I love The Lovin' Spoonful.
During their run--which was only about 2 and a half years--they were right up there among the greatest bands of the 60's.
And in that period all those great songs, one after another, just flowed out of Sebastian. He was like an American McCartney. So many tuneful, catchy hits. In addition to the soundtracks (for Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen) he wrote the songs for a short-lived 1968 Broadway musical--Jimmy Shine--that starred Dustin Hoffman.
But when the Spoonful ended, his previously effortless songwriting seemed to dry up. There were a few good tunes here and there, but that first solo album was probably too poppy for the time.(It didn't help that it's release was delayed a year by a fight between his former record company (MGM-who had bought the Spoonful's label Kama Sutra--and Warner Brothers)
There are hints of what the Spoonful would have sounded like had they made the transition into the post-Monterey Pop era of FM album oriented rock.
Sebastian is the harmonica player on The Doors "Roadhouse Blues" (He worked on two albums with their producer, Paul Rothchild). "Black Snake Blues" on The Four of Us demonstrates that Sebastian had the rougher vocal chops.
The elements of American roots music were always present in Spoonful music, yet their chart success didn't allow them to be taken (or take themselves) as seriously as later groups like Creedence or The Band.
I've always wondered if Sebastian's art has suffered because of his own happiness. There are elements of conflict in his work when he was young: "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind" "Younger Girl" "It's Not Time Now" "Respoken" "Didn't Want To Do It"
But the songs he wrote 50 years ago are beyond classics. Many could be called modern music standards.
And having met him, I'll confirm he is a great guy and a real gentleman.
(I might actually be the one who first called Sebastian "an honorary member of NRBQ
." When spoke to John after the Q's 35th Anniversary show in 2004--in which he appeared--he seemed surprised when I used that phrase as an excuse to get his autograph along with the reunited Q members. Three years later at the Q's 38th Anniversary show, Terry Adams used those very words on stage to introduce Sebastian. Was it coincidence, or had John told him that someone called him that?. At any rate, the spirit of the Spoonful lives on in NRBQ--although maybe now in a version where Zally was the dominant band member...)
This book is a must-read for any Spoonful fan.