Spanky and Our Gang

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Spanky and Our Gang
Spanky and Our Gang (1968)
Background information
Origin Bloomington, Illinois, United States
Genres Sunshine pop[1]
Years active 1966–1969
Labels Mercury Records, Spectra Records

Spanky and Our Gang was an American 1960s sunshine pop band led by Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane. The band derives its name from Hal Roach's popular Our Gang comedies of the 1930s (known to modern audiences as The Little Rascals). The group was known for its vocal harmonies.

History and work[edit]

Spanky McFarlane (2015)

The group's eponymous first album was released by Mercury Records on August 1, 1967, and included three popular songs that were released as singles. These were "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" (their biggest hit, which reached number No. 9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in the summer of 1967), followed by "Making Every Minute Count" (reached No. 31/No. 23 in Canada) and "Lazy Day" (reached No 14).[2] Both "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" and "Lazy Day" sold over one million copies.[3] "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" was written by Terry Cashman and Gene Pistilli.[2] In an interview by Cashman with the Songfacts website, he revealed that the song was originally written as a ballad, however, the group "changed it, and they added the vocal, 'Ba-da-da-da-da,' which was a great hook."[4]

Their second album, Like to Get to Know You, was released in April 1968. Two singles were released: "Sunday Mornin'" in the winter, which reached No. 30 on February 10–17, 1968, and "Like to Get to Know You" in the spring, which reached No. 17 on June 8, 1968. The latter single's B-side, "Three Ways From Tomorrow", also received considerable airplay. The album included their rendition of "Stardust", and a version of folksinger Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'", best known as a hit single for Harry Nilsson and the theme song for the movie Midnight Cowboy.

"Give a Damn" was released as a single in late Summer 1968. In spite of not receiving airplay in several markets because of the curse word in its title, as well as its use of the sound of an African American man from the ghetto saying something that was not understood, ending in his laughter before the song's fade.[5] – and because it was a comment on racial equality that became the theme song for the New York Urban Coalition – the song became a regional hit where released and overall made No. 43. The band also performed the song live on an episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, resulting in CBS' Standards and Practices division receiving numerous complaints about the song's title being used during "family viewing hours".[6] One such complaint reportedly came from President Richard Nixon.[6][7] "Give a Damn" would become John Lindsay's campaign song during his successful run for mayor of New York.[8] The song reached #26 in the Canadian RPM' magazine charts.

Malcolm Hale (1968)

On October 31, 1968, the group's lead guitarist Malcolm Hale died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty heating system.[6][9] (Hale's death has also been ascribed to bronchopneumonia.)[10] [discuss] This was a devastating blow to the group; the multi-instrumentalist did much of the arranging and largely kept the band together.[5] Hale's death, along with the group's satisfaction over what they had achieved already, led to the decision to disband early in 1969.[10] Mercury released a third album, Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme or Reason, in January 1969. It contained two popular songs, the previous summer's hit "Give a Damn" and "Yesterday's Rain" (#48 Canada). The group briefly reformed in 1975 and recorded an album (Change) for the Epic label.[10]

Spanky McFarlane sings to Curley Tait, manager of Spanky and Our Gang on his 84th birthday

After the band dissolved, McFarlane had some success as a solo artist. She toured with The New Mamas and the Papas, largely singing the parts which had been performed by Cass Elliot. She was most recently seen April 2011 on stage in Ferndale Repertory Theatre's production of South Pacific portraying "Bloody Mary".[11]

Later releases[edit]

Because of the band's continued popularity, Mercury released album collections of their greatest hits in 1969 (Spanky's Greatest Hit(s)), 1989's budget (Give a Damn), and 2005's (The Best of Spanky & Our Gang: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection). In addition, Rhino issued the 1986 (The Best Of Spanky and Our Gang) and Hip-O Select issued a limited-edition anthology of (Spanky and Our Gang's Complete Mercury Recordings) that includes never-before-released recordings and extensive liner notes.[12]




  • Spanky and Our Gang (Mercury, 1967 - #77)
  • Like to Get to Know You (Mercury, 1968 - #56)
  • Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme or Reason (Mercury, 1969 - #101)
  • Spanky's Greatest Hit(s) (Mercury, 1969 - #91) (many songs were given new stereo mixes, and on the first CD reissue, the additional overdubs were removed)
  • Spanky & Our Gang Live (Mercury, 1970, recorded in 1967)
  • Change (Epic, 1975)
  • The Best of Spanky & Our Gang (Rhino, 1986)
  • The Best of Spanky & Our Gang: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection (Mercury, 2005)
  • The Complete Mercury Recordings (Hip-O Select, 2006) (4 discs, limited edition of 5000 (un-numbered))
  • Greatest Hits (Mercury, 2007)
  • Back Home Americana (Spectra, 2010)
  • The Singles and More (Crash, 2013)
  • The Complete Mercury Singles (Real Gone Music, 2014) - in fact the 4th disc from the Hip-O 4-CD set


Year Songs (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Peak chart positions Album
1966 "And Your Bird Can Sing"
b/w "Sealed With A Kiss"
- Non-album tracks
1967 "Sunday Will Never Be The Same"
b/w "Distance"
9 Spanky and Our Gang
1967 "Making Every Minute Count"
b/w "If You Could Only Be Me"
1967 "Lazy Day"
b/w "(It Ain't Necessarily) Byrd Avenue"
1968 "Sunday Mornin'"
b/w "Echoes"
30 Like To Get To Know You
1968 "Like To Get To Know You"
b/w "Three Ways From Tomorrow"
1968 "Give A Damn"
b/w "The Swingin' Gate"
43 Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhythm Or Reason
1968 "Yesterday's Rain"
b/w "Without Rhyme Or Reason"
1969 "Anything You Choose"
b/w "Mecca Flat Blues"
1969 "And She's Mine"
b/w "Leopard Skin Phones"
"Everybody's Talkin'"
b/w "It Ain't Necessarily Bird Avenue" (from Spanky and Our Gang)
126 (cashbox) A side is the same song as "Echoes"
1975 "When I Wanna"
b/w "I Won't Brand You"
- Change
1976 "L.A. Freeway"
b/w "Standing Room Only"


  1. ^ Goldenburg, Joel (February 27, 2016). "Joel Goldenberg: Sunshine pop offered some respite from '60s strife". The Suburban. 
  2. ^ a b Jay Warner (2006). American Singing Groups: A History from 1940 to Today. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 452–. ISBN 978-0-634-09978-6. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 230. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  4. ^ "Sunday Will Never Be The Same". Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Vladimir Bogdanov; Chris Woodstra; Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul. Backbeat Books. pp. 1049–. ISBN 978-0-87930-653-3. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Eric Segalstad (April 2009). The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock and Roll. Samadhi Creations, LLC. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-0-615-18964-2. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Smother, Tom, Interview on "Geraldo", 1987
  8. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (20 July 1968). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 6–. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  9. ^ Largo, Michael (2007). The Portable Obituary: How the Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died. HarperCollins. p. 93. ISBN 0-06-123166-5. 
  10. ^ a b c Bogdanov, Vladimir; Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002). All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul 3rd edition. Backbeat Books. p. 1049. ISBN 0-87930-653-X. 
  11. ^ "Ferndale Rep Stages South Pacific". Times-Standard Online. April 5, 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Spanky And Our Gang The Complete Mercury Recordings, HIPO, 2006. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Spanky & Our Gang | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-08-19. 

External links[edit]