Kensington Market “Aardvark”

Aardvark

The Kensington Market were a Toronto band that recorded two albums in the late 60s off the Warner Brothers label. Their first album, Avenue Road appeared in 1968 and was greeted with great acclaim. Avenue Road was a modest effort that was noteworthy for a few reasons, it featured decent pop instincts and solid songwriting. In 1969 the band released their final lp titled Aardvark. After the release of this disc the band broke up a few months later, leaving behind a much stronger lp than their debut.

Aardvark is a weird and wonderful mini masterpiece in which much of the Kensington Market’s reputation rests. This time out there were no silly jugband tracks and many of the album’s ideas are fully formed and well thought out. Some of the songs, like the beautifully trippy Cartoon and the ahead-of-it’s-time Help, use primitive synthesizer in all the right ways. Help sounds like a lost Flaming Lips track with its open arrangement and blissed out guitar playing. Side I Am would have had radio potential had it not been for the experimental Smile-era Beach Boys intro. It’s a stunning pop song with Penny Lane horns, fine vocals and that special, inspiring 60s magic. Other tracks like Think About The Times and If It Is Love have more of a meloncholy air but are equally excellent and reveal a more pessimistic side of the band. The experimental Americana of Half Closed Eyes is another standout composition that’s superb in an early morning folk-strum Dylan way with unusual synthesizer flourishes.

Aardvark requires a few close listens to sink in but it really is a great Beatles influenced pop album by an underrated band. This vital piece of Canadian rock n roll will be reissued on cd for the first time by Pacemaker (February/March 2008-).

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“Half Closed Eyes”

:D CD Reissue | 2008 | Pacemaker | buy @ EMI ]
:) Original Vinyl | Warner Bros | search @ ebay ]


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3 Comments.

  • Shelli Eisenberg

    Thrilled to see them play at Hugh’s Room. Bought both cd’s, really enjoying them (had the albums in an earlier life) Unfortunately I think Felix did a mediocre job at producing them – much better live. My favorite band of the 60’s – went to see them almost weekly. Are they trying to make a comeback? Any more gigs planned? I think they should try the folk festival scene – I think they could be very successful. I sure would be out there promoting them!
    Shelli

  • donkey_shot

    a canadian friend of mine turned me on to kensington market a few years back; up until then I had only marveled at “aardvark”`s artwork as the lp lay in countless swiss cut-out bins throughout the 70`s.

    yet, the contents even outdo the sleeve(s). especially “aardvark” is a minor masterpiece; the album literally oozes musicality, if in a vaguely beatlesque manner. however, the record is no mere copycat effort: this is a sincere pop statement, with highly original use of (early) moog synth, as well as delicate vocal and string arrangements.

    I have to therefore disagree with the claim that pappalardi botched the production. I find the sound quite fitting and transparent; but that`s perhaps due to my listening to an old original vinyl copy…which also sports the wonderfully playful artwork, featuring the plastilene aardvark, seafaring rabbits (on the rear) et al!

    along with labelmates the collectors, I would wager the claim that kensington market were probably canada`s very finest group of the late 60`s.

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