Spanky & Our Gang is one of those odd groups that, despite having had a string of Top 40 chart hits in a two-year period from 1967 through 1969, somehow falls between the cracks of 1960s pop music history. Their hits, particularly "Sunday Will Never Be the Same," "Lazy Day," "Like to Get to Know You," and "Give a Damn," were as much a part of the ambience of the middle to late '60s as any of the best known songs of the Mamas & the Papas with whom they're frequently compared. Yet they fell short of the latter group as cultural icons; they lacked the L.A.-based group's distinctively accessible collective personality, or anything like its individual members' visual appeal, and they also had none of the Mamas & the Papas' in-house songwriting talent. They did have good voices and musical instincts, however, and a lot more to their sound than the cheerful anthems that made them famous.
Their sound most obviously displayed a folk-rock influence, but Spanky & Our Gang actually came just as much out of a pop-jazz background. Elaine McFarlane was into blues and jazz, and her first professional gig was in a jazz-based singing group called the Jamie Lyn Trio in 1962. By the start of 1963, lured by the booming folk music scene, she joined the New Wine Singers who mixed folk and protest songs with Dixieland jazz. It was during her tenure with this group that she acquired the friendship of trombonist/singer Malcolm Hale, and also the nickname "Spanky," owing to her resemblance -- in the eyes of fellow group member Arnie Lanza -- to George "Spanky" McFarland of the Little Rascals/Our Gang comedies.