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Pop - Released April 22, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released July 19, 1966 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

The group's debut album may be better listening today than it was in 1966, because it can be appreciated more -- and it definitely deserves a better reputation than it has among folk-rock, psychedelic pop, and pop/rock enthusiasts. The album is usually neglected because of the Association's reputation as a soft rock outfit and the prominence of the hits "Cherish" and "Along Comes Mary," both of which are too poppy for most serious '60s archeologists. The original LP was one or two songs short of uniformly high-quality material, but that defect was compensated for by the better numbers and the production of the late Curt Boettcher. Admittedly one of Boettcher's softer creations, And Then...Along Comes the Association displayed the same creative use of stereo sound separation -- the interlocking instrumental and vocal parts divided in discreet two-channel sound -- that was to characterize his work with groups like the Millennium and Sagittarius a little later in the decade. Indeed, And Then...Along Comes the Association was among the earliest American rock albums to make full creative use of stereo sound and to exploit it on behalf of a group. In those days, the stereo mix on a rock album was usually little more than an afterthought by the producer and engineer (most of whom hated rock & roll), but Boettcher appreciated just what he had here, with the six singers and instrumentalists in this band, and he spread their work out in front of the listener in vivid detail, giving each "voice" (human and instrumental) a close airing, yet meshing them together as well. [The 1999 Japanese reissue CD extended the running time to almost 50 minutes with the addition of five extra tracks.] © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 26, 1968 | Warner Records

Beyond representing the best in '60s California pop, the Association blazed trails in album production and the folk-psychedelia genre. With the guidance of L.A. producers Bones Howe, Curt Boettcher, and Jerry Yester, the band deftly mixed airy harmonies, unobtrusive rhythm tracks, and subtle "Age of Aquarius" accents from harpsichords, Farfisa organs, fuzz-box guitars, trumpets, and bongos -- at times, the sophisticated blend was held together by L.A. session players. And while the group successfully expanded their harmonic horizons on "Requiem for the Masses," they also went a bit beyond their strengths with Jefferson Airplane-esque rockers like "Six Man Band." Luckily, the majority of this hits collection focuses on the band's dreamy combination of polished folk, limber vocal arrangements, and wide-screen instrumental backdrops. The summery program also includes chart-toppers like "Windy," "Cherish," "Along Comes Mary," and "Never My Love," along with progressive pop-and-harmony tracks like "No Fair at All," "Everything That Touches You," and "Time for Livin'." A great introduction to the band's prime work from the latter half of the '60s. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 11, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

The Association had quite a few singles and album tracks other than the four or five big hits that everyone remembers from constant radio play. This thoroughly annotated two-CD, 51-song compilation, though, has way too much stuff to pore through unless you're an unforgiving sucker for their light harmonies and clever arrangements. Those are matched to material that's sometimes good, but often too airily lightweight and closer to the Lettermen than Brian Wilson. On the positive side, this does have all five Top Ten hits, the odd, interesting low-charting singles like "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies" (their most psych-pop-conscious outing), plenty of LP cuts that haven't been on CD before, and the obscure, pre-"Along Comes Mary" folk-rock covers of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" and Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings" (both from 1965, and both decent). Some of the tracks are presented in single versions that aren't easily available, and there are a couple of previously unreleased outtakes from their 1966 album And Then...Along Comes the Association, neither very memorable, though "Better Times" is reasonable bouncy California harmony pop/rock. There's a rare 1966 Columbia single by Larry Ramos and Jules Alexander recorded in the 1970s by Russ Giguere and the side project Bijou (again, rarer than they are exciting). There's also the occasionally ambitious effort, like the cover of P.F. Sloan's fine "On a Quiet Night," the moody "You Hear Me Call Your Name," or the queasily morbid "Requiem for the Masses," which is interesting if not wholly successful. But much of this is pleasant, too-wholesome puffery, edging further into blandness on much of the late-'60s and early-'70s material that occupies disc two, including their cover of Jimmy Webb's "P.F. Sloan," which is a more interesting idea than it is a good song. The two 1975 and three 1981 tracks that close the set are for the most part going to stretch the patience of all but the most devoted fans. Unless you're a sunshine pop fanatic, a basic Association greatest-hits comp (or their frequent spins on oldies radio) should be enough to maintain your tan. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 11, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released October 1, 2002 | Rhino

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Pop - Released April 11, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released April 26, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released July 26, 2010 | Music Company OMP

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Folk - Released February 19, 2014 | RMP Global Ltd

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Pop - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released November 24, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released May 3, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released April 19, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released May 14, 2012 | Dance Plant Records Inc

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Pop - Released May 9, 2006 | Purple Pyramid

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Pop - Released April 11, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records