Archive for the ‘ Sunshine ’ Category

Margo Guryan “Take a Picture”

Take A Picture

Story goes: when Margo heard “God Only Knows” for the first time, she dropped everything. Steeped in jazz and composition, Pet Sounds was just what she wanted to hear. Inspired, and working in the glow of Brian’s masterpiece, Margo began work on “Take A Picture.”

The first thing to notice is Margo’s voice, a unique upper register whisper. Sunday Morning sounds like a garage funk band with studio rat talent. The album’s production is wonderful in that it is so expert, but never showy.

A sunday morning staple. It’s jazz, slightly psych pop, with all the ornaments of the Pet Sounds orchestra. A brilliant record, and I must also recommend the (almost more) wonderful 25 Demos as well.

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“Take A Picture”

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Stained Glass “Crazy Horse Roads”

Crazy Horse Roads

The wonderful world of Crazy Horse Roads, released in 1968 by Stained Glass, has been unjustly forgotten with the passing of time. The band started out life covering Beatles songs in San Jose, California. Their first single, a cover of the Beatles’ If I Needed Someone was released in 1966. It was a respectable cover of the Beatle’s classic though the flip was better, being a moody folk-rock original.

The single tanked, prompting the band to quickly release the self-penned My Buddy Sin later on that year. My Buddy Sin was an excellent folk rock song with wailing harmonica, soaring harmonies, sharp lyrics and an acid tinged production. This single failed to attract attention despite it’s quality, forcing the band to record a brill building classic for their next 45.

In the 1960’s, artists and rock bands depended on the success of the single to grant them artistic and creative control/freedom (making albums). We Got A Long Way To Go was a huge local hit, well executed, pleasant enough and professional, though betraying the band’s roots and creative aspirations. A few other decent though commercially unsuccessful singles followed in the psychedelic pop vein. Eventually the band was granted freedom to record two albums on the Capital label.

Crazy Horse Roads is a unique effort, and much different from their jam oriented Aurora album. There are some solid psych pop songs (Night Cap, Twiddle My Thumbs and Fingerpainting), soul rock (Two Make One and Fahrenheit), galloping country-rock (Horse On Me) and hard folk-rockers (Light Down Below, Doomsday, I Sing You Sing, and Soap and Turkey). Doomsday really stands out as the lost mini classic though, with some huge vibrating fuzz riffs, hard strumming accoustic guitars, tight harmonies and a psychedelic production. Night Cap is also a really good bouncy, twisted psych pop song with a British influence. You never know whats coming next throughout the album and the band’s sound resembles Moby Grape, HMS Bounty and Buffalo Springfield.

Aurora, released the following year (1969), is only half a good album finding the band indulging in a guitar based San Fransisco ballroom style. Jim McPherson, the founding member of Stained Glass, went on to form Copperhead with Quicksilver’s John Cippolina. Together they made one expensive (for the time), quality album that was overlooked in it’s day. Oh, and by the way, this album is housed in arguably the greatest cover of the 60’s.

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“Doomsday”

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We All Together (self-titled)

We All Together

We All Together’s first album came out sometime in the early 70’s. The band hailed from Peru and had roots in Laghonia, who themselves released two good late 60’s psychedelic albums. The music is written and sung in English and has a strong late 60’s Beatles influence.

Not the most original album of the year, We All Together is very good though, including four covers of Paul McCarthy/Badfinger and ten group originals. The covers are strong including great versions of Tomorrow, Carry On Till Tomorrow and Some People Never Know.

The original compositions are what make this album worth owning. Hey Revolution sounds like a White Album era outtake with Lennonesque vocals and hard blues guitar riffs. The same goes for Dear Sally which is also characterized by some angry vocals and pounding piano that recall Lennon’s first proper solo album, Plastic Ono Band. This really hints at how tight a grip the Beatle’s influence was on musicians throughout the world (keep in mind the Beatles were falling apart at this juncture). It’s A Sin To Go Away is the most popular song on this album due to it’s inclusion on the Nuggets compilation. This South American psychedelic classic begins with Procol Harum style organ then procedes with thick fuzz guitar riffs, backward and phased guitar solos and helium high vocals.

None of the songs reach this kind of high but overall the album does not have any real weak points and is solid all the way through. We All Together released another strong album the following year entitled 2. These albums are recommended to fans of power pop and Beatles inspired rock.

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“Some People Never Know”

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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”

The Beach Boys “Smiley Smile”

Smiley Smile

I remember, the first day I bought this album, I couldn’t listen to it right away, I was at a party for something. But I clutched it and stared at it all night, because I knew I had something special in my hands.

And I did. Smiley Smile usually gets the cold shoulder because it wasn’t Smile, Brian’s “teenage symphony to God” that never materialized (oh, but it did a year or so ago). However, if you would like to care more about what Smiley Smile is rather than what it is not, I think you are going to find yourself a great introduction to that side of The Beach Boys you may not have yet heard but were always wondering about.

Opening with the fantastic and complex Heroes and Villains, with uncharacteristic (for the Boys at least) lyrics penned by Van Dyke Parks, Smiley Smile is a real trip. This album follows Pet Sounds in the discography, so we have the creative remnants showing in arrangements and orchestration, but this time much toned down. Smiley Smile is a scarce and subtly produced record employing sound effects, laughter + dialogue, great percussion sounds, very basic instrumentation, and all throughout those marvelous Beach Boy voices shine as the lead instruments.

Of all the Boys records, this is by far the most psychedelic. Carl Wilson reported that a clinic in Fort Worth played it for their patients, their sole method in helping them out of bad LSD trips (see here, actually all the quotes make a great read). Some parts are a little over the top, as in She’s Goin’ Bald, but usually contain a great payoff. Plus, you’ll get the monstrous #1 hit Good Vibrations, and in the bonus tracks a revealing look at all the hard work that went into its development in three separate takes of the powerhouse track. Also in the bonus: the amazing Can’t Wait Too Long – this long study has a great feel and builds towards 25 seconds of one of my favorite Beach Boys instrumental moments.

Plus, with Capitol making available the entire Boys catalog in two-fer packages, you can’t pass this one up. Smiley Smile is packaged with Wild Honey, a Beach Boys-gone-soul record that I would love to talk more about. For under $10 it’s a no-brainer. Grab this record, and if you haven’t already, let this summer be your Beach Boys summer, you’ll never forget it!

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“Fall Breaks And Back To Winter”

Remastered / Extra Tracks/plus Wild Honey!

The Millennium “Begin”

Begin

When I put this record on for the first time, I thought I had made a mistake. I mean, I thought I put in the wrong disc or something. I literally stopped the album, and ejected it to make sure I hadn’t put in some modern hip-hop breaks record instead.

That’s how this one opens, with that monstrous drum beat you just can’t imagine coming out of 1968. But things change fast. Curt Boettcher, a record producer who worked with The Association, The Boys and others, set out to record the album of his dreams with Begin. And it’s very psychedelic, very sunshine-happy, and very rockin’ all at the same time.

Of course, it was a commercial failure, but that hardly matters now. Check this one out as it’s the kind of album that turns heads.

Good luck finding it on its own though. You’ll need to buy Magic Time, the 3-cd bonus track ridden release, which is great really, but I still wish it was available on its own.

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“It’s You”

:) Vinyl Reissue | 2008 | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]
:D CD Reissue | 2008 | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]

The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”

Pet Sounds

I’ll be honest with you here. Nobody is reading this web-log today. It doesn’t even really exist. I’m the only one who knows about it and I’m just, sort-of, trying it on. The only reason I’m presenting this, the most classic and essential of all great rock albums, is to test out the site and make it look like there’s something here.

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

Please Buy Pet Sounds If You Don’t Already Have It