COLOURS – Atmosphere – (Dot) – 1969

Colours - Atmosphere

This one has been banging around my “maybe” pile for quite some time.

I listened to it some time ago and I quite liked it but thought I might need the shelving space for something else.

The first album with its (apparently) psych and Beatles overtones is the album the pundits like but a fair amount of Pavlov’s dog applies to music enthusiasts so it’s always better to do the leg, errr, ear work yourself.

I do have that debut album but I’ll do this one first as I’ve had it the longest and it was a part of my collection.

The Colours was formed around the central partnership of Jack Dalton and Gary Montgomery.

They were former (white) Motown Records songwriters who also penned songs for The Turtles, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, The Committee, The Peppermint Trolley Company, Aorta, The Moon and others.

As the Dalton Boys they released a Motown pop meets The Beatles single in 1965. (Claimed to be the first white group signed by Motown (albeit to their VIP label) The Dalton Boys began as a folk group formed by brothers Dan, Jack and Wally Dalton. In Detroit they teamed with Gary Montgomery before releasing that first 45).

Whether it is musical influence or commercial assumptions (or both) that chose that mix of sounds (Motown pop and Beatles) I don’t know but it was something they tapped into, again, as the Colours.

Jack Dalton (guitarist/song writer) was raised in Erieau, in the Chatham-Kent municipality of Canada, just across the lake from the US and about 100km from Detroit (which explains how he ended up at Tamla Motown, perhaps).

The Dalton family is well known in Erieau, as Mr. Dalton was known for years as Detroit’s Irish Tenor (and had his own radio show). The whole family are very musical and have entertained there (sic) neighbours with playing, singing and dancing. Jack was a member of the Dalton Boys, with his brothers Wally & Dan. The trio was booked to open Randy Sparks’ new club, Ledbetter’s, in October of 1963”.

I don’t have a lot of detail on Gary Montgomery apart from the fact he was another Canadian (apparently) living and working in the US and passed away in 2005.

Dalton and Montgomery went to the west-coast (as everyone did). The Colours came together in 1967 at the request (on one version) of Dalton and Montgomery, though producer Daniel Moore (who produced both Colour albums) says, “I put the band together and brought the project to Richard Delvy, who secured the deal with Dot. Richard was the executive producer, and I wrote out all of the time/chord charts and did all of the "in studio" production for both albums”

Perhaps they were a studio band, initially?

The group in 1967 included Jack Dalton (guitar), Gary Montgomery (vocals/piano), Chuck Blackwell (drums), Rob Edwards (lead guitar) and Carl Radle (bass). Despite the Canadians, the band's rhythm section roots can be traced to Oklahoma where drummer Chuck Blackwell and bassist Carl Radle were friends with Leon Russell whilst guitarist Rob Edwards had previously been a member of Californian surf band, Eddie and the Showmen.

They signed to Dot Records and released their first 45 later that year, “Brother Lou’s Love Colony”.

In 1968, they issued their debut self-titled LP.

In 1969, they issued this follow up LP but only Dalton and Montgomery are credited on the record.

In 1968 a large part of the music world was awash with the fall out of the Beatles Sgt Peppers album and the Colours were, apparently, Anglophiles. (As has been said) they even spelled their name in an English fashion, but this could be due to the fact that Dalton (and perhaps Montgomery) was Canadian.

Their debut album was certainly (apparently, from the bits I have heard) awash with Beatles sounds as well as pop and touches of psych. It is, perhaps, unashamedly Pepper-esque in its use of heavily layered, lavish arrangements, lush orchestration and studio wizardry (they even, in Beatles fashion recorded with an orchestra, here the 36-piece LA Philharmonic) … though, admittedly, there are hints of US garage grunt.

By contrast, “Atmosphere” is darker and less genre specific.

In fact the album tends to move from soul to jazz to straight rock but all with the mischievousness expected from late 60s recordings where less was not more. All, with a thick, sometimes orchestrated and always heavily arranged sound.

Actually, "Atmosphere" is all over the map.

The concentration is on a single vocalist and with jazz rock fusion sounds replacing the psych overtones of the earlier album. (Dissonant) horns and thick orchestrated production (naturally) dominate.

The songs aren't always catchy but are always interesting, the playing is great and the production is out there. Imagine the Beatles crossed over with Blood Sweat and Tears and hanging out with Frank Zappa because the Moody Blues and the Left Banke weren't around.

The album features former Beach Boy David Marks on lead guitar around the same time he was a member of The Moon another band with many connections to Colours (band member Matthew Moore’s brother Dan Moore was producing Colours and they also did a couple of Montgomery-Dalton songs including a cover of “Brother Lou's Love Colony”).

The band reflected their times and listening to this now, you realise their times were, perhaps more adventurous than other times since, especially when you realise these were mainstream releases.

All songs by Jack Dalton and Gary Montgomery. Produced by Dan Moore.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Angie – like a direr version of the Moody Blues and then the horns kick in. Quite weird but quite catchy
  • God Please Take My Life – similar to Blood Sweat and Tears in their more contemplative moments.
  • When Will You Be Coming Home? –  McCartney-esque and very good.
  • I Tried To Make You Love Me Last Night –  an interesting out there melodic dirge.
  • Grey Day – another song which has McCartney vocal influences with music that seems to come from a totally different song. I like it
  • Smilin' In Toronto – autobiographical perhaps with a nod, again, to the Moody Blues.

      Side Two 

  • Hyannis Port Soul (Lost You To The Wind)  –  very much of its time with some heavy psych influences.
  • Run Away From Here – very Beatles (McCartney) at times with a touch of the Left Banke. Quite beautiful.
  • It's Time To Tell You – More heavy psych influences with a touch of Cream. 
  • Announcement – and now for some MOR – hand claps and all. I don't know how this fits in but I love it.
  • I'll Be Your Friend –  a statement on friendship is there ever was one done do a country carnival beat much like what the Beatles were doing when they tries to replicate country sounds.
  • You're High – very catchy and it should have been an anthem of the times. A great tune.

And …

Strangely catchy and quite delightful. Its obscurity adds to its appeal … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where


God Please Take My Life

I Tried To Make You Love Me Last Night

Grey Day

Smilin' In Toronto

Hyannis Port Soul (Lost You To The Wind)

Run Away From Here    

mp3 attached

It's Time To Tell You






  • David Marks left The Beach Boys in 1963 and took over the band The Jaguards which became David Marks and The Marksmen until about 1966. In 1966 he played with Casey Kasem’s Band Without A Name before joining psych pop band The Moon. He then played lead guitar on this album. He was 21 at the time.
  • Jack Dalton’s brother, Dan Dalton, also had a great time in the music scene as a member of the Back Porch Majority, playing banjo and 12-string guitar.
  • Original band member bassist Carl Radle went ton to play with Derek & The Dominos. Delaney & Bonnie and, shortly afterward, Derek & the Dominoes, as well as with J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton. Chuck Blackwell also achieved some renown in the early 70s by playing with Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Taj Mahal, Freddie King, and other artists.
  • The sleeve opens through the top …unusual.
  • Clearly this band are not to be confused with the very fine Brisbane indie band of the same name from the 1980s (who released the single “Blue Shirt”) who, coincidentally, have Beatles, Motown and pop influences.

About Franko

Hi, I'm just a person with a love of music, a lot of records and some spare time. My opinions are comments not reviews and are mine so don't be offended if I have slighted your favourite artist. I have listened to a lot of music and I don't pretend to be impartial. You can contact me on though I would rather you left a comment. I also sell music at Cheers
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