Aug. 1966 Audio House Studio-Lawrence, Ks.
The band’s initial venture into a professional studio exhibits their initial soft rock style. Two cover songs are performed: the traditional blues song “This Sportin’ Life” which is patterned after the version done by the Lovin Spoonful and “I’m Not Your Steppin Stone” written by Boyce and Hart and recorded previously by The Monkees and Paul Revere and the Raiders. More importantly, the group’s first original songs were recorded: “Winter Dreams” and “Touch of Magic” both written by Mal Robinson. The group line up was Don Sligar-Drums; Don Anderson-rhythm guitar/autoharp; Don Shuford-bass guitar and vocals; and Mal Robinson-lead guitar and lead vocals.
Apr.1967 Fairyland Recording Studio-Columbia,Mo.
The band’s second recording session was intended for release of a 45 rpm record on a regional basis, with thoughts of getting it picked up by a national label. By this time, the band had developed a more harder sound with liberal use of the fuzz guitar effect. Two original songs written by Mal Robinson were recorded: “No More”(A side) and “Look At Me Now”(B side). The band line up remained the same. The band inked with Fairyland Records and “No More” represented the first commercial record released by the label. Additionally, the band used Fairyland Productions as one of its booking agents in the Midwest. Fairyland was founded by Lou Rennau of Goldilocks and the Three Bears of Columbia, Missouri and a highly successful Missouri band.
July 1967 Fairyland Recording Studio-Columbia, Mo.
The band entered the studio just three months later to record a follow-up 45 rpm single to “No More”. Two more Mal Robinson original songs were recorded: “Be A Friend”( A side) and “Go Away”(B side). There was much debate as to which song to use for the A side. Some favoring “Go Away” due to its style being similar to “No More”. The band opted for the more soft/folksy tune “Be A Friend” to display the band’s versatility. The band’s line up continued to remain the same. However, the band did use Tommy Smith of Goldilocks and the Three Bears for the non-fuzz lead riffs on “Go Away” as well as Ken Tebow of Plato and the Philosophers for back up vocals on “Be A Friend”. This second release did not experience the success of “No More”, making the band second guess their choice of an A side song.
July-Aug. 1968 Fairyland Recording Studio-Columbia, Mo.
Just one year later, the band pursued an ambitious ten song album demo to take to major record companies. The band developed a more psychedelic orientation with original songs such as “Sycamore Dreamer”, “Cherry Street”, “Then Came the Light”, and “Rainbow Woman” coupled with more straight forward rock tunes such as “Lady Soul”, “Sing Out”, and “Money Honey Blues”. Of course, not losing sight of their soft rock beginnings, the band added the ballads “Something You Say” and “Our Last Song”. All songs for this recording were written by Mal Robinson, with the exception of “Sing Out” (written by a local Columbia writer Phil Jackson) and the traditional blues song “This Sportin’Life”. The band engaged student musicians from the University of Missouri to add strings to “Something You Say” and the flute solo to “Sycamore Dreamer”. Armed with the acetate of this session, Mal Robinson headed to New York to meet with national record labels including ABC Paramount, Laurie Records, Roulette Records, Bell Records, among others. It was based on these recordings that the band landed its national recording contract with Roulette Records.
May 1969 Fairyland Recording Studio
The band’s line up changed for the first time in the winter of 1969 as Don Shuford left due to being drafted in the Army. Replacing Don on bass guitar and vocals was Blair Honeyman, formerly with a local Topeka band, The Burlington Express. By this time the band was receiving considerable interest from Roulette Records and the Company requested the band record a couple of songs so they could hear their updated band sound. The band selected another Mal Robinson original tune entitled “Young Man” and a cover song “Get Together” by the Youngbloods. Later that summer, Fred Munao of Roulette Records came to Topeka to hear the band live and ink them to the Roulette Recording contract. Three years of the band’s very planful and calculated recording strategy it seemed had finally paid off.
Aug.1969 Bob Gallo’s Talentmaster Recording Studio- New York City, New York
With a line up of Mal Robinson-lead guitar and lead vocals; Don Sligar-Drums; Don Anderson-rhythm guitar and keyboards; and Blair Honeyman-bass guitar and vocals the band entered the studio in New York to record the Roulette album. The recording consisted of ten songs and the tracks were completed in about 30 hours with many songs using one take. Lee DeCarlo was the recording engineer(who’s claim to fame was the engineer on the U.S. mix for Jumpin Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones) and Fred Munao was the Producer. This represented Munao’s first major project with Roulette, having previously worked with The Left Banke for another label. Songs included in the session were: “Something You Say”, “Then Came the Light”, “Cherry Street”, and “Young Man” previously recorded at Fairyland Studio and new additions to their sound “Crusader’s Smile”, “Upon Leaving”, “The Gypsy”, “Country Boy Blue”, “Save Me”, and “The Mann”/”Death is a Dream”. All songs were written by Mal Robinson with the exception of “Save Me” which was co-written with Kerry Livgren of the band Kansas. Don Sligar and Mal Robinson had known Livgren playing in local bands and attending the local university. At the time the song was written, Livgren and Sligar were good friends and living together with several other musicians in Topeka. Although the album’s main focus is the psychedelic rock sound, several easier listening songs are included. Interestingly, Roulette leaned to wanting to use the easier listening sounds of “Country Boy Blue” and “Something You Say” for potential singles with the label. No singles were ever released and for some unknown reason the album did not get released until one year later in August, 1970.
Aug. 1970 Audio House-Lawrence, Ks.
The Roulette Recording contract called for the release of two LP albums and the band enter the local studio to record some new material for Fred Munao to hear at Roulette in consideration of the second album. The band’s line up now included: the original co-founders of the band-Mal Robinson (guitar and lead vocals) and Don Sligar(drums) along with Blair Honeyman-bass; Ferdy Baumgart-organ and guitar; and Dave Howell-guitar and keyboards. Howell was an addition in the Spring of 1970 while Baumgart replaced Don Anderson who left the band earlier in the summer that year. Baumgart performed in the local band White Clover which included Phil Ehart, Dan Hope, and Rich Williams later to be part of the band Kansas. The Morning Dew sound had now developed into a more progressive rock style with more intricate arrangements and featuring the Hammond B3 sound of Ferdy Baumgart. Robinson’s songwriting style adapted well to the band’s new arrangement. Songs include: “Satin’s Gotta Hold on Thee”, “Lion/Away From It All”, “Flying Above Myself”, “My Kind of Music”, “Someday”, “All the Time”, and “1849”. All songs were written by Mal Robinson with the exception of “All the Time” co-written with Dave Howell and “1849” co-written with Ferdy Baumgart. The recordings were done in one afternoon and the sound is “raw” but tight using a four track recorder and basically recording all instruments and vocals in one setting. The band looked at this as more of a “practice tape” for Roulette.
These seven recording sessions represent the band’s body of work and clearly demonstrates the significant evolution of the band’s sound from 1966 to 1970.