The Ones – The Ones! (1966; 2013 reissue)

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Now here’s an album I’ve been hearing about for years, but never actually heard. Rarer than a Bigfoot sighting, The Ones! (Gear Fab Records), which was initially called Volume One and pressed on the Ashwood House label in 1966, currently sells for as high as a few thousand dollars.

Having thrilled local audiences with their dazzling live shows, the Ones were truly marked for stardom. Decked out in super long hair and fancy mod threads, the group also cut a striking pose, looking like a cross between the Kinks, the Pretty Things and the Seeds.

Bolted tight with competent and commanding performances, The Ones! is dominated by an interesting selection of cover material. The past and present converge, as “My Prayer” (the Platters), “Goodnight My Love” (the McGuire Sisters), “Be My Baby” (the Ronettes) and “Our Day Will Come” (Ruby and the Romantics) share space with “Hang On Sloopy” (the McCoys), “I Should Have Known Better” (the Beatles), “Can’t Explain” (the Who) and “You’re A Better Man Than I” (the Yardbirds). In print, such diversity may seem peculiar, but the Ones pull it off splendidly.

Paying homage to regional revivals the Remains, the band races through a riveting rendition of “Diddy Wah Diddy,” while a version of “Unchained Melody,” which is drop-dead gorgeous to begin with, is so emotionally-charged and electrifying that it even surpasses the hit recording by the Righteous Brothers. Guided by powerful vocals that affect every single nerve and cell in the body, the Ones layer the yearning ballad with coat after coat of shimmering orchestration and heavenly choruses, turning it into something akin to a spiritual hymn.

Although the group certainly had a talent for recycling other people’s songs, the strongest track on The Ones! is perhaps “Maybe It’s Both Of Us,” which was written by their producer, Clay Pitts. Constructed of ribbons of ringing guitars, exuberant harmonies and choppy breaks by the pound, the fetching tune taps into the best moments of the Hollies, the Searchers and the Beau Brummels.

Anchored by a sense of flight and freedom, The Ones! stands as a charming portrait of a group operating on innocence, energy and a pure love of music. Blending British Invasion sounds with crooner sentiments, the Ones could easily be classified as a garage rock lounge act. How disappointing it is the band failed to continue on because they obviously had the skill and vision to rise to further levels.

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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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