Tongue and Groove were something of an offshoot of the legendary but little-recorded, early San Francisco hippie group the Charlatans. Singer Lynne Hughes had occasionally sung with the Charlatans on-stage in the mid-'60s (although she was never an official member), and even appears on vocals and guitar on a few cuts they recorded for Kama Sutra in 1966 (eventually seeing release on the CD compilation The Amazing Charlatans). Pianist Mike Ferguson, who occasionally sang lead with Tongue and Groove as well, was a bona fide original Charlatan, although he left by the time their one proper '60s album was issued. Richard Olsen, another Charlatan, played bass on Tongue and Groove's one LP; Hughes and Ferguson wrote much of the material, and yet another ex-Charlatan, Dan Hicks, contributed one composition as well. Tongue and Groove's self-titled album, released in the late '60s on Fontana, was produced by Abe "Voco" Kesh, who also worked with several other second-tier '60s Bay Area acts, such as Blue Cheer and Harvey Mandel; top session musicians James Burton (on dobro) and Earl Palmer (on drums) also contributed to the recording. As could be expected given their ancestry, the record had much in common with the Charlatans' fusion of old-timey saloon music, vaudevillian blues, and rock. The key differences were that a woman (Hughes) took most of the lead vocals, and that the lysergic tinge of much of the Charlatans' material was virtually absent. The numbers featuring Hughes' saucy vibrato vocals, which mine the territory between Janis Joplin and Mae West, are certainly the highlights of the album, a fitfully engaging footnote to late-'60s San Francisco rock.
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