Band members                          Related acts

  line up 1 (1967) as The Sunshine Ward

- Mark Bretz -- guitar (replaced Peter Wyant)

- Richard Fifield -- vocals, guitar

- Ron Jenkins -- drums, percussion
- Robert Carl McLerran (aka Robert McLerian) -- bass

- Peter Wyant -- guitar


  line up 2 (1967) as The Sunshine Ward

- Mark Bretz -- guitar (replaced Peter Wyant)

- Richard Fifield - - vocals, guitar
- Robert Carl McLerran (aka Robert McLerian) -- bass

NEW - Tony Murillo -- drums, percussion (replaced Ron Jenkins)

- Peter Wyant -- guitar


  line up 2 (1967-69) as Hardwater

- Richard Fifield - - vocals, guitar 
- Tony Murillo -- drums, percussion 
- Robert Carl McLerran -- vocals, bass

- Peter Wyant -- guitar





- The Astronauts

- The Electric Prunes (Peter Wyant)

- Fatso (Peter Wyant)

- The GNP (Peter Wyant)

- Rocket 88's (Peter Wyant)
- The Sunshine Ward 

- The Titans (Peter Wyant)


Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Hardwater

Company: Capitol

Catalog: ST 2954

Year: 1969

Country/State:  Colorado/L.A. California

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: minor hiss in a couple of spots

Catalog ID: 140

Available: 1

Price: $35.00



The Denver-based Astronauts released a string of nine early-1960s surf and hot rod-themed albums for RCA Victor .  Unfortunately, by the mid-1960s popular tastes had moved on,. Always willing to cater to popular trends and tastes, Astronauts guitarist Richard Fifield, drummer Ron Jenkins, and bassist Robert Carl McLerran decided to head in a different musical direction.   Relocating to Los Angeles, they quickly picked up new drummer Tony Murillo and guitarist Peter Wyant, transforming themselves into The Sunshine Ward.


Still under contract to RCA, the revamped band released one instantly obscure single:




- 1967's 'Sally Go 'Round The Roses' b/w 'Pay The Price' (RCA Victor catalog number 47-9227)


right to left - Fifield - Wyant - Murillo - McLerran


The single went nowhere at which point guitarist Bretz tendered his notice, leaving the remaining four members to opt for yet another name change.  As Hardwater the quartet was signed by Capitol; their 1968 self-titled debut teaming them with eclectic producer/ former Electric Prune David Axelrod.  Largely written by Fifield and McLerran, "Hardwater" came off as a pleasant surprise. From a musical standpoint they may have been about a year behind popular tastes (think "5th Dimension"-era Byrds), but the results were still impressive.   The ten compositions (including seven originals), found the quartet dividing their efforts between 1965-styled folk-rock ('City Sidewalks') and Byrds-styled feedback laced jangle rock like the opening medley 'My Time/Take a Long Look' and 'Love and I'.  Perhaps the biggest complaint came from the absence of a distinctive lead singer. Although Fifield was credited as lead vocalist, his voice was largely anonymous which probably explained why most of the ten tracks featured multi-tracked vocals, or group-lead vocals.  For the most part the compositions were strong enough to make up for absence of a strong singer, though it was noticeable on a couple of tracks - check out 'Good Ole Friends' and the ballad 'To Nowhere'.  The only other mistakes were a needless stab at country - the way-too-cute 'Plate of My Fare' and that painful ballad 'To Nowhere'.   Personal favorites; the acid soaked 'Monday' and the freak-out sections of 'Not So Hard'. 


- Opening up with some crushing fuzz and feedback guitar and then morphing into a nice folk-rock melody, 'Medley: My Time/Take a Long Look' sounded like a good Buffalo Springfield composition.  The song also served to showcase the band's group harmonies (given they didn't have a standout lead singer).  With a bouncy melody that would have sounded good on any of the first three Springfield LPs, the second part of the medley 'Take a Long Look' was even better.  Kudos to Wyant for turning in a crushing guitar solo.   Nice way to start the album.  rating: **** stars

- Swathed in waves of 12 string jangle guitar, sweet harmony vocals, and a catchy melody, 'City Sidewalks' found the band shifting into 1965, John Phillips-styled folk-rock.  With it's non-too-subtle social commentary, the song actually sounded a little bit like something Scott McKenzie (RIP) might have recorded.  This was one that grew on me.  Easy to see why Capitol tapped it as a single.     rating: **** stars

- One of the album's most overtly commercial songs, 'Love and I' had a pounding, radio-friendly melody with some tasty fuzz guitar.  Exceptionally commercial.   rating: **** stars

- Another album highlight, 'Monday' found the band taking a stab at full throttle psychedelia.  One of my favorite performances on the LP !!!    rating: **** stars

- The album's only real disappointment, 'Plate of My Fare' featured a clunky stab at country - imagine one of those crappy Mike Nesmith songs on a Monkees album, or something off of a Ringo Starr album and you'll have a feel for what this one sounded.  That said, even this one had something going for it in the form of Wyant's hypnotic 12 string guitar figure.    rating: ** stars

- Complete with nice folk-rock melody, twin lead vocals, acres of jangle guitar, and a dollop of feedback-drench guitar, 'Not So Hard' opened up side two with a track that sounded like a mash-up of mid-1960s Beatles and Buffalo Springfield.  One of the album highlights ...  rating: **** stars

- Starting out as an overly sensitive folk-rock ballad, 'Good Ole Friends' picked up speed and energy as it went along; particularly when Wyant's solo kicked in.   The main problem with this one was that Fifield's fragile vocals showcased the absence of a really good lead singer.   rating: *** stars

- 'Sanctuary' sounded like an early '60s folk track that had been recast as a true folk-rock number.   Nice upbeat number with some of the album's most interesting lyrics and another killer Wyant meltdown guitar solo.   rating: **** stars

- A pretty, almost Baroque-influenced acoustic ballad, 'To Nowhere' was straddled with some of the album's worst vocals.   rating: ** stars

- Okay, I defy anyone to ll me 'Good Luck' wasn't inspired by The Beatles - these guys were lucky George Harrison didn't sue them for ripping off 'Taxman'.   'Course, that's not to take anything away from the song's cool factor.  A great McLerran bass line takes center spotlight on this one.   rating: **** stars

As mentioned above, the album was tapped for a pair of singles:



- 1968's 'City Sidewalks' b/w 'Not So Hard' (Capitol catalog number P 2230)

- 1969's 'Plate Of My Fare' b/w 'Good Old Friends' (Capitol catalog number P2373)


Sadly, Capitol did little to promote the album and didn't even bother to send the band on a promotional tour. The predictable result was the set went nowhere commercially, effectively spelling the end of the quartet's recording career.

"Hardwater" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Medley: My Time/Take a Long Look   (Richard Fifield - Robert McLerran) - 6:49
2.) City Sidewalks   (John Carter - Tim Gilbert) - 3:18
3.) Love and I   (Richard Fifield - Robert McLerran) -2:13
4.) Monday   (Richard Fifield - Robert McLerran) - 4:06
5.) Plate of My Fare   (Richard Fifield - Robert McLerran) - 2:04

(side 2)

1.) Not So Hard   (Richard Fifield - Robert McLerran) - 3:16
2.) Good Ole Friends   (John Carter - Tim Gilbert) - 2:36
3.) Sanctuary   (John Carter - Tim Gilbert) - 5:33

4.) To Nowhere   (Richard Fifield - Robert McLerran) - 1:55
5.) Good Luck   (Richard Fifield - Robert McLerran) - 2:47 


John Herron promotional poster 29" x 22"



For anyone interested, guitarist Wyant has a small website at: