Wednesday, March 4, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Hassles" (1968)

"The Hassles" (front)

I picked this album up for two reasons.  I had read that the album does have its share of psych moments scattered around and wanted to hear the band's take.  But to be perfectly honest, like a lot of you, I was more interested in the Billy Joel factor.  Catching a piece of the “piano man” before his gi-normous rise to fame.  Joel has distanced himself from this album, but The Hassles debut is not too bad for what it is.

"The Hassles" (back)

Joel sings sometimes, but he's not the main singer.  And his keyboard playing throws out a familiar psych-groove vibe, not unlike Vanilla Fudge, but not as sludgy.  And the rest of The Hassles bring a garagey soulful energy that sounds much like the music scene at the time.  Nothing amazing.  But certainly nothing embarrassing.  And I liked a lot of it.  There are several, mostly average, covers with a few originals thrown in.  “I Hear Voices” and Traffic's...”Colored Rain” are given psychedelic treatment and are really good.  And they out Vanilla Fudge on the surprising “A Taste Of Honey.”  This one has become a grower.  Finally, the Billy Joel penned...”Every Move You Make” is simply an outstanding pop-rock song.  It is here that we witness the sparks of much better things to come.  The song could've been re-recorded and slipped onto his “An Innocent Man” album without much of a hiccup.  The Hassles were not a stand-out band, but not sloughs either.  They were just...average and I'll leave it at that.  Anyway, it's a fun one to own.  A conversation starter at the very least.  If you can find a copy cheap, pick it up.

"The Hassles" (inside gatefold)

United Artists Records label

"The Hassles" (sleeve)

"I Hear Voices" - The Hassles / "The Hassles" (1968)

A1  "Warming Up" 1:39
A2  "Just Holding On" 2:04
A3  "A Taste of Honey" 4:17
A4  "Every Step I Take (Every Move I Make)" 2:29
A5  "Coloured Rain" 3:23
B1  "I Hear Voices" 2:53
B2  "I Can Tell" 2:57
B3  "Giving Up" 5:16
B4  "Fever" 3:17
B5  "You've Got Me Hummin'" 2:25

John Dizek - vocals, tambourine, harmonica
Billy (Joe) Joel - vocals, keyboards
Richard McKenna - guitars
Howie Arthur Blauvelt - bass
Jon Small - drums

Good stuff.


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