Closing the Frut Loop

I mentioned these guys before and yes this is next year’s spring clean-up and I fond and played both vinyl.

Several points.

First I have to do my old–brain sketch of the state “oldies/teenage rock ‘n’ roll” in the late ’60s/early ’70s before American Graffiti turned the timeline around forever.

I’ve hated Sha Na Na from day one because they “honored” pre-Beatles rock and doo-wop by turning it all into a campy joke — which is another way of calling it “junk” like the stuffy Establishment. There were better offerings out there — a Montana State U performance by Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids was a scorcher and did more to inflame my curiosity about early rock and than anything I’d heard on the freakin’ radio.

But it was still — you know — kinda like Grease before Grease. Flattop and funny outfits and something stuck back in time more or less.

Any slice you take — rock and doo-wop before 1964 was a highly eccentric choice of repertoire in the late ’60 for a young rock and roll outfit.

Frut were motor-oil hippies who played a lot of oldies as though the tunes were utterly a part of a rock and roll continuum and that should be celebrated. And they had exquisite taste in oldies: “Bristol Stomp,” “Donna,” “Come Go With Me,” “Buzz Buzz-A-Diddle It,” “Ruby Baby,” “You Can’t Sit Down,” “Sea of Love,” “Peggy Sue.”

That list suggests a teen-sigh bias, but the beats were harder with Frut and there wasn’t any hearts ‘n’ flowers so common in that era. Instead they were undeniably kinda … punky.

This is encapsulated by the cover of the 2nd and last Westbound LP:

FRUT

The is an ultimate victory for no-budget. You take a snapshot of the guys gettin tanked in some snork living room. But it conveys to the tracks in a good way.

Okay, three final negs:

The original tunes are mixed at best. For every “You Just Gotta Have What It Takes” (to rock and roll — which deserves a cover or two), there’s a “Take Your Clothes Off and I’ll Love You!” (Uh, guys, sexual negotiations were way past that phase even when that ditty was new. )

Westbound was notorious for bad sound on bad vinyl pressings and no more so than with Frut. My supercharged turntable reveals that the vocals were a lot stronger than I realized, but that does point to the one lapse on the otherwise superior Spoiled Rotten:

They cover “Save the Last Dance for Me.” You can challenge Freddy Cannon and even Dion, sure … but Ben E. King? Not so much.

 

2 thoughts on “Closing the Frut Loop

  1. Excuse me if this comment shows up twice: WordPress always tells me there’s something wrong with my password AFTER I hit ‘post comment’.
    I picked up a bargain-bin copy of “Spoiled Rotten” around 1975. I was intrigued by the fact that that Funkadelic mainstay Garry Shider had co-write credits on two songs, “Gimme What You Got” and “You Just Gotta Have What it Takes”. Seven or eight years ago, I got some insight into what that (probably) was about from one of the authors of “George Clinton and PFunk: The Oral History” , one of the ‘For the Record’ series of books. The story was that Shider was a legal resident of Canada at the time (though not a citizen) as a result of his first marriage. Legal Residency was,at that time anyway, a criteria for Canadian Content radio airplay. Consequently, Shider’s name was added as a songwriter to several songs issued by Westbound Records artists in an attempt to gain favorable consideration for airplay by stations needing to adhere to Canadian Content requirements. I imagine the primary station targeted was Windsor/Detroit powerhouse CKLW , which was capable of being heard at times by, I believe, over a third of the continental U.S., and therefore actually ‘broke’ national hits from time to time. I use the ‘probably’ above as a qualifier because some PFunk members did work with other Westbound artists (Calvin Simon producing Catfish Hodge’s “Boogie Man” lp, another album with Shider co-writes, as an example) but this was actually a rare occurrence. I also doubt that it’s strictly coincidence that several of the Shider co-written songs by various artists just happened to be ones chosen to be released as singles. I hope others find this kind of music biz stuff as interesting as I do.
    BTW I really appreciate your observation about Frut versions of these songs being played ‘ as though they were part of a rock and roll continuum’; that’s a vital difference between their approach and other bands that focused as much or more on some idealized superficial 50’s dress code as they did on the music.

  2. Oh, I appreciate the research — I did not grok any of that. (Though it was “duh” of me to overlook the Shider connection all these years.) Album credits are often like a secret code I’m tickled to have people crack open.

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