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Salient. Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Volume 39, Issue Number 11. 31 May 1976

Sweet Trials: Mark Williams EMI

Sweet Trials: Mark Williams EMI

Mark Williams' debut album released last year deserved its kudos. The brilliant combination of pop-soul, the sheer panache of tracks like "Love the One You're With" and "Ain't No Sunshine" made it a classy production. Sweet Trials fails to keep the grade. By use of mainly homespun material, a determinedly 'rocky' oriented approach to the album and brass backing leftovers from Grunt Machine, the end result is an overall lowering of quality.

Reece Kirk's "Sweet Wine" is the only local song that draws significant attention and is at least memorable. Although it had a lot of airplay and wasn't very well received as a single, "Sweet Wine" is a product of fresh original talent and unreservedly highlights the album. Only a few other songs do justice to Mark's soulful vocals.

Kiki Dee's "If It Rains", one of the three foreign tracks on the album, is performed convincingly with strong vocal backings. However, it is Ann Pebble' "I Can't Stand The Rain" that allows Mark to be in his true element and stand out as a unique soul-artist.

The remaining tracks are all very commercial, the trowaway disco sort has a certain sameness to it on hearing for the first time.

The Rocking horse composition "No Matter How Hard You Try" is an interesting boogie number but is no less wasteful than the hashed version of Bowie's "Watch That Man".

Alan Galbraith's handling of production is competent enough but seems to have come in too heavy on the brass, at the expense of some possible rich orchestrations. The backing does tend to be loose, loud in places and superfluous in others which makes one wonder whether the album was less a solo one than a vehicle for contract groups to remain in employ.

However, the album does have its highlights and Mark Williams does not disappoint. Hopefully, his decision to remain in New Zealand doesn't mean he won't look further afar for material that belie his talents.

- Suedo Nim