Having learned my lesson by reviewing a new release from a band that hadn’t released anything “new” in a while (America - Here and Now), I found myself volunteering to review three of the five albums by John Sebastian that are to be released in February as part of an effort by Collector’s Choice Music to “Welcome Back” his Reprise solo albums from the 1970s.
Reissuing these albums will allow those familiar with Sebastian’s work to have a chance listen to these albums once again in exceptional clarity as well as allow those unfamiliar with it, such as myself, to listen and discover what they’d previously missed out on.
Granted, I was only born in 1971, so it is more my parent’s fault then mine, right? Thought so.
Sebastian is best known for his role as leader of the Lovin’ Spoonful, his subsequent solo work, and especially for the use of one of his solo songs as the theme song for a very successful television program starring John Travolta - but, as I have subsequently come to learn by researching him, his American roots run deep.
Bonus Question 01: I wonder which successful television show it could possibly be that used one of his songs? Hmm.
The son of classical harmonica player John Sebastian, young John grew up in Greenwich Village and appeared as a sideman on records by the time he was 16. In 1964, he found himself a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band and The Mugwumps, which split to form the Lovin' Spoonful and the Mamas and Papas. Sebastian was joined by Zal Yanovsky, Steve Boone and popular drummer-vocalist Joseph Campbell Butler in the Spoonful, a band that was named after a Mississippi John Hurt song.
Bonus Question 02: What Mamas and Papas song had the following lyrical nod to this particular point in John’s life? “In a coffee-house Sebastian sat / and after every number, they passed the hat.” Hmm.
The Lovin' Spoonful, thanks in no small part to Sebastian’s ambition and talents, became part of the American music scene’s response to the British Invasion and was noted for such folk-flavored hits as "Jug Band Music," "Do You Believe in Magic," "Summer in the City," "Daydream," "Nashville Cats," "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind," "Six O’clock," and "Younger Girl."
Sadly, the band was mired in “Behind the Music”-esque personal issues, and eventually Sebastian decided to step out of the fold and make his way as a solo artist. He signed with Reprise, but the Spoonful’s label, Kama Sutra, believing they were owed one more album, released their own version of Sebastian’s solo debut, John B. Sebastian, made from second generation masters.