Sunday, September 25, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/25/2016 Update

Usually a hit is the best thing that can happen for a band, except when it's not.

Today, we return to the 1967 edition of Nancy's Favorites and take a listen to one case of the latter.

Different Drum was the only top-twenty hit for the Linda Ronstadt-fronted folk-rock act The Stone Poneys before unrelenting record label pressure to repackage Ronstadt as a solo artist tore the group apart, even though Ronstadt's ties with guitarist and principal songwriter Bob Kimmel went deep.

Six years Ronstadt's senior, Kimmel had been performing with Linda intermittently since he discovered her as an Arizona high school freshman in 1960 singing with her brother and sister at local Tuscon haunts. The two maintained a correspondence whenever Kimmel returned to Los Angeles, and by 1964, he had convinced her to come to LA and form a proper band. The two teamed up with Kimmel's occasional songwriter partner Kenny Edwards, and the Stone Poneys were soon regulars on the LA club scene.

But right from the start, label interest was exclusively on Rondstadt.

The group held out, and eventually signed with the newly formed FolkWorld arm of Capital Records, the one label that would allow them to stay intact, but the pressures to put Ronstadt front and center continued. Originally a Peter, Paul, & Mary-styled outfit that shared tight group vocals and worked almost exclusively from high-quality Kimmel/Edwards compositions, the inclusion of Different Drum (written by Monkee Mike Nesmith and recorded with just Ronstadt and session musicians instead of Kimmel/Edwards) on their more rocking sophomore LP Evergreen, Vol. 2 was basically the group's death knell, though they would manage to release one more record before officially disbanding in 1968.

Ronstadt, obviously, went on to have a significant solo career...just as label execs had predicted.

Here's a very different sounding live performance of the song from 1967.

No comments: