Sweetwater were a middling L.A. based 60’s pop group that never hit the big time, but came up with enough decent California psychedelia to merit opening spots for the Doors and the Animals and, as we can see from the above photo, performances on teevee.
To be fair, Sweetwater never had a real chance at moving beyond the incense and peppermint scented late 60’s scene. Despite a plum spot at Woodstock in 1969, a car accident later that year caused lead singer Nancy Nevins to suffer brain damage and injury to her vocal chords, effectively putting the band out of commission. VH1 made a low-rent television film about Sweetwater in 1999 starring the Pink Ranger as the young Nevins.
To call Sweetwater a rock band would be a half truth. Though the genesis of their sound can be traced back to the L.A. folk-rock scene presided over by the Byrds and Love, Sweetwater differed from those groups by using classical and jazz instruments in place of electric guitars. Many bands who were recording at the same time employed violins, cellos, harpsichords and flutes as flavoring for their songs, but Sweetwater brought them to the forefront. This is both good and bad. The initial effect must have been positive as it gave Sweetwater an identity distinct from other groups who were creating similar music. In the long run, however, the over-reliance on jazzy flute solos and harpsichord arpeggios dated Sweetwater’s music to the point of obscurity much more quickly than it would have had the band used traditional rock instruments.
All that aside, I quite like In a Rainbow. It’s earnest and whimsical in that way of records made between the Summer of Love and December 1969. It lacks completely the creeping cynicism that bled into popular culture after Altamont & Manson. How could anyone take seriously loopy lyrics about “noises to see & colors that sound, voices from nowhere & yet so profound” when people were being murdered in their beds? Answer: they couldn’t then and neither would I now, except that the baroque-pop arrangement and psychedelic chord changes of In a Rainbow, coupled with Nevin’s clear voice and wide-eyed delight with the world around her, keep me tethered to some pocket of time and space where it’s 1968 forever.
Not a bad place to spend 2 minutes of your day, all things being equal.
[Russ] Meyer opened up by informing Johnny Rotten that with his stovepipe arms he wouldn’t have survived one day in the army.
"What do I want with the fucking army?" Rotten said.
"You listen to me, you little shit. We won the Battle of Britain for you!"
I reflected that America had not been involved in the Battle of Britain, and that John Lydon (his real name) was Irish, and therefore from a non-participant nation. I kept these details to myself.
After dinner, we drove Johnny in a cab to where he lived, in an anonymous street in Notting Hill. “Fucking McLaren,” he said. “That was the first decent meal I’ve had in a month.” Meyer gave him five pounds and we waited outside a convenience store for him to buy lager and canned pork and beans. “Fucking great,” Johnny said.
An excerpt from one of the finest American short stories ever written:
There were two more pistol reports and the grandmother raised her head like a parched old turkey hen crying for water and called, “Bailey Boy, Bailey Boy!” as if her heart would break.
"Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead," The Misfit continued, "and He shouldn’t have done it. He shown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness," he said and his voice had become almost a snarl.
"Maybe He didn’t raise the dead," the old lady mumbled, not knowing what she was saying and feeling so dizzy that she sank down in the ditch with her legs twisted under her.