One of the first rock bands to heavily incorporate Middle Eastern music into psychedelia, the Gurus in fact put more Middle Eastern influences into their sound than almost any rock band of the 1960s. Though the two singles they managed to release on United Artists in 1966 and 1967 were somewhat gimmicky, they were pretty fine, adventurous efforts mixing raga-rock with hypnotic melodies and wailing vocals. However, although a 1967 LP release was planned and even advertised, the album never came out, and the band broke out without having made a wide impact.
The Gurus formed in Greenwich Village around early 1966, when jeweler Ron Haffkine came up with the idea of forming a Middle Eastern-c*m-rock combo. However, after their two singles had been recorded, the group began to wobble with the departure of Jonathan Talbot for the New York Electric String Ensemble. The cancellation of the LP's release was the final straw for the struggling band, though the album, The Gurus Are Hear!, was resurrected for belated CD release by Sundazed in 2003, along with some bonus cuts of unissued outtakes and alternate versions. As it turned out, however, the best of their tracks had already come out on their two official singles (which are, fortunately, included on the album); the rest of the album was not quite as exotic, and didn't feature material as strong as the songs that had made it onto the 45s. Bassist Michael "Jason" Weinstein, who'd replaced Talbot in the Gurus, can also be heard as a harmonica player on the Rascals' 1967 number one single "Groovin'." ~ Richie Unterberger