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The Grass Roots: Their Very Best

The Grass Roots

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Album Review

The Grass Roots charted 14 times with ABC Dunhill. Three years after their last chart action, producers Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter, and (in an arranging capacity here) Michael Omartian gave singer Rob Grill a platform. The good news is that it works much better than Uprooted, the highly dysfunctional "solo" album that had much promise and little substance. At least "Optical Illusion" is as hooky and commercial as the latter-day Grass Roots hits like "Two Divided by Love" and "Sooner or Later." Lambert & Potter crafted a typical '70s pop song, but it is fun, and more in tune than the cover of Holland/Dozier/Holland's "Something About You," which backfires while starting this album off. "Out in the Open" and "I Wanna Slow Dance Again" sound very much like Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds — schmaltzy, but not unbearable. The performance of Randy Newman's "Naked Man" really is a stretch and might have been better-suited for the Uprooted solo affair. John Travolta/Tony Orlando haircuts adorn the group photo on the back cover, while the front looks like one of those generic bargain basement releases. A section of what looks like farmland is cut away showing tree roots, declaring an image problem for the band and this album. The world didn't need another version of "Up on the Roof," but it is one of the better tracks on The Grass Roots, though it exposes Rob Grill's lack of vocal personality. "It's a Cryin' Shame" is another sharp, classic Grass Roots-style song, and like "Optical Illusion," is perfectly crafted pop by Lambert & Potter. "The Last Time Around" falls flat, and was written by Dennis Provisor, who contributed four songs to the 1979 release Uprooted. There are two songs by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil: the ready-for-TV "Nothing Good Comes Easy," which sounds like a Bobby Sherman hit from Here Comes the Brides, and "Mamacita," which concludes the album. It's an off-color south-of-the-border style take-off on Abba by way of Jay & the Americans. It's homogenized stuff with few surprises.

Biography

Formed: 1964 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Grass Roots had a series of major hits — most notably "Let's Live for Today," "Midnight Confessions," "Temptation Eyes," and "Two Divided by Love" — that help define the essence of the era's best AM radio. Although the group's members weren't even close to being recognizable, and their in-house songwriting was next to irrelevant, the Grass Roots managed to chart 14 Top 40 hits, including seven gold singles and one platinum single, and two had hits collections that effortlessly went...
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