Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 7. April 23 1968
Records: American pop
Records: American pop
The last two month's record releases have been marked by outstanding pop L.P.'s issued by groups and artists that first made their name in 1967. America is still sadly lagging in the current pop scene, but two San Francisco groups who share the same Warner Brothers Studio are attempting to make up for the poor standard of the other groups—Harpers' Bizarre and the Association. Their sound is essentially vocal; intricate harmonies with polyphonic undertones.
The Bizarre's first L.P. was out in late '67—Feelin Groovy (WBS 1693 Stereo). They proved conclusively that old Sergey Prokofiev was the first of the hippies with a swinging version of "Peter and the Wolf". Their hits "Come into the Sunshine" and "Feelin Groovy: the 59th Street Bridge Song", plus a host of Randy Newman tunes including "The Debutantes' Ball"—'where no-one gets stoned, cos its all chaperoned" and "Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear".
Their second L.P. released last month, Anything Goes (WBS 1716 Stereo) reverts a little from the Bach-like sounds, however they still depend on the lead and counterpoint vocalists. The disc has a fantastic beginning—a recording of a 1920 Disc Jockey Smiling Eddie Fatootsie, broadcasting direct from "atop the Altoona Motor Hotel"; all crackled and hollow—then suddenly a full 1968 Stereo blast as the group launches into Cole Porter's "Anything Goes". They also hark back to the old days with the Glen Miller Standard "Chattanooga Choo Choo".
The Association L.P. 'Insight Out' (WBS 1969 Stereo) takes more getting used to, but repeated playing certainly strengthened my initial interest. "Never My Love" was possibly the most beautiful pop tune of 1967 and here it shows up even better in splendid stereo sound. "Requiem for the Masses" sounds a bit pretentious at first, with kinky Kyrie's mixed with pop rhythms and effects. but one can't be at all critical of the excellent vocal work.
The pick of 1967's new groups was the Alan Price Set Randy Newman has also written some of his hit material—"Simon Smith", and "Tickle Me". Price now acts as the composer's English agent and his latest L.P. "A Price on His Head" (Decca SKLM 4907 Stereo) contains seven tracks written by Randy (what a name!). Much of the original bluesy sound of the group has gone. Alan's voice seems to have lost much of its soul' quality, and become very happy and carefree. His version of "So Long Dad" hasn't the sardonic tone of Manfred Mann's Mike D'abo. He still persists in recording some Gerry Goffin /Carole King mush; these complaints are small because the rest of the disc is good. Special mention to a sympathetic performance of Dylan's "Ramona" with only vocalist and piano.
Nancy Sinatra Only really proved herself last year. A disc jockey friend of mine played me selections from his complete collection of her L.P.'s and it was quite amazing to hear her transformation from the brash, unrefined pop star, to be polished, mature artist she is now. In December NBC produced a Christmas special with her as the star; unfortunately it was too expensive for little old N.Z.B.C., so one has to make do with the Reprise soundtrack of the T.V, show Moving with Nancy (RPS 6277 Stereo). Lee Hazelwood and Nancy contribute "Velvet Morning" and "Jackson", Dean Martin teams up for "Things", and "A very close relative" rende, "Younger Than Springtime"—the worst track of the album. The rest is all Nancy—"Up, Up and Away". "This Town" also a wild account of "What'd I Say". Lee Hazlewood's arrangements are just as good as ever—the only person in the world who can rival him is EMI's (and Paul Jones') Mike Leander. A brilliant, spacious recording.