The Buckinghams, a group out of Chicago, caught my attention in 1967 with the release of Kind of a Drag which was a huge hit. The horns played a prominent role in this song and would become a staple of not only their sound but the sound of Chicago in general. James Guercio, the producer of many of the Buckinghams early singles, went on to produce the early albums of the group Chicago which was well know for their horn driven sound. Here is what my Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia has to say about the history of the Buckinghams……
The Buckinghams were one of those sleek, expensively barbered, well tailored, highly commercial rock groups beloved by record companies, adored by fans, and scorned by rock critics and intellectuals. They came out of Chicago at the height of the mid-sixties’ rock boom and moved right into a hit formula, doing everything an efficient computer might recommend and never making a mistake – as far as singles were concerned. The albums were something else, with soon-to-be-Chicago-mentor James William Guercio taking over completely. Guercio’s axiom seemed to be, “Be commercial with singles, experiment with albums.” As a result, the Buckinghams unleashed a horde of schizoid long-players….catchy ditties surrounded by dross. The band never really dissolved – it just became easier and easier to ignore as the years went by.
Enough talking…..let’s listen to some music. First up is their huge #1 hit, Kind of a Drag, in glorious mono. That is followed by a short entertaining mini-documentary about the song.
Kind of a Drag (mini documentary)
Don’t You Care was a follow-up to Kind of a Drag which made it up to #6 on the charts.
Our final song from The Buckinghams provides an interesting example of the experimentation introduced by the group’s producer, James Guerico. The original single included an section with weird sound effects that I think totally destroyed the flow of the song. Let’s listen…..
The group also hated this version of the song and many radio stations refused to play it. An edited, more radio friendly version of the song was produced and distributed to radio stations. Let’s listen to that version….
This edited version reached # 11 on the singles chart and was the group’s last hit. The group split with James Guerico in mid-1968 due to creative differences, like the ones involving Susan, and their success as a group was basically over. The group went from being named the most listened to group in the US for 1967 to being a group of “has beens” in less than a year. This was story repeated through the 1960s. But as Neil Young said in yesterday’s post, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”