Don Agrati, and his LP cover (below)
NOTE: The family and I are on the road this week, so I decided to dip back into the archives and bring back something cool from the past.
I really dig these Don Agrati tracks and think they deserve some shine, so here you go!
Welcome back to week number two of the return of Iron Leg (sounds like a Hammer film from back in the day).
I hope all is well on your end.
The tunes I bring you today, presented under the ‘Sounds of the Millennium’ banner, do so under fairly loose conditions.
As far as I know they don not include performance contributions by members of the band.
However, the demos on which the album in question were built were produced by none other that Curt Boettcher and Keith Olsen.
The artist is someone that most of you know, but perhaps under a different name.
Don Agrati spent the bulk of the 1960s as a big TV star under the nom du screen ‘Don Grady’. He appeared from 1960 to 1971 on ‘My Three Sons’ as Robbie Douglas, before which he was a Disney contract player and performed on a number of other shows.
Some of you will also be aware that during his time on that show he had a sideline musical career.
As Robbie Douglas, Agrati performed on ‘My Three Sons’ with his band ‘The Greefs’.
A few years after the demise of the show, Agrati signed a contract with Elektra records, and in 1973, the aptly titled LP “Home Grown’ was released.
Information is scarce, but it seems to be the case that the demos for ‘Home Grown’, which were produced by Boettcher and Olsen, were assembled over the course of a few years, and then apparently polished/augmented (not changing much) and released.
The album is stylistically all over the place, though some of this seems to be due to the passage of time (a few of the songs have copyrights from years before the LP was released).
There are moments of Monkees-ish pop (‘Two Bit Afternoon’), jazzy efforts (‘Bloodstream’) and sophisticated, early 70s California pop (the two songs I bring you today).
I’ve paired ‘Hollywood Song’ and ‘Protoplasm Blues’ because of all the tunes on ‘Home Grown’, they seem to have been born out of the same stylistic sensibility.
There are hints of Nilsson and Emmitt Rhodes (especially appropriate considering the source), as well as the Beatles (the root for the previous two), and even at times the later, jazzier side of Traffic. The cool thing is that none of these influences seem direct, but more like they were all dipping into the same portion of the musical zeitgeist.
I’ve read that Agrati played keyboards and drums on the album (and possibly everything else), and his piano work is pretty nice. In fact it’s the piano that really makes both ‘Hollywood Song’ and ‘Protoplasm Blues’ so cool.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that ‘Home Grown’ is some kind of lost masterpiece (it’s not) but rather that it does have some excellent tracks, and indicates that Agrati, given the appropriate time and focus could have gone on to craft a really solid set.
Fortunately, while it is obscure, ‘Home Grown’ isn’t particularly expensive. You could probably score a copy for less that $30.00 (I got my first for around 20, and then found a second for 5 bucks). It’s definitely worth hearing for fans of the California sound, and especially for Boettcher/Millennium completists.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll see you next week.