From The Rainy Day People to The Pleasure Fair
The Pleasure Fair were a soft rock harmony group based in Los Angeles during the late ’60s who released three singles and an album on Uni before members went their separate ways.
Although commercially unsuccessful they did leave an impression and have recently enjoyed a certain acclaim following their inclusion on a CD series of compilations called ’Soft Sounds For Gentle People.’
The origins of The Pleasure Fair were in the mid ’60s when Robb Royer and Tim Hallinan got together as a duo, having met at San Fernando Valley State College. They performed folk-rock standards as Robb & Tim, later adding female singer Michele Cochrane, giving the performers a whole new dimension.
Not long afterwards the trio added a fourth member, a skilled guitarist named Stephen Cohn.
Their sound now became a happening thing and typical of the California harmony outfits of male/female vocal groups.
It is believed that the group were billed as The Inn Group during this period in time, although group members appear to have no recollection of this name. Evidence has appeared though supporting this name in the form of a promotional picture. Maybe this was done by their management without the groups knowledge?
What ever their name at this time, a one off single deal with HBR was secured and the 45 ’Junior Executive’/’I’m Telling It To You’ was released during late 1966 as The Rainy Day People. Both sides were group originals and not really typical of The Pleasure Fair sound to come.
’I’m Telling It To You’ for instance has some subtle fuzz guitar and could have been a real sunset strip swinger had the fuzz been louder, the backbeat slightly quicker and with a farfisa organ solo instead of the horn arrangement.
Although Snuff Garrett is listed as the producer on the HBR record it is believed that Leon Russell and J.J. Cale were at the controls. These two produced a host of cool records during the 1966-67 period in Los Angeles including the The Leathercoated Minds material.
The group signed a recording contract with Uni Records in 1967 and were billed as The Pleasure Fair for the first time, a much more ’in’ moniker for the psychedelic times, with David Gates hired as the arranger and conductor for their self-titled album.
The long-player comprised twelve songs, eight of which were original compositions by Royer, Hallinan and Cohn with outside material by Van Dyke Parks (’Come To The Sunshine’), Graham Gouldman (’East-West’), The Beatles (’The Things We Said Today’) and a version of ’Barefoot In The Park’ from the recent movie of the same name.
The album is a fine release of Californian soft rock with pleasing melodies and harmonies. There is nothing on it that will get the psychedelic ’heads’ turning. I’m not sure how they managed not to have at least one acid drenched song on an album recorded in Los Angeles during 1967 but The Pleasure Fair managed it!
Having said that, the song ’Turnaway’ is a delight with a rather complex harmony part reminiscent of The Association and has some trippy whispered ’turnaway’s’.
If you dig the gentle side of things (like I do) it’s well worth a listen and surely due for a CD re-issue with the addition of the mono 45s (including those as The Rainy Day People).
The Pleasure Fair briefly appeared in ”Tagged For Murder”, an episode of Ironside, aired during October 1967. The group were seen listening to a playback of their song ’Turnaway’ in the studio. The clip has been uploaded to YouTube recently.
The excellent ’Morning Glory Days’/’Fade In Fade Out’ were taken from the album and released as a single. No big hit followed which is both a shame and a little puzzling as ’Morning Glory Days’ has that flower power sound that would have been all over the radio during 1967/68.
A second single,'(I’m Gonna Have To) Let You Go’/’Today’ followed shortly after but appears to have flopped. The top side does not sound like The Pleasure Fair at all. It appears that this piano dominated ballad was written especially for Michele Cochrane to highlight her vocals and almost feels like a solo release. The flip ’Today’ is far superior and could have come from the album sessions.
Another song that Royer and Hallinan wrote but did not record as The Pleasure Fair was ’Say What You See’, produced by Jimmy Griffin and arranged by David Gates. It was sung by a trio calling themselves The Curtain Calls (Dot 45-17093). The song was also recorded by Lesley Gore.
After the demise of The Pleasure Fair, Robb Royer, Jimmy Griffin and David Gates combined forces as Bread and had major success with a genre of music that is not covered by my blog.
By the time of the second single Michele Cochrane had left the band and had been replaced by another girl singer, also named Michele (though no-one connected with the band can recall her second name !!) and its her you can clearly hear in this release. (13/04/12)
The Rainy Day People – ’Junior Executive’/’I’m Telling It To You’ (HBR-512) 1966
The Pleasure Fair – ’Morning Glory Days’/’Fade In Fade Out’ (UNI 55016) July 1967
The Pleasure Fair – ‘(I’m Gonna Have To) Let You Go’/’Today’ (UNI 55078) 1968
The Pleasure Fair LP (UNI 73009) October 1967