Hard Luck

Band members                             Related acts

- Richard Canada --

- Sherry Gaden --




- Dirty Licks




Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Witch Doctor

Company: IRA

Catalog: AW #14082

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1815

Price: $50.00


Besides sporting one of the ugliest covers in rock history, "Witch Doctor" was odd, even by tax scam release standards.  


There were no production, or performance credits, but the majority of songs were credited to the songwriting team of Sherry Gaden and Richard Canada.  Separate and apart the pair's resume seems to have focused on children related projects including writing material for a1968 soundtrack for the film "The Green Slime", writing material for various Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids projects and for the animated version of "Oliver Twist".  Speculation on my part, but I'm guessing most of this material reflected odds and ends from their songwriting catalog.  I'd also hazard a guess that Gaden and Canada are unaware the album was released. That children's record tie-in might not be too far off the mark given all of the songs were credited to Shermley Music Co   Shermley was established in 1968 as a song publishing arm for Filmations Associates which created The Archies and several other animated television shows.  And frankly that's what these tunes sounded like - something you would have heard on in the early and mid '70s on a Saturday morning between cartoons on ABC television. 


Musically the collection was all over the spectrum including professional, but totally anonymous stabs at pop ('The Teacher'), reggae ('Soap and Water') and conventional rock tunes ('Look Before You Leap'). In line with my early comments, the interesting thing is that most of these tunes sounded like they'd been written for some sort of children's program.  The first eight tunes seemed to focus on a series of simplistic concepts - bullying 'The Bully', personal hygiene 'Soap and Water' and getting along with you teacher 'The Teacher'.   Making the whole thing even more curious, the last two songs carried different songwriting credits and didn't sound anything like the rest of the album.  They literally sounded like they been tacked on to the end of the album in order to ensure an acceptable running time.  Not that anyone was paying attention.


"Witch Doctor" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Bully   (Sherry Gaden - Richard Canada) -    rating: *** stars

Funny, the anonymous singer's voice has always sounded familiar, though I've never been able to place the slightly lispy delivery.  Nice pop tune with a straightforward "don't bully" lyric.

2.) Look Before You Leap   (Sherry Gaden - Richard Canada) -    rating: *** stars

Another mid-tempo rocker, 'Look Before You Leap' could have been a decent conventional pop song without too much effort.  

3.) Soap and Water  (Sherry Gaden - Richard Canada) -   rating: ** stars

Reggae-flavored lesson on personal hygiene ... I'm not making this up. 

4.) The Show Must Go On  (Sherry Gaden - Richard Canada) -   rating: ** stars

Pretty, waltz-ish ballad.  Never been able to focus long enough to figure out what this one was about. 

5.) The Teacher  (Sherry Gaden - Richard Canada) -    rating: *** stars

Not sure this bouncy little ditty would have changed the way I looked at, or interacted with any of my teachers, but I'm sure many teachers appreciated the pat on the back.  Wonder how come he song didn;t acknowledge male teachers .....


(side 2)
1.) Listen
   (Sherry Gaden - Richard Canada) -    rating: *** stars

Breezy, Caribbean lilt praising the ability to hear ...   

2.) Believe It Or Not   (Sherry Gaden - Richard Canada) -    rating: *** stars

Kind of a cute anti-smoking tract.     

3.) T.V.    (Gaden - Canada) -   rating: ** stars

Another reggae flavored tune preaching the evils of too much television.   Wow, this one was a bit heavy handed. 

4.) Peaceful Children   (Emerson - Peters) -    rating: *** stars

At least to my ears 'Peaceful Children' sounded nothing like the previous eight songs.   Not only did it sport different singers (including a female lead), but it had different writing credits.  Musically it came off as a conventional pop-rock tune without any of the kid-friendly lyrics that characterized the rest of the album.    

5. Toronto   (Nolan) -   rating: *** stars

Clearly unrelated to the first eight tracks, 'Toronto' was a decent power ballad that actually has some commercial potential.