Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds

Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds

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Dan Hamilton, Joe Frank Carollo, and Tommy Reynolds went Top Five in 1971 under the guidance of Grass Roots co-producer Steve Barri and on the strength of the Dennis Lambert/Brian Potter hit "Don't Pull Your Love Out." Two minutes and 40 seconds of adult contemporary rock, a bit more of an edge than the Happenings could muster, but not as hip as the Mamas & the Papas. The lead vocalist on the song, Danny Hamilton, was around 25 years of age when this went Top Five, he was 19-ish when, as a member of the T-Bones, the group went Top Three with an Alka Seltzer jingle. This self-titled Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds album is sophisticated adult pop for such a young crew, with "Behold" and "Nora" having more than their share of Spanish influences and "What Can You Say" showing that Tom Reynolds can write country-pop à la what Kenny Rogers & the First Edition would initiate on their Transition album. Reynolds writes or co-writes five of the ten songs, a mantle Dan Hamilton took upon himself when Dennison replaced Tom Reynolds for the Fallin' in Love album. Joe Frank Carollo could fit perfectly on a Delaney Bramlett album with "Sweet Pain." Make no mistake that these twenty-something guys are pros, with all titles but the experimental "Nora" clocking in at under three minutes. Where "It Takes the Best" is fine adult contemporary, the album does have a turkey or two; "Don't Refuse My Love" is a rocker that doesn't work for Danny Hamilton and Joe Frank's duet. The Steve Barri-induced horns don't help matters either, but these were the days when ABC/Dunhill was into the hit single, thank you very much, and a fun little ditty like "Long Road" isn't Danny Hutton or Chuck Negron, nor is it Cory Wells. The band does come off like an easy listening Three Dog Night, and given the label's success with that group, what's wrong with attempting to merge the styles of the Grass Roots and Three Dog Night? That's the concept at play here, an image they would eradicate four years later with some exquisite tracks on the Fallin' in Love album released by Playboy Records. By that point, with one member change, the group was in total production control, but the sound they developed started on this self-titled debut. Having Larry Knechtel on keyboards and Venetta Fields, Maxine Willard, and Ginger Blake on the girls' background vocals (the stars did all their own backing vocals for the guy parts), and with Three Dog Night photographer Ed Caraeff in the mix, this album with the first hit is a more important record than it has been given credit for.

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