San Diego's the Hard Times were a solid garage folk-rock outfit led by two gifted songwriters, Rudy Romero and Bill Richardson, but the band unfortunately never seemed to establish its own identity, drifting between folk-rock, sunshine pop, and a light psychedelia during its short history, breaking up almost immediately after releasing one album, 1967's Blew Mind, which is included here in its entirety along with a handful of non-album 45 releases, making this essentially the group's complete recorded output. There's a lot to like, certainly, from lovely covers of Bob Lind's "Come to Your Window" and Al Kooper's "Sad Sad Sunshine" (which is presented in both the album and single versions) to the spooky, atmospheric "Blew Mind," a Richardson original, and Romero's "Give to Me Your Love" (which was actually recorded under the group name New Phoenix and was produced by Mama Cass Elliot). There's also a lot to scratch one's head about, as well, like the odd, overly baroque version of "Candy Man" which opens this collection, a production approach that is also repeated on Hard Times' ill-advised cover of Donovan's "Colours." One can't help but wonder what might have happened if Romero and Richardson had been allowed to develop the band further on a second album, but that was not to be. When all is said and done, the Hard Times remain an intriguing footnote in the era between mid-'60s folk-rock and the emerging flower power scene of 1967 and 1968.(allmusic.com)
Formed in San Diego but based in Los Angeles for much of their brief career, the Hard Times were a second-division, mid-'60s Southern Californian rock band that played folk-rock, sunshine pop, soft rock, and early psychedelia on their sole LP and a handful of 45s without developing a consistent or original sound. There were plenty of bands like that, of course, and perhaps the blanket assessment of the previous sentence is a tad harsh. The Hard Times were among the better such back-of-the-pack trailers, writing much of their material, and doing some decent tracks, particularly on their earliest and rawest singles. Their sole album, 1967's Blew Mind, was so all-over-the-map in its approach, with frequent visits to soft rock territory that skirted easy listening, that one suspects that their sound was deliberately or inadvertently pushed toward an inappropriately mild direction in the studio.
The Hard Times formed around 1965 in San Diego, and got work on L.A.'s Sunset Strip after hooking up with Los Angeles manager Florence Stanley. For a while they were the house band at the Whisky a Go Go, where they played on bills with plenty of acts that became far bigger than they did, such as the Doors, Love, and Buffalo Springfield. They also got a fair amount of exposure on the ABC pop music TV program Where the Action Is, and a deal with World Pacific Records, then making a small splash in folk-rock with Bob Lind.
Their first pair of singles (both non-LP) in 1966, combining three original songs with a cover of Lind's "Come to Your Window," were, in fact, respectable if derivative -- slightly raw, even -- folk-rock, heavily influenced by the Byrds and to a lesser extent by the Beau Brummels. Not much of that sensibility survived onto their 1967 Blew Mind album, however, perhaps in part because studio musicians were often used for those sessions. Their only entry into the charts was with their '66 single "Fortune Teller," which halted at a mere number 97, and wasn't by any stretch one of the better rock covers of that Benny Spellman, New Orleans rock & roll classic, whether compared to the Rolling Stones' version or those by other bands.
The Hard Times broke up in late 1967, with guitarists Bill Richardson and Larry Byrom helping to form T.I.M.E., who did a couple of albums on Liberty. Drummer Paul Whitebread joined Gary Puckett & the Union Gap and, later, Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids; Lee Kiefer became a recording engineer; and Rudy Romero did a solo album in 1972. The Blew Mind album was reissued on CD by Rev-Ola in 2003 with bonus tracks, including all of their non-LP singles and a decent 1967 folk-rock-psych single by New Phoenix, "Give to Me Your Love," on which at least some of the Hard Times played.(allmusic.com)
A lot of real fine songs here. In my opinion underrated. Give it a try!!!
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