Sounding like the upbeat jingly guitar-pop of THE BYRDS and THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL, the Magician’s name is thought to have come from the Spoonful’s mega hit “Do You Believe In Magic?” which was riding high in the US charts in the summer of 1965. A 4-piece with no less than three talented songwriters in it, Jacobs, Bonner and Gordon all hailed from New York, while Townley was from Virginia.
In detail THE MAGICIANS were:
ALLAN “JAKE” JACOBS – Guitar & Vocals
GARRY BONNER – Guitars & Vocals
JOHN TOWNLEY - Guitar & Bass
ALAN GORDON - Drums & Vocals [founder member]
Remastered by BOB IRWIN in 1999, Sundazed SC 6133 breaks down as follows (34:26 minutes):
1. An Invitation To Cry [writers: Alan Gordon and Jimmy Woods]
2. Rain Don’t Fall On Me No More [writers: John Townley, Bob Wyld and Art Polhemus]
3. About My Love [David Blue cover]
4. I’ll Tell The World About You [writers: Allan “Jake” Jacobs and Alan Gordon]
5. Lady Fingers [writers: Alan Gordon and Garry Bonner]
6. Angel On The Corner [writer: Allan “Jake” Jacobs]
7. I’d Like To Know [a David Blue cover]
8. Back Door Man (Demo) [a Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf cover]
9. That’s What Love Is Made For [a Smokey Robinson & The Miracles cover]
10. Double Good Feeling [writers: Alan Gordon and Garry Bonner]
11. I Won’t Be Here Tomorrow (Demo) [writers: Garry Bonner and Allan “Jake Jacobs]
12. You’re So Fine (Demo) [a Wilson Pickett cover]
13. Who Do You Love [a Bo Diddley cover]
Tracks 1 and 2 are the A & B of their 1st USA 7” single on Columbia 4-43435 from October 1965
Tracks 3 and 6 are the A & B of their 2nd US 7” single on Columbia 4-43608 from March 1966
Tracks 4 and 7 are the A & B of their 3rd US 7” single on Columbia 4-43725 from August 1966
Tracks 5 and 10 are the A & B of their 4th and last US 7” single on Columbia 4-44061 from March 1967
Tracks 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 are all previously unreleased and all were recorded on 3 June 1966
Unfortunately none of their four excellent singles bothering the Billboard Top 100 - nor did they ever get an album together, let alone released – but there’s no denying the sheer musicality of their songs. Why these lovely and melodic gems didn’t click with punters probably has more to do with lack of promotion rather than the record buying public actually hearing any of them. Columbia made an effort on their debut seven by servicing the Radio stations with a rather cute picture sleeve, which shouted “Proudly Presents THE MAGICIANS”, but it didn’t work and it’s a rare and collectable item these days (its pictured on the last page of the excellent 8-page liner notes penned by KEN BAKER.) “An Invitation To Cry” got some exposure on the legendary 2LP “Nuggets” set from 1972, but it made new fans think of them as a psych act, when they were more akin to breezy pop.
Sound quality is great on a few tracks, ok on others and rough and ready on the demos. Highlights include the two David Blue covers and the truly beautiful "I'll Tell The World About You" and its equally lovely flip-side "Rain Don't Fall On Me No More" – as perfect a Sixties single as you could hope for.
Both Bonner and Gordon left and pursued a songwriting career penning many hits for THE TURTLES. Allan “Jake” Jacobs wrote songs for THE MONKEES and then went on to be JAKE and BINKY later morphing into the more famous JAKE and THE FAMILY JEWELS. Townley recorded a collectable double album in 1968 called “The Family Of Apostolic” on Vanguard then headed up the Apostolic Recording Studios in New York and San Francisco. Original band member Mike Apple (who played guitar and sang backing vocals on “An Invitation To Cry”) became Bruce Springsteen’s manager. Bill Szymczyk, who produced the Magician’s last single, later produced Joe Walsh’s debut album “Barnstorm” in 1972, and it was probably he who introduced the gorgeous “Ill Tell The World About You” to Walsh - hence Walsh’s delightful cover of it on that Dunhill classic album (see my separate review for “Barnstorm”).
A lovely CD then - and top marks to Sundazed for making this criminally forgotten band available to the world again...