8 March 2012

The Montanas - You've Got To Be Loved/ Difference of Opinion


Label: Independence (in the USA, Pye in the UK)
Year of Release: 1967


We already dealt with The Montanas on this blog just before Christmas, and I'd rather not bore regular readers (or indeed myself) with a long repetition of the facts. So let's just stick to the basics this time - they were a Dudley based pop band who were taken under the wing of studio mastermind Tony Hatch with the idea that they'd have a massive UK career. With an act that was apparently versatile enough to include slick vocal harmonies, musical parodies and comedy, they were well appreciated on the light entertainment circuit, but perhaps not so adored by the emerging underground.

Side one of this record showcases their talents exquisitely. "You've Got To Be Loved" is a piece of harmony pop which is almost perfect in its delivery, full of intricate orchestral arrangements and the joys of Spring and none the worse for it. It sounds as if it should have been a pop hit, and indeed nearly was in the USA where it eventually settled for a mid-table placing in the Billboard 100. In the UK, however, it was largely ignored, although curiously its cause seems to have been taken up by a few Motown and Northern Soul heads since - not undeservedly I'd say, since whilst it has a gentleness which borders on the twee, it does predate and predict a lot of the lighter soul records that emerged in the following decade.

Perhaps the fact The Montanas style didn't really fit the emerging psychedelic style inspired the biting satire of the flipside "Difference of Opinion" which attacks hippies with gritted teeth. "People like you make us tired/ trying to appear inspired" the band sing in gentle harmony at one point, while mocking sub-Dylan musings clutter the majority of the rest of the lyrics. Sadly, I can't actually include the track in full since it's already available on iTunes for purchase, but a Youtube clip is available here, and you can buy the thing with your hard earned money here. Suffice to say that the band sound like they're growling defensively at people they probably felt were beginning to make them seem irrelevant, and perhaps if they happened to play a northern club after Pink Floyd had visited the track might have got sympathetic roars of approval from the audience (not my personal opinion, you understand, but the Floyd did get short shrift from a lot of club audiences outside of London at the time). Oddly, for all its sneering "Difference of Opinion" is such a good parody of a psych track that its worked its way on to numerous compilations and DJ sets since. If there's one thing you can't fault these chaps for, it's attention to detail.

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