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Happiness Is: The Association’s “Insight Out” Expanded and Remastered

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Who’s trippin’ down the streets of the city / Smilin’ at everybody she sees / Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment?  Everyone knows it’s Windy!

And most everyone knows Ruthann Friedman’s 1967 pop classic which not only hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart but was featured on The Association’s third album and first long-player for Warner Bros. Records, Insight Out.  But everyone would be forgiven for thinking that the LP was entitled Windy, so prominent was the name of the single on the album cover.  But there’s much more to Insight Out.

Helmed by producer Bones Howe, beginning a short but important relationship with the group, it also boasts P.F. Sloan’s shimmering “On a Quiet Night,” and two songs by the team of Dick and Don Addrisi. The first, the ebullient “Happiness Is,” could virtually be the calling card of the entire sunshine pop genre.  The second, “Never My Love,” was an instant standard.  It climbed its way to a No. 2 chart placement, and BMI actually ranked the song the second-most played hit on radio and television of the entire twentieth century.  (For those wondering, it was sandwiched between “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” at No. 1 and “Yesterday” at No. 3.  Not bad company, eh?)  Mike Deasy, known more as a top session guitarist rather than a songwriter, brought in a strong song of his own, “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’,” which was outfitted with a timely sitar arrangement.  Now, all of those songs and more are yours to savor on a deluxe, expanded mono edition of Insight Out from Now Sounds, following the label’s reissues of three other albums by the classic band of harmony purveyors.

The success of Insight Out was far from pre-ordained.  The band had become accustomed to a revolving door of producers, with Curt Boettcher having helmed their debut And Then…Along Comes the Association and Jerry Yester in charge of its follow-up, Renaissance.  Yester hoped to continue working with The Association, but his productions of “Never My Love” and the antiwar “Requiem for the Masses” hadn’t met with much favor by the Valiant Records brass.  Jules Alexander had exited the group for a pilgrimage to India.  And The Association’s Valiant home was about to be purchased by Warner Bros. Records, along with the band’s contract.  After the lofty heights scaled by “Cherish” and “Along Comes Mary” from the first album, the two singles off Renaissance failed to make much of an impression.  Enter Bones Howe, originally an engineer with a varied C.V. who had scored successes producing The Turtles on such songs as P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri’s “You Baby” and Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”

As Howe recalls in reissue producer Steve Stanley’s comprehensive liner notes for the new edition, ““I made a deal with their manager, Pat Colecchio.  Initially he called me up and said, ‘The guys are going to write some songs and you can bring some songs to them.’ And I said, ‘Well look, are they going to turn me down on every song because they didn’t write it?’ And Pat said, ‘You bring songs to them and they’ll bring songs to you. If you both like them, you can record them.’ And I thought that was fair enough; I’m sure that we can find some common ground. And ‘Never My Love’ was one of those songs. That, in my estimation, was one of the best records I ever made.”  Considering Howe also produced those Turtles hits, The 5th Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” The Monkees’ “Someday  Man” and music for artists ranging from Elvis Presley to Tom Waits, that’s no small praise from the modest producer.  (I won’t spoil any more of the interviews you’ll find excerpted in Insight Out’s 16-page booklet, including reminisces from Ruthann Friedman, Dick Addrisi, P.F. Sloan and Association members Russ Giguere, Jim Yester, Terry Kirkman and Larry Ramos!)  Though the members of The Association were accomplished musicians, the studio veterans of Los Angeles’ Wrecking Crew were brought in for the sessions.

After the jump, we’ve got more Insight on Out, including the full track listing with discography!

By April 1967 the Valiant deal with Warner was sealed, and hopes were high for the band’s debut on the Burbank-based label.  Howe and The Association had, indeed, found common ground.  The group had found a new member, as well.  Larry Ramos had spent some four years as a member of The New Christy Minstrels, honing the vocals that would make him an integral part of The Association’s blend.  He would also serve as lead guitarist.

That debut single would be Friedman’s “Windy” b/w “Sometime,” a Russ Giguere composition that would appear alongside “Windy” on the new album.  “Windy” went to No. 1 that July, and by September, the LP Insight Out had climbed all the way to No. 8 on the LP chart, the group’s most successful studio album.   The hits just kept on coming; “Never My Love” nearly matched the quick success of “Windy,” hitting No. 2 in November and No. 1 on the Cashbox chart.

In a marked change from the entirely self-written Renaissance, only five of the eleven songs on Insight Out were penned by band members, but each song was choice.  Ted Bluechel’s lush, romantic “We Love Us” is as irresistible as Jim Yester’s “When Love Comes to Me” is buoyant.  Russ Giguere’s “Sometime” is very much of its time, with an inward-looking lyric befitting the album’s title of Insight Out: “Is there heaven on Earth?/If there is what’s it worth?/Are we really living/Or are we a shadow/Of what life can be?/Is the answer inside of me?”  Terry Kirkman supplied the nostalgic throwback “Wasn’t It a Bit Like Now?” (“Instead of groovy, it was keen/And jeepers, it’s wow!/It just doesn’t seem that different now”) as well as the stirring album closer “Requiem for the Masses.”

A generous eleven bonus tracks have been included on Insight Out, doubling the album’s number of songs.  They include “Autumn Afternoon,” the Addrisi Brothers song that was Howe’s first production for The Association.  It’s been rescued from the Warner Bros. vaults to make its debut here.  It’s joined by six instrumentals that offer a window into the rich, lush arrangements crafted by Howe, Clark Burroughs, Ray Pohlman, Bill Holman and the band members themselves.   You’ll also find both sides of the two mono singles from the album, “Windy” b/w “Sometime” and “Never My Love” b/w “Requiem for the Masses.”

The Association’s story continues with Birthday.  That release marked Howe’s second and last collaboration with the band, but despite the rising tensions, it remains arguably The Association’s finest hour and most cohesive album.  It’s already been released in a mono edition from Now Sounds, so if you’ve missed that one, it makes the perfect companion to Insight Out.

With Capitol’s remarkable excavation of The Beach Boys’ The SMiLE Sessions getting a great deal of attention this week, you just might be in the mood to continue exploring the sixties harmony pop genre.  You could hardly do better than the timeless sounds and immaculate production of The Association’s Insight Out, in U.S. stores today from Now Sounds.

The Association, Insight Out: Deluxe Expanded Mono Edition (Warner Bros. LP W-1696, 1967 – reissued Now Sounds CRNOW 29, 2011)

  1. Wasn’t It A Bit Like Now (Parallel 23)
  2. On A Quiet Night
  3. We Love Us
  4. When Love Comes To Town
  5. Windy
  6. Reputation
  7. Never My Love
  8. Happiness Is
  9. Sometime
  10. Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’
  11. Requiem For The Masses
  12. Autumn Afternoon (previously unreleased outtake)
  13. On A Quiet Night (Instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  14. Windy (Instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  15. Sometime (Instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  16. We Love Us (Instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  17. When Love Comes To Me (Instrumental)  (previously unreleased)
  18. Never My Love (Instrumental) (previously unreleased)
  19. Never My Love (Mono 45) (Warner Bros. single 7074-A, 1967)
  20. Sometime (Mono 45) (Warner Bros. single 7041-B, 1967)
  21. Requiem For The Masses (Mono 45) (Warner Bros. single 7074-B, 1967)
  22. Windy (Mono 45) (Warner Bros. single 7041-A, 1967)

Written by Joe Marchese

November 1, 2011 at 11:31

5 Responses

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  1. Hey Joe…

    I don’t analyze too much anymore, but once in a while the mind speaks to me; it just happened! The song “Windy” – have any relationship to the town of Chicago – not just the obvious title. Never saw any review on this song, or The Association.

    At 15, I was riding around the town of Willamette, IL., with a friend and his two older brothers (or bothers), with our bodies sticking out from the top of their station wagon (had a sunroof??) singing this tune. It’s a flashback.

    BARON

    November 1, 2011 at 12:10

    • My understanding is that Windy was a nickname for a street person, perhaps a neighborhood dealer. Ruthann Friedman is on Facebook. Why don’t you ask her?

      Charlie B

      November 12, 2011 at 09:38

  2. For crying out loud–The Association’s music was NOT “sunshine pop.” It was serious and professional “folk rock,” also sometimes called “soft rock.” There is a difference–an important difference. FWIW, IMO, the designation “sunshine pop” diminishes The Association’s music and diminishes the group’s impact, which was major.

    ulyssesmsu

    November 11, 2011 at 10:53

    • totally agree…but some of their selections – Happiness Is and Time For Livin – did not help the perception of sunshine and bubblegum

      bk

      November 16, 2011 at 18:51

  3. Anyone who’s followed my writing here knows that I don’t see “sunshine pop,” “harmony pop” or “pop” itself as even remotely denigrating or pejorative, and certainly not inferior to “folk rock,” “soft rock,” or “rock.” There are only two kinds of music, a wise man once said: good music and bad. The Association’s is most certainly GOOD music, and the band was – and is – an important one to both the pop and rock genres. That the group was capable of both bracing folk-rock and sparkling harmony pop only speaks to the members’ versatility.

    That said, I equate “sunshine pop” with musical lushness, sophistication, terrific vocals, immaculate production and timeless melody – so if some find The Association to epitomize “sunshine pop,” that’s okay in my book. For my part, I simply referred to “Happiness Is” as a song which could be the calling card of the genre, and I stand by that statement.

    Glad everybody here is enjoying the music of a fantastic band, superb album and great reissue!

    Joe Marchese

    November 19, 2011 at 21:53


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