It's Now Winters Day

Tommy Roe

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It's Now Winters Day Review

by Tim Sendra

Even though Tommy Roe was coming off two huge chart hits in 1966 (Top Tenners "Sweet Pea" and "Hooray for Hazel"), he felt the need to grow his hair and get with the changing times. Producer Curt Boettcher's work with the Association earned him a gig with Roe, and together they began working on changing the singer's good-time rock & roll image into something a bit groovier. Instead of junking Roe's basic tight and rocking sound on 1967's It's Now Winter's Day, the two made the wise decision to add massed vocal choirs (provided by Boettcher mainstays like Dotti Holmberg and Michele O'Malley as well as future Millennium members Sandy Salisbury and Lee Mallory) and semi-psychedelic effects on top and keep the rhythmic drive and soulful punch at the foundation. Strip songs like "Aggravation" or "Sing Along with Me" of their sonic frippery and you have classic Roe-styled bubblepop tunes. Roe helps keep the project grounded by holding the lyrical flights of fancy down to a minimum. Apart from the goofy outer space love song "Moontalk," Roe writes the same basic kind of lightweight love songs that made him popular. The album is a very successful blend of old and new, the arrangements are always interesting, and Roe never sounds out of place. The song that makes the album more than a quirky detour in Roe's career is the astounding "It's Now Winter's Day." Built on atmospheric minor chords as well as a lachrymose and seductive vocal from Roe, the tune is layered with atonal, reverbed tape effects, a shimmering vocal chorus, and so much icy warmth it sounds like Boettcher is channeling a frozen Phil Spector. The track sounds like nothing else on earth, so it's no surprise that it wasn't a hit at the time and resonated with lovers of left-field pop fans for years to come. It's also not surprising that after one more psych-pop album, 1967's Phantasy, Roe went back to his formula and cranked out a couple more hits before the decade turned, including the number one smash "Dizzy" and "Jam Up Jelly Tight."

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