Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Hard Times - They Said No/Sad, Sad, Sunshine

I found a copy of this record while I was out digging last year. The only problem was that the "They Said No" side was scratched badly enough to make my needle skip several times. "Drats", I thought because what a great song. So, I was elated to see a copy appear on eBay recently, that not only was in beautiful shape but also pretty cheap. And by golly here it is, complete with a World Pacific custom sleeve.

The Hard Times were a San Diego band who moved to Los Angeles and went on to become regulars on Dick Clark's Where The Action Is. In 1967, they released an album, Blew Mind also on the World Pacific label that has some nice moments but is pretty uneven. It tends towards light pop, with some garage ("Fortune Teller") and pysch (title cut) leanings. The album also doesn't include "They Said No", which I consider to be far and away the Hard Times' best song.

I'm not sure which side of today's record was meant to be the hit. My promotional copy doesn't indicate a plug side. I'll start with "Sad, Sad, Sunshine", an Al Kooper composition. It's a wispy tune, with light guitar and drums. The vocals are airy and sung in unison, along with some backing oohs and ahhs. The song would probably be deemed sunshine pop by some. All in all, it's enjoyable and one of the Hard Times' better efforts.

Then, there's "She Said No", a song that I'm fairly ga-ga over. Did I mention that I like it? It's upbeat, with jangly guitars, punchy drums and an incredible hook. The vocals are supported with plenty of backing and the lead singer lets out a scream just before a guitar bridge that's so good, it practically sweeps you up right inside it. "They Said No" is simply great garage pop that leaves you thirsty for more. Some contemporary band really ought to resurrect this one, if it hasn't been already.

The Hard Times album, along with assorted singles, including a later one, originally released as by the New Phoenix has been reissued by Rev-Ola.

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