Not to be confused with the '60s Detroit garage band of 'Go On and Cry' fame, or The Rainy Dayze of 'That Acapulco Gold' fame, I bought this album for one reason - the LP was released on Bob Gallo's Mandala label. Mandala was apparently an early tax scam imprint which has been an area of interest to me.
About the only thing I know about this outfit comes from the liner notes on their 1972 debut "Good Day Sunshine" - "The Rainy Days are a five piece group with two girls up front with a seven part harmony and many lead voices, as you will hear on their new Mandala album. When the group records, they do it live so as to not lose any live feeling. It is very difficult to record this group because of the extensive microphone setup utilized so as not to get bleed and to separate each member so that when mixing all voices and instruments maintain an equalized balance. The members are Lelie Zimmie, Pat Collers, Al Rizzuti (vocals and bass guitar), Tom Castagnaro (drums), John Trap (lead guitar), and Phil Thompson (organ). The group more or less has a show sound and as a result work in a few off-Broadway Musicals and have worked in Rock Music Shows on the road and work quite frequently in Las Vegas, Nevada as as show group (at times using a clown as part of the show). Without a doubt, Rainy Days will bring sunshine into your life when you listen to the cut 'Goodtime Sunshine' on their new Mandala album."
1973 publicity photo - guessing this is from the Las Vegas phase
Top row left to right: Ned Decker - Jeff Sanford - Steve Nelson - Mike D'Amato
Bottom row left to right: Al Rizzuti - Bonnie Norris - Lynn Boccumimi - Phil Briasco
Not exactly the most promising description I've ever come across (clowns and rock and roll are never a promising combination), and it left me with the feeling this was going to be something along the lines of The Brotherhood of Man, The New Seekers, or perhaps The Zaras ... Well, I was partially right.
Ruzziti was seemingly the creative brain trust behind the band; credited with vocals, bass, and penning nine of the ten tracks (the last song was a Little Richard cover). He was also the only surviving member shown on a 1973 publicity photo. So how to describe this bizarre album? Musically most of these tracks had a hard pop edge. Songs like 'Goodtime Sunshine' and 'What Do You See' were clearly written with commercial aspirations, but clumsy arrangements and a shrill and irritating recording sound consistently sabotaged the group's best efforts (blame engineers Bob Gallo, Bob Dora, and Vinny Traina for the poor sound quality). Giving credit where due, there were definitely some promising songs here and at least one bizarre classic ('Leave You Behind'), but for the most part these guys couldn't decide if they wanted to be a lounge act ('Sound of Bells'), or a real rock and roll band and the results were occasionally quite jarring ... You're left to wonder what these guys sounded like live. Did they stick to top-40 covers with an occasional original tune thrown in to keep their artistic integrity alive? Did they really get away playing original material for MOR crowds? I bet there's someone out there who actually saw The Rainy Days and knows ...
- 'What's You Gonna Do' (their spelling, not mine), was a perfect example of how schizophenic this album was. Starting out with a great rock melody the track abruptly shifted into a strange MOR piece that sounded a bit like The Free Design trying to get hip and happening. These guys (and gals) clearly had talent but there was something very irritating in the vocal arrangements which came off sounding hard and harsh ... almost operatic at times. rating: *** stars
- An upbeat, rollicking rocker, 'Sleep' started out with some promising fuzz guitar and actually managed to survive the David Clayton-Thomas-styled vocals, though once again the sharp and brittle female harmony vocals almost killed the track. rating: *** stars
- To my ears 'Goodtime Sunshine' sounded like something you would have heard on the :Jesus Christ Superstar" album if the Les Humpries Singers had taken on such a project. The male lead singer (RIzzuti ?) was actually pretty good, but the busy arrangement and what sounded like a backing chorus of thousands repeatedly all but drown him. rating: ** stars
- Initially 'When My Baby Smiles' exhibited a pleasant Mamas & the Papas-meet-Motown feel. Unfortunately the nice melody was quickly lost which left you focusing on the shrill male lead vocal and the Churchy backing vocals. I will admit to liking the cheesy closing section keyboard (sounded like one of those mid-'80s Casios). rating: ** stars
- 'What Do You See' was one of the album's most conventional and commercial tracks. A pleasant enough ballad, the track would have been better if they'd dropped the backing vocals and ditched the honking sax solo. rating: *** stars
- Amazingly, 'Leave You Behind' started side two off with a bizarre psych and progressive mash-up ... Opening up with a jittery, almost new wave feel (geez, think along the lines of James Chance and the Contortions), there were plenty of harmony vocals, but they were buried in a slightly acid-tinged melody complete with bursts of meltdown sax and some truly strange backing vocals. As mentioned earlier, I bet it would have been a blast to see them performing this one in some hotel lounge. Easily the standout performance and clearly needs to get selected for some comp release. rating: **** stars
- In contrast, 'Sound of Bell' was a bland and forgettable acoustic ballad that originally sounded like one of those songs they use to play at Saturday evening Catholic folk masses. The additional of a touch of flamenco guitar and a touch of operatic screeching didn't help the track. rating: ** stars
- Wow, how to describe 'Drum' ? Almost operatic, this one sounded a bit like one of those late 1970s Jim Steinman and Meatloaf epics ... Kudos to drummer Tom Castagnaro for his frenetic performance. rating: *** stars
- With a breezy, top-40-ish melody and featuring the band's multiple lead singers, 'If I Only Could' actually sounded like a New Seekers-styled slice of pop. Guess that's why I didn't like it very much. rating: ** stars
- The album's lone non-original, their cover of Little Richard's 'Freedom Blues' was also on of the standout performances given they played it straightforward without any attempt to bring in any overly cleverly arrangements, or those dreaded harmonies. Keyboardist Phil Thompson acquitted himself well on this one.
"Good Time Sunshine" track listing:
1,) What's You Gonna Do (Al Rizzuti) -
2.) Sleep (Al Rizzuti) -
3.) Gootime Sunshine (Al Rizzuti) -
4.) When My Baby Smiles (Al Rizzuti) -
5.) What Do You See (Al Rizzuti) -
1.) Leave You Behind (Al Rizzuti) -
1.) Leave You Behind (Al Rizzuti) -
2.) Sound of Bells (Al Rizzuti) -
3.) Drum (Al Rizzuti) -
4.) If I Only Could (Al Rizzuti) -
5.) Freedom Blues (Little Richard) -
The album did nothing commercially (it somehow saw an Australian release) and with wholesale personnel changes (Rizzuti was the only holdover), the group continued to perform on the club and hotel circuit through the mid-1970s. Also worth mentioned, the band Mr. Flood's Party featured a drummer by the name of Tom Castagnaro. Not sure it's the same guy.