THIS IS THE FOURTH of five articles devoted to the trio of albums and their related singles that Chad & Jeremy released in 1967-1968. OF CABBAGES AND KINGS and THE ARK and the soundtrack to 3 IN THE ATTIC reflect the more ‘pop’-oriented psychedelicism of the English musicians at the time and have long been held in a bit of contempt by older aficionados and collectors of Sixties psych. Too bad, as they are almost uniformly fine recordings!
By 1968, Chad & Jeremy had not had a Top 40 hit in their homeland of England since 1964. They had not had a similar hit in their adopted land of the United States since ’66. Such a track record was usually the death knell for a singles-oriented pop artist in the ’60s.
So, the duo—along with their newly appointed Columbia staff producer, the ever creative and just as ambitious Gary Usher—decided, “We’re failing on the AM radio with nifty singles. Why not aim for the FM stations with groovy albums?”
And so they did …
Three In The Attic (the movie)
“You’ve heard of the sexual revolution? Well, I’m probably one of its first casualties. Paxton Quigley, that’s me.” So announces our protagonist in the fist few minutes of the movie. Mr. Quigley is played by Christopher Jones, then a hot property due to his lead role in AIP’s youth exploitation movie Wild In The Streets. (Did AIP make any other kind of move?)
“How can one discard a semi-hip lava lamp like Three In The Attic as mere sexploitation sleaze when it quotes Kierkegaard, Zola, and Genet? Or when the leading man shows more flesh than his three fantasy love interests?”
So begins the review of this movie on page 426 of Video Hound’s Groovy Movies – Far-Out Films Of The Psychedelic Era by Irv Slifkin. After noting the conflict between “old schoolers” Richard Wilson (director) and J. Urgi Contner (cinematographer) with the hip, youth-oriented material, Slifkin wrote:
“No wonder screenwriter Steven Yafa did not appreciate the eventual treatment of his work and disassociated himself from the results, despite surprisingly witty dialogue and an intelligence that plays today on a higher cerebral level than the whole American Pie series put together.”
Filming for the movie began in February 1968 with a working title of Paxton Quigley’s Had The Course, the name of Mr. Yafa’s novel upon which the script was based.While this title for the finished product might have doomed the film with its clumsiness, it might have shed a little more light on the Chad & Jeremy recording of the same name and helped it garner a little attention on the radio playlists. Or, not. The moviewas received with mixed reviews:
“Three In The Attic apparently starts out to be a tragicomedy about physical sex vs love. It is littered with padding optical effects, hampered by uneven dramatic concept, and redundant in its too-delicious sex teasing. Acting is amateurish, save for Yvette Mimieux, who tries and slightly succeeds.” (Variety)
Three In The Attic was actually a commercial success: it was the 18th most popular movie at the US box office in 1969 and it was AIP’s highest grossing film of the decade!
In fact, its ongoing success caused AIP to take Up In The Cellar—a 1970 movie about a man who decides to bed three women starring Larry Hagman and Joan Collins—and re-title it as Three In The Cellar and promote it as a follow-up to Three In The Attic!
You can view Three In The Attic in its entirety (90:44) on YouTube:
Three In The Attic (the soundtrack)
By 1968, Jeremy Clyde’s true passion, “the theater,” easily trumped a career as a musician whose records were not selling and whose personal appearances were less and less frequently attended en masse.
In 1969, he appeared in the British production of Conduct Unbecoming, which included fellow pop star and thespian-wannabe Paul Jones of Manfred Mann fame. Clyde later toured the US as part of the original Broadway cast.
So it was that Chad Stuart found himself almost a solo artist when he was commissioned in 1968 to score his first movie. To show solidarity—and continue receiving royalty checks—Jeremy contributed lyrics to one song and provided the requisite vocals so that the name of Chad & Jeremy could be exploited in selling the movie and the album. (Of course, we have established that that name had little drawing power by this time . . )
The soundtrack album was issued on Mike Curb’s once independent Sidewalk Records, but by then a subsidiary of Capitol Records. Capitol devoted most of the Sidewalk releases to soundtracks from B-movies, each with Curb somehow involved, if only as the (all too often meaningless) “executive producer.”
The back cover of the album (Sidewalk ST-5918) states that the music was “Arranged, composed, and produced by Chad Stuart.” This more or less confirmed the recordings as a Chad Stuart solo endeavor. As few cared and even fewer actually bought the album in 1968-70, it passed unremarked upon in the “new rock” press—then more or less the ascendent Rolling Stone and the waning Crawdaddy magazines.
And the ubiquitous Mr. Curb—future head of MGM Records (where he would would create a minor stink in the industry by dropping 18 artists from MGM’s roster for allegedly promoting the use of drugs), future Reagan protégé and Lieutenant Governor of California, and all-around and rightwingnut (except, queerly, he has been a staunch supporter of gay rights since the ’70s)—was indeed credited as Executive Producer.
The first side features five rock-pop tracks, three of which were written by Stuart, each with a different lyricist. Side 2 is simply listed as a single track, Background Music, and was also composed by Chad.
“This film was quite possibly the worst movie ever made. (But the script was so promising!) It was so bad that the writer sued to have his name taken off the credits. I wanted so desperately to score a movie, I think I would have scored Raising Pigs For Fun And Profit at that point in my career.
We were used to having superb musicians show up and sight-read the parts with no rehearsal. Now, left to my own devices after Jeremy’s departure, I had joined a band.
The minute Good Morning Sunrise came on, it was blazingly apparent that we had obviously practiced that song a lot! We played it with that magic synergy that only a real band can achieve.” (Chad Stuart)
The overall sense of mood of the music is so laid back (backlaid?) it borders on being too mellow—and that includes the “upbeat” numbers! Had some of the brighter tracks been a bit peppier, they might qualify as “sunshine music,” a silly, contrived sub-genre of straight (white) pop music with an emphasis on group vocals.
Good morning sunrise
In April 1969, a single was issued from the soundtrack and credited solely to Chad Stuart: Good Morning Sunrise / Paxton’s Song (Sidewalk 944). The track would not have been out of place on a Moody Blues album of the time, where it would have been a standout with a little more oomph added to the performance and production. (For the cynical among you, this is NOT meant condescendingly!)
This is the only one of any of any of the Three In The Attic material that was released on a single; the other soundtrack-related release, Paxton Quigley’s Had The Course / You Need Feet (You Need Hands) on Columbia (see above) is actually a Chad & Jeremy track from The Ark.
This Sidewalk single is also the only release of these soundtrack tracks which gives correctly credits the artist solely as Chad Stuart. (A nod to Now and Forever for the information here.)
Oddly, Sidewalk did the record a good turn and issued it in a picture sleeve! The sleeve is nothing to crow abut: it is a black and white reproduction of the album cover on it. Both this sleeve and the record are rather rare, but like the other singles in these article, no one much cares …