Classic Singles #74: The Boston Tea Party – Spinach / Words (1967)

BTP_labelThe Boston Tea Party were from Burbank, California and released several singles and an album. As far as I can tell, ‘Spinach / Words’ was their debut 45, originally issued on the small Los Angeles-based Big Boss Records and then picked up by the national Challenge label in July 1967. ‘Spinach’ was initially the a-side, with ‘Words’ being promoted to the plug side for the Challenge release.

‘Spinach’ is short and to the point pop psychedelia which is carried along by infectious drumming and nifty bass and keyboards, and has lyrics very much of the moment including the inspired couplet “one day I walked inside a big cartoon, I turned into a helium balloon”.

‘Words’ was written by famed songwriting duo Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart for The Leaves and appears in a slower, more garage version on their June 1966 debut album. It was then covered with a bit more edge by Bakersfield, California’s The Regents on a 45 for the Penthouse label from July of the same year, and finally appeared on the flip of The Monkees’ hit single ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ (Colgems, July 1967). The Boston Tea Party’s take on the song has a moody verse with very effective vocals that morphs into an ultra-commercial chorus, and there is a neat little keyboard break.

‘Spinach’

‘Words’

BTP_albumThe band’s 1968 album on Flick Disc seems to divide opinion, but if you like fun, well-constructed psych pop I think you would enjoy it. The highlight for me is the more overtly psychedelic ‘We Have Already Died’. Neither ‘Spinach’ nor ‘Words’ are included, nor the songs on the Vogue International 45 (‘My Daze’ by the way is a neat psycher with heavier guitar), but both sides of the Flick Disc 45 are included.

For the completist, the group also have a couple of tracks on the soundtrack for the 1969 exploitation movie Cycle Savages, starring Bruce Dern as the leader of a vicious biker gang, including the otherwise unavailable ‘Chained To Your Heart’, a soulful little number. ‘We Have Already Died’ is also present but for some reason credited to another group, The Orphan Egg.

Drummer Dave Novogroski later joined Edge  – their 1969 debut single on Erith ‘Seen Through The Eyes’ is neat baroque pop. Guitarist Mike Stevens was with Atlee for their 1970 Flying Ahead album on ABC and later with Highway Robbery, whose 1972 LP For Love or Money on RCA Victor is vintage hard rock.

Reissues: Find both sides on I Turned Into A Helium Balloon or Allergic To Flowers.

Discography
  • Spinach / Words (Big Boss / Challenge, 1967)
  • Free Service / I’m Telling You (Flick Disc, 1968)
  • My Daze / Rose in the Night (Vogue International, 1968)

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