The First Edition – The First Edition (1967)
Ex-members of the New Christy Minstrels (with the exception of the drummer, Mickey Jones ) run the fun gamut on The First Edition, and had they disappeared after this effort it would have been a huge collector's item. The cardinal sin of Lenny Kaye's masterpiece Nuggets collection is that "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" did not follow the Electric Prunes as the second track on volume one of that revered collection, or show up on it at all. The psychedelicized Top Five hit from the winter of 1968 produced by Mike Post and arranged by Al Capps might have a few lyrics that would make Bob Dylan blush, but the song's fuzz guitar, attitude, and hook are unstoppable. The rest of the album is top-notch as well, sounding like the Mamas & the Papas meets early Jefferson Airplane with Signe Anderson on vocals. It's Thelma Camacho who never got the name change or the recognition she deserved, but she sounds great on "I Get a Funny Feeling" and "Hurry Up Love," and the album benefits from her presence. "Shadow in the Corner of Your Mind" may be a title that conjures up images of Bob Lind and Ted Nugent hammering out a song over the dinner table, maybe because they still look like the New Christy Minstrels on the cover, and Tom Smothers gushing on the liner notes is unique, but it was television that was instrumental in launching this group into the mainstream and the hit song does well surrounded by this musical environment. Tunes like Mike Post's co-write "Dream On" rock out much harder than "Green Green," "Saturday Night," and "Today," Christy Minstrel's hits prior to Rogers joining the group. "Home Made Lies" has that "someday I'll teach you real fine" riff from the Animals' "It's My Life," Mike Settle lifting from here and there, while "Marcia: 2 A.M. sounds like Peter, Paul & Mary jamming with Paul Kantner and "Hurry Up Love" wants desperately to be girl group. The album's one drawback is that the band and producer don't go all the way in exploring these different styles the way they did on the hit "Just Dropped In." "Just Dropped In" not only made Kenny Rogers' voice the most familiar first, it's an all-out assault on the senses, its wild abandon necessary but absent from the other aspects of this disc. "Church Without a Name" explores -- or maybe toys with -- the blues, just adding to the feel of a band looking for a sound. They eventually found that sound during their run of hits from early 1968 to late 1970. But this debut is splendid and it is fun to hear them emulating Marty Balin right off the bat with the first track, "I Found a Reason." A lost gem worth rediscovering.