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The Cake (60's)
Appearing during the waning days of the girl group era and as psychedelia was starting to make a major impact on the charts, the Cake were a trio who bridged the gaps between the two styles, fusing fresh but soulful harmonies with music that embraced the more adventurous aspects of late-'60s pop. The Cake were formed in New York City in 1966 by Eleanor Barooshian (aka Chelsea Lee), Jeanette Jacobs, and Barbara Morillo. Jacobs and Morillo had been performing together as an a cappella duo, and they met Barooshian during an engagement at The Scene, Steve Paul's legendary Greenwich Village rock club. (Barooshian was also a regular performer at The Scene, and sang a duet with Tiny Tim during a show there that popped up in the counterculture documentary film You Are What You Eat.) Managers Charlie Greene and Brian Stone heard the Cake and took them to Los Angeles, where they landed a deal with Decca Records. The trio's first album, simply entitled The Cake, was produced by Jack Nitzsche with arrangements by Harold Battiste; released in 1967, it featured several tunes that re-created the Phil Spector "Wall of Sound" production style with uncanny accuracy, but also included some upbeat R&B workouts and a handful of string-driven baroque pop tunes with a psychedelic undercurrent. The group also contributed to the writing of four of the album's songs, rare in the world of girl groups. The Cake toured in support of the album and landed an appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and in 1968 they released a second LP, A Slice of the Cake. The sophomore album narrowed the group's musical focus to the folk-rock and psychedelic pop facets of their personality, and this time out Barooshian, Jacobs, and Morillo helped write seven of the LP's ten tunes. While the two albums would become collectors' items years later, they were not commercially successful at the time, and by the end of 1968 the Cake had broken up. Barooshian (changing her name to Chelsea Lee) and Jacobs continued to work together, contributing backing vocals to the Jimi Hendrix album Electric Ladyland and touring and recording with Ginger Baker's Air Force and Dr. John. Chelsea Lee also recorded an album with Tetsu Yamauchi, a former member of both Free and the Faces. Morillo continued performing with a variety of groups, including the Act, Nightflyte, and Bambu; she's currently the leader of Barbara Morillo and Shrine. Sadly, Jeanette Jacobs died in 1980 at the age of 30. In 2006, Chelsea Lee and Barbara Morillo performed together as the Cake for the first time since 1968 as part of a Jimi Hendrix memorial show in New York City. ~ Mark Deming