Saturday, January 24, 2015

Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends--Snow Queen (1967)

     Roger Nichols, Muccay MacLeod and his sister Melinda MacLeod comprised the group, "The Small Circle of Friends". Signed to A&M records, Nichols composed several songs with Tony Asher, fresh off of his working with Brian Wilson on the album, "Pet Sounds". Looking back, the songwriting lineup was impressive with songs by Van Dyke Parks, Lenny Waronker, and Randy Newman. One of the shining songs on an album of strong ones was "Snow Queen" written by Jerry Goffin and Carole King.

     Over 45 years after it's release the sounds so familiar even though none of the songs became hits, and the album sunk not too slowly into the sunset. The reason came because of a decision made by co-owner of A&M, Herb Alpert. There was something about Nichols writing that Alpert thought potentially profitable, so he was hired on to the record company as a songwriter. It was here that Nichols met Paul Williams.

     The pair went on to success with a number of hits for the Carpenters (who's musical sound was very close to Nichols'), including, "We've Only Just Begun", "I Won't Last A Day Without You", and "Rainy Days and Mondays". Thus it's not a stretch that this album from 1967 was one of the templates of California soft rock.



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