This album is one of those remarkable little bits of hard rock history that got left behind after the archaeologists carried away Led Zeppelin and Mountain. Perhaps the recording quality was a bit too gruff and gritty. Perhaps there was more to market in Robert Plant and Leslie West. Perhaps Yesterday’s Children were too crunchy and loud. Or perhaps there was some confusion as two bands from the eastern States existed simultaneously under the moniker of Yesterday’s Children. Both bands were around from 1966 to 1969, but one included guitarist Don Howard Krantz, who went on to form Valhalla (an album I’ve reviewed here on MMA) and the other released their sole album in 1969.
This version of the Yesterday’s Children formed in Connecticut in 1966 and released a single in the same year and an EP entitled “To Be or Not to Be” in 1967. After the psychedelic period had reached its zenith in 1967/68, Yesterday’s Children recorded a self-titled hard rock album just in time for the beginnings of the new heavier and harder sounds of the end of the sixties.
There are eight guitar-drenched songs on this one off shot and not a ballad among them. Right from the start “Paranoia” delivers hard n’ heavy guitar chords, and a vocal delivery by Denis Croce that sounds like the man has been gargling barnacles. He has one of those super duper rough-as-diamond-sandpaper voices and can hit the notes as well. There is, however, a second vocalist who crops up often enough though I can’t find out who that might be. Reviews everywhere I look sing praises for this album, which smoulders in a hard rock style that thumps your head nearly as good as any early metal but washes over with psychedelic distortion and rolling drums accentuated with cymbal crashes. “Sailing” has a haunting tone that builds and leads to some great crashes and dual vocals. “Hunter’s Moon” was called by someone psychedelic metal. “Providence Bummer” is clearly inspired by The Yardbirds song “The Nazz Are Blue”, also known as “Jeff’s Boogie” in the instrumental form. The songs don’t follow a typical hard rock format always though as they sometimes suddenly change into new rhythm and beat and carry that on until you’ve forgotten how the song began. Then from one bar to the next, the song transitions neatly back to the first part.
One song to note is the cover of “Evil Woman”, originally done by Spooky Tooth it seems (or if not their original then at least this cover is based on the Spooky Tooth version). Spooky Tooth, you will recall, wrote the song “Better By You, Better Than Me” which later on was covered by Judas Priest and landed them in a court case about subliminal messages in music. This version stands out for its slower tempo but solid bass and drums and heavy guitar. Once again, dual vocals give this song such feeling.
Yesterday’s Children, this version anyway, are an important part of any proto-metal collection. They were clearly on the way to making some excellent hard n’ heavy guitar rock with some awesome hard rock vocals. Why they suddenly broke up and disappeared after the album is a bit of a mystery.