12 Step Program saved What’s New.
As the single got to be heard on the radio and began to chart, the club, which had been suffering in the weeks after the riot, filled up with people wanting to see The Hi-Steppers, risking the curfew, or proudly declaring they were of drinking age.
Tonio looked happier than he’d been in weeks while Bob happily engaged the crowds.
That didn’t help the album, though.
Released after Christmas, at the beginning of 1967, Hi-Time For The Hi-Steppers seemed old fashioned compared to new albums by fellow Angelinos The Byrds and Love and there was more coming, from The Doors and Buffalo Springfield, for instance, and the San Fransisco bands Bob had heard about such as The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
As well, there was a deluge of records by L.A.’s The Standells, Leaves, The Merry Go Round, Music Machine,The Association, Turtles, Seeds, The Grantchesters and many others. The Hi-Steppers was competing against all of them and radio had no hi-time or room for Hi-Time For The Hi-Steppers.
The album was doomed. Bob Jansen could only grit his teeth, sing 12 Step Program, and hope he could make another record soon.
Oh, he’d be making a record, alright, even sooner than he expected or possibly would have liked.
The Hi-Steppers’ contract with Barb required it to provide at least two albums and three singles a year.
This second album would be better. It would have more of his own songs while the covers would show off the band’s skill at playing and arranging, departing from the staples of the live set that filled the first album.
Jansen would work closer with Leven, provide some direction, try to use whatever he’d learned from the first album.
As the money trickled in, Abe Stern started to feel better, perhaps for the first time since founding Barb a few years before.
The music industry seemed to treat Barb more seriously. Both the singles by The Grantchesters and The Joss were getting more airplay, or were getting more attention. Abe knew he owed it to 12 Step Program. It wasn’t a big hit yet, and realistically, he figured it had gone as high as it could go.
But it was Barb’s first hit, that was the important thing. That got Abe wondering where Barb could take The Hi-Steppers, which was when he took another look at its contract.
Abe noticed Bob hadn’t registered the song with either ASCAP or BMI so there was no one to collect the money due him. No one to represent him or The Hi-Steppers because he hadn’t set up its own publishing company. It was only one song, so far, but there’d be more. Until then, there was a vacant space that radio, for one, was in no rush to fill with no organization harass it to pay up or report to.
Stern knew he would have to correct that.
In looking at the contract, he also realized The Hi-Steppers was due to make another album in the next few weeks.
Stern made a note to alert Berk, to book time with Leven and to have a little discussion with Jansen.
Whether he realized it or not, the modest success of 12 Step Program had swayed him.
The Grantchesters and The Joss were getting more airplay, Barb had achieved an unprecedented security and The Hi-Steppers was becoming a hit band.
So, Abe Stern demanded another song like 12 Step Program. Soon.
Bob Jansen did his best to comply.
When Stern wanted a song exactly like 12 Step, he responded with 10 Commandments Of Love.
Is there a map leading to love?/
Is there a guide I can follow?/
Follow me somebody said/
I’ll show you the way/
First rule: Find her/
Second rule: Tell Her
Third rule: Please her/
Fourth rule: Be at her side…
The guitar sound was identical while the music was similar to 12 Step Program.
At first Luke protested but, in the end, he delivered.
Yeah, Bob reasoned, it’s a blatant copy but if it keeps Abe happy and Barb interested and helps the band, he was willing to make that concession.
Jansen added it to what the band would next record.
First, though, was the tour with The Grantchesters
That flirted with disaster.
Jansen liked The Joss. In the wake of The Byrds’s hitting number one with Mr. Tambourine Man,The Joss emulated a lot of L.A. bands in that it became folk-rock overnight. This was at odds with what The Joss really was, a white soul band. It tried to balance the two sounds in its set and that got Jansen’s attention . He became curious to see in what direction it. would lead.
The Grantchesters surprised him by playing and singing competently. Jansen always had thought the band was a studio concoction.
The band seemed real but lacked credibility.
The shows drew well enough with people there to hear the hits, Discotheque A Go Go and Psychedelia. Once they were played, the other songs were inconsequential. What seemed substantial on record was superficial live. If these were about lifestyle, T^he Grantchesters didn’t live it. This became apparent when The Grantchesters did its new single, The Power Of Flowers. Some in the audience knew it was being manipulated, a few actually snickered. It wanted more, something in which to believe. Maybe a year ago, it would have been satisfied, but now the audience was asking questions, demanding something The Grantchesters never could be. New rules were being written.
The Hi-Steppers didn’t have that problem. Most crowds had no idea who it was. It did the songs from the first album and received a polite hand, but when The Hi-Steppers launched into 12 Step Program, there was recognition and excitement. Every night, it was the highlight of the show. The Grantchesters couldn’t top it . After a few nights of having its show stolen from it, The Grantchesters stopped trying, but, Jansen noticed, it played harder, investing its show with more soul, and even stretching out. Jansen took note.
After a few weeks, the band was back at What’s New.
Tonio was glad to see it.
The club had developed a good rep and become a scene, so the crowds were good but the demand for The Hi-Steppers was constant. Besides, What’s New was the band’s home. Tonio missed it, and treated the band’s first weekend back at What’s New was a triumphant homecoming.