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Without Rhyme or Reason

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

US pressing

Product Details

  • Vinyl
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: MERCURY
  • ASIN: B000HDFKD2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,675 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard Kelly on December 22, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The chance to Time Travel - to the real heart of 1968, when visionary musicians dared to "Give A Damn" whether it was commercially viable or not. This pristine marvel, which I'd given up hope of ever hearing again, transcends time, place and the repackaged, nostalgic slot most people identify as "The Sixties".
Like "Sergeant Pepper's...", a conceptual trip through a sophisticated landscape unlike anything of its day - or now, for that matter! The first "side" is all of a piece - thematically connected by the musical framework , blending disparate elements into a seamless trip and exemplary of a time when many artists made music just for the pure joy of it.
Stereo was just being discovered - and Elaine, et al, took this new spatial element to its limits, playfully enhancing music that was already lush and full and innovative. Taken with the sublime "Prescription For The Blues" (from the "Like To Get To Know You" album,) "Mecca Flat Blues" seals Elaine MacFarlaine's spot among the all-time great interpreters of traditional Blues.
This is headphone music at its best! Dive in and be enwrapped in a giddy, emotive, multi-colored soundscape that is singular, joyful and informed by a deeply musical wisdom that sounds so spontaneous - but that was crafted with meticulous wisdom.
I was there - it was amazing then; it remains so. Slipping it on the CD player, with no intro, and watching the amazement sparkle - in the eyes of people 30 years my junior - is a connective and wondrous testament to the power of the 'true' that remains forever alive in all timeless music.
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Format: Audio CD
This is one of the greatest (and most under-appreciated) masterpieces of 1968. An eclectic mix of pop/folk/blues/nightclub/humor featuring the sophisticated, innovative production and songwriting talents of Stu Scharf and Bob Dorough, whose arrangements polish the presentation of the Gang's complex vocal harmonies.
Critically deemed, "not earthy enough for '68 hipster values," and quickly lost to the LP cut-out bins, this re-master from VIVID SOUND is a crystalline reproduction of the original that literally scintillates with stunning digital clarity. There is virtually NO evidence of tape hiss! (How did those guys do it in analog '68? Why no one snapped 'em up for their production values when S&OG disbanded remains a mystery to this day.)
This is the S&OG CD to savor! Better than either "Greatest Hits" collection, they blend natural ambient sounds, electronic sonics, and pseudo-"archival" spoken work between the tracks that flow together as no release has done since.
Very much worth the wait for the import to arrive. If you have ever enjoyed lush harmonies over thoughtful and often amusing lyrics in an entirely satifying musical "stew," BUY THIS DISC. You won't be disappointed!
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Format: Audio CD
Spanky and Our Gang is another of those groups (like Pages, or The Sons of Champlin) that had a brief moment in the sun, then vanished for reasons that defy reason. They never approached the commercial success of the Mamas and the Papas, with whom they were often compared, even though they were far, far better (for one thing, they could sing in tune!)"Without Rhyme or Reason" was their high water mark: high production values, pieces carefully integrated into a seamless whole, interesting song selection (including Hoagy Carmichael's hilarious "Hong Kong Blues"). This recording is a period piece to savor, and it is so EARNEST ... like the era from which it came. One has the feeling that everyone involved with this felt they were creating something important. And they were.
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Format: Vinyl
WITHOUT RHYME OR REASON/ANYTHING YOU CHOOSE is easily one of the most unusual record albums of all time, musically and artistically.

The psychedelic design of this 1969 classic was really quite remarkable. The record, which is protected by a brightly colored sleeve, is removed from the LP's top, rather than the side. One face of the cover was called WITHOUT RHYME OR REASON while the other was ANYTHING YOU CHOOSE. The outer jacket didn't have a traditional front or back-- it was more like a giant-sized 45.

This finest of Spanky & Our Gang albums has a diverse mix of songs, from traditional blues (Spanky as Bessie Smith) to hallucinogenic-- the segues are particularly astonishing. One example would be the highly-pitched vocal on "Jane," which metamorphoses into a nightmarish air raid siren that seamlessly transitions into "Since You've Gone." Hoagy Carmichael's "Hong Kong Blues" gets an upbeat treatment here. The socially conscious "Give A Damn" received some Top 40 exposure, but was banned in some cities for being too controversial. "Yesterday's Rain" is an overlooked masterpiece, and should have been a single.

With it's various sound effects, clever outro links and abrupt stylistic changes, WITHOUT RHYME OR REASON/ANYTHING YOU CHOOSE leaves a carnivalistic impression on the listener. It's an experience not to be missed. Highest recommendation.
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Format: Audio CD
Just on a whim, I decided to check one more time to see if this, one of my all time favorite albums, was finally on CD. Lo and behold, there it was! Quite pricey, but worth every penny. I strongly believe Spanky & Our Gang is one of the most under-appreciated groups of the 60s and yet one of the most talented, and this album features them at their very best. It's an eclectic collection of songs: rock, pop, blues, and some that defy categorization, all utilizing the best that stereo separation has to offer. There's a seamless transition from one song to the next that gives this a concept album feel. And best of all, the harmonies...ah, those harmonies! Some of the best you'll hear anywhere. This was a hugely talented group of musicians. No true 60s pop collection is complete without this album. If you've never heard it, you've never really fully experienced Spanky & Our Gang. In fact, I'd bet many who don't normally like them would still enjoy this masterpiece.
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