Naturally Stoned / I'll Give You Things
The Avant-Garde Naturally Stoned 45 (Columbia, 1968)
Ron Dante I'll Give You Things 45 (Columbia, 1966)
Certainly I could say that it is a coincidence that I am posting these tunes at the same time that a new James Bond film is in the theaters and it would be a wee bit true in that I am not on the payroll of whomever is producing the movie. Perhaps both the Avant-Garde and Ron Dante deserve the benefit of the doubt that the melodies in these songs, the ones that sound lifted from the 007 theme, came from their own imaginations. Perhaps, but probably not. Ron Dante and the main guy behind the Avant-Garde were both supreme popsters and master showmen.
The brains and one of the voices of the Avant-Garde belonged to Chuck Woolery. From the mid to late Sixties the Avant-Garde were to have a small sting of hits, all of them orchestral pop and Naturally Stoned, which played on the James Bond theme, the hippie lets-get-high vibe, AND the new "natural living" craze, was the biggest. Hip conservatism that would make Mike Curb proud! The Avant-Garde died in 1970 and Woolery headed into TV. Though he was to return to singing in the late 70s, Chuck's biggest fame was to come with the game show Wheel of Fortune. He left that show after contract disputes and bopped around the TV dial (and as founder of a fishing lure company) until he hit the Game Show Network, who were to do a reality show on Chuck entitled Naturally Stoned.
Ron Dante is a god among bubblegum enthusiasts. Why? Because he was THE voice behind the Archies. Those of you into the Archies know their records and the Ron Dante solo record made around that time. You also probably know of Ron's stint in the Detergents and their parody Leader of the Laundromat. But do you know Ron's post-Detergents/pre-Archies songs? If you don't, you should. They have the same pop quality that his bubblegum has but there is a bit of an edge. I'll Give You Things uses the 007 theme and some nearly suggestive lyrics to make a haunted pop classic. Don't know if this one charted or not.
Chuck's a winner, I have some kind of oldies pressing of that single (didn't realize it was such a big hit). He was great on Wheel of Fortune, I wasn't as in to Love Connection.