Song In My Head #10: “Gladly” by Powder

While “Gladly” sounds like a long-lost British mod classic, its origins are purely Bay Area. The song was recorded in 1968 by Powder, a band hailing from San Mateo. I first heard the tune in college on a flexidisc that accompanied the second issue of Cream Puff War, a brilliant ’90s-era South Bay zine co-edited by Jud Cost and Alec Palao. As the 1996 compilation Biff Bang Powder reveals, “Gladly” is just one weapon in the band’s arsenal of memorable pop songs. However, those harmonies and chiming guitars make it a pretty great one. Interestingly enough, the band has reunited, featuring Palao on bass. (This isn’t a shocking turn to those who remember Palao’s stint in the Bay Area band the Sneetches.)

In 2010, Palao (with Melissa Leventon) curated Somethin’s Happening Here: Bay Area Rock ‘n’ Roll 1963-1973 for San Francisco’s Museum of Performance and Design. I was very eager to cover the exhibition for the Student Guide, but the idea of interviewing Alec Palao made me feel intimidated, to say the least. Both Palao and Leventon were extremely gracious, though I definitely felt nervous. (In a funny twist, I remember buying a copy of the book Bomp! 2: Born In The Garage when I was working on the article. The foreword features  Palao talking about the butterflies he always had when talking to his rock-critic hero, the late, great Greg Shaw. I had a Greg Shaw fangirl moment  in college, unbelievably enough. On some garage-rock newsgroup, I posted something about the song “Scream” by the Tumblers. I got a personal e-mail from the esteemed Mr. Shaw, saying how he didn’t think anyone knew that song anymore and that it was very cool that I played it on a college radio show. I think I shrieked in the dormitory computer cubicle. Actually, I’m pretty sure I did.) The Palao/Leventon interview appears in my book Going Coastal, for those who are curious about how everything turned out. Without further ado, here’s “Gladly”:

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