Classic Singles #53: The Lemon Drops – I Live in the Springtime / Listen Girl (1967)

Lemondrops_labelThe Lemon Drops were students at McHenry High School in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Reggie Weiss, brother to guitarist Eddie and drummer Gary, co-owned a successful recording studio near Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and had started his own label, Rembrandt Records (which also put out singles by the likes of The Nuchez’s and The Nite-Owls). He signed the band after hearing them rehearse in early 1967, and he also wrote the a-side of their single, inspired by the Windy City’s winter weather, which the band recorded at the local RCA Studios.

‘I Live in the Springtime’ is at its heart a jangly folk-rocker that is lifted to a whole new level by the devastating fuzz guitar work, not least on the rabid and almost atonal break and the rave-up finish.

‘I Live in the Springtime’

‘Listen Girl’ ditches the fuzz guitar and hence is a straightforward, plaintive folk ballad.

‘Listen Girl’

The initial run of the single, issued in May 1967, had to be rejected as the drum track was omitted during mastering. The corrected repress still failed to chart but it did gain the band notoriety at their high school, being played over the intercom at lunch and finding a place on the school jukebox!

Lemondrops_bandThe Lemon Drops recorded a Viet Nam protest song ‘It Happens Every Day’ for the follow-up 45 but this never saw the light of day. After this they adopted a more psychedelic sound and recorded prolifically. This included an album’s worth of material at the Weiss home and a $1,200 session at RCA Studios that neither the band nor Reggie could afford to pay for. The group split in 1968 but a subsequent offer from Buena Vista Records to promote them was enough to prompt them to re-form, though the sudden death of the label’s owner ended Buena Vista’s interest. There were no further releases while The Lemon Drops were together and they eventually broke up for good in the summer of 1969.

Eddie and Gary Weiss later went on to form Buzzsaw and the a-side of their 1972 single, released after they had broken up, is simply a stereo mix of the ‘I Live In The Springtime’ recorded by The Lemon Drops back in 1967.

Reissues: Cicadelic has issued a definitive 2-CD set called Sunshower Flower Power with the single and masses of unreleased material. You can also find both sides of the 45 on their Open Up Your Mind: The Psych Pop World of Rembrandt Records.

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