Band members Related acts
- Don Agrati (aka Don Grady) (RIP 2012) -- vocals, keyboards,
accordion, clarinet, trumpet, bass, drums
- The Greefs (Don Grady)
- The Palace Guard (Don Grady)
- The Yellow Balloon (Don Grady)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Country/State: Lafayette, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: includes original lyric insert white label promo copy
Catalog ID: 4776
Yes, I'll admit that I bought this album knowing full well that it was the work of 'Robbie Douglas' of Mickey Mouse Club 'Mouseketeer and My Three Sons' fame (check out the sly nod to the television program on the album cover - look in the weeds).
I also knew that as Don Grady he'd been a member of The Palace Guard and The Yellow Balloon who'd recorded a surprisingly enjoyable collection of mid-1960s sunshine pop. So what !!! I also happened to know that this is a surprisingly good album. Good luck finding your own original copy.
Taking advantage of his television success and all-American good looks, starting in the mid-'60s Agrati recorded a string of modestly entertaining, if poor selling singles under his Don Grady stage name:
credited to Don Grady
- 1963's 'Oh Oh' b/w 'I'll Have To Say Goodbye' (Checker catalog number 1035)
- 1964's 'I Think You're Thru' b/w 'A Broken Heart Knows Better' (Capitol catalog number 5181)
- 1965's 'One Good Turn Deserves Another' b/w 'It's Better This Way' (Capitol catalog number 5362)
- 1966's 'Children Of St. Monica' b/w 'Good Man To Have Around The House' (Canterbury catalog C-501)
- 1966's 'Let It Happen' b/w 'Out' (Challenge catalog number 59328)
- 1967's 'Impressions With Syvonne' b/w 'Leaving It Up To You' (Canterbury catalog C-507)
credited to Don Grady and The Palace Guard
- 'Little People' b/w "Summertime Game' (Orange-Empire catalog number OE-9164-7))
credited to Don Grady and the Palace Guard
'Little People' b/w 'Summertime Games' (Orange Empire catalog number OE
Released in 1973, the aptly titled "Homegrown" came close to being a true one man show. Apparently recorded at home using 'Keith Olsen's homemade 8 track' Agrati wrote all eleven tracks, produced, mixed, sang and handled most of the instrumentation. Propelled by his likeable voice which occasionally reminded me a bit of Paul McCartney, or Emitt Rhodes (who's always reminded me of McCartney), the album was exceptionally varied, effortlessly bouncing from genre to genre. Not meant as a criticism, but it almost sounded like Agrati was trying to test himself to see if he could deal with different genres and styles. The album kicked off with a killer cut in the jazzy 'Bloodstream' (complete with some tasty scat singing and a horn solo that would have made Miles Davis proud). Elsewhere Agrati took stabs at McCartney-syled vaudeville revival ('One Man Woman'), '60s pop-psych ('Heather Ann'), sensitive singer/songwriter ('Story'), and hard rock (the Steve Winwood and Traffic-styled 'Hollywood Song'). Tracks like 'Love, Come My Way' and 'Sunny Day' were actually quite commercial, though nowhere near as interesting. His musical forays even include a brief chamber music interlude (the curiously titled 'Rocky Mountain Bear Hunt').
Just a bit too heavy on the cutesy pop side to be a great album, but Agrati certainly had the chops to sell some albums. I've always wondered why this was his only album. Unfortunate Elektra didn't give him a shot at a follow-up release.
"Homegrown" track listing:
1.) Bloodstream (Don Agrati) - 3:33 rating: **** stars
Yeah, the opening scat section was a bit disconcerting, but when it got going 'Bloodstream' was a surprisingly cool jazzy number with a great sax solo. The song also served to showcase how good Agrati's voice was. Imagine Steely Dan without the mean and ominous edge. Interesting choice as a promotional single:.
- 1973's 'Bloodstream' b/w 'Two-Bit Afternoon' (Elektra catalog number EK-45860)
2.) Love, Come My Way (Don Agrati) - 3:01 rating: ** stars
A breezy, radio friendly ballad, 'Love, Come My Way' suffered from a touch of Paul McCartney sentimentality ... actually this one was commercial, but saccharine. Pass.
3.) Rocky Mountain Bear Hunt (instrumental) (Don Agrati) - 1:08 rating: *** stars
Who knows where the title came from or what the inspiration was, but Rocky Mountain Bear Hunt' served up a brief slice of chamber music. Quite pretty and an impressive composition, if an odd thing to have included on the album.
4.) Heather Ann (Don Agrati) - 3:04 rating: **** stars
Ah, the ravages of time ... Blending Baroque pop with a slight psych edge, 'Heather Ann' had a very mid-'60s feel. It would not have sounded out of place on something he recorded with The Palace Guard or The Yellow Balloon. With sweet multi-tracked vocals, it was one of the standout performances. Very radio-friendly and commercial.
5.) Story (Don Agrati) - 2:23 rating: ** stars
Returning to singer/songwriter mode 'Story' sounded a bit like a second tier Gilbert O'Sullivan composition, or perhaps an equally bad early Billy Joel outing. That said, the lyric seemed to be autobiographical - maybe I'm reading too much into it, but perhaps a reflection on his My Three Sons days ...
6.) One Man Woman (Don Agrati) - 2:07 rating: ** stars
I'll readily admit that some folks find vaudeville charming, but stuff like 'One Man Woman' leaves me at a complete loss. Even Paul McCartney couldn't pull something like this one off. Naturally Elektra decided to float it as the first single, effectively sealing Agrati's commercial fate.
-1973's 'One Woman Man' b/w 'One Man Woman (mono)' (Elektra catalog number EK-45846)
Sporting a nifty '60s pop-psych feel that had a great melody, fantastic multi-tracked vocals and some cute lyrics, 'Hollywood Song' was my pick for one of the standout performances. The song also showcased Agrati's keyboard chops, with his interesting chord choices giving the melody kind of a Stevie Winwood and Traffic jazzy vibe. Elektra should have tapped this one as a single, rather than the lame 'One Woman Man'.
2.) Sunny Day (Don Agrati) - 2:33 rating: **** stars
The album's most blatantly radio ready number, 'Sunny Day' would have made for a near perfect summer single ... With a wonderful, instantly hum-ready melody and another example of Agrati's sterling multi-tracked vocals, what wasn't to love on this one ?
3.) I Was a Man (Don Agrati) - 2:30 rating: * star
And then along comes a sappy, overly orchestrated MOR ballad like 'I Was a Man'. Talk about a mood killer, though at least it was shot.
4.) Protoplasm Blues (Don Agrati) - 4:22 rating: **** stars
Opening in with snippet of in-studio chatter, 'Protoplasm Blues' sounded like a goofy jam that took on a life of its own, in the process becoming one of the album's most enjoyable performances. Fun from start to finish.
5.) Two Bit Afternoon (Don Agrati) - 3:26 rating: ** stars
Unfortunately the album ended with a sputter; namely another shot of pseudo-vaudeville via 'Two Bit Afternoon'. Actually, with the marching band segment, the song sounded more like something out of a '50s musical than a pop album.
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