THE EIGHTH DAY
“On the Eighth Day“
One of the most interesting phenomena in pop geekdom was the renaissance of sunshine pop in the 1990s. After its original heyday in the late ’60s, sunshine pop went into a near total eclipse. There were always bands doing Beatle-inspired pop, power pop, even baroque pop, but for about twenty years, virtually no one was doing sunshine pop. Then a number of factors converged. Brian Wilson’s solo album renewed interest in The Beach Boys and their vocal harmonies; Japanese labels catering to collectors began reissuing ’60s pop compilations featuring obscure gems, many of which were best classified or described as sunshine pop; new bands came on the scene, clearly influenced by both The Beach Boys and sunshine pop, from the fairly progressive Polyphonic Spree to obscure traditionalist like The Now People and The Explorers Club. The sun shone once again on sunshine pop.
Now, the classic sunshine pop bands include the very well-known (The Mamas & Papas, The Association), the generally accepted cult heroes (The Free Design, Curt Boettcher), and groups that have been nearly forgotten, one of which is today’s subject: The Eighth Day.
The story begins with a Beatles-inspired garage band from Wellsburg, West Virginia, called The Sons of Liberty. The original line-up was Frank DeFede and Dave Buhl on guitar, Glenn Reasner on bass, and John Rasz on keyboards, along with assorted drummers. Like a thousand other such bands in the mid-’60s, The Sons of Liberty sought pop star success, ultimately teaming with music empresario Joe Gorlock, who arranged an audition for the band in New York City with producers Gene Allan and Ron Dante (soon to be the production team behind The Archies). They passed the audition, relocated to New York City and were given a new name—The Eighth Day—as well as two female singers, Melanie Ross and Nancy Petite. After a few weeks of rehearsal in the famous Brill Building, a demo was recorded and shopped to various labels, with Kapp eventually signing the band.
With Artie Butler handling the arrangements, and Allan and Dante producing, basic tracks were laid down at Bell Sound and vocal overdubs at Mayfair Studios. Dissatisfaction, however, was brewing within the band: sessions were dragging on and on, their original songs were being rejected and, frankly, these were young kids who didn’t much care for being bossed around. Halfway through the project, The Sons of Liberty went home. Another of Gorlock’s bands, The Opus IV, were hired to complete the sessions, with Ross and Petite still in tow and the arrangements finalized after all the rehearsal with The Sons of Liberty line-up. The album, variously listed in discographies as On the Eighth Day or simply On, was released on Kapp in 1967.
The album lies right between The Fifth Dimension on one hand and The Archies on the other. The songs—almost all written by Dante and Allan—are very catchy, but somewhat simpler than the Jimmy Webb and Laura Nyro songs The Fifth Dimension were recording, while the vocal arrangements were well beyond the reach of Jughead and friends. The album also nicks a lot of riffs and little arrangement tricks that are fun to spot, though they occasionally distract. For example, the first track, “Hey Boy! (The Girl’s in Love with You),” opens with eight bars sounding very much like The Four Tops’ “Baby I Need Your Loving,” before breaking into a terrific bubblegum song with a killer chorus (there’s even a brief musical quote from “Then He Kissed Me” in the bridge!). “It Takes the Rain (To Make the Flowers to Grow)” begins by blending the intro to “Monday, Monday” with the vocal hook from The Fleetwoods “Come Softly to Me.” That said, it’s a great sunshine pop song with beautiful changes and rich harmonies. “Brandy (Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” features some nice Brian Wilson touches in both the bassline and percussion and lots of soaring vocals. “Building with a Steeple” opens with a quote from Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man,” but ends up sounding more like the Beau Brummels with female vocals and a ringer on the glockenspiel. “That Good Old Fashioned Way” is an appropriately anachronistic number, complete with tenor banjo and a tacky stab tag. “Glory” is one of the highlights on the album, a cheerful bubblegum song―not unlike The Association’s “Windy”―with an a cappella bridge that recalls some of The Beach Boys’ work on Smile.
Side two opens with “Raining Sunshine,” a perfectly titled slice of sunshine pop that could have fit right in on The Cowsills’ debut. Another highlight. “How Can I Stop Loving You” alternates between arty verses and four-on-the-floor choruses. It’s a remarkable arrangement. “A Million Lights” borrows guitar riffs from another Neil Diamond song, “Cherry Cherry,” but the vocals are pure Fifth Dimension. “The Bandit of Brazil” is the only real clunker here—an awkward attempt to meld Marty Robbins and Spanky and Our Gang. The album closes with “Long Winter’s Night” a midtempo waltz that is pretty forgettable as song but which features some of the best vocals on the album—very similar to The Carnival, previous reviewed here at Lost Treasures.
Three singles were released from On the Eighth Day: “Hey Boy! (The Girl’s in Love with You” b/w “A Million Lights,” “Raining Sunshine” b/w “That Good Old Fashioned Way,” and “Glory” b/w “Building with a Steeple.” That’s more than half the album released on 45s! Only the first single hit the charts, but it never broke the top 50.
As to what happened to the members of The Eighth Day, not much is known. Dave Buhl went on to record a couple of singles for the Mega label in the early ’70s. Bob Parissi from The Opus IV went on to play with Wild Cherry (of “Play That Funky Music” fame). Frank De Fede went on to run Technimedia, now in the hands of his son, Frank, Jr. Ron Dante, of course, went on to be the main voice of The Archies and The Cufflinks. In a sense The Eighth Day had broken up even before their only album was finished, but that notwithstanding, the original line-ups of both The Sons of Liberty and The Eighth Day reconvened for a 40th anniversary show in Wheeling, West Virginia just last year.
On the Eighth Day was reissued on CD by the Japanese branch of Universal in both 1997 and 2014. The latter edition is still in print but, like most Japanese imports, is pricey. The original vinyl is hard to find, but goes for about the same price as the Japanese CD. While not available in the legit digital domain, I downloaded my copy from a fan site. Aficionados of sunshine pop—and I know you’re out there—need to get this one!
Pop Pioneer and “Lost Treasures” writer, Peter Marston is the leader of long-running power pop band, Shplang, whose most recent album, “My Big Three Wheeler” has been described as “the Beatles meet Zappa in pop-psych Sumo match.” Peter has a new project in 2015 under the name MARSTON. Marston have a track on the latest “Power Pop Planet – Volume 5” compilation just out now and available at: www.PopGeekHeavenStore.com.
CHECK OUT SHPLANG out at this link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shplang
Discogs Listing: https://www.discogs.com/Eighth-Day-On-The-Eighth-Day/release/5104718
Building With A Steeple