The transition from harmony pop to country rock took Spanky & Our Gang six years, from '69's Anything You Choose [Foamed antecedently - Ed.] to Change in '75. The band had broken up after their lead guitarist Malcolm Hale died, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning. During that time, Spanky's Greatest Hit(s) was released, and a live album held over from '67. Greatest Hit(s) consists of largely re-recorded and extended versions with new overdubs, and is a beautiful album in its own right. I can't imagine that any of the four or five guys who hang at th' House O' Foam© is unfamiliar with S&OG, but this is the perfect introduction to an awesomely talented and great-spirited band and will not fail to pick you up when you're down. The magic's in the music and the music's in you.
Change, recorded by the reformed band, minus Hale, is an altogether different kettle of ballgames. The radical shift from their trademark sunshine pop confused any remaining fans still waiting for a new album, and gave their label and the radio stations problems. It didn't sell, has never seen a CD release, and remains a hidden masterpiece of the genre, with a challenging song selection, perfect production (aided by Jerry Yester and Fairport's Richard Thompson, yet), and their signature seasoned harmonies. There's also a real depth of emotion missing in most country rock - the elegiac I Wish We'd All Been Ready carries a real gut punch.
There's an amateurish-looking twilight album I'm not sure I want to hear (2009's ominously-titled Back Home Americana Vol. 1), but Change is not only a surprising swansong, it's one of the great albums of the genre.
(This rip is salted by a gourmet sprinkling of authentic vinyl crackles for your enhanced listening pleasure)