Music Rewind: The Magnificent Soundscapes Of Spanky And Our Gang - Part 2
The first album that Spanky and Our Gang released on Mercury Records in 1967 was the self-titled Spanky and Our Gang. There were several hit records on that famous album including Sunday Will Never Be the Same which reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as Making Every Minute Count, and Lazy Day. The latter two sold over 1 million in singles each.
The second album I'd Like to Get to Know You was released in the spring of 1968. From this album, Sunday Morning was released which reached number 30 and in the summer of 1968, the number 17 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was I'd Like to Get to Know You.
It has been said that there are works that thoroughly define a pop artist. The time when Brian Wilson broke away from the straitjacket of "the surf songwriter" and composed the Pet Sounds album was finally the turning point when most eminent musicologists determined that he was one of the greatest genius songwriters of the 20th century.
In a similar fashion, the song I'd Like to Get to Know You, can place Spanky and Our Gang in the same category as the genius of Brian Wilson. There is that very special part that in I'd Like to Get to Know You, which comes on approximately two and a half minutes into the song. At this point, the vocals fade away and an instrumental section begins which runs about 20 seconds. This instrumental section is all soaring strings, phased chords, layered chants, and presents truly one of the great audio soundscapes of the 20th century.
If you close your eyes during that part of that song I will guarantee that no matter whether your personal musical preferences tend to Mozart or 50 Cent, you will feel as if you are soaring on a thermal above a spring meadow. So profoundly striking is that interlude, so powerful is its emanation of peace and joy and freedom, that more than four decades after it was recorded it will still move you at a level comparable to the greatest music of any age.
Spanky and Our Gang did not have long lasting success. They played one of their songs Give a Damn on the Smothers Brothers comedy hour and CBS received so many complaints about the song title Damn being used during family viewing hours that Spanky and Our Gang were never invited back. It is interesting to note that one of the complaints about the Spanky and Our Gang song title on CBS came from President Richard Nixon.
The story of Spanky and Our Gang pretty well ends there. Most people alive in the United States don't even know who Spanky and Our Gang were, but I can certainly assure you that if you are to dig through the dusty stacks of CDs and pick up one of their albums, it will be a revelation. When you listen to songs such as I'd Like to Get to Know You and truly listen carefully to the complex structures, the magnificent harmonies, the phenomenal vocal tone of Spanky McFarlane herself, you will be hooked forever. Most importantly, when you experience that soaring, gliding instrumental near the end of that memorable song I'd Like to Get to Know You, you will realize that the heights of pop music in the last 100 years occurred almost 50 years ago.
Spanky and Our Gang will always live on as one of the great music legends of the 20th century.