Everybody's being a little overcritical of the Sons here. Even the most positive review says "If you only know them for the one song, you might be a little disappointed" (???). A little backstory here. I've had both EMS albums for about 20 years now and I've thought from the first time I dropped the needle on them that they deserved a proper reissue. I drafted a letter to the major reissue labels and was preparing to mount a campaign to get "Every Mothers' Son" and "Every Mothers' Son's Back" on CD.
Then I found out Collectables was putting out a CD and I ripped up those letters. I shouldn't have. What came out had a horrible cover, crappy sound, liner notes based on a 10-year-old magazine article, and was merely the first album with bonus tracks from the second album's singles. So I burned my LPs to CD, and made my own reissue. 20 years later, Now Sounds put out an Every Mothers' Son CD that looks very much like my own self-made album, but sounds and looks 20x better.
Sure, there might not be anything absolutely MINDBLOWING on this CD, but what is on here is premium '60s pop rock, drawing on a variety of styles and influences. There are shades of the Beatles, the Monkees, the Turtles, the Kinks, Peter & Gordon, the Association, pretty much all the great groups of the era. The second album is mellower, sunnier, folkier and maybe even poppier, with some tracks verging on country-rock or the very edges of gentle psychedelia. Overall, the melodies are catchy, the playing tight, the harmonies impeccable, and the lyrics clever and not too far out.
Standout tracks for me include the hit (a perfect 1967 record), "Allison Dozer" (probably the hardest rocking number), "Ain't It A Drag" (college-age non-political protest), "What Became Of Mary?" (wistful and sublime acoustic pop), "I Won't" (obligatory put-down song), "Come On Queenie" (Wild West-flavored borderline novelty song a la "Lady Godiva" or "Knight In Rusty Armour"), "Rainflowers" (which kicks off their second album in a similar bag to "Boat"), "I May Be Wrong (But I May Be Right)" (a Dick Weissman song from the Larden Brothers folk club days), the whimsical "Pony With The Golden Mane," and "Dolls In The Clock," perhaps the most "psychedelic" song on the whole disc. The only real misstep on the CD (and the second of the two albums from which it was culled) is the closing throwaway track "Lary's Birthday Party," a bit of studio cutting-up on par with what the Beach Boys used to pad their LPs with.
Luckily, "Lary's Birthday Party" is followed on this CD by "No One Knows," a non-LP b-side. It was recorded in 1968 and sounds like it. It's probably the most "mature" cut they recorded, and the "heavy" production sound beefs up what is otherwise a melancholy minor-key harmony ballad.
The liner notes, as can be expected, are much improved over the Collectables reissue's barebones People magazine back-page blurb, with track by track commentary from band members, and scads of rare photographs of the nice clean cut boys who posed on their album covers wearing letter sweaters. Part of the reason their success didn't continue was that they insisted on writing their own material for the second album, loosening producer Wes Farrell's grip on their sound and image, not unlike the Monkees break from Don Kirschner (but far less acrimoniously). Every Mothers' Son's final gig was a high school prom in Connecticut in 1969.
All these years later, the group are finally getting their due, and the CD reissue they deserve. Incidentally, if you still live close to Woodstock, NY, you can get your teeth examined by Dr. Bruce Milner, DDS, who not only stayed in dental college throughout the band's pop star years (and "brushed twice after every meal"), he got his degree and became a dentist.