Loving Spoonful
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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I Loving Spoonful vennero formati a New York nel 1965 dal cantante John Sebastian e dal chitarrista Zal Yanovsky, due folksinger dei primi anni '60. Sebastian, ancora adolescente, aveva suonato l'armonica per diverse star del movimento e aveva suonato sul disco della Even Dozen Jug Band (Elektra, 1964) con Maria Muldaur e altri giovani talenti. Sebastian e Yanovsky avevano brevemente militato nei Muwumps con Cass Elliot e Denny Doherty (futuri Mamas & Papas). I Loving Spoonful erano alle origini una "jug band elettrica" che batteva i folk club del Greenwich Village. Il gruppo desto` sensazione per gli arrangiamenti eccentrici (banjo, dobro, clarinetto, fischietto, washboard) e per un atteggiamento bislacco sul palco. Dopo la British Invasion, i Loving Spoonful si adeguarono ai ritmi e alle melodie moderne. Nacque allora Do You Believe In Magic (1965), un tributo al potere suggestionante del rock che aggiornava l'ideologia di Rock And Roll Music (Chuck Berry) all'idealismo dell'era di Kennedy, Coerentemente con l'umore dei tempi, Do You Believe In Magic (Kama Sutra, 1965) fu un album eclettico (ma pieno di cover) e un tributo alla nascente civilta` hippy.

Fu l'inizio di una serie di canzoni eccentriche, uscite dal settembre del 1965 al dicembre del 1966, fra cui il tip-tap ottimista di Daydream (1966), che sembra la versione americana di Sunny Afternoon dei Kinks, Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind (1966), Rain On The Roof (1966), e il country surreale di Nashville Cats (1966), anche se i media li dipingevano come emuli del pop melenso dei Beatles, genere a cui diedero You Didn't Have To Be So Nice (dicembre 1965), Darling Be Home Soon (1966), She Is Still A Mystery (1967).

Su tutto si staglia l'incubo cacofonico di Summer In The City (1966), un'aria quasi barocca che si snoda in un crescendo sincopato e s'inabissa in un'atmosfera da film noir. Con questi brani i Loving Spoonful si affermarono fra gli esponenti piu` estrosi del folk revival e influenzarono il sound di San Francisco.

Daydream (1966) fu un album meno eclettico ma anche firmato quasi interamente da Sebastian. Cosi` anche Hums (1966), che pero` contiene il capolavoro. What's Up Tiger Lily (1966) fu una delle prime colonne sonore registrate da un gruppo rock per un film (di Woody Allen) che non era semplicemente un film sul gruppo stesso. Sebastian aveva appena 22 anni quando scrisse quella partitura. Un'altra colonna sonora, You're A Big Boy Now (1966), fece anche di meglio, e le canzoni erano per lo piu` strumentali (il film era di Francis Ford Coppola).

Sostituito il chitarrista Zal Yanovsky (che era finito al centro di un piccolo scandalo) con Jerry Yester degli Association, i Loving Spoonful registrarono ancora un album dignitoso, Everything Is Playing (1968), che contiene due piccoli anthem di Sebastian, Younger Generation e Boredom.

Best (Kama Sutra, 1967) raccoglie gli hit del gruppo.

La carriera solista di Sebastian non fu particolarmente brillante, come quella di tanti reduci del periodo hippy, anche se aveva avuto il suo momento di notorieta` a Woodstock cantando I Had A Dream (1969). Sebastian si trasformo` in cantautore mainstream e provo` anche la carta della melodia da classifica (She's A Lady, 1970) ma poi scomparve affossato dalla fine di un'era e da problemi di droga. Tornera` a galla con la sigla televisiva di Welcome Back (1976) e finira` la sua carriera come l'aveva cominciata, suonando in una jug band.

Yanovsky gestisce un ristorante in Canada. Sebastian e` tornato saltariamente sulle scene, da solo o alla testa di un'ennesima jug band.

(Translated by Ornella C. Grannis)

The Loving Spoonful were formed in New York in 1965 by singer John Sebastian and guitarist Zal Yanovsky, two folkies of the early 60s. The precocious Sebastian had played the harmonica for several stars of the movement, and the two were briefly involved with future Mamas and Papas Cass Elliott and Danny Doherty in the Mugwumps. The Loving Spoonful began as an "electric jug band" that tapped the folk clubs of Greenwich Village. The band's eccentric arrangements (banjo, dobro, clarinet, whistle, washboard) and their goofy stance on stage grabbed everybody's attention. After the British Invasion they adapted to the prevailing rhythms and melodies. Do You Believe In Magic (1965) is a tribute to the suggestive power of rock music, the idealism of the Kennedy years, and a refresher course on Rock and Roll Music (Chuck Berry). Consistent with the mood of the time, Do You Believe In Magic (Kama Sutra, 1965) is an eclectic album, a tribute to the emerging hippie society.

That marked the beginning of a series of eccentric releases, from September 1965 to December 1966, among them the optimistic tap dance Daydream (1966), seemingly the American version of the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon, Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind (1966), Rain On The Roof (1966), and the surrealistically country Nashville Cats (1966). Throughout this period the media portrayed them as imitators of the Beatles' mawkish pop genre to which they contributed with You Didn't Have To Be So Nice (December 1965), Darling Be Home Soon (1966), She Is Still A Mystery (1967).

The cacophonous nightscape of Summer In The City (1966) stands out with its baroque tone, stretching between swoops and syncopated crescendos, creating a film noir atmosphere. With these pieces the Loving Spoonful influenced the San Francisco sound and established themselves among the most creative leaders of the folk revival.

Daydream (1966) is a much less eclectic album almost entirely composed by Sebastian. The same can be said for Hums (1966), which contains the masterpiece Summer In The City. What's Up Tiger Lily (1966) was the first soundtrack recorded by a rock band for a movie that wasn't about the band. John Sebastian was 22 years old when he wrote that score for Woody Allen. Another soundtrack, You're A Big Boy Now (1966), mostly instrumental, for a movie by Francis Ford Coppola, was even better.

After substituting guitar player Zal Yanovsky (involved in a small sandal) with Jerry Yester from The Association, the Loving Spoonful recorded one more dignified album, Everything Is Playing (1968), containing two little anthems by Sebastian: Younger Generation and Boredom.

Best (Kama Sutra, 1967) is a compilation of the group's hits.

Sebastian's solo career has not been particularly brilliant, like that of many veterans of the hippie period, although he enjoyed a moment of notoriety at Woodstock with I Had A Dream (1969). Sebastian became a mainstream songwriter playing the "melody for the charts" (She's A Lady, 1970), then he vanished, sunk by the end of an era and by drug problems. He reemerged with the soundtrack Welcome Back (1976) for the television sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, and ended his career as he began, playing in a jug band.

Yanovsky manages a restaurant in Canada.

Sebastian still hits the stage occasionally, by himself or as the leader of yet another jug band.

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