Discovering a classic album is always the highlight of acquiring a record collection. I don’t mean something that you already heard of or an album by a band that you already know and like. I’m talking about that unknown album at the bottom of the pile that you’ve never seen before. You put the needle on and love it, do a little research and realize that once upon a time this album was actually a pretty big deal.
A recent example of this for me is when I found a self titled album called The Yellow Balloon. The Yellow Balloon were a pop rock band in the late 60’s, back when pop rock was actually talented and not like the money grab it has become today (think The Beach Boys, The Monkees, The Turtles, etc..). This album was created around a successful single called The Yellow Balloon. This song was written by producer and songwriter Gary Zekley. He wrote it and started shopping around for a label to release it on. Canterbury records loved the song and agreed to release it. Gary originally recorded the song himself with studio musicians and released it under the group name The Yellow Balloon. This single was getting a considerable amount of play and fans of the songs were excited for the band to release an album and start touring. Unfortunately, there was no Yellow Balloon band. So Gary Zekley decided to create the band himself and produce their record so he could capitalize off the success of his single (so really I guess pop music was a money grab back then too.. ah well, at least the music was better!).
**Fun fact** The yellow Balloon creater/writer/producer Gary Zekley also co-wrote the song “Superman” that was originally recorded by The Clique and later made famous by R.E.M.
During the 60’s and 70’s there was a successful sitcom on television called “My Three Sons”. The actor who played “Robbie Douglas” on this sitcom was Don Grady who was also a drummer signed to Canterbury records. He was Gary Zekley’s first choice as a band member. Grady filled the other voids in the band with musicians that he knew. So The Yellow Balloon band was created. The band members consisted of:
Alex Valdez – lead singer
Frosty Green – keyboards
Don Braucht – bass
Paul Canella – lead guitar
Don Grady - drums
Gary Zekley went on to right 8 more of the 11 tracks on this album. Two of the other tracks were written by Jill Gibson, former singer of The Mamas & the Papas.
So The Yellow Balloon was a one hit wonder at every sense of the word. Even more so, they were created for one hit song that was already released. The rest of the album seemed to be recorded just to capitalize off the success of this song and give the fans what they wanted. That being said, this album is solid all the way through with not a bad song in the batch.
Found a clip on YouTube of The Yellow Balloon. Enjoy!