400) The Sunliners — “The Land of Nod”
This ‘67 A-side “is a superb club dancer psychedelic number, full of fuzz and ‘out there’ lyrics”. (https://www.popsike.com/THE-SUNLINERS-Well-One-Land-Of-Nod-Detroit-rarity/360302205425.html) Yes, indeed, it is. The song is spectacular.
Who were the Sunliners and where did they come from? Ken McIntyre explains:
In the beginning they were The Sunliners, a teenage garage band. And, frankly, they were kind of square. They formed in 1960 and gigged around Detroit for eight years; they were local heroes, but had yet to make an impact outside the city. Then, in 1968, the ‘dawning of the age of Aquarius’ hit. And The Sunliners decided it was time for a change.
Ray McGinnis adds:
One of their early single releases was the “Hully Gully Twist” in 1962. It was a standard rock effort that resembled much of what was on the pop charts at the time. Their next single, “So In Love” was a doo-wop influenced tune. . . . By 1965 the Sunliners were morphing into a teen garage band with clear R&B influences . . . . By 1967 [they] had begun to experiment with psychedelic rock when they released “Land Of Nod”.
And they changed their name to Rare Earth (yes, that Rare Earth!). Once they did this, as Mark Deming explains:
They attracted more attention under their new banner, and Verve Records signed them to a record deal. Motown session guitarist Dennis Coffey helped produce and arrange their debut album, 1968’s Dreams/Answers, although it didn’t find an audience and Rare Earth were quickly dropped . . . .
“Dreams/Answers mixed their R&B roots with psychedelia, resulting in a satisfying rock/soul style with plenty of excellent vocals and instrumental work. . . . It was ultimately unsuccessul and didn’t get anywhere on the charts, though good things were just around the corner for the band.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v4ilZqZ9ts)
As part of the album, they redid “Land of Nod”, which turned into a psychedelic soul number “combin[ing] Rock, Soul and Physcedelia, [and] was chosen as their first 45.” (https://www.classicbands.com/rareearth.html)
Mark Deming continues:
Meanwhile, Motown Records . . . had little luck breaking into rock & roll [so] Berry Gordy decided to create a subsidiary label devoted to rock bands, and was looking for a band to launch the new venture. Rare Earth’s sound, which straddled rock and R&B styles, appealed to him and he signed them . . . .
And the rest is history.
“The flower painted on my cheek is a symbol of my stubborn streak. When the pushing changes to a shove, I showed them they must love. Like a dove, high above we can fly. Take a trip on my ship to the sky. Elevate to the heights, away from neon lights. Drop poppies in the [?] Come to the land of nod. The man is pounding on my door. He sees me lying on the floor. Says I gotta move, gotta find a place to groove. . . .”
Here is Rare Earth’s version:
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