pbc_imafoolBarbara (Sandy) Robison is at last featured on every song in this Peanut Butter Conspiracy release. The recordings date from 1966 through 1970. Five of them have never been previously released, two are from rare movie soundtracks, and five are hand-picked from previous PBC releases. There has always been consensus from their fans that Barbara possessed the most beautiful voice of the 1960’s rock and roll era. This release is for those who have always wanted and now can hear more of her warm, soulful voice.

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy is a psychedelic rock band formed in Los Angeles, 1966. Spun off from the folk-rock band Ashes, incl. John Merrill (guitar/ vocals), Alan Brackett (bass/ vocals), Barbara Robison (vocals), Spencer Dryden (drums) and Jim Cherniss (guitar/ vocals). Ashes recorded a 45 for Vault Records mid-1966, after which Dryden split to San Francisco to replace Skip Spence in Jefferson Airplane. Around this time Robison had given birth to a son (Scott) and Merrill had left for Europe, while Cherniss also parted ways with the group. Brackett then hooked up with a new guitarist named Lance Fent and a new drummer, Jim Voigt.

According to Alan Brackett: “I got together upon John’s recommendation with Lance Fent and Jim Voigt and, with the help of Owsley, we learned 50 or so songs in one day and went out that night and got our choice of about three gigs in Hollywood. We played at the Sea Witch on Sunset Blvd. as the Crossing Guards. We were a power trio, and then John and Barbara joined back up with us and we changed our name to the PBC. The PBC was a name that Jim Voigt came up with– actually it was the Peanut Butter Controversy originally, but we changed it to Conspiracy right away.

Their first release under their new moniker was the late-1966 gem “Time Is After You”, a song they later re-visited on THE GREAT CONSPIRACY. Their new manager Billy James had already succeeded in getting the Rising Sons their deal with Columbia, and he made sure the PBC signed up with CBS after a bidding war ensued with Elektra. The debut 45 for the new label was the timely “It’s a Happening Thing”, produced by west coast studio impresario Gary Usher. The single cracked the KHJ “Boss 30” in February of 1967 and eventually became a regional hit, charting at #93 nationally. The follow-up single “Then Came Love” featured a magnificent lead vocal from Barbara Robison (or “Sandi Peanut Butter” as she was called at that time), but it failed to chart. However, the song is still notable for being one of the earliest (and best) attempts at symphonic rock music, predating the Beatles’ SGT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.

The new band’s debut LP, THE PEANUT BUTTER CONSPIRACY IS SPREADING, was also recorded with Gary Usher at the helm. During the sessions Gary called upon musicians such as Glen Campbell and James Burton to help bolster the sound, and the group later disavowed the record for that reason. Nevertheless, it stands as a fine relic from the early Flower Power era with strong original compositions by Merrill and Brackett, particularly the memorable “Most Up ’til Now” and the cautionary “Why Did I Get So High?” The album scraped the lower reaches of the Billboard Top 200, largely based on word-of-mouth surrounding the band’s live shows. In the studio the Peanut Butter Conspiracy crafted intricate melodies with adventurous progressions that were by turns dark and optimistic. Their blend of male and female voices reminded many of the Mamas and Papas. They were at their best when they let Sandi Peanut Butter take center stage, conjuring up dreamy psychedelic riffs around her soulful vocals.

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2 Responses so far.

  1. Thanks for talking about us and the new “Barbara” cd featuring her wonderful voice on all the tracks. This was a work of love for me and I hope that her fans will enjoy hearing more of her warm and soulful singing. I hope people that have not heard her check this out too.

    Alan

  2. diana says:

    My pleasure!

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