The Association – The Complete Warner Bros and Valiant Singles Collection (2012)

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If there was ever a group capable of teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony (apologies to the Hillside Singers and the New Seekers), it would definitely be the Association.

Equipped with spellbinding vocal power that married natural beauty with detailed complexity, the Los Angeles band amassed a clutch of high-charting singles between the years 1966 and 1968. But contrary to most extremely successful bands, the Association had the benefit of walking down the street unrecognized.

Comprised of several musicians, the group blended together as a solitary force, eliminating the situation where performers are targeted as individual stars. Neatly groomed locks and preppy threads further assisted in providing the Association with a sense of anonymity. The band simply didn’t look like rock and rollers.

Although an assortment of Association retrospectives are available, The Complete Warner Bros and Valiant Singles Collection (Now Sounds) is the brightest bloomer in the bouquet. True to its title, the two-record set features both the A and B sides of each single the band released for the labels.

Formed in 1965, the Association began life as a full-fledged folk rock band. Navigated by a blizzard of chiming guitars and captivating choruses, the group’s spirited cover of Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” revealed a serious kinship with acts such as the Byrds, the Grass Roots and the Turtles. The Association didn’t strike oil instantly, but once they did the hits came fast and furious. Embracing a sophisticated pop stance, the band delivered a consecutive string of winners, including “Along Comes Mary,” “Cherish,” “Never My Love,” “Windy,” “Everything That Touches You” and “Time For Livin,’” which needless to say, all appear on this anthology.

A slick and sharp pop band they were, but by no means were they immune to toying with other styles. For example, “Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies” projects a quirky psychedelic air, and the fuzztone tremors of “Six Man Band” ably nails grainy garage rock leanings to a wall of cool soul-scented sparkle.

Organized arrangements, beaming with polish and precision, crowned by rich and regal melodies, mix faultlessly with the Association’s stunning vocal somersaults. “Bring Yourself Home,” “No Fair At All,” “Your Own Love” and “It’s Gotta Be Real” dial in as only a quick mention of additional goose-pimple greats to be enjoyed.

A sorely underrated and underappreciated band, the Association were far more than the mushy romantics they were frequently pegged to be. Dig deep into The Complete Warner Bros and Valiant Singles Collection and you’ll hear strains of humor and social awareness carved within the grooves as well. Master architects and craftsmen of harmony pop and then some, the Association were just as inventive as the Beach Boys or the Beatles in terms of writing songs and making them sound timelessly fantastic.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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  • Mara Pogras

    I loved the wonderful things you said about the Association,the most UNDERRATED vocal group of all time. They came to be when rock began getting ugly. Their awesome look was mocked by idiots who only wanted to see fringe vests and hippie sunglasses. I ADORED their cleancut,harmless look. … I am beyond furious that their unbelievably creative and beautiful music has STILL not garnered them an invitation to the rock hall of fame!!! SERIOUSLY??!!!!! … Thank you for giving them some of the respect they have ALWAYS deserved.

    • David Capps

      I just HAD to write. I couldn’t agree more with what
      Mara has written. I saw them in person (all the
      original members with the exception of Brian Cole)
      in past years, and their harmonies were flawless and
      their musicianship was just as amazing.
      Underrated? Absolutely!
      The Hall of Fame is a bad joke.

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