Classic reissues from John Sebastian's deceptively sweet combo
Dubbed “America’s most underrated band” by no less an authority than R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, The Lovin’ Spoonful nevertheless still command a great deal of respect for their evergreen ’60s pop. John Sebastian’s songwriting was sugar-coated, with just enough dirt under the fingernails to avoid the saccharine sappiness of more acclaimed, less canny hippie tunesmithery, and the late Zal Yanovsky’s innovative guitar work now seems oddly prescient of new wave heroes like Tom Verlaine. Hums… (1966), their third studio album, is a dream-pop delight, boasting country picking (“Darlin’ Companion”), drifting psych-lite (“Coconut Grove”) and 24-carat Sebastian pop mastery (“Summer In The City”). By the 1968 follow-up, Yanovsky had gone solo, but the band compensated brilliantly via the use of then-new 16-track technology. Sebastian’s golden touch is audible on the exuberant “She Is Still A Mystery” and the incredible “Six O’Clock”, while multiple overdubs create a shimmering soundscape of strings’n’horns, especially effective on bassist Steve Boone’s swoonsome instrumental “Forever”. Sebastian’s final album with the Spoonful, Everything Playing bids farewell to an era in fine style.