The Avant-Garde

Columbia 44590, 1968
Billboard: #40

By this late in the decade, anything billing itself as "Avant-Garde" was probably automatically suspect, but this brisk (barely 2:10) little number with its 007-ish background managed to park itself at the very bottom of the Top 40 for seven whole days. What makes the song work, though, isn't the anxious undertow of the bass line, but the strong vocal by composer Chuck Woolery. Yes, that Chuck Woolery: before the game shows and whatnot, the Chuckster was a working musician, and this was the Avant-Garde's second single ("Yellow Beads" had failed to chart). The Garde was essentially Woolery and partner Elkin "Bubba" Fowler, backed up by the usual session pros, who charted one more single ("Fly with Me", which bubbled under at #130); Chuck recorded about a dozen more singles over the next decade, but by then he was a full-fledged TV Guy, and in case you haven't been paying attention, he still is.

Where can I get this on CD?
"Naturally Stoned" showed up on Columbia/Legacy's Rock Artifacts, Vol. 3 (CK 46983) in 1991; the disc was eventually deleted, but it turned up again in 1998, minus the liner notes but with a lower price, under the auspices of Sony Music Special Products (A 33679), so check your bargain bins.

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Copyright © 2004 by Charles G. Hill
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