THE SMOKE - "The Smoke" (Sidewalk ST-5912) April 1968

I've already written a brief entry about The Smoke way back in February 2010 but I recently bought an original copy on Sidewalk for £50 so decided to re-examine the group and record.

I bought my first copy way back in the mid eighties, it was a re-issue on Capitol 062-2610441 and is of Greek origin. I have no idea if this was legitimate or a high quality bootleg. It became one of my favourite ever albums and I've played this so many times, possibly only out played by The Byrds "Notorious Byrd Brothers".

Some years later I bought a CD variant on Acid-Ray which no doubt was a shady release. There is no booklet for instance, only a thin card sheet with the album cover on one side and a cut and paste job from "Fuzz, Acid And Flowers" on the other.

Looking around the internet these days it's quite clear that The Smoke album has acquired a legion of fans and information is now readily available. This wasn't the case in 2010 when I first delved into their story. I have found a small review published in Billboard during mid April 1968 which at least pin-points the release date.

The album has been something of a personal obsession for decades. At least once a year I take it off the shelf and examine every song, sometimes playing the record for days... 😹😹...nothing but the Smoke. This time around I'm fixated on a forty second song called "Philosophy" - a Hyghe Knyghte worthy baroque tune... "Do you wonder why we die?"

This studio based group consisted of Michael Lloyd (bass/keyboards/vocals/sundry items), Steve Baim (drums) and Stan Ayeroff (guitar). All three members also recorded as The Rubber Band.
Who'd have thought singer songwriter Michael Lloyd would go on to produce The Osmonds and Donny Osmond's solo material in the early seventies.

I also have a single on Sidewalk by Raw Edge. It was released in December 1967, both sides are "October Country" and it's the same as The Smoke version so for whatever reason the label decided to release the record under a different name. Perhaps the studio outfit were going to go by the name of Raw Edge but decided to change for the album release.