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The Growing Concern

ASH 3020LP ASH 3020LP

On 180 gram vinyl. This self-titled album by The Growing Concern curiously first saw the light of day in 1969 on Bob Shad's Mainstream label, an imprint more familiar to jazz and blues fans than devotees of psych/pop. Shad, who had worked as an A&R man for Mercury, Savoy and Emarcy in the '50s, working with the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Blue Mitchell and Curtis Fuller, had the fortune to sign the then-unknown Big Brother And The Holding Company, whose contract, along with that of the band's vocalist Janis Joplin, Shad wisely sold for a not-insignificant sum to Columbia. Perhaps Shad thought he was going to repeat his commercial triumph with The Growing Concern. However, the band was a different proposition altogether with its emphasis on beautiful vocal harmonies and fantastic guitar and organ work rather than the Joplin-dominated R&B of Big Brother. Consequently, Shad only allowed the group into the studio on a single occasion, dropping them from the label after this, their eponymous debut. All in all, this is a fine album. The support of vocalists Bonnie MacDonald and Mary Garstki are an intrinsic part of the band's distinctive sound, and the songs contributed by organist Dan Passaglia, bassist John Pedley and guitarist Ralph Toms are more than equal to the offerings from more illustrious contemporaries such as Mike Hugg ("Mister You're A Better Man Than I") or Stephen Stills ("Sit Down I Think I Love You"). The album, which is brilliantly recorded, is of a consistently high musical quality and the band surely deserved a better fate than the obscurity that Shad's indifference consigned them to.