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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Collectors - The Collectors / Grass And Wild Strawberries (1967-68 canada, magnificent avant garde psych rock with great arrangements)

The Collectors were formed in Vancouver, Canada in 1961 and originally known as the C-Fun Classics and released many local records. They adopted the name C-FUN Classics when they gigged to promote local Vancouver, BC radio station CFUN-AM. The group were featured as the house band on 'Let's Go', a weekly TV show. In 1965, they released two singles as the Canadian Classics -- 'Til I Met You' (Jaguar 2002A) and 'I Don't Know' (Valiant 723).

With former horn player Howie Vickers handling the lead vocals, they cut 'Eyes' and 'Don't Feel Bad' -- both of which later appeared on the History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Volume 4 (VRCA 004; 1991). 'Eyes' -- a fine folk tune seasoned with tasty guitar and just a dash of psychedelia -- is easily the better track. 'Don't Feel Bad' has a vague 'On Broadway' feel. More elaborately produced, it also seems a less genuine effort.

In 1967, The Collectors released the Vancouver smash hit single 'Looking at a Baby' (New Syndrome 16, 1967, subsequently reissued on the History of Vancouver Rock, Volume 3 VRCA 001, 1983) along with two other 45s - 'Fisherwoman' and 'Fat Bird'.

The Collectors were drawn towards US west coast venues where they established a positive reputation for their complex arrangements, soaring harmonies and extended improvisations.

Dave Hassinger was the mutual producer of both The Electric Prunes and The Collectors. Having just participated in the recording of The Collectors' epic 'What Love (Suite)', an entire side of their first Warners album, The Collectors immediately came to mind to Hassinger, who also "owned" the name The Electric Prunes.

But although ready and willing to be session performers, The Collectors had already established themselves as Canada's hottest group with their original material and didn't really want to divert from their own artistic awesomeness. So, after the recording of 'Mass in F Minor', the Prunes were reformed with a completely new line-up to record 'Release of an Oath' with David Axelrod.

After, The Collectors collaborated with George Ryga and released the 'Grass and Wild Strawberries' LP which was based on Ryga's stage play of the same name.

During this period, The Collectors also provided the soundtrack music to three Canadian based films - Don't Let the Angels Fall (1968) along with David Hassinger, Canada the Land / Canada, pays vaste (1969) and The Land (1969). Further information regarding these films can be obtained from The Collectors's entry at the National Film Board of Canada's web site.

Although their imaginative use of of time signatures and woodwind garnered critical plaudits, this was not transferred into sales, and the Collectors' career ebbed with two non-album singles.

The departure of Howie Vickers in 1969 prompted an internal rethink and the remaining quartet abandoned the name and emerged as Chilliwack in 1971 with Bill Henderson taking over lead vocals.

1967  The Collectors
1. What Is Love - 3:51
2. She (Will-O-The-Wind) - 3:51
3. Howard Christman's Older - 5:08
4. Lydia Purple - 2:47
5. One Act Play - 3:42
6. What Love (Suite) - 19:06
1968  From Grass And Wild Strawberries
7. Overture - 4:49
8. Grass And Wild Strawberries - 2:01
9. Things I Remember - 2:46
10.Don't Turn Away (From Me) - 3:10
11.Teletype Click - 2:55
12.Seventeenth Summer - 3:29
13.The Long Rain - 2:57
14.My Love Delights Me - 2:23
15.Dream of Desolation - 2:30
16.Rainbow of Fire - 2:52
17.Early Morning - 3:28
18.Sheep on the Hillside - 4:17

The Collectors
*Howie Vickers - Lead Vocals
*Bill Henderson - Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals, Keyboards
*Claire Lawrence - Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards, Harmonica & Vocals
*Glenn Miller - Bass and Vocals
*Ross Turney - Drums
Guest Musicians
*Larry Knechtel - Piano, Harpsichord
*Norm Jeffries - Vibes
*Jesse Erlich - Cello

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