Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Affection Collection - Ghostly Reflections Of The Past (1969)

An obscure five-piece group that recorded with producer Norman Petty at the famous Petty Sound Studios in Clovis, New Mexico, the Affection Collection put out at least one album, a self-titled LP on the Evolution label. From the sound of the recording, it's obvious that it must date from the mid- to late '60s, though there's no clue as to the definite year on the sleeve or label. Their sound was very much generic American white pop/rock circa 1967-1968, rather like the albums Petty was doing with the Fireballs around the same time. Sometimes it sounds like pop/rock acts such as Tommy James; at others it's a little like the Five Americans; and at others, of course, it sounds a little like makeshift Buddy Holly, a sound Norman Petty never stopped trying to emulate, even past the mid-'60s. The Fireballs comparison is particularly begged since the Fireballs' guitarist, George Tomsco, helped write much of the material, and some of the tracks feature staccato Tex-Mex-rockabilly picking that sounds a hell of a lot like Tomsco himself. Not only that, several cuts also feature the eerie yet cheesy Mellotron-ish sound (which might be the Solovox, the primitive synthesizer) that Petty frequently employed with Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. One could be tempted to speculate that the Affection Collection might be the Fireballs playing under a false name, although the back sleeve dispels this idea with a list of five musicians from Idaho Falls, Idaho (Mike Doggett, Hal Rowberry, Don Christensen, Ray Hassell, and Tim Comeau) in the Affection Collection. The LP is very derivative, both of Petty/the Fireballs and other '60s pop/rock trends; it's only a curiosity of interest to Norman Petty obsessives, if there are any out there.

At least one reference questions whether this was a real band, suggesting it was Jimmy Gilmore and the Firebirds in disguise.  That speculation is probably a result of the fact Firebirds' guitarist George Tomsco was credited with writing several of the band's singles, as well as some of the material that appeared on the band's lone 1969 album.  
The fact of the matter is The Affection Collection were an  Idaho Falls, Idaho-based quintet who recorded a series of mid-1960s singles and a posthumous LP released by the Evolution label.  Not only were they a real band, but as of the late 1990s the group was still performing throughout Idaho and the Northwest.

- Don Christensen -- vocals, keyboards (1967-70)
- Tim Comeau -- drums, percussion (1967-70)
- Mike Doggett - lead guitar (1967-70)
- Ray Hassell -- bass (1967-70)
- Hal Rowberry -- vocals (1967-70)

As The Affection Connection (great band name), the line up consisted of drummer Tim Comeau, keyboardist Don Christensen, guitarist Mike Doggett, bass player Ray Hassell, and singer Hal Rowberry.  Signed by the small Maudz label, the quintet hooked up with producer Norman Petty making their debut with the 1967 single 'In Apple Blossom Time' b/w 'Time Rests Heavy On My Hands' (Maudz catalog number 001).  United Artists subsequently purchased national distribution rights, reissuing the single in early 1968 (United catalog number UA 50268).  When the single bombed, United lost interest in the group.  They subsequently returned to Maudz, releasing a pair of singles over the next year:

- 1968's 'Feelin' So Good' b/w 'Plastic Flowers' (Maudz catalog number 003)

- 1968's 'Girl' b/w 'I'll Be There' (Maudz catalog number 004)

Once again a national label came knocking - Evolution Records acquired distribution rights to the previous single, reissuing it in 1969 under Evolution catalog number 1004.  It was followed by a second single 'Watch Her Walk' b/w 'I Don't Mind' (Evolution catalog number 1013).

Evolution subsequently agreed to finance an album.  Produced by Norman Petty at his Clovis, New Mexico studio, "The Affection Collection" featured a mixture of earlier singles and 'new' material that was probably pieced together from earlier recording sessions.  Underscoring my own shortcomings this was another one of those cases where I fell victim to the dreaded  'judging a book by it's cover' syndrome.  If nothing else I could at least point to the cutesy band name and MOR cover art for mistaking these guys for some lame Association-styled MOR outfit.  Mind you, there were a couple of Association-styled ballads.  Complete with sweeping group harmonies, Doggett's 'I Don't Mind', 'I'll Be There' and 'The Collector' could have easily been mistaken for Association tracks (though good Association tracks).  Perhaps reflecting producer Petty's musical roots, these guys were far more impressive on upbeat pop and rock numbers.  Hard to adequately describe, but tracks like the original 'Girl', 'That's My Song' and 'Come On Home' exhibited a neat and unique mix of garage, English mersybeat and Buddy Holly influences.  There were also interesting stabs at social commentary ('Hey, Little Man') and one totally unexpected slice of jangle rock/psych ('Time Rests Heavy On My Hands').   Unfortunately their sound was probably about two years behind popular tastes ....  Had these tracks been released in 1966, they might have become major sellers.

"The Affection Collection" track :
(side 1)

1.) Girl   (Ray Hassell) - 2:33

2.) I Don't Mind   (Mike Doggett) - 2:27

3.) Watch Her Walk   (George Tomsco - K. McCormack) - 2:38

4.) That's My Song   (George Tomsco - B. Tomsco) - 2:58

5.) I'll Be There   (George Tomsco - B. Tomsco) - 2:46

6.) Come On Home   (George Tomsco - B. Tomsco) - 2:33

(side 2)
1.) I'll Be with You In Apple Blossom Time   (A. Von Tilzer - N. fleeson) - 2:28

2.) Hey, Little Man!   (George Tomsco) - 2:42

3.) The Collector  (S. Curtis) - 2:44

4.) Don't Live In the Past   (J. Rampton) - 3:08

5.) Light In the Window   (George Tomsco - B. Tomsco) - 2:37

6.) Time Rests Heavy On My Hands   (R. Bough - C. England - S. England) - 2:24

Dropped by Evolution the band released one last 1970 single for Maudz 'Feelin' Fine' b/w 'Can't Put Her Down' (Maudz 1000), though original members Chistensen, Doggett and Rowberry appear to still be active performing in Idaho and the Northwest.
In 2006 the Minnesota-based Super Oldies label released an Affection Collection compilation.  Along the original LP and all of their singles, the set included an eight page bio, seven previously unreleased tracks:

1.) Walk In The Room 
2.) Come To Love 
3.) There Comes A Time 
4.) Learn To Love You More 
5.) Can You See Me 
6.) Words May Never Tell 
7.) The Way That I Feel 

and a pair of new studio selections:

1.) Gold Upon The Wall 
2.) Still Rockin' 


  1. First, welcomeback online from Holland. Good to see you back. Second, WOW i never thougt to see this group online somewhere. Thank you very much.
    Greatings Nicovtn from Holland.

  2. An interesting find.. simple but memorable album cover too!


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