The Hard Times

Blew Mind

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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.

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