulco Gold."  My favorite is the hard rocking "Absurd Bird" which has a smoking guitar solo from Mac Ferris.  It has a terrific garage band sound although I'm not crazy about the misogynistic lyrics which are worthy of the Rolling Stones.  The hard riffing "Weatherman" is another excellent garage rocker which sounds a bit like the Beatles' "Taxman."  It features interesting rebellious lyrics delivered with a sneer by Gilbert.  "Try a Little Harder" is very similar in its sound although the lyrics are less interesting, basically an egotistical jerk ragging on his girlfriend.  "Out of a Calico Dream" is a gentle folk-rocker with a slight psych tinge.  "In My Mind Lives a Forest" is more explicitly psychedelic with silly trippy lyrics and an interesting dynamic between the propulsive verses charged with some fuzz guitar and the slow chorus section with Bob Heckendorf's dreamy organ lines tying it all together.  Very tasty!  "Snow and Ice and Burning Sand" is also psychedelic but it lacks the energy of the previous cut.  It is slow and moody with more whacked out pretentious lyrics.  It is mostly driven by the rhythm section.  I like it but I wouldn't mind a little more instrumental color.  The band's lead guitar player, Mac Ferris, has the only other original song on the album, "Discount City" which is a fast-paced rocker, simple but effective.  The original songwriting is unusually strong by garage band standards but the album is dragged down by the covers which are mostly weak.  The best one is their take on the Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" which is slower than the original and given a psychedelic sound via lysergic organ work and reverb-laden guitar.  I don't think this treatment really suits the song, but it sounds nice.  Their version of the Four Top's "Baby I Need Your Loving" is slow and passionless.  Their medley of "Shake," "Knock On Wood" and "Respect" is competent but pedestrian - pure filler.  Despite the covers, this is still a very worthwhile album.  I wasn't expecting much when I bought it since the only song I knew was the title track which I wasn't all that crazy about.  It turned out to be a happy surprise.  At least half of the album is really engaging and even the lesser tracks are listenable about the same ratio you'd get from Paul Revere and the Raiders or the Standells which is pretty good company.  The band could play and Gilbert was a good singer.  Too bad this was their only album, they might have had a promising career.  If you have a taste for 60s garage bands, this album is well worth seeking out.  Recommended to fans of the Electric Prunes and the Strawberry Alarm Clock.

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