The Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine


Artist: The Lemon Pipers
Title: Green Tambourine
Genre: Psychedelic rock
Released: 1968
Label: Buddah Records
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Bill Albaugh-drums, Bill Bartlett-lead guitar, Ivan Browne-rhythm guitar, lead singer, R.G. Nave-organ, tambourine, Steve Walmsley-bass
Songwriter: Shelley Pines
Producer: Paul Leka
Engineers: Kenny Hammond, Bill Radice

The Lemon Pipers were a 1960s psychedelic pop band from Oxford, Ohio, known chiefly for their song “Green Tambourine”, which reached No. 1 in the United States in 1968.The band was formed in 1966. The band then recruited Miami University student Browne as frontman, and also engaged Ohio music-industry impresario Mark Barger, who steered the Lemon Pipers to Buddah Records, then run by Neil Bogart. The Lemon Pipers, relying in part on advice from Barger, agreed to enter into a recording contract and music publishing deal with Buddah. The group began playing larger auditorium and concert hall venues around the US, including an appearance at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West in San Francisco on the same bill with Traffic, Moby Grape and Spirit on March 21, 1968. Buddah’s plans for the group focused on bubblegum pop rather than rock, and the Lemon Pipers joined a stable already containing Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Paul Leka was assigned to be their record producer.
Buddah did not know how to handle the band at first and the group’s debut on Buddah was a Bartlett composition, “Turn Around and Take a Look”. When the song failed to make the charts, the label asked Leka and his songwriting partner, Shelley Pinz, who were working out of a Brill Building office on Broadway, to come up with a song. The pair wrote “Green Tambourine” and the band reluctantly recorded it. The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of 1967 and reached No. 1 in February 1968 on the Billboard and Cashbox charts.

Green Tambourine is the first album by the American band The Lemon Pipers.
The album revealed the wide division between the musical tastes of the band and the commercial demands of the band’s label, Buddah Records. Five bubblegum tracks written by Brill Building songwriters Paul Leka and Shelley Pinz shared space on the album with folk-rock (“Ask Me If I Care”), sixties-rock (“Straglin’ Behind,” “Fifty Year Void”) and psychedelic tracks (“Through With You,” running over eight minutes and bearing influences of The Byrds). Leka was the album’s credited producer.
The album’s liner notes, written by Buddah General Manager Neil Bogart, described the band as “five very intelligent young men with a solid sound and a real interest in all kinds of music. They perform folk ballads, soul, psychedelic, blues, country and western and write much of their own material.”

What’s also odd about this record is that the order of songs on the label do not match the order on the jacket. The recording seems to be a bit on the bright side and there is a fair amount of sibilance due to that. If the music was really bad it might get annoying by 80% into side one.

Side One:
Rice Is Nice: I call this the wedding song
Shoeshine Boy: There is a slight flavor of Eleanor Rigby if you listen closely. The chorus has strings and a funky wah-wah pedal.
Turn Around Take A Look: This is kind of silly sounding song
Rainbow Tree: You might think this is a filler song, but the harmonies and harpsichord really add to the song, it’s rather a good song.
Ask Me If I Care: This one has kind of a Byrds flavor to it
Straglin’ Behind: There is a gospel feeling to the bridge, the rest is typical sixties rock. I’m not sure if this is a filler song or not.
Green Tambourine: Obviously the title track. It seems though that the 45rpm single sounds better than the LP cut. I noted the LP version sounds kind of off in a way and is heavily distorted, which could be the pressing I have.

Side Two:
Blueberry Blue:This song also sounds somewhat Beatles influenced. It’s a typical sixties style track with the exception of the strings.
The Shoemaker Of Leatherwear Square: This track seems to clearly be filler because it is basically a slowed down version of the previous track. With this not being a concept album, I have serious doubts it was meant as an extension to Blueberry Blue.
Fifty Year Void: This song clocks in at 5:41, all the previous tracks have been the typical under 3 minutes. This is an interesting track in that it seems to be anti-war and about life, etc. The same verse is sung three times and the first time it’s sung in a gruff voice. There are two bridges to the song done in typical sixties fashion.
Through With You: This is the longest track clocking in at over 8 minutes! Songs of this length were not widely known at this time, at least a decade before progressive rock made the scene. This song is more psychedelic than prog given that there are no time changes and other prog rock elements. There is a long bridge that sounds like a jam session. In fact, if The Byrds did a jam and Jimmy Page was on guitar, this may be what it would sound like.

SOUND: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars

Alright, I went ahead and put the long song here for you to check out, “Through With You”:
Rainbow Tree:


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