Waterbeds in Trinidad (1972)

I recently completed my collection of The Association‘s CDs when I discovered a reissue (from the British label Rev Ola) of their 1972 album Waterbeds in Trinidad!, their first and only record for the Columbia label following their departure from Warner Bros. with whom they’d had their biggest hits in the 60s – harmony-drenched songs like “Never My Love” and “Windy” and “Everything That Touches You”.

The group’s fortunes waned towards the end of that decade as their old fashioned vocal pop sound and earnest, collegiate lyrics fell out of fashion, but they continued recording into the 70s; their sound, which, with virtually every band member a singer-songwriter, was never entirely coherent anyway, evolving in a more country-pop direction.

The Association “Along Comes Mary” (1966)

It had been nearly four years since the band’s last real hit when Waterbeds in Trinidad! was released, and the move to a new label did nothing to revive interest public interest in their music. That’s unfortunate because it’s really a solid, confident record full of some of the group’s loveliest performances.

The Association “Come the Fall” (1972)

The album’s opener, a rousing singalong cover of singer-songwriter Ron Davies’s “Silent Song Through the Land”, remains one of my favorite Association songs, although as far as I can tell, it was never released as a single and, like the rest of the Waterbeds album, isn’t available commercially for download in the U.S. (The Rev Ola import CD is available at a fairly reasonable price though.) Click here to hear some of it.

Two singles were released from the album, “Come the Fall”, written and sung by the group’s own Terry Kirkman (who had also written and sung the group’s biggest hit “Cherish” in 1966), and a gorgeous cover of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1967 hit “Darling Be Home Soon” sung by the group’s resident psychedelic pop balladeer Jerry Yester. Both songs failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (the latter “bubbled under” at #104). That August, the band would lose bassist Brian Cole (that’s him doing the goofy band intro to “Along Comes Mary” above) to a heroin overdose.

The Association “Darling Be Home Soon” (1972)

Of course, doing a lovely version of “Darling Be Home Soon” is like taking a pretty picture of a sunset. The song is filled with so much quiet yearning, and it’s got a such a sweet, delicate melody, you’d almost have to try to mess it up. As such, it’s one of John Sebastian and the Lovin’ Spoonful’s most covered songs. And artists as diverse as Bobby Darin, Joe Cocker, and British glam rockers Slade have taken it on. Then again, while anyone can take a pretty picture of a sunset – and just about everyone has – how many of those pretty sunset pictures are memorable to anyone besides the photographer? I like to think that The Association took the definitive picture of this particular sunset.

John Sebastian “Darling Be Home Soon” (1970)