For a band that was custom built for superstardom, things did not go as planned as planned for Moby Grape. Before the release of their debut album, the stars seemed to align for them in just about every way. First, they had the personnel, with five singing songwriters who each could have honed out a career as a solo artist. Second, they had a major label more than anxious to launch their career, and finally, they possessed creative management ready to splay the band’s image on billboards all across America. By the album’s release date, the entire enterprise collapsed into a hot mess. How could such a sure thing go wrong so quickly?
Some of their downfall resulted from unfortunate circumstance and some resulted from boneheaded promotion. The coincidence most responsible for derailing the group’s debut couldn’t have been predicted, but it was a doozy. For instance, it is not a good thing to promote yourself as the greatest thing since sliced bread if you release your album the same week as the Beatles release “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” At best, Moby Grape looked like warmed over wanna-bes while the Beatles recreated the 1960’s in their own image. If you also add a ridiculously ambitious promotion campaign that saw Columbia Records issue five Moby Grape singles simultaneously, all on the same day, you end up with something worse than egg on your face. One minute, Moby Grape were going to be the next big thing and the next, they were wallowing in something that resembled instant obsolescence.
It was such a shame, because the album was quite remarkable for its time, bringing together a wealth of attitudes and styles that could have made quite an impact if it weren’t for “Lovely Rita” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. Moby Grape’s debut could have been a signpost for the summer of love. Instead, it’s a quaint reminder of a time when bands could mold psychedelia, country rock, folk and garage punk into one uniform package.
June 1967 - Billboard Charted #24
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