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Music Review: The Association – Greatest Hits

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My feet are up, I’m on the coast listening to the Pacific Ocean splash against the rocks, the grandchildren are in bed, the sounds of The Association are softly wafting out of my stereo system, and life is good.

The Association was the innocent side of the mid-to-late 1960s, a side that only existed in the mind and on vinyl, as the decade progressed and the Vietnam War heated up. They created some of the more memorable soft rock songs of the era, including “Cherish,” which continues to receive consistent radio airplay down to the present day. Their albums actually contained quite a bit of material that veered from this formula, but their hits and best known songs hemmed them in.  Their ability to evolve musically was limited, which in the ever changing music world of the late 1960s and early 1970s would eventually signal an end to their commercial success and popularity.

Jules Alexander and Terry Kirkman met in Hawaii during 1962. By 1966 Russ Giguere, Brian Cole, Jim Yester, and Ted Bluechel Jr. had joined the band, completing the original line-up. After a couple of unsuccessful singles, they grabbed the brass ring during 1966 when “Along Comes Mary” and “Cherish” propelled them to stardom. Alexander left for a couple of years and was replaced by Larry Ramos. When Alexander returned, they became a seven man band. Ramos became an important ingredient to their sound and provided some of the lead vocals for such hits as “Windy” and “Never My Love.” Giguere, Yester, and Ramos, with additional musicians, continue to tour as The Association as of 2011.

Their Greatest Hits, released during 1968, was their highest charting (#4) and most successful (2,000,000 copies sold) album. Two of their studio albums, And Then ….Along Comes The Association and Insight Out also reached the American top ten.

No matter what success their albums may have achieved, they will always be remembered for their string of singles. Greatest Hits gathers these singles, plus a few other tracks in support, to form a soft rock and pop album that has withstood the test of time surprisingly well.

Their memorable ballads, “Cherish,” “No Fair At All,” and “Never My Love” plus their mid tempo pop masterpieces “Windy,” “Time For Livin,’”and “Everything That Touches You” are all present. Every so often The Association proved they could rock out a bit. “Six Man Band” has some excellent guitar work, while “Along Comes Mary” and especially the brilliant “Enter The Young” are melodic up-tempo rock. Also included was the experimental piece, “Requiem For The Masses.” They should have found a way to add “Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies” and their soundtrack song, “Goodbye Columbus,” which would have made the album more representative of their overall sound.

The Association produced some of the more memorable pop of the late 1960s. A number of their songs have been instantly recognizable to several generations now. When taken together they form a pleasant listening experience.

And so the waves keep on rolling in and The Association CD has come to an end. Now where’s that Gary Puckett & The Union Gap CD?

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