The Thomas Group, Tony Thomas, middle
Listen/Download – The Thomas Group – Autumn
I hope the new week finds you well, and ready for something groovy.
If you follow the comings and goings here at Iron Leg, you’ll already be familiar with my deep and abiding love for the mid-60s, West Coast folk rock sound.
Over the course of musical history, there have been movements that have produced sounds that can’t help but remind you of a specific time and place, whether it’s Harlem in the mid-40s, Liverpool in 1963, or Carnaby Street in 1967.
The Sunset Strip of 1965 (and spread out over the next few years) is one of those places that really strikes a nerve with me.
This has a lot to do with intersections, of certain artists, but also of the strands of musical progression that they wove together.
Here you have the rock world fully electrified, the UK beat boom already peaked, folk rock underway and more progressive sounds starting to creep their way into the picture.
Though there were a wide variety of labels – both big and small – releasing classic material at the time, one of the finest was Dunhill Records.
Formed in 1964 as Dunhill Productions (working almost exclusively with Johnny Rivers), the production company evolved into the record label that went on to release some of the finest rock and pop sounds of the mid-60s.
Dunhill’s first big hit was Barry McGuire’s ‘Eve of Destruction’ in 1965, going on to brilliance both major (Mamas and Papas, Grass Roots) and minor (Don and the Goodtimes, the Woolies. Lamp of Childhood) over the next few years.
One group from the label’s prime years that was unknown to me until only recently was the Thomas Group.
Featuring Tony Thomas (son of the famous Danny, brother of the famous Marlo) on drums, the Thomas group recorded four 45s for Dunhill between March of 1966 and November of 1967.
All but one of their songs were written by the team of PF Sloan and Steve Barri (major hitmakers for Dunhill).
The tune I bring you today, ‘Autumn’ is a great example of their poppy take on the folk rock sound.
Also recorded by the Vogues and Gary Lewis and the Playboys, ‘Autumn’ sounds a lot like the kind of song the Turtles were doing around the same time (also written by Sloan and Barri).
The Thomas Group performed the song on the Ed Sullivan Show, as well as ‘Where the Action Is’.
Despite the obvious quality of ‘Autumn’ it didn’t really make a dent on the charts (neither did any of the group’s other records).
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back next week with the latest installment of the Iron Leg Radio Show.