Monday, June 30, 2008

The Churls-THE CHURLS/SEND ME NO FLOWERS CD (Second Harvest)

Here's the first of my DENIM DELINQUENT-influenced picks, a "twofa" consisting of both of the platters engrooved by this long-forgotten Toronto band who actually got a pretty sweet deal from A&M considering these guys weren't exactly gonna be the new Carpenters let alone Cat Stevens. Far from what any of us would consider part and parcel to the late-sixties "A&M Sound", the Churls were in fact a pretty on-target garage band who "borrowed" elements from across the hard rock spectrum...nothing new of course but at least they sure knew how to steal from the right bands! And although both of their albums are what might be called "uneven" these Churls sure come off a lot more pleasing to the lobes than many other late-sixties flybynight aggregates of the day and not only that but they retain a good sense of just what teenage hard rock/pop could excel during those strangely transitional times.

I couldn't hear much if any of the Syd Floyd that DD editor Jymn Parrett thought he did, but otherwise the man was pretty spot on in his evaluation of the band and their ability to mix various regional and gulcheral rock phenomenons and get away with it. Riffage brazenly taken from everyone from Jimi to the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Leaves and a good portion of the NUGGETS bunch can be easily enough heard. In fact, if Lenny Kaye had broadened his NUGGETS timescope by a few months I'm sure the Churls would have made a fine inclusion to that epochal set! And (of course) I can't forget mentioning the group's own Canadian heritage from which they milk plenty, and that's the same heritage that gave us the likes of It's All Meat and dare-I-say the Guess Who who seem to be improved on in the translation! Makes me wonder if the Churls made it out in time to take advantage of the Canadian Content laws up there. I mean, the world surely would be much better off with more Churls and less Gordon Lightfoot!

There does seem to be a little too much of a stab at AM-radio sensibilities (which if I recall correctly weren't exactly anything to get excited over at the time) on these recordings and the occasional use of horns does detract from the natural power of the Churls but that doesn't hide the fact that this group is a pretty good late-sixties sleeper that I never would have considered latching up if it weren't for the rave review in that DD supplement!

But these two albums sure do a good job mixing the hard punk and straight pop, the former to get the teenage boys all hot and bothered and the latter to swoon the girls into an ecstatic frenzy. Plus these Churls sure do a good job with the harmonies and arrangements (thanks to organist Newton Garwood who seems to be the genius behind the band) and heck, I can pick out at least five sure-fire hits on both the AM and FM bands here (the latter surely would have been wowed by the tension-inducing "See My Way" off of #2 SEND ME NO FLOWERS which clocks in at an amazing 5:16). Yes, you too will be surprised when you hear "She Needs a Man" and think that the Churls surely swiped some moves from the Rundgren version of "Hello It's Me", then realize that that one didn't come out until a good two years later! Perhaps the Churls should get some sorta garage band award for being able to play it teenage wholesome one minute and late-sixties punk next, sounding the way you kinda wish that band down the street did when you were five years old and even you knew what good rock & roll was at that early age!

Don't let the medieval costumes fool you, this is a must-get that I'll rank up there with THE HEAD SHOP and all of those other flashes that none of would have known about if it weren't for the writings of Parrett and various early-eighties French fanzine editors whose wares were made available in those long-gone Bona Fide catalogs that gee, I gotta admit I kinda miss!


Anonymous said...

As the person who found the very young fledgling Churls in a coffee bar, nurtured them, groomed them, managed them and took them across Canada and brought them from $25 gigs to dare I say thousands per are totally off base with your comments re pinching other peoples material. May be your opinion but not so. We all wrote, arranged and practised 24/7 on creating definite British converted American blues sounds which unfortunately due to a lousy agreement with A & M were not able to be recorded. Old Herbie Alpert wanted a sort of rocky yet not too harsh sound from a Canadian band and frankly even though I was in on the production of same, they sucked. On the other hand if you had ever had the pleasure to see them live, you would have seen a repeat of The Beatles Shea Stadium every where the boys went. They rocked every house with Stones covers, Muddy Waters, Otis Redding, Howlin Wolf, Bo Diddley and every other blues artist from Chicago and the Delta who ever influenced a British band to record their music a different way which in turn was interpreted by The Churls even rockier and harder. Unfortunately all the so called "reviewers" of these two albums only hear the forced sucky sounds of a very strong minded Herb Alpert. In order to get the studio time and hope for some exposure we took the deal. In hindsight...a bad move. To this day as I get older and greyer I know the potential of this band and they literally could have been the second Stones live... never got the chance though which disheartened them greatly and led to their demise. Just found your blog and had to spout the truth. Take it from one who was there....Bill

Leslie said...

Just searching "The Churls" and came upon your blog. Does "Bill" or anyone else know where Brad might be these days....I knew this group back in the early 60's in Willowdale ON!

oldereck said...

Thinking Bill may be Bill Riley.

Sure would like to know more about how the band started up and their story from Willowdale to Yorktown. I think I can fill in the blanks from there.