The Morning Dew

No More 1966-1969

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The Morning Dew's body of work provides a compelling object lesson in how far into the ether the average American rock dude would drift over the course of the 1960s. Early in that fabled decade, lead guitarist Mal Robinson and drummer Don Sligar played together in a Ventures-influenced instrumental combo called the Impax and a pair of blue-eyed R&B acts, the Runaways and the Durations. Robinson and Sligar then joined forces with bassist Don Shufford to form a folk-rock band, the Toads, which in 1966 would evolve into the Morning Dew with the addition of guitarist Don Anderson. The Morning Dew started out as a swaggering garage rock outfit before embracing the fuzzy sounds and sonic wanderlust of psychedelia late in the decade. They cut an album for Roulette that was released in 1970, not long before the band called it quits, but No More 1966-1969 collects several small label singles and demo sessions the band recorded in the years before that album, and while most of the stuff here is strong if not exactly mind-bending rock & roll from the Middle of America, the group's creative progress is inarguably fascinating. The opening cuts, "No More" and "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone" (modeled after Paul Revere and the Raiders, not the Monkees) are classic sneering garage rock, and Robinson's vocals and lead work are a cut above the average, but by the time they recorded "Winter Dreams" (complete with an autoharp) and "Sycamore Dreamer" (a slick number with flute, violin, and wah-wah guitar adding to the trippiness), they might not have been dropping acid but they were listening to enough bands who did to pick up the influences, and they carried them off pretty well. By the time this disc has come to a close, the Morning Dew have transformed themselves into Topeka's answer to the Strawberry Alarm Clock, and on "Lady Soul," "Money Honey Blues," "Rainbow Women," and a cover of the Youngbloods' "Get Together" that drips with panning, they sounded as expert as their big-city compatriots and hip enough to pass for actual hippies in dim light. For fans of vintage garage and psychedelic rock, No More 1966-1969 is a solid collection that captures a lesser-known band in fine form, while for sociologists, the Morning Dew provide an absorbing case study in the freaking out of Young America. Either way, it's well worth a listen.

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