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The Leaves iTunes Tracks

The Leaves

Not strictly a folk outfit (in the purist sense only), The LEAVES were considered at the time a post-British Invasion garage band, at first influenced by The BEATLES and The ROLLING STONES, moving on – when the times were a-changin’ – into post-BYRDS folk-rock.
Formed in San Fernando Valley, California, towards the end of 1963, the group (Jim Pons – bass, Bill Rinehart – lead guitar, Robert Lee Reiner – rhythm guitar, and Jimmy Kern – drums) were originally touted as a frat-band, The Rockwells. When vocalist John Beck was added (and Kern was superseded by Tom “Ambrose” Ray), The LEAVES were taken under the business arm of actor/crooner PAT BOONE, whom, in turn, found them a record deal with the tiny Mira Records.
In early ‘66, after initial sales of local hits, `Too Many People’ (the B-side a version of DYLAN’s `Love Minus Zero – No Limit’) and `Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go?’, didn’t transpire to nationwide success, the band were granted a residency at Ciro’s club on the Sunset Strip, a position left when The BYRDS took flight.
With further growth curtailed by the flop of their third 45, a take of ARTHUR ALEXANDER’s `You Better Move On’, Rinehart was substituted by fuzztone guitar specialist Bob Arlin. With a fresher, re-recorded folk-rock version of `Hey Joe’ in place by April ‘66, The LEAVES hit pay-dirt and the elusive Top 40; this annoyed The BYRDS, LOVE, and a host of other West Coast acts who’d performed the song live; psychedelic rocker JIMI HENDRIX was decidedly ambiguous when he took the Billy Roberts-penned dirge into the UK Top 10.
HEY JOE (1966) {*6} was met with a muted response, hitting as it did the lowly peak of No.127 in the Billboard charts; versions of J.D. LOUDERMILK’s `Tobacco Road’ and borrowed trad-BYRDS cue, `He Was A Friend Of Mine’, sat effectively alongside folk-rockers (`Girl From The East’ and `Just A Memory’) plus the aforementioned singles. After the group’s minor achievements, they couldn’t buy a hit, and songs such as `Get Out Of My Life Woman’ (an ALLEN TOUSSAINT cut also from the LP) did little to stir the fickle buying public.
Sealing a deal with Capitol Records (but losing Reiner in the process), the quartet delivered what was to become their finale LP, ALL THE GOOD THAT’S HAPPENING (1967) {*4}, a imbalanced hotchpotch of folk-rock and psychedelia, the saving grace stemming from DONOVAN’s `To Try For The Sun’, BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE’s `Codine’, and originals `Twilight Sanctuary’ (a flop 45) and `With None Shoes’ (the other cover came via JIMMY REED’s `Let’s Get Together’). With only Arlin and Beck holding the proverbial baby at the end of the sessions (they were to form the short-lived New Leaves alongside bassist Buddy Sklar and drummer Craig Boyd), it signalled the final fall of The LEAVES; without Beck they evolved into The Hook, releasing two LPs in the late 60s. Meanwhile, Pons was already on his way to The TURTLES; he was later to join FRANK ZAPPA’s Mothers Of Invention. The later LEAVES material (and there was the odd collection) included versions of DYLAN’s `Highway 61 Revisted’ and JUDEE SILL’s `Dead Time Bummer Blues’.
© MC Strong 1994-1997/GRD // rev-up MCS Sep2016

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