Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution
Band members Related acts
- Steve Hoffman -- vocals, guitar (1970)
- The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band (Steve Hoffman)
- Proposition (Steve Hoffman and Ron Roman)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: gatefold sleeve; minor corner wear; small bullet hole top left corner
GEMM catalog ID: 5341
As a child of the 1960s I have to admit to only having the vaguest memories of Lancelot Link, let alone its contributions to the annals of bubblegum rock. Actually entitled 'The Lancelot Link Secret Chimp Hour', this Saturday morning television show ran for three years (1970-72). The first year it started out as an hour long mixture of action sequences and cartoons. The second and third years of the series saw it scaled back to 30 minutes of action segments and music videos. The funny thing is that you fall into love it or hate it categories on this one - no in betweens.
Hollywood writers Stan Burns and Mike Marmer were the brains behind the concept. They'd achieved considerable success writing for various 1960s television shows, including Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson and Get Smart. The latter served as the inspiration for Lancelot Link.
Lancelot Link and Mata Hairi
The basic concept was rather simple (if not particularly original). Building on the public's seemingly unquenchable interest in spy-related material, the world was populated by chimps rather than humans. 'Chimpkind' was divided into good and evil with namesake Lancelot Link and the Agency to Prevent Evil (A.P.E.) on the good side and the Baron Von Butcher (voiced by Bernie Kopell) and his cohorts at the Criminal Headquarters for Underworld Master Plan (C.H.U.M.P) representing evil. ABC bought into the concept, fabricated a mildly entertaining kids show that dressed a cast of chimps in human clothing, overdubbing haphazard narratives over their actions and then interspersing the action segments with music videos starring Link and the Evolution Revolution.
YouTube has a bunch of Lancelot Link material, including this seven minute segment from one of the shows:
Surfin' Spy segment
Coupled with ABC's success marketing other cartoon characters to a youth audience (Archie, The Banana Splits, Josie and the Pussycats, etc.) it didn't take long for ABC executives to hit on the idea of releasing a Lancelot Link LP. If you've ever seen the show you'd know that Sweetwater Gibbons played keyboards, Mata Hairi played tambourine, Lancelot handled lead guitar, and Bananas Marmoset was drummer.
As you'd expect YouTube includes a couple of their musical video clips:
With respect to the album, I stumbled across an interesting interview with Lancelot Link producer Bob Emengger:
"One day I met with Allan Sandler who owned a large TV production studio. I had done the score to a feature film he produced called Frazier, the Sensuous Lion. Not a big hit.
He was producing Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp for television with Carol Burnett Show writers [Stan] Burns and [Mike] Marmer. Allan asked me to score Lance Link - which was a blast!
For the songs, I brought in Steve Hoffman who I had used on several Honda TV spots. He was a gem of a find. His talent was perfect for Lance Link, both singing and writing. Steve was an unknown vocalist, from a group that TV producer Clancy Grass used. He was/is an untrained musician who played guitar left handed.
Steve composed most of the songs on the album, I did several as well (Rollin' In the Clover was one I co-wrote with Steve). I produced the LP exactly as if I was doing a TV commercial or background music for a film.
It was not written to be bubble gum music - I penned the songs to fit the show. As I recall, Steve did all the vocals and overdubbing and we recorded in a studio that ABC/Dunhill set up. The band was made up of studio players - about 7 musicians, 2 brass with a percussionist on chimes also. It's possible the score may have called for more instruments at times.
The videos were shot later to match the completed songs. They even played the tunes for the chimps - who were all over the place until they heard the music and began to play in sync to the beat.
After Lance Link, I did the score to Another Nice Mess for Tommy Smothers and Bob Einstein (Super Dave Osborne) and again used Steve Hoffman to sing the featured songs.
I didn't do any other kid shows except for some sequences for the Electric Company/Sesame Street.
I did collaborate further with Allan Sander and co-owned a film studio (Pico Bronson) where we co-produced 10 original Sci-Fi features for television, along with a handful of specials including UFO's Past, Present and Future which was nominated for a Golden Globe award. I wrote the script and the music (didn't have enough money to hire a composer).
Last I heard (years ago) vocalist Steve Hoffman was doing music in Vegas."
So what's "Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution" actually sound like? Well, prime bubblegum was a pretty apt description. The majority of the album was written and sung by former Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band front man/sessions player Steve Hoffman. Forgoing his earlier psych-orientation, material like 'Teaser', 'Wild Dreams (Jelly Beans)' and 'Kissin' Doll' found Hoffman turning in a set that was every bit as commercial and enjoyable as material being churned out by bubblegum competitors such as Jeff Barry, Kasentz-Katz, Rupert Holmes, etc. The set was also interesting in that it found Hoffman occasionally pushing bubblegum into a more rock oriented arena that one would have normally expected. 'Live', 'The Evolution Revolution' and the Harvey Price-Dan Walsh cover 'Magic Feeling' were all wonderful and totally unexpected slices of power-pop. For what it was worth, the best song 'Sha-La Love You' was actually another Price -Walsh composition. Originally intended for The Grass Roots, when they passed on it producer Steve Barri offered it to the Lancelot Link team who grabbed it, slapping a Hoffman vocal on it. ABC subsequently tapped at as a single: 'Sha-La Love You' b/w '???' (ABC catalog number 11278). The 45 just missed the top-40 charts.
Link and the Evolution Revolution" track listing:
1.) Sha-La Love You
(H. Price - D. Walsh) - 2:34
For you Lancelot Link fanatics, the series was recently reissued in CD format.
There's also a 30 minute documentary entitled "I Created Lancelot Link". Produced by Diane Bernard and Jeff Krulik, the 1999 project briefly reunited series originators Stan Burns and Mike Marmer capturing their memories of the show. You can see part of the documentary at:
Hoffman went on to make a name for himself remastering analog releases. He has an interesting website (though no mention of Lancelot Link) at:
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