The Association: “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin'”
The Association is one of those Sixties groups who tend to be overlooked . . . and honestly, it’s understandable to a degree. They had a tendency toward sappy, sometimes bland songs (think “Cherish”) that don’t do much in retrospect to lend the group much artistic weight. Nonetheless, they had their moments where they broke free of that and were a respectably good rock group, rather than be simply staples of future Muzak. Where they were especially strong was in their harmonies, coming close to the Beach Boys as one of the best American vocal groups of the era — they just didn’t have a Brian Wilson writing great material for them, so they often relied on outside writers.
I grew up with The Association’s 1967 album Insight Out in my record collection from a very early age, as it was one of the first 5 or so albums I ever owned, thanks to my parents passing it along to me when it became apparent that I enjoyed it more than they did. So for a long time I thought maybe it was just good because I was so familiar with it, but even now, in retrospect, it holds up as a fairly solid album. In addition to the classic hits “Never My Love” and “Windy,” it has a number of other interesting songs that really are quite good. One of my favorites that still stands out is “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’,” a cover of a little-known song by Mike Deasy, who apparently billed himself as The Flower Pot for the recording of his version. The Association play it very pseudo-lethargically, singing it pretty much as though stoned out of their gourds. The music is a bit of Indian raga, with lots of sitar, clearly influenced by the Beatles, as is the chopping electric guitar, sounding very much like something off of Rubber Soul — it’s like “The Word” crossed with “Norwegian Wood.” It all comes together as a very ’60s, very psychedelic anthem of dissatisfaction, and I still find it to be pretty cool. But I do still wonder a bit if that’s just because I grew up with it…