Saturday, January 16, 2016

Five By Five - 1968 - Next Exit

Five By Five
Next Exit


01. Fire
02. Share Your Love
03. Fruitstand Man
04. Ain’t Gonna Be Your Fool No More
05. Soul Man
06. She Digs My Love
07. Shake A Tail Feather
08. Too Much Tomorrow
09. Nothing You Do
10. 7 And 7 Is
11. Hush

Ronnie Plants — guitar, lead vocals
Bill Merritt — guitar, vocals
Larry Andrew — guitar, vocals
Tim Milam — organ, vocals
Doug Green — drums, vocals

Led by 21 year old drummer Doug Green, the Texas-based Five By Five (I've also seen them listed as '5 x 5') boasted a young but immensely talented line up in rhythm guitarist Larry Andrew, lead singer Billy Merritt, keyboardist Tim Milam and lead guitarist Ronnie Plants.  Signed by the Texas-based Paula label, the group debuted with a series of three impressive 45s:

- 1967's 'Shake A Tail Feather' b/w 'Tell Me What To Do' (Paula catalog number 261) 
- 1967's 'Harlem Shuffle' b/w 'You Really Got A Hold On Me' (Paula catalog number 283) 
- 1967's 'Fire' b/w 'Hang Up' (Paula catalog number 302) 

The third single provided the group with a modest top-60 hit which was apparently enough for Paula to rush the group into the studio to record a supporting album.  Produced by Gene Kent, 1968's "Next Exit" offered up a mix of the earlier singles and new studio material.  Apparently not too comfortable with the band's creative talent, the focus was on better known material; in this case a mix of popular and lesser known hits.  Green's wonderful 'Too Much Tomorrow' was the one exception and also provided the stand out track making you wonder how good the album would have been if they'd been given a little more creative freedom.  Clearly determined to maximize commercial potential, the set covered virtually every musical niche imaginable including competent stabs at blue-eyed soul ('Soul Man'), conventional top-40 pop, and frat rock (their earlier 'Shake a Tail Feather' rave-up).  Best of all were the band's stabs at psych oriented material.  Their  raw cover of Joe South's 'Hush' easily put Deep Purple's better known cover to shame.  Similarly 'Nothing You Do', their wild take on Arthur Lee and Love's '7 and 7 Is' (be sure to check out the re-channeled stereo with a good pair of headphones), and the sitar propelled cover of The Sir Douglas Quintet's 'She Digs My Love' were all worth hearing.  Paula also pulled another single from the album: 'Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool No More' b/w 'She Digs My Love' (Paula catalog number 311).  

Over the next two years the band recorded a string of 4 additional singles, though none sold well:

- 1968's 'Apple Cider' b/w 'Fruitstand Man' (Paula catalog number 319) 
- 1970's 'Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool No More' b/w 'Too Much Tomorrow' (Paula catalog 322) 
- 1970's '15 Going On 20' b/w 'Penthouse Pauper' (Paula catalog number 326)
- 1970's 'Good Connection' b/w 'Never' (Paula catalog number 328) 

They seem to have called it quits in 1970..