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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 11 June 5, 1968

Records — New pop LPs


New pop LPs

The Avengers album cover

The highlight of recent pop releases is The Avengers: Electric Recording (Hmv Csdm 6266 Stereo). This album contains the most professional sound ever to be recorded in New Zealand. The material varies in quality, from indifferent cover versions of "Rosie" and "Love is Blue" to outstanding accounts of "Morning Dew" (first heard on the Grateful Dead LP), a beautiful Chris Malcolm original "Summer Set Morning", and their current hit "1941". Technically I can't fault the record—good vocal work, imaginative musical arrangements by Terry Crayford, a brilliant four track stereo recording. If you need to be convinced just listen to the beginning of the kinky "What Price Love" (alias Bach's Air on a G String, here attributed to Malcolm and the Avengers!). Obviously the considerable amount of money spent by HMV on modern recording equipment and an expensive Hammond Organ has not been wasted as ever since the LP was first released the company has been troubled with the pleasant task of pressing rapidly enough to keep up with the sales demand.

New Masters (Deram SMLM 1018 Stereo) consists of twelve new Cat Stevens' songs sung in the true Stevens manner. I often feel that with this talented artist the performances are incidental, most important is his flair for creating attractive, complex pop songs out of the most innocuous subjects—"The Laughing Apple", "Moonstone", "Come on Baby (Shift that Log)". His recent singles "Kitty" and "The Blackness of the Night" have been given the added splendour of good stereo recording. The LP is produced by Mike Hurst therefore must have been recorded at least four months ago, before Cat began producing all his own efforts.

The Hollies continue to be the most underrated group on the English show-business scene. Mass adulation follows every new LP by the Beatles, Stones, Dave Dec etc. and The Who, but the Hollies continually produce outstanding albums only to have them glossed over by the critics and record-buying public. Their latest Butterfly (Parlophone PCSM 7-39 Stereo) is further evidence of their development and contains the best tunes they have ever written. The title tune is rather Donovanish−"We met on the shore of Lemonade lake . . . Butterfly lazily drinking the sun . . . and the top of the mountain covered with candy-floss snow . . . ." As usual the vocal work is excellent with their immaculate close harmonies. An outstanding stereo recording.

Some enterprising promoter should sign up the Kinks for a tour of New Zealand—he would be assured of a pop group that devotes itself to providing a good hour's musical entertainment. The Kinks Live at Kelvin Hall (Pye Nspl 18191 Stereo) is one of the wildest live recordings I have ever head. It won't appeal to purists because the sound is essentially what you hear at the usual pop concert—thumping bass, strident leads, bashing drums, screams, chants, and every now and then the odd vocal-line pierces the cacophony. And yet the record is marvellous. Unlike The Who, Yardbirds and many others, the Kinks don't neglect their musical discipline—they work to the formula that loudness is no substitute for controlled instrumental work. When the vocal work of the brothers Davies can be heard, it is effective. I have often thought that Ray's nasal tone was the product of studio recording, but it comes out well on "Dandy" and "I'm on an Island". Amazingly enough he manages to stop the teeny-boppers screaming long enough to sing the chorus of "Sunny Afternoon". The stereo recording is good, considering the location.

It took quite a time for the Tamla-Motown sound to catch on in England, but now it is well established on the pop charts. In New Zealand it is a different story. Despite constant publicity from HMV (NZ) Ltd. and considerable airplay on their two radio programmes, Tamla Motown artists have never achieved popularity here, and the company has dozens of albums that can't be released because sales don't warrant it; the only big sellers on the label are the Four Tops Reach Out (Tmlm 6002 Mono) the best of their LPs to be released here. As well as their hits of two years ago, "Reach Out", "Standing in the Shadows of Love" and others, there are their own inimitable versions of "Walk Away Renee", "I'm a Believer", "If I were a Carpenter", "Last Train to Clarkesville" and "Cherish". On Stmlm 6008 Stereo is The Four Tops Greatest Hits concentrates on their earlier work not previously released in New Zealand. Here's hoping that the sales of these prompt more releases in the future.

Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band have established quite a reputation on the English dance-hall circuits, but they still haven't managed to have much recording success. This is mostly due to their ebullient, non-stop "rock" sound which goes over well at live performances, but sounds a bit forced and dated on record. Shake a Tail Feather Baby! (Pye Nspl 38029 Stereo) is just like their previous two releases—marvellous for parties, everything is loud rhythmic and fast—but the performances don't fare too well with close, attentive listening. Best tracks are "Knock on Wood" and the inevitable "Bonie Moronie".