Music Throwback Saturday: Time Has Come Today

It also quotes several bars from “The Little Drummer Boy”.

Chambers-Brothers-pic-1Unlike the Doobie Brothers or the Righteous Brothers, the Chambers Brothers really were male siblings, originally from Carthage, Mississippi, George (b. September 26, 1931) on bass, Lester (b. April 13, 1940) on harmonica, and Willie (b. March 3, 1938) and Joe (b. August 22, 1942) on guitars.

Like many artists of the period, they “first honed their skills as members of the choir in their Baptist church.” They eventually relocated to Los Angeles.” As a foursome, they began performing gospel and folk throughout the Southern California region in 1954, but they more or less remained unknown until appearing in New York City in 1965.” I can hear the gospel sound in the first song of theirs I ever owned, Going to the Mill.

“With the addition of Brian Keenan (b. January 28, 1943) on drums, [singer Barbara] Dane took them on tour with her and introduced them to Pete Seeger, who helped put the Chambers Brothers on the bill of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.” Dane and the Chambers recorded a well-regarded album together.

Listen to Time Has Come Today written by Willie & Joe Chambers

1966 original version – Columbia 43816 – the original recording, 2:37 in length, which is completely different from the widely known 1968 “hit versions”.

1968 “hit version” #2 – Columbia 44414 – 4:45 edit. The label now mentions the album The Time Has Come. The single spent five weeks at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1968. There’s also a 3:05 edit of the LP version that does not refer to the album The Time Has Come; I’m sure it’s out there somewhere…

1968 album version – 11:06. Various effects were employed in its recording and production, including the alternate striking of two cowbells producing a “tick-tock” sound, warped throughout most of the song by reverb, echo, and changes in tempo. It also quotes several bars from “The Little Drummer Boy” at 5:40. The song blends a fusion of psychedelic rock, soul, and acid rock with its use of the guitar’s fuzz/distortion. This shows up a lot: HERE and HERE and HERE, e.g.

The Time Has Come album.

Covers by
The Ramones
Joan Jett
Steve Earle with Sheryl Crow

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

6 thoughts on “Music Throwback Saturday: Time Has Come Today”

  1. I’ve seen one copy of the 3:05 edit, with a Columbia promo label, but no stock copies. Perhaps it was done for radio stations only, since 3:05 fits better into tight formats than 4:45.

    And I suspect the 4:45 edit has been lost over the years: rather a lot of CDs have come out with what is billed as the “hit single,” and they range from 4:09 to 4:55.

    According to Billboard, the later single, “Love, Peace and Happiness” (Columbia 45088) came out at 4:01, but the only copies I have seen are a 2:50 edit. (The LP track runs a stirring 16:16.)

    This isn’t, incidentally, the first time that the original 45 didn’t become the hit. The Stones’ cover of “Time Is On My Side” was released on 45 in the States in an organ-heavy version without the initial guitar lick. (Weirdly, this version was recorded in England; the subsequent LP track, intended for UK audiences, was recorded in Chicago at Chess.)

  2. I saw the Chambers Bros many moons ago. There was not anyone sitting in their seat during the whole show. Unbelievable energy that got everyone moving

  3. The Chambers Brothers didn’t meet Brian Keenan until after the Newport Folk Festival.

  4. Never heard that 1966 version of Time with the weird squeaky sounds at the beginning. I can only think of one other popular tune that dealt with this subject – facing the prospect of loneliness and homelessness after indulging in excess – the much later tune Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chile Peppers.

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