Salt Water Taffy

Band members               Related acts

- Janie Brannan -- lead vocals

- Johnny Giametta -- sax

- Phil Giarrantano -- lead vocals

- Rod McBrien -- guitar

- Kathy Weinberg -- lead vocals




- The Tornados

- The Valrays (Johnny Giametta)





Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Finders Keepers

Company: Buddah

Catalog: BDS 5021
Year: 1968

Country/State: Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6107

Price: $20.00


I remember hearing the single 'Finders Keepers' on the radio as a child, but other than that I knew absolutely nothing about this outfit.


Unlike a lot of acts signed to Buddah, which straddled the line between bubblegum pop and a secret desire to be socially relevant rock bands, Salt Water Taffy seemed more than content to make conventional, top-40 pop music without any socially redeeming qualities.  That wasn't meant to be a criticism since in my book quality pop is just as valuable as serious social commentary.    



Based in Long Island, New York the group featured the talents Janie Brannan, former Valrays sax player Johnny Giametta, Phil Giarrantano, ex-The Tornados member Rod McBrien, and Kathy Weinberg.  Signed by Buddah, the group made their debut with a 1968 single:


- 'Finders Keepers' b/w 'He'll Pay' (Buddah catalog number BDA 37) # 105 pop


Unhappy with lead singer Giarrantano, a young Tommy West supposedly handled lead vocals on the track.  While the single failed to hit the top-100, Buddah management agreed to fund a supporting album.  Unlike most of their contemporaries, Salt Water Taffy were responsible for penning most of their own material (McBrien and Giametta credited with most of the 12 tracks).   They were also unique in that Buddah management allowed McBrien to produce their debut album - 1968's cleverly titled "Finders Keepers".  Meco Monardo (of future disco fame) conducted and arranged the sessions.  As the creative force behind the group, McBrien was reportedly interested in setting the group up as a 5th Dimension-styled vocal outfit.  Judging my most of these tracks, he came pretty close to that goal ...  thought that was not necessarily a good thing.


- The title track was a decent slice of disposable top-40 pop (though it never hit the top-100 charts).  Totally commercial and mindless (after all it was another track built on a kids nursery rhyme), it was one of those tracks that would have been equally at home had it been used as a toothpaste commercial.  Insidiously catchy, it also had a way of creeping into your head and not leaving.   rating: *** stars

- One of two cover tunes (I think The Innocence’s originally recorded it), 'Whence I Make Thee Mine' was as poppy as the earlier single, but had a sappy edge to it - geez the song opened up with an oboe solo for goodness sake.  Not nearly as impressive as some of the other tracks.   rating: ** stars

- I've always been a pushover for Coral electric sitar so 'The Girl Is Broke' had me from the opening notes.  Musically this had one of those instantly recognizable mid-1960s melodies that has always reminded me of something The Free Design might have recorded.  Great song.   rating: ***** stars

- 'I'll Always Be True To You' had to be one of the most MOR songs you've ever heard ...  until this killer slice of rock guitar pops out of nowhere and leaves you wondering what the hell you've just heard.   rating: **** stars

- One of the three tracks with a female lead vocal (Janie Brannan), 'He's Still In My Heart' was a hideous slice of MOR pop.  The only nice thing I can think of to say about this one was that it was relatively short.   rating: ** stars

- 'McBrien and company managed to make their cover of the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil chestnut You Baby' sound like The Fifth Dimension trying to do a Beach Boys cover.  Not a good think in my book.   rating: ** stars

- Probably their best song, 'Sticks and Stones' was essentially a re-write of the earlier 'Finders Keepers', though to my ears it was actually better than the original single - though it was again based on a kids nursery rhythm it had a better melody and the performance had more energy.  Easy to see why Buddah tapped it as the follow-on single.   rating: **** stars

- A sappy, MOR ballad, 'Something To Live For' sounded like The Association playing before a convention of dental technicians.    rating: * star  

- With a supper club, bossa nova feel, 'Suddenly I See' sounded like something your grandparents might have rocked out to ...  pretty high on the MOR scale.  rating: ** stars

- The second track featuring a female lead vocal, 'Love Don't Keep Me Waiting' sounded like it had been stolen from the Motown catalog and then washed clean of all soul influences ...   rating: ** stars

- The keyboard propelled ballad 'He'll Pay' found the group falling into lounge act territory.  Simply terrible.    rating: * star

- About all I can say for the closer  'I'll Get Along Somehow' is that breakups never sounded as upbeat ...  rating: ** stars


As mentioned above, the album spun off a sophomore single in the form of:


- 1968's 'Sticks & Stones' b/w 'Suddenly I See" (Buddah catalog number BDA 57)


"Finders Keepers" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Finders Keepers   (Rod McBrien - John Giametta) - 

2.) Whence I Make Thee Mine   (Pete Anders - Vinnie Poncia - Ritchie Cordell) - 

3.) The Girl Is Broke   (Rod McBrien - Marty Gino) - 

4.) I'll Always Be True To You   (Rod McBrien - John Giametta - R. Whitelaw) - 
5.) He's Still In My Heart   (Rod McBrien - John Giametta) - 

6.) You Baby   (Phil Spector - Barry Mann - Cynthia Weil) - 


(side 2)
1.) Sticks and Stones   (Rod McBrien - John Giametta) - 

2.) Something To Live For    (Rod McBrien - John Giametta) - 

3.) Suddenly I See    (Rod McBrien - John Giametta) - 

4.) Love Don't Keep Me Waiting    (Rod McBrien - John Giametta) - 

5.) He'll Pay   (Rod McBrien - John Giametta) - 

6.) I'll Get Along Somehow  (Rod McBrien - John Giametta) - 


The group continued to sporadically record before calling it quits in 1971:


- 1969's 'Loop De Loop' b/w 'Sippin' Cider' (Buddah catalog number BDA 127)

- 1969's 'Easy Does It' b/w 'It's All in Your Hands' (Buddah catalog number  BDA 166)

- 1970's 'Summertime Girl' b/w 'One Hand Washes the Other' (United Artists catalog number UA 50691)