Monday, March 23, 2015

Kama Sutra Records: You Didn't Have To Be So Nice

In 1965, I discovered the power of the medium of radio. From that point onward, it drastically affected my life. For twenty years, I worked actively on the air behind the mic and then transitioned to other positions where my skills were used for commercial and half-hour long show production. Today, I teach broadcasting. One of the things I specifically remember about 1965 was the music of The Lovin’ Spoonful.

John Sebastian and company were the second group to sign to Kama Sutra Records and were welcomed with open arms in 1965 by the American and Canadian record buying public. By the way, The Vacels were the first to sign with the label. Remember them? Neither do I, but I am certain that my readers remember The Lovin’ Spoonful.

While the band was primarily American, the inclusion of Canadian lead guitarist Zal Yanovsky secured their popularity across the border. Canadian Content (CanCon) rules required stations to play a majority of programming that involved Canadian artists. With Yanovsky as part of the band, it guaranteed that The Lovin’ Spoonful would be heard in the Great White North.

For their second single with the label, the band released “You Didn’t Have to be so Nice.” It was the sixth single release on Kama Sutra and was from their second album, “Daydream.” According to Brian Wilson, the vocal arrangements would inspire The Beach Boys to write Carl Wilson sung ballad “God Only Knows.”

Unless you actually knew the arrangement of the song, you may have missed that the rhythm instrument is an autoharp. It blends so well in the mix with the hi-hat that you may have not noticed, but it’s there along with some rhythm guitar overdubs. While it doesn’t mimic the sound of the 12-string guitar that Roger McGuinn used with The Byrds, it produced a jangly sound that added to overall flavor of the record.

In 1965, The Lovin’ Spoonful, a brand new act, scored two Top 10 hits for a brand new label, which is a testimony to their overall sound. “You Didn’t Have to be so Nice” peaked at #10 in the US and at #4 in Canada. By the next year, the band scored a number one release, two #2 singles, and two additional Top 10 releases. These accomplishments cemented the overall success of Kama Sutra Records in the 1960s.

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