Boyce (3rd from left), Hart (left) and their group on ‘I Dream of Jeannie’
All of these pics taken from that same episode.
‘Steve Davis’ aka the Tycoon of Teen, Mr Phil Spector
When the craziest thing about him was those lemon meringue cuffs.
The band (with ‘Jeannie’ aka Barbara Eden) on drums play in ‘Steve Davis’s’ office
Listen – Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart – Out and About – MP3
The new week has rolled around and while not fit as a fiddle or right as rain, I am feeling better than I was on Friday, so I decided to whip out a big fave with an interesting story.
I have to credit my man Devil Dick of the Devil’s Music blog for introducing this tune to me a while back.
While I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan of the entire oeuvre of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, I have to say that they made a couple of my favorite pop records of the 60s, including today’s selection (natch) and the long lost gem, the theme to ‘Where Angels Go Trouble Follows’.
Back in the day, I always knew of them via their connection to the Monkees (they penned ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ and ‘(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone’ among others) but until I found the 45 of ‘Where Angels Go…’ I can’t honestly say that I had any idea what their own music sounded like.
I’ve had their ‘I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight’ LP for a long, long time, and aside from a few nice moments, was always appalled by the abomination they made of Larry Williams and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s soul classic ‘Two For the Price of One’.
That, and the fact that in pictures, Boyce and Hart always seemed a little, how do they say, ‘ripe’, i.e. looking like a couple of older guys not quite successfully attempting to merge with the youth culture. This isn’t entirely fair, since when they released their first LP in 1967, they were both only in their late 20s. There was something vaguely counterfeit about two slightly older looking guys sporting the latest mod threads, who seemed to pop up all over the place, appearing on multiple non-musical TV shows, usually as their own, rock star selves.
Anyway, going back to the story, I heard this song on The Devil’s Music, dug it a lot, and soon forgot all about it.
Then, last year I went on a tear trying to track down as many rock star appearances on TV shows (dramas and sitcoms), one of which was a 1967 episode of ‘I Dream of Jeannie’, which mainly interested me because it featured an acting bit by none other than Phil Spector. I finally found it, and aside from the fact that Spector acquitted himself nicely (i.e. didn’t seem insane), what really grabbed me was they song Boyce and Hart (with ‘Jeannie’ aka Barbara Eden, on drums) started playing in Spector’s office.
It was one of those ‘where has this song been all my life moments’ (not realizing that I’d already heard it).
‘Out and About’ starts with a throbbing bass line, followed by Boyce and Hart. By the time they get to the chorus it’s obvious that you’re listening to an absolutely perfect, 1967 synthesis of garage, pop, and believe it or not, psychedelia.
When I went back and checked my comment on DD’s blog, I saw that my initial reaction to the tune was that it reminded me of Paul Revere and the Raiders. In retrospect that seems like far too simplistic an evaluation of what was happening on this record. I’ve written in this space before about how the whole ‘Sunset Strip’ sound (65-68) produced some truly magical music, in which what would otherwise have been teen pop was infused with all manner of fuzz, flash and filigree, elevating it to an entirely new level.
‘Out and About’ is just about as perfect an example of that sound as you could find (though I have a couple of real gems in the ‘to be blogged’ file).
The chorus has a rolling, au go go feel to it (do I detect a harpsichord in there?), followed (brilliantly) by some incredible, vaguely psyched out string running underneath, but it gets even cooler at about a minute and a half, where the strings become more prominent (sounding vaguely like a mellotron) and Boyce and Hart go into a kind of swirling, multi-layered vocal ‘round’ with the BA BA BAAS and it is most definitely psychedelic. If not in the ‘my eyes have turned around in my head and I’m peering into my soul’ way, definitely in the fashion of the Beatles ‘Paperback Writer’ or ‘Dr Robert’ where you can quite literally hear the music taking a step forward into uncharted territory.
‘Out and About’ was Boyce and Hart’s first chart hit, making it into the Top 40 (Top 20 in a lot of markets) in the summer of 1967. They’d have their biggest single six months later with ‘I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight’. They have a few more hits, but the last time they ever hit the charts anywhere was in 1969, with ‘I’m Gonna Blow You a Kiss In The Wind’, which was oddly enough also featured in a TV sitcom, this time Bewitched.
A year later they broke up to work on solo project, only to regroup a few years later with Mickey Dolenz and Davey Jones in Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart.
I hope you dig this one as much as I do, and I’ll see you later in the week.