Saturday, January 29, 2011

39. Osmonds - Crazy Horses (1972)

45 years, 45 LPs, 45 days...
When I think of my life in the early 1970's, Saturday morning television is one of the first things that comes to mind. Saturday morning was, without a doubt, the best part of the week (for both us kids and for our parents, who got some peace & quiet for a few hours).

Among my many fond memories of the Osmonds is the time I spent watching their Saturday morning cartoon show in 72-73.  1972 also was the year that the brothers released their fully self-penned and performed rock LP Crazy Horses.
1972: Saturday Morning TV stars
People often (unfairly, I think) make the mistake of comparing the Osmonds with the Jackson 5ive. Sure, the J5 also had their own Saturday cartoon show, and both groups of brothers made great pop records, and both had the youngest sibling experience break-out solo success, but I think that's where the similarities end. Where the Osmonds often get short-changed is that folks don't seem to know just how committed the band was to their craft of writing and recording great rock records.  The band's 3rd LP, Phase III (1971) hinted towards their talents as rock musicians, but it was the next LP that would really rock and challenge their image as a bubblegum act.
Saturday morning TV watcher, early 1970's

At least half of the Crazy Horses LP truly rocks hard, and when not rocking it is serving up sunshine harmony pop that likely influenced generations of future power-pop acts such as Jellyfish and Redd Kross. The album generated two top 20 singles, "Hold Her Tight", and the album's scorching title track, which featured lead vocal duties shared by Merrill and Jay. The song was banned from the radio in some parts of the globe, as some programmers thought it was a drug song (the tune's lyrics were not pro-drugs, but pro-ecology).

The Osmonds took their musical vision one step further with their next album, a Mormon rock opera titled The Plan (1973).  Unfortunately The Plan proved to be too heavy for the Tiger Beat crowd that comprised most of the group's fanbase (mostly because of Donny's solo success).  For The Plan's follow-up, Love Me For a Reason (1974), The Osmonds had been "relieved" of most of their creative control. Although the radio-friendly ballad "Love Me For a Reason" reached the Top 10 of the singles chart, the days of the Osmonds as a heavy rock unit were officially, and sadly, over.

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