Morning Dew: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 10, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

511) Morning Dew — “Crusader’s Smile”

Hypnotic gangsta psych off the Morning Dew’s sole album (‘70). Well, at least their label was owned by a gangster — they’re not in Kansas anymore!

Mark Deming says that “songs like hard rocking . . . “Crusader’s Smile[]” . . . prove this band had more on the ball than most second-string psych acts of the era.” (http://therockasteria.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-morning-dew-at-last-1968-70-us.html)

Lead singer Mal Robinson recalls the inspiration for “Crusader’s Smile” in a 2013 interview:

It is simply about traveling in a band, playing guitar to entertain others, often getting requests to bring out the acoustic at the band parties. I met my “wife to be” at about this time, but “she didn’t know that my mind could float away, cause I play my guitar to make people happy”. And we’re still married after 42 years. I feel the highlight of this song is Don[ ]’s percussion work . . . it turns an ordinary song into something you want to listen to over and over. He worked his ass off on this song when we played it live . . . he was inspirational. . . . There were no singles released from the album ( we would have voted for Crusader’s Smile if one had been done).

https://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2013/01/morning-dew-story-by-mal-robinson.html

Beverly Paterson says of the album:

Bold and powerful vocals, matched by strapping guitar work, sweeping keyboards, concrete drumming, and soaring harmonies cement Morning Dew, rendering it to be a magnetic mix of innovative textures and designs. Hard rocking rhythms, flecked with psychedelic frequencies, rub elbows with gleaming pop gestures in a most attractive way. Songs such as “Crusader’s Smile[]” . . . especially tap into Morning Dew’s varied strengths. . . . Morning Dew had enough novel drive and imagination to make a difference.

https://somethingelsereviews.com/2014/05/19/something-else-interview-mal-robinson-of-the-morning-dew/

From where did the Dew derive? Bruce Eder says: “The Morning Dew were formed from the remains of a collapsed folk-rock band called The Toads. Two early single releases, “No More” and “Be a Friend,” were local successes in 1967, and the group was signed to Morris Levy’s Roulette label in early 1969, for which they cut an entire album of material before disbanding later that year.” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-morning-dew-mn0000603480) And Mark Deming:

The Morning Dew began as a good but not especially remarkable garage band from Topeka, Kansas, but as the mid-1960s became the late 1960s, their sound grew increasingly adventurous, and their approach became harder but more complex at the same time.

And, best of all, from Robinson:

We . . . took an acetate of . . . songs to New York to meet with several record labels to see if we could get signed. . . . There was no interest, as the labels didn’t feel there were any songs that could be released as singles. . . . Later, a local producer/agent . . . took the acetate to New York and met with several record companies . . . and he successfully got us a verbal commitment from Roulette Records in January, 1969. . . . Before proceeding with a final contract signing, representatives from Roulette wanted us to record a couple more songs and hear us play live . . . . So, in the Spring of 1969, we . . . recorded another original . . . and a cover . . . . Then in June of 1969, Fred Munao of Roulette Records came to Topeka to hear us play live . . . . It was at that audition, we officially signed our recording contract with Roulette . . . . In August, 1969 we loaded up our Chevy van and drove to New York to record the album . . . . [which] was recorded in 32 hours over a three day period with very little retakes. . . . It was a whirlwind experience, a 30 hour drive to New York and a one week long stay at the Hotel Albert in Greenwich Village (Led Zeppelin were staying there at the same time). Three days at the recording studio mixed in with a photo shoot in Central Park. . . . We met with Morris Levy, President of Roulette to “beg” for a cash advance so the band would have some spending money while in the city. He bitched and moaned, but ended up cutting us a check for $1,000. The only money we ever saw from Roulette. . . . The album was not released until 1970. We later found out that Roulette was mired in legal troubles at the time, owing back taxes, falsifying financial records, etc. . . . Levy was accused of tax evasion and was reputed to be linked to the mob. He later went to prison and died there in the 1980’s. . . . To this day, I never received an official accounting for the album. I was told there were 10,000 copies printed but most of them were “destroyed in a warehouse fire”. I have no idea how many were distributed on a retail basis.

“Young and wild, she fell in love with a Crusader’s smile. What she didn’t know is that my mind must float away. ‘Cause I play my guitar to make people happy. I travel far to make people happy. I play guitar to make people happy. Happy tune. She fell in love with a Crusader’s croon. What she didn’t know is that my song must float away. ‘Cause I play my guitar to make people happy. I travel far to make people happy. I play guitar to make people happy. . . .”

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