Forum

The River Is Wide

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Forum's only album -- 1967's The River Is Wide -- is notable for its connection to exotica guru Les Baxter, who produced, arranged, and composed four tracks. Baxter also contributed liner sleeve notes for this highly collectible LP, which describes how he witnessed a folk performance on-stage in a Pasadena, CA, club by the leader of the trio, Phil Campos. Campos soon became a student of Baxter's and also became one of Les Baxter's Balladeers, appearing on that folk group's self-titled Reprise album in 1961. He also appeared, as a solo folky, on a number of "Hootenanny" albums, including The Big Hootenanny: Live Recordings at the Troubadour, the Ice House and the Ash Grove (In Records, 1963), Hootenanny at the Troubador (Horizon, 1963), and Let's Have a Hootenanny, (Crown, 1963). Within a few years, Campos had formed his own group -- joining him were vocalists Rene Nole and Riselle Bain -- whose arrangements incorporated the "now" sounds of the day, including pseudo-jazzy orchestrated arrangements, discotheque go-go drums, and blended soft pop harmonies. In 1966, Forum began recording for the Mira label, a subsidiary of Pat Boone's Penthouse Productions company and home to the L.A. folk-rock band the Leaves -- their "Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go?" was a Top 40 hit that year, around the same time that "The River Is Wide" began climbing the U.S. singles charts, becoming a minor hit though its impact was felt mostly in the L.A. area. A full-length album was released in May 1967. "The River Is Wide" was later recorded by the Grass Roots for their 1969 Lovin' Things album, and it was also recorded by the Righteous Brothers, as well as appearing on numerous compilations, including Super Oldies of the 60's, Vol. 7 (Audio Fidelity).

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