Dancing In The Moonlight by King Harvest (Perception, 1973)

King Harvest got it on in 1973 as this single climbed all the way up to #13. The song was simple midtempo Wurlitzer electric piano led number with great lines like ‘you can’t dance and stay uptight’. Sounding like Blues Image with a Van Morrison strut, it was a nice sunshiny piece of pop on the airwaves. But as a simple as the song was, its origins and the band’s history was more complex.

The band was formed at Cornell university in the mid 60s as a quartet. Their lead singer, Doc Robinson, joined a band called Boffolongo. This is where he met Sherman Kelly, who wrote a little song called Dancing in the Moonlight. They recorded it for their album, Beyond Your Head, with Sherman singing lead. One year later, the 4 guys from Cornell get back together and move to Paris. They have success individually as musicians, but came together as a group for a rock competition under the name King Harvest. This allowed them to tour France and secure a recording deal. Sherman’s brother Wells who was a drummer had suggested recording Dancing.., but left the group before he could play on it. [He eventually became the original drummer for Orleans.]

King Harvest recorded and released the 45 in France with Doc singing lead (sounding like a swampy Elliot Lurie of Looking Glass in 1972) but it bombed. Disillusioned the band moved back to the States and broke up. Somewhere along the way the producers of the record decided to go to NY to personally try to break the record. It was eventually picked up by Perception Records and became a hit in early 1973 on the US charts. So the band got back together and prepared to record a follow-up album. Unfortunately the recording company ran out of dough, the band’s LP went unreleased and they broke up again. The band somehow generated enough interest that were signed to A&M Records in 1975 and put out a 2nd album the following year with various contributions from the Beach Boys & Chicago members as well as Dancing songwriter Sherman Kelly, who now in the band. It sank like a stone and the band, say it one more time, broke up again.

These guys never got to fully enjoy their 15 minutes of fame and ride the success of this single. But we have and continue to do so. And you can too:

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2 Comments

  1. I don’t know if it’s possible for me to hear this song and not smile.

    Reply
  2. J.A. Bartlett

     /  August 12, 2011

    In a blog post, I once called the first King Harvest album “a sea of ponderous prog-rock sludge,” and Rod Novak of King Harvest commented to say he agreed with me. After “Dancing in the Moonlight” became a hit, their French label released the tracks it had in the can as an album titled “Dancing in the Moonlight.” The album the band actually wanted to make—the one that wasn’t released before the label went tits-up—didn’t see daylight until 2006.

    Reply

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