Grant Smith and the Power
Thinkin' About You / You Got What I Want - 7"
MGM - 1968
Grant Smith and the Power are barely a footnote these days in the annals of Canuckistani scholarship, but in their time they were a popular group plying rock and soul up and down Toronto's Yonge Street strip.
The band originally started to take shape on New Year's Eve 1966 when organist Val Stevens, bass player Mike Harrison and brothers Charlie (drums) and Ralph (trumpet) Miller, who were performing as part of Eddie Spencer and the Power, ditched their frontman for singer Ellis Grant Smith, subsequently changing their name to E.G. Smith and the Power and then later to Grant Smith and the Power. The massive ensemble - promo pics show anywhere from seven to ten members - were part of what was then dubbed "the Toronto sound", a pasty amalgam of emotive, horn-driven soul and Midwestern electric rock that included more successful local acts like Mandala and David Clayton-Thomas.
The guys seemed to hit the ground running, gigging regularly in Toronto and parts of southern Ontario, including a total of eight bookings at Ronnie Hawkins' famed Hawk's Nest club in 1967 alone. By the fall of that year they had honed their chops enough to make a record of their own, entering Art Snider's Sound Canada studios in Don Mills to record their only hit, a competent reworking of Jackie Edwards' 'Keep on Running' (which of course was a #1 U.K. hit for the Spencer Davis Group the year before and the likely template for Grant Smith and company).
'Keep on Running' and the band's similarly titled LP were both released in 1968 on the independent Boo label. As luck would have it, though, while the band was on a brief tour in the northeastern U.S., they managed to strike a record deal with none other than Tony Orlando, at the time an A & R man for MGM Records. Wisely, MGM grabbed what were Grant Smith and the Power's finest songs, both penned by a little-known, and long-forgotten, Toronto songwriter named Al Rain. The lithe 'Thinkin' About You' and its more muscular sibling 'You Got What I Want' were pressed up and issued in early 1968 both down in the US and up here in Canada. And though neither disc saw any chart action on either side of the 49th, it's a good bet that 'Thinkin' About You', with its cheery organ and horn arrangements, has caused more than a few hearts to flutter amongst discerning northern soul collectors both here and abroad.
(And speaking of which, a posting on the authoritative 45cat site informs us that U.S. copies of 'Thinkin' About You' - both promo and stock - all seem to have been stamped on dreaded polystyrene, while those tougher-to-find Canadian copies appear to have been issued on real vinyl. You've been warned.)
Grant Smith and the Power
The Poppy Family
Beyond the Clouds / Free from the City - 7"
Expedition to Earth
Expedition to Earth / Time Time Time - 7"
United Empire Loyalists
No, No, No / Afraid of the Dark - 7"