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Mugwump's Only Album Reissued

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Stilly River Sage 21 Jan 12 - 07:24 PM
Joe Offer 21 Jan 12 - 07:47 PM
GUEST,Wesley S 21 Jan 12 - 09:41 PM
pdq 21 Jan 12 - 09:48 PM
Stilly River Sage 22 Jan 12 - 11:00 PM
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Subject: Mugwump's Only Album Reissued
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 07:24 PM

Collector's Choice Reissues the Mugwumps' Only Album

My friend Tom (GVTom here at Mudcat, but he never posts, just reads) tells me this is a big deal. I haven't heard of them. My bad, it sounds interesting.

Okay, after I started this thread I noticed that the article is five years old, but I looked up Mugwumps here at Mudcat and they are mentioned in passing in other threads and one named thread has only two posts: Mugwumps online. Amazingly, the 13-year-old link in that thread still works! ;)

The Mugwumps are best known as the band immortalized in autobiographical song by the Mamas & the Papas. Many know of them, but few have heard their one 1967 album for Warner Bros. Records. Until now, that is, as Collectors' Choice Music prepares its June 5 reissue of The Mugwumps' self-titled album.

"This was the first folk-rock group ever," Cass Elliot boasted to Johnny Carson about The Mugwumps. In a sense it's true. Born of the late Greenwich Village folk scene just as many of its proponents prepared to colonize Laurel Canyon, the band consisted of Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty (later of the Mamas & the Papas), Zalman Yanovsky (future guitarist for the Lovin' Spoonful) and Jim Hendricks. A small amount of cross-pollination occurred in the group's formation: Cass and her erstwhile husband Jim had been in Cass Elliot & the Big Three, a progressive folk outfit. Canadians Denny and Zal hailed from The Haliax Three, a more traditional folk trio. In early '64, Zal and Denny launched a rock alter ego called The Noise. Also in '64, Cass introduced Zal to John Sebastian by claiming Ringo Starr was with her. A historic connection was made as Zal and John went off to form the Lovin' Spoonful, while Cass and Denny joined John & Michelle Phillips to form the Mamas & the Papas, who pioneered rock's "California Dreamin'" era.

The Mugwumps' name was given to them by producer Erik Jacobsen, who heard them at the skid row flophouse known as the Hotel Albert in Greenwich Village, where the members made their home. A mugwump is a fence-sitter who can't make up his mind – mug on one side, wump on the other side.

The Washington Post noted the group was "attempting a new sound." Another review described Cass as a "large young gal dressed in a leopard-skin muu muu." The description continued of the guys: "One wore his hair combed forward over his brow à la a Beatle. Another looked like you or me except for sideburns which grew at least half way to his chin. Another looked like Paul of Peter, Paul & Mary fame." As they played, the critic noted, "the men plucked glistening electric guitars with great vehemence and the one with the Beatle mop moved his head back and forth like a Dupont Circle pigeon spying a crust of bread."

Cited in the reissue's liner notes by Richard Barton Campbell, Denny Doherty was quoted as saying: "Picture this group: Zalman Yanovksy, free lance Jew; me from Halifax, the weird Irishman playing bass; this 300 pound Cass; we've got Art Stokes, black kid on drums; Jim Hendricks on guitar, John Sebastian sometimes sitting on a stool playing harmonica, and we called ourselves The Mugwumps! We went electric a year before Dylan. Everybody went, 'What!? Get out of here!'"

Unfortunately, the Mugwumps era lasted only from July through November 1964, their one album recorded August 13 & 14, 1964, produced by Alan Lorber, who'd gone to see them at the behest of managers Roy Silver and Bob Covello.

In November 1964, they played their swan song performance at the Peppermint Lounge in New York.

Recalled Cass: "We were doing very sophisticated folksy stuff, but obviously 1964 wasn't the year for it. . . It was in a time warp. Just too much before its time."

Perhaps we can better understand the Mugwumps muse 43 years later, in 2007. At any rate, thanks to Collectors' Choice, we'll have the opportunity to try.

The story is here for research, of course, in case this link isn't as durable as the other one. There are links embedded in the article that you may want to check out, so do visit the original page.


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Subject: RE: Mugwump's Only Album Reissued
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 07:47 PM

Now, I don't think the other Mugwumps thread was about the Mamas and the Papas, et al. It was about a magazine. Interestingly, the first subscriber was Mudcatter Bob Clayton (of the Washington DC area).

I'd swear I have that Mugwumps album on CD somewhere, but of course I can't find it now. Oh, I'll take it back - the album I have is "The Big 3 featuring Mama Cass Elliot, Tim Rose, and Jim Hendricks." I also have the Collectors Choice Halifax Three album. Both are quite good, by the way. Guess I'll have to complete my pre-Mamas and Papas collection with the Mugwumps.


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Subject: RE: Mugwump's Only Album Reissued
From: GUEST,Wesley S
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 09:41 PM

I know I used to have that Mugwumps LP. I'll have to check to see if I still have it.

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Subject: RE: Mugwump's Only Album Reissued
From: pdq
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 09:48 PM

If you check eBay, there is a dealer with 10 copies (new) offered at $10.00, free shipping.

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Subject: RE: Mugwump's Only Album Reissued
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 11:00 PM

For something that is apparently that rare, that is a very good price! Snap them up!

It occurs to me that I saw a documentary in the last year that visited the very early performances of Cass Elliot. In New York City. If I can sort out where I saw it, I'll add it to this thread. It could have been a reference to a performance going back that far.

Tom discovers these things because he's a tour guide in New York (has focused mostly on Ellis Island, where we met as park rangers). He lives in the Village and has been researching it for years. It finally dawned on him that he should offer tours of Greenwich Village, and of course, that just makes him all the more interested in the ephemera of the music scene way before he got there. He can point out important buildings from the day that are now boarded up, as if nothing important happened there. It's kind of sad, in that context.


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