The Montanas – That’s When Happiness Began

Example

The Montanas

Listen – That’s When Happiness Began – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope everyone had a mot excellent weekend, and the beginning of a new week finds you ready for some fuzz.
Today’s selection has long been a favorite song of mine, as well as yet another unsolved musical puzzle.
I first heard ‘That’s When Happiness Began’ back during the 80’s garage revival days as performed by a mid-60’s LA group called the Grains of Sand (I thought it was on one of the ‘Highs In the Mid 60’s’ comps but research reveals that to be mistaken). I fell in love with the song, and it became a staple on mix-tapes (remember those, kids?) for a long time.
Then (there’s always a “then” isn’t there?) one of my Anglophile pals hepped me to the version of the song you’re downloading today, that being the one by the Montanas.
The Montanas were denizens of the Beat era who persisted on into the days of Freakbeat. They had some hits in the UK, but never really hit it here in the states (though they did have records issued here on Warner Brothers and Independence).
Anyway, as is often the case, I noticed that the song had been written by neither the Grains of Sand nor the Montanas, but by the Addrisi Brothers, a name that was familiar to me. I didn’t realize why until I dug a little deeper and discovered that they had written ‘Never My Love’ for the Association.
I assumed then that they must have recorded the original version of ‘That’s When Happiness Began’, so I started to look for it.
This proved to be a fruitless search. Despite the fact that the Addrisi Brothers had a recording career, starting with a string of 45s for Del Fi records in the 50’s and on into their own soft rock hits in the early 70’s, it appears that they never recorded ‘That’s When Happiness Began’ (at least for public consumption).
How the song got to the Grains of Sand and the Montanas is a mystery, as is which of those bands recorded it first.
My suspicion is – and if you know different please drop me a line – that the song was making the rounds as a publisher’s demo, and both the Grains of Sand and the Montanas got a hold of it separately (I think the GOS version predates the Montanas, but as it was released on the tiny Valiant label, I don’t think the Montanas grabbed the record and decided to cover it).
Either way, both versions are rife with kick-ass-ery, with the Montanas winning out by a nose, if by nose you mean a wild fuzz guitar solo.
While the Grains of Sand is a powerful slice of West Coast garage pop, the Montanas kick up the energy level significantly, dragging the song into Freakbeat territory.
I’m not going to go into a detailed definition of what Freakbeat was (because there’re probably a bunch of anoraks out there who are just waiting to explain to me exactly how I’m mistaken), but I will say that the high energy, ever so slightly psyched-out vibe of the Montanas recording is a pretty fine example thereof.
There is a comp of all the Montanas singles available in reissue. I’m not sure if anyone is currently offering the Grains of Sand version (though it did appear on the original Nuggets LP set).
I hope you dig it.
Peace
Larry

Example

Buy – The Montanas You’ve Got To Be Loved – at Amazon.com

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5 Comments

  1. I have the Grains of Sand 45 on Valiant. Remembering that the Association also recorded on Valiant, and that the Addrisi Brothers wrote some of the Association’s songs, you can bet the Grains of Sand were first.
    I think the Montanas are English, too.
    By the way, growing up in Florida in 1967, I heard the Grains of Sand version on the radio. I know because I taped every song that I heard in 66-67 and I still have those pesky little reel-to-reel tapes.
    Good song.

  2. [...] Leonard Cohen – Field Commander Cohen (buy) 13) The Montanas – That’s When Happiness Began (info) 14) Roky Erickson And The Aliens – It’s A Cold Night For Alligators (buy) 15) Mano Negra – [...]

  3. Hi Larry, I might be able to shed some light on “The Grains of Sand” question. I was an original member of the band (bass player). When we signed with Valiant in ’66, we only had one original song-“She needs me” still available on Pebbles Vol. 8, Southern California. Valiant brought in the Addrisi brothers to pen the A side “That’s when Happiness began”. BTW, we really liked working with Dick and Don Addrisi, they were great guys. Timing being everything, Valiant scored with the Association at that point and had little time for us, so we moved over to Mercury/Phillips in “68 and released the single “That’s my baby” w / Drop down sometime.- written by the band’s leader Dave Hodgkins.
    Founders Hodgkins and Doug “Red” Mark went on to form REDEYE in the early 70’s
    I spoke with Dave H. recently and he told me he is working on a book loosely based on band exploits from that period. Could be interesting.

  4. Hi there… Grains of Sand were amazing, I used to have the Valiant single but had to sell it during lean times. ‘That’s When Happiness Began’ was also done by an Aussie band in 1966 – Mike Furber & the Bowery Boys, as an LP cut. Great version, as are the other two!

  5. The good old days. Nice to hear a group from Woverrhampton


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