Zal Yanovsky

Band members                             Related acts

- Zal Yanovsky (RIP 2002) - vocals, guitar


- The Loving Spoonful
- The Mugwumps 



Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Alive and Well In Argentina

Company: Buddah

Catalog: BDS 5019

Year: 1968

Country/State: Toronto, Canada

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2840

Price: $20.00


Depending on which story you listen to, guitarist Zal Yanovsky left The Lovin' Spoonful  due to musical differences, or he was fired by the rest of the band for his rude and irritating behavior.  Complicating matters, after being arrested on a 1967 drug charge, his reputation was seriously damaged by claims he'd narc'ed on a Lovin' Spoonful roadie in order to avoid a potential jail term.


Initially signed by Buddah, his 1968 debut "Alive and Well In Argentina" stood as one of the year's odder offerings. Highlighting Yanovsky's strained voice and strange sense of humor (witness the album title), material such as 'You Talk To Much', 'Brown To Blue' and 'Hip Toad' haphazardly bounced from one musical genre to another.  There were only a couple of  original songs, but the opening rocker 'Raven Ina Cage' and the sound collage 'Lt. Schtinckhausen' were both strong performances.  And while it wasn't spotlighted, Yanovski demonstrated he was a more than competent guitarist.  The album's biggest drawback stemmed from Yanovski's limited vocal capabilities.  Cursed with a ragged, barely-in-tune voice, on most of these tunes the man sounded like he was trying to power his way through a bad case of strep throat.   It sure wasn't a great album, but was mildly intriguing because it was so weird,.  The collection was greeted with universal disdain and quickly relegated to cutout bins.

"Alive and Well In Argentina" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Raven In a Cage   (Jerry Yester - Zal Yanovsky - Yester) - 2:51   rating: *** stars

Given it was co-written with Jerry Yester, I've always wondered if 'Raven In a Cage' was a Lovin' Spoonful leftover.  Opening up with farm animal sound effects and what sounded like someone's national anthem, you quickly knew this was going to be a different album.  To be honest, 'Raven In a Cage' wasn't a half bad rocker, but Yanovsky hoarse, raspy voice did the tune a major disservice.
2.) You Talk Too Much   (Roy Smeck - Coleman Kamile) - 2:31  
rating; * star

Sung in a flat, droning voice, 'You Talk Too Much' had all the appeal of a toothpaste commercial.   His scat segment was embarrassing.  Possibly the worst version of this song you'll ever hear.
3.) Last Date (instrumental)   (Floyd Kramer) - 3:03  
rating: *** stars

A cover of 'Last Date' was one of the few selections to showcase Yanovsky's guitar chops.  The song was certainly pretty and Yanovski's playing was excellent, but the arrangement gave the tune kind of an MOR-ish vibe.
4.) Little Bitty Pretty One   (Robert Byrd) - 2:57  
rating; * star

'Little Bitty Pretty One' remains a great song, but the lesson here was Yanovsky shouldn't have been allowed to hum, or sing in a falsetto.  Even the addition of a drunken studio full of friends couldn't save this disaster.  
5.) Alive and Well In Argentina (Zal Yanovsky - Rapport de Bousef) - 3:27  
rating; * star

The album's most jog band-ish tune meant the title track also sounded a bit like an early Lovin' Spoonful track.  Maybe that's why I disliked it so much.  Perhaps meant to be cute, though the Hitler speech sound clips were bizarre, this one simply came off as irritating.  It's a great song to prove not everything created in the '60s was magical.

(side 2)

1.) Brown To Blue  (Virginia Franks - G. Jones - J. Mathis) - 2:27   rating; * star

Yanovsky bellowing over a hysterically bad country tune.   
2.) Priscilla Millionaira  (John Sebastian) - 2:10 
  rating: ** stars

Interesting to see him including a remake of  the Lovin' Spoonful tune after the ugly split with the band.   Yanovsky's vocal on the original was pretty rough, but the Spoonful original was still way better than this cover.   
3.) I Almost Lost My Mind  (Ivory Joe Hunter) - 3:10 
  rating: ** stars

Interesting to see him including a remake of  the Lovin' Spoonful tune after the ugly split with the band.   Yanovsky's vocal on the original was pretty rough, but the Spoo

Bland and forgettable blues number that made it clear this wasn't the genre for Yanovsky's limited vocal capabilities.
4.) Hip Toad  (Jerry Yester - Yester) - 2:05 
  rating: ** stars

Clear-out-a-part bad ...  What in the world was this one about ?
5.) Lt. Schtinckhausen (instrumental)   (Yester - Zal Yanovsky - Jerry Yester) - 6:11 
rating: *** stars

After enduring two of Yanovsky's most painful vocals, it was a relief to hear the harpsichord and fuzz guitar powered instrumental collage 'Lt. Schtinckhausen'.   



I don't know if it was released before or after the album, but there's a non-LP single:

- 1967's 'As Long as You're Here' b/w 'Ereg Er'ouy as Gnol As' (Buddah catalog number BDA 12)


For hardcore fans, for some reason Buddah's Kama Sutra label elected to reissue the LP in 1970.   The reissue featured a slightly altered tracks listing - the addition of the single 'As Long as You're Here', a different catalog number (KSBS 2030) and different cover art.


As far as I know, the album and single are the only solo efforts Yanovsky ever recorded.   


In the late 1970s Yanovsky turned his attention to the restaurant business, working as a chef and opening a Kingston, Ontario restaurant Chez Piggy and bakery Pan Chancho with his second wife Rose Richardson.  He also wrote a couple of cookbooks.


Yanovsky suffered a fatal heart attack in December 2002.