Spooky Tooth

Spooky Tooth

Best Of – That Was Only Yesterday

A&M

Oh, to be the cliched fly on the wall of the marketing meeting at Universal when this baby was given the green light. As one of the least well-remembered, let alone respected, hard rock groups of the late ’60s-early ’70s, Spooky Tooth went on to spawn the silly synth pop of Gary Wright, and the tough boogie of Humble Pie (Pie bassist Greg Ridley was a founding member of Tooth). Still, I haven’t seen a popular uprising recently demanding an anthology of their lifespan from 1968-1973.

That said, about half of the 78 minutes and 16 tracks here are a nice snapshot of an artsy hard rock where subtleties like melodies and arrangements actually counted, albeit for a short time. Mix the classical tendencies and heavy organ of Procol Harum with the muddy attack of early Mott the Hoople and, God help us, Vanilla Fudge and you’ve got a good idea of what to expect. Although for a band whose glory days were over in two short albums, one of which, 1969’s Spooky Two is represented by a whopping seven tracks, it’s hard to imagine how the record company suits think their profit and loss sheets are going to balance in the black on this compilation.

Interestingly, a double album, never released on CD, from 1977 also titled That Was Only Yesterday but mixing early, pre-“Dream Weaver” George Harrison-produced Gary Wright solo tracks in with the Spooky Tooth material, was a more listenable and ultimately more commercially feasible proposition. But like the best guilty pleasures in life, there are fleeting moments of immense enjoyment here. Not so much in the actual music (wait’ll you hear these guys steamroll over Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child”), but in capturing a fleeting moment in time when the bloated, belching Spooky Tooth was actually considered interesting and worthwhile listening. Thankfully those days are long gone.

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