The Toads from Topeka, Kansas were a three-piece that formed in 1965 playing folk-rock material, mainly covers of leading lights such as The Byrds, Bob Dylan and The Lovin’ Spoonful. With the addition of a second guitarist Don Anderson, and a move to a more British Invasion / garage sound, they felt that a change of name was in order. Three of the band had the first name Don and their singer / guitarist was Mal Robinson, so they wanted a moniker with the initials M and D. They had heard the Tim Rose version of the song ‘Morning Dew’ and liked the title, so they became The Morning Dew in June 1966.
Thanks to their local booking agent Larry Knouft, the band’s debut single was recorded at Fairyland Recording Studio in Columbia, Missouri (about 180 miles from Topeka), which also had its own publishing company and record label. 1,000 copies were issued on Fairyland Records in May 1967 and distributed by the band at record stores. The 45 was a local hit and another 1,000 copies were pressed.
‘No More’ is propelled along by a brilliant guitar chord riff, and the ebullient verse contrasts well with the more moody chorus. The neat fuzz guitar break is preceded by one of the all-time great garage screams from singer Mal! I’m not so sure about the la-la-la’s towards the end of the number but overall this is a fine up-tempo belter.
‘Look at Me Now’ is more of a folk-rocker and your response to it might well be determined by how much you like the distinctive style of the vocals. There’s another very effective fuzz guitar solo and the chorus has a somewhat plaintive quality, though that isn’t accompanied by any let up in the band’s energetic delivery of the song.
‘Look at Me Now’
Unfortunately, the group’s follow-up single ‘Go Away / Be A Friend’ released in September 1967 wasn’t able to match the debut’s success, though it was another very creditable garage offering. The singles did boost the group’s popularity leading to more gigs and opening slots for bigger bands, as well as a residency at Ron’s Townhouse at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. In the Summer of 1968 the band recorded a whole raft of new material to try to attract major label interest and eventually Roulette Records took notice with a “verbal” agreement in January 1969, though contracts weren’t signed until July 1969, once a couple more songs were recorded and the label had seen the group play live.
The Morning Dew’s album was recorded in August 1969 at Bob Gallo Studios on 42nd Street in New York, though unbeknownst to the band Roulette was struggling with financial and legal difficulties and the album didn’t see the light of day until September 1970 and didn’t receive the promotion it deserved. The garage sound of the singles was long gone by this point and the record has a laid-back West Coast vibe for much of its duration – the stand out for me is probably the heavy fuzz-rocker ‘Cherry Street’ but this is an album I’ve always rated and in my opinion is essential for any psychedelia collection! A projected second album was begun but never completed and the band soldiered on until May 1971 before breaking up.
Reissues: Both sides are on Garage Band Legends Volume 3 and the a-side is also on Garage Beat ’66 Volume 5. In addition, there are several retrospectives that include the single sides and early material, the most recent of which are Early Years on Break-a-Way and No More 1966-1969 on Cicadelic. You can also hear the demos for the unreleased second album on the appropriately titled Second Album on Collectables.
- No More / Look at Me Now (Fairyland, 1967)
- Go Away / Be A Friend (Fairyland, 1967)
- Morning Dew (Roulette, 1970)