Unlike 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.