The Friends of Distinction

Grazing in the Grass

Composed by Harry Elston / Hugh Masekela / Philemon Hou

Song Review by

A Top Five hit in the summer of 1969 and the biggest bubblegum soul/sunshine pop hit this side of the Fifth Dimension, the Friends of Distinction's vocal version of Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in the Grass" (itself a huge hit less than a year before) is one of the defining singles of its era. The arrangement, by Ray Cork Jr., speeds up Masekela's original considerably, and loses the earthy South African groove in favor of Las Vegas glitz, heavy on the gloppy orchestral swells and faux climaxes. That doesn't matter, however, since the song's focal point has been shifted over to the remarkable interplay of the four singers, Harry Elston, Floyd Butler, Jessica Cleaves, and Barbara Jean Love. Memory does not accurately render just how gosh-darn fast these four are really singing, especially during the truly astonishing "I can dig it, she can dig it" bridge. After decades of familiarity, groups like the Ramones no longer sound like the fastest rock & roll ever made; perhaps it's because they're largely relegated to the shadows of history, except for occasional oldies radio play, but the Friends of Distinction sound every bit as remarkable today as they did in 1969.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Golden Classics 1989 Collectables 2:58
Nipper's Greatest Hits: The 60's, Vol. 1 [1990] 1990
Various Artists
RCA 2:53
Sullivan Years: The Mod Sound 1990
Various Artists
TVT
Soul Hits of the 70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind!, Vol. 1 1991
Various Artists
Rhino 2:58
Rock & Roll Years: 1969 1993
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:52
The Sensational 60's, Vol. 2 [Dominion] 1993
Various Artists
Dominion 2:25
Soul Hits of the 70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind! Vols. 1-5 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 2:58
The Best of the Friends of Distinction 1996 RCA 2:58
20th Century Rocks, Vol. 8: '60s Pop - Those Were the Days 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:54
Happy Days 1960's 1997
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:57
Sunshine Days, Vol. 2: 60's Pop Classics 1997
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande / Varese 2:56
Rock n' Roll Reunion: Class of 69 1997
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:52
Soul Brothers & Sisters of the 60's 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:57
Rockin' Jukebox, 1969 1997
Various Artists
Excelsior Recordings 2:52
The Number Ones: The 60's 1998
Various Artists
Simitar Distribution 2:58
100 Jukebox Hits: 50's & 60's 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:55
Nipper's Greatest Hits: The 60's, Vol. 1 [1999] 1999
Various Artists
RCA 2:57
Grazin'/Highly Distinct 2000 Rev-Ola Records 2:55
Rock N' Roll Reunion: 1960 to 1969 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution 2:54
Groovy 60's 2001
Various Artists
Medalist Entertainment 2:57
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Dominion Entertainment 2:51
Can You Dig It? The '70s Soul Experience 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:56
Selections from Can You Dig It?: The '70's Soul Experience 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:57
Jukebox Hits 1969 [Madacy] 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:55
Top Hits of the Sixties: Coolest Hits 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:55
WSNI: FM's Sunny's Summer Hits 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:55
Sixties Classics [BMG] 2004
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 2:55
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy 2004
Original Soundtrack
Republic 3:21
Juke Box Hits 1969 2005
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution 2:55
Summer Fun, Vol. 1 2005
Various Artists
Collectables 2:55
Going in Circles 2005 BMG Special Products 2:58
In the Summertime [Crimson] 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:55
Hit Radio Flashback, Vol. 2 2005
Various Artists
United Audio Entertainment 2:55
Summertime Hits [Disky] 2005
Various Artists
BMG / BMG Special Products / Sony Music Distribution 2:54
The Sixties: Harmony 2006
Various Artists
American Beat Records 2:56
The Ant Bully: Music Inspired by the Motion Picture 2006
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Bulletproof 2:58
Havin' a 60's Party 2007
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution / Custom Marketing Group 2:54
Greatest Soul Groups 2007
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:54
100 Hits: Soul 2007
Various Artists
100 Hits 2:55
Top Hits of the 60s: Coolest Hits 2007
Various Artists
Collectables 2:55
60's Soul [Col] 2008
Various Artists
Camden / Col / Sony BMG 2:55
Chartbusters USA: Sunshine Pop 2009
Various Artists
Ace 2:55
Pure... Soul 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:55
Soul: Only Sixteen 2012
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing 2:54
The Party Mix: Classic Soul 2013
Various Artists
Crimson 2:58
100 Hits: Soul [2015]
Various Artists
100 Hits
300 Hits: Soul
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing 2:54
No Image
Various Artists
RCA 2:58
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:51
No Image
Various Artists
Audio Fidelity 3:00
No Image
Various Artists
Legacy
blue highlight denotes editor's pick