Montage (self-titled)

Montage

Michael Brown, though not credited, is the man behind this strange, beautiful album. His work with The Left Banke will go unmentioned for this review, as we will certainly revisit it later. But if you don’t know the Left Banke, think The Zombies gone classical, replacing the Fender Rhodes with a harpsichord.

And if you don’t know Montage, think The Left Banke gone Zombies, though a year or three later, replacing the harpsichord with a bass-driven rhythm section and confident grand piano. Though we have all the chamber elements in place; each song is adequately ornamented with winds, strings and brass when needed, though never when not. What differs from the Banke is a seemingly more progressive sound, certainly a step beyond their great first accomplishments, but one that could go no further.

These songs will surprise you: the haunting She’s Alone, the unbelievable “off-note” that tunes you in to the message of Men Are Building Sand, a Left Banke leftover actually, along with Desiree, a major highlight on this disc, and even better than its original counterpart.

Best of all, The Song is Love, a lite pop master stroke: it’s awesome.

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“The Song Is Love”

[ CD / Bonus Tracks / Sundazed ]

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The Left Banke “Desiree”

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Montage “Desiree”


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8 Comments.

  • it is awesome. its also pretty funny. i found your site looking for P.F. Sloan. thanks for introducing me to all this stuff.

  • ib

    Bliss… Thanks for putting this up, Brendan, and for supplying the link in your AD comment. I’ve been curious to hear something from “Montage” for some time.

    I’ve got to ask, how does the version of “Desiree” (track 5 on the Laurie original ?) compare to the version which previously appeared on 1968’s “Left Banke Too” on Smash Records, or is it the SAME version. As far as i can gather, this is the only song on “Left Banke Too” with a Mike Brown credit for piano and organ. Brown doesn’t feature on the cover, but a shadowy figure in the background is purportedly a reference to his departure.

    Great anecdote concerning your friend, Tommy, incidentally.

  • Brendan

    You make me want to chop the collection disc I have in to the proper original albums! I will perhaps.

    As for Desiree, above I stated that the Montage version is better. Maybe this is true only in the context of this album. The Left Banke version is led with a gorgeous string arrangement; the Montage version is ‘groovier’ led by the rhythm section. Frankly, neither are as good as the karaoke version I sing with the instrumental Desiree included as a bonus track on this CD!

    Tell you what, I’ll temporarily put them up here by tomorrow (sans my take).

  • ib

    Looking forward to it.

    I get the picture now. It makes sense that Mike Brown would have carried “Desiree” into his own post LB project and opted for a completely revised interpretation. LB Too was released in 68, and Montage in 69 (though equally this may apply to recording dates, i’m not certain). Keep the karaoke version on ice for a later date, Brendan ! Saki or Jack Daniels, the choice is yours…

  • Brendan

    Yeah I think I prefer the Montage version better. It’s a little Fudgier but it just works better. It has that Montage darkness (haunting) to it. The singing isn’t quite as pretty, but it’s warm. And they don’t go so quite up close to the top on the Desireeee… part. Plus they still have the “la la la la la las” faintly in the back. And lots of little inter-rhythmic things happening. Interesting comparison, thanks for suggesting it.

  • ib

    Just great! The overall sound is much warmer than the LB version and has a “River Deep, Mountain High” vibe to it, though obviously not so over the top or ham-fisted in terms of production. The lead vocal has a fragility to it, too, that works in its favour. Love it. I found myself almost wishing Mike Brown had introduced an element of glockenspiel to it, but then again what do i know ? i can picture his face turning sour at the impertinence of the mere suggestion… Thanks, Brendan, for putting up both versions.

  • i think the Left Banke version of Desiree is better musically. the arrangement sounds more wistful and emotive than the Montage version (which admittedly has some interesting touches of it’s own). but what drags the LB version down is the vocals which sound fairly weak. that’s my take on it.

  • A-ha… I’ve been tryin’ to get an additional Left Banke fix. I’ll have to order this album a.s.a.p. “Men are Building Sand” is actually my favorite LB song, and I had no idea it wasn’t an LB song!

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