Jay & the Americans

Sands of Time/Wax Museum/Capture the Moment

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By the end of the '60s, no one was expecting any sounds of merit to come from the Jay & the Americans camp. Entering their tenure as a toned-down vocal group in 1962, they racked up a respectable number of doo wop-influenced, bubblegum-leaning hits, but their sound was old news by the mid-'60s, and a footnote at best by the time the Woodstock generation got into full swing. When Sands of Time arrived in 1969, it made the most of the loose, groovy production vibrations going around at the time while revisiting hits from earlier in the decade in a new peace, love, and flower power style. Early soul classic "This Magic Moment" was revamped into a freewheeling microbus romp, complete with a carefree horn section, lackadaisical guitar shimmers, and a somewhat blown-out-sounding rhythm section. The entire album sounds closer to Blood, Sweat & Tears than the Drifters, opting for a stoned and soulful approach to songs like "Since I Don't Have You" or beachy dream numbers like "Hushabye." The response was enough to afford Jay and crew a full-fledged comeback with over a million records sold, as well as a Top Ten hit in "This Magic Moment." The band followed the same approach on 1970's Wax Museum, with less notable successes. The album-opening cover of the Ronettes' "Walkin' in the Rain" was a minor hit, switching out girl group perfection for hazy crooning and ambling basslines. Also included on this three-album double-disc collection is Capture the Moment, also released in 1970. This especially relaxed collection of folk-rock breeziness failed to turned heads, but singles like the title track and the confusing pseudo-protest song "Tricia (Tell Your Daddy)" are still prime examples of lost gems of the era. String and horn arrangements for a few of the songs on Capture the Moment are credited to two young players named Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who after doing a stint backing up Jay & the Americans would strike out on their own with Steely Dan, using some of the same groovy techniques they honed while woodshedding on this album.

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