The Blades of Grass have been given the luxurious Rev-Ola treatment for their sole 1967 sunshine pop platter, called The Blades of Grass...Are Not For Smoking. A cross between a budding band of High School friends and in-studio touch-ups by the powers that be who signed them, The Blades of Grass are the story of a band chewed up and spit out before they've even had a chance to form properly, or be themselves.
Just one look at the songwriting credits gives us half of the picture. Over half the songs here are covers of psychedelic pop from 1967: Happy (originally from The Sunshine Companys' first album Happy Is the Sunshine Company), If You Love Her Cherish Her and Such (originally from Don & the Goodtimes' album So Good), Walk Away Renee (originally from the Left Banke's album Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina), Charlie & Fred (from The Hollies' Dear Eloise/King Midas in Reverse), and The Way You'll Never Be (which is also an unreleased track found on The Fifth Estate's album Ding Dong! The Witch Is Back!: The Fifth Estate, 1964-1969). There's also a version of The Beatles' Help! which came out in 1965.
Some of these covers are pretty fine. The Blades of Grass version of Happy is one of the best songs on this cd. Maybe in fact The Fifth Estate covered The Way You'll Never Be (seeing as how their version was unreleased) - The Blades version is a wonderful piece of harmony pop. Generally speaking though, their covers pale in comparison to the originals, and sometimes the originals weren't even worth covering to begin with (If You Love Her Cherish Her and Such is definitely not the best song from Don & the Goodtimes' album So Good).
The Blades of Grass, if given a chance could do well on their own, on such originals as Just Ah (probably the song from which their producers got their band name, and one of the best songs on the disc), Or Is It the Rain (which has a wonderful guitar melody over top a fine angsty pop gem) or That's What a Boy Likes (which sounds like a more laid back Mamas and the Papas mixed with the bossa influenced sound that was becoming so big with the equally young and eager bands like The New Wave). Sadly, Leap into the Arms of Love, the only one song which seems to really consist of an actual "garage band", sounds merely like a demo. One interesting highlight is the inclusion of a song made more famous 2 years later by Harpers Bizarre (on their album Harpers Bizarre 4 and used in the movie of the same name, starring Peter Sellers and Leigh Taylor-Young), it is the killer first version of the psych pop classic, I Love You Alice B. Toklas. The Blades did the first version here, and it is one of the highlights.
That's not to say that this cd as a whole doesn't hold up. In fact, it is an incredible sunshine pop gem. From the delicate, effervescent guitar strums to the organic string arrangements, coupled with the angelic boyish harmonies, The Blades of Grass...Are Not For Smoking is a lost classic of 60s pop that most deservedly belongs in your collection. If the bands listed above are any indication, if you have some of those records in your collection and want more (like me, like me....), than Rev-Ola have done the trick. If you love songs about sunshine, satin slippers, and pot brownies, than The Blades of Grass....are for you. If you'd rather buy the nth edition of XXX classic rock album put out on cd again, then look elsewhere.