Bobby Callendar

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  

- Bobby Callender (aka Robert Callender) -- vocals


  supporting musicians (1968)

- Anahid Ajamian -- violin

- Maurice Brown -- cello

- Thomas Buffum -- violin

- Robert Bushnell -- bass

- Donald Corrado -- French horn

- Richard Davis -- bass

- Eric Gale -- guitar

- Robert Gregg -- drums, percussion

- Paul Harris -- keyboards, harpsichord

- Louis Haber -- violin

- Harold Keins -- oboe, sax

- Louis Mauro -- bass

- Hugh McCaraacken -- guitar

- Stuart Macdonald -- violin

- Denyse Nadeau -- violin

- Bernard Purdie -- drums, percussion

- Alan Raph -- trombine

- Donald Robertson -- sitar, percussion

- Elliott Rosoff -- trombone

- Lynn Russ - celo

- David Sackson -- viola 

- Myron Shain -- trumpet

- Jospeh Shepley -- trumpet

- Louis Stone - violin

- Colin Walcott - percussion, sitar, tabla

- Paul Winter -- violin




- none known




Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Rainbow

Company: MGM

Catalog:  SE 4557

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2807

Price: $80.00

Even though I'm not a big fan of his best known album (1968's "Rainbow"), I'd love to know more about Bobby Callender.  I'm guessing a lot of other folks would also like to know what became of the man.  Even in the internet era, there doesn't seem to be much out there on his current life.


Callendar's musical career started when he worked as a producer for Murray the K at New York's WINS.  That relationship somehow led to Callender recording a series of rather bland early '60s, MOR-ish pop songs for a series of labels:

- 1962's 'No Dice, No Soap' b/w 'A Boy Like Me' (Beltone catalog number 45-2021)

- 1963's 'Little Star' b/w 'Love and Kisses (I'll Give You)' (Roulette catalog number R-4471) # 95 pop

- 1965's 'My Baby Changes Like the Weather' b/w 'I Want a Lover' (Bamboo catalog number 101 A/B)

- 1967's 'You've Really Got a Hold of Me' b/w 'I Can't Get Over You (Ooh La La La)' (Coral catalog number 62517)

- 1967's 'Sweet Song of Life' b/w 'Vicissitude (or a Day at Jaffry's)' (Coral catalog number 62528)


By 1968 he'd undertaken major changes to his persona and musical direction.  Gone were the lame pop star moves.  Instead he morphed into a hip and happenin' counter culture poet/songwriter.  I have no doubt this debut album was recorded with the best of intentions.  I'm sure producer Alan Lober and Bobby Callender had nothing but the best intentions in offering up this collection of music to their audience.  I mean, if George Harrison and the rest of the Fab Four could find enlightenment in Indian music, why not bring it to young middle Americans?  


I guess that's a little harsh, but folks forget that music is a business and as a business it seeks out opportunities. If raga and Indian music is hot, then record labels will kick out all the raga the public is willing to buy (and more).  


Produced by Alan Lorber (of Bosstown infamy), 1968's "Rainbow" was certainly worth hearing.  It's exactly what you'd expect to hear from a mid-'60s counter cultural artifact.  Featuring largely original material, the album found Callender twisting and turning through a maze of Eastern philosophies, '60s navel gazing, and stoned poetic ramblings.  If this kind of insight rang your emotional bell, then good - "My rainbow of colors reflects the past and present. Each change has been indicated by the spectrum of my life and only it knows the hidden colors of my future."   Call me a child of the '70s, but I'd suggest those insights simply haven't aged all that well over the ensuing years.  Accompanied by a strange mixture of raga, pseudo-jazzy moves, and orchestral backings, in terms of conventional radio and even FM radio, melodically there wasn't a great deal going on here, tracks like 'Rainbow', 'Sade Masoch', and 'A Man' just kind of droned on.  Callender didn't have a great voice, or if he did, you couldn't tell from these cooing performances.  He also seemed to be under the impression that piling tons of details into a lyric made for a great song (check out 'A Man').  It might have worked for Dylan, but the results weren't nearly as impressive here.  Okay, there were a couple of decent performances.  'Nature' was probably the best of the lot, boasting a recognizable melody and generating a bit of energy.  'Purple' was long and lumbering, but nice in a drowsy kind of way.   


Lots of folks love this album so take my cynical comments with a grain of salt.   Besides, how often are you going to get the chance to buy a sealed original copy of this album ?  


"Rainbow" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Rainbow   (Bobby Callender) - 3:48   rating: ** stars

Imagine a young (really young) Donovan stoned to the point where he was barely functioning.  Now picture him in a studio with a producer who was determined to squeeze every last dollar out of the already dying market for psychedelic music.  Surround him with a tuneless, drone of a song and an equally stoned group of supporting musicians (including what sounded like someone trying to play sitar with his toes).  I imagine the results would sound similar to 'Rainbow'.  Okay, around the 1:30 mark the song momentarily found a melody (and a nice fuzz guitar solo), but then everything fell back into a tuneless drone, complete with some dreaded studio effects.   Never seen a copy, but the song was tapped as a single:

- 1968's 'Rainbow' b/w 'Symphonic Pictures' (MGM catalog number K 13965)

2.) Nature   (Bobby Callender) - 4:31  rating: **** stars

In spite of my earlier comments, I'm actually a big fan of sitar in rock music.  And in contrast to the opener, Collin Walcott's sitar colorings on 'Nature' were quite good.  The song actually boasted a recognizable melody with the fuzz guitar, sitar, and orchestration giving the tune kind of a 'Kashmire' vibe.   

3.) Sade Masoch   (Bobby Callender) - 2:53   rating: ** stars

So can we remake 'Eleanor Rigby' without getting sued ?  What if we add some sitar and feature a male main character ?  Let's make him a sensitive teacher who isn't understood by his fellow teachers, his students, or society.  Okay, but we need to "up" the tragedy factor so let's have him go off the rails  Sounds like a great idea.   English majors and other sensitive types will love this one.  Anyone else - probably not so much.

4.) Purple   (Bobby Callender) - 11:38  rating: *** stars

Clocking in at over eleven minutes, 'Purple'  almost sounded like a slice of new age meditative music ...  Assuming you could stay awake, you got to hear Callender droning on and on and on, accompanied by the sound of rain (and occasional thunder) and some rather free form sitar and Indian percussion.   I guess it was a good way to get your blood pressure down, but I wouldn't say it was fun.   Maybe if you were stoned ...


(side 2)

1.) Mother Superior   (Bobby Callender) - 4:25   rating: ** stars

Paul Harris' opening harpsichord made the touchy feely 'Mother Superior' momentarily palatable.  The thing is, simply piling on tons of day-to-day details about someone's life didn't necessarily make for an interesting story, or a good song.  Always wondered what the world this one was about - a female brothel owner ?    Abruptly shifting into a jazzy segment really didn't do anything to improve this one.  Ultimately this one was just too fey for me to stomach.    

2.) Autumn   (Bobby Callender) - 3:02   rating: ** stars

Another 'Eleanor Rigby' styled ballad with a touch of Gypsy melody added in.   I don't care how stoned you were, the spoken word segment was painfully sensitive ...  If a high school kid turned this in as a project, they'd probably get a failing grade.

3.) A Man   (Bobby Callender) - 4:00   rating: ** stars

Ever heard a Nico song ?  This sounded like something she might have recorded on an early '60s solo romp.   Again, piling tons of details into a lyric doesn't necessarily make it a good song.  Okay, I felt bac for the dog.

4.) I'm Just High On Life   (Bobby Callender) - 4:45   rating: ** stars

Hum, 'I'm Just High On Life' managed to make raga dull ...  By the way, the opening sitar chord sounded like he'd ripped it off a Beatles song.

5.) Symphonic Pictures   (Bobby Callender) - 4:52   rating: *** stars

Very schizophrenic, 'Symphonic Pictures' started out sounded like something written for a Broadway show, briefly shifted into a weird spoken word segment with plenty of African percussion, and then went into social commentary.  At least the commentary was briefly accompanied by a rock arrangement.   


So, if you were 18 in 1968, in 2017 you would be 67 - wow, at your next family reunion ask grandma and grandpa if they remember getting enlightened to this album ...


I stumbled across a hysterical article Callender related article by the late Gilbert Scott Markle.  Markle was the owner of Long View Farm Studio and ran into Callender when showed up with an entourage to record what became his 1972 album "Le Musee de L'impressionnisme".