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This is Pop! copyright John Firehammer
Chad and Jeremy
Revisionism is a big part of the pop music reissue game. It seems like every other re-release of some nearly forgotten LP from the 1960s is a lost classic--another Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper's.
Granted, the 60s yielded its fair share of overlooked gems, such as Odyssey and Oracle and Forever Changes. But most of the endless parade of lost masterpieces isn't in that league.
Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde's Of Cabbages and Kings, however, is an honest-to-goodness psychedelic nugget. Listeners who dismissed the British vocal duo as a somewhat more middle-of-the-road Peter and Gordon will be surprised by the inventiveness, wit and melodicism displayed here.
The more you listen the more you realize that, once you eliminate the Lennon and McCartney-penned hits from P&G's discography, Chad & Jeremy is by far the more talented British Invasion vocal duo.
The tunes are all originals featuring wonderful arrangements by Chad Stuart. The album's intro cops a few lines from Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter" several months before John Lennon got around to doing so and then segues into "Rest in Peace," a not-too-serious piece of social satire targeting the death industry (it's a musical portrait of an tombstone engraver) featuring some kicking drums and sitar on the chorus.
And it's all great stuff from there. Melodic tunes, nice harmonies, touches of folk, orch pop, woodwind quartets--it's a great 60s record. "Busman's Holiday" has the folky melancholia of a Simon and Garfunkel tune. "Family Way," about a young man who gets his girlfriend "in trouble" has the humor of a Kinks tune. The harmonies remind me of the best of the Zombies.
What was side 2 of the album is the five-movement "Progress Suite," but it's not as pretentious as it sounds, nor as unlistenable as most of the sidelong freakouts that were so popular in the post-Pepper 60s. The piece is mostly instrumental, with nice sitar-with-strings arrangements by Stuart (this guy is an overlooked talent). A ways in there's some silly narration courtesy of the Firesign Theater, who participated in these sessions along with Sunshine pop guru Curtis Boettcher, among others. Then it wraps up, naturally, with "Fall," a musical depiction of civilization's collapse, 60s style. A variety of sound effects are mixed in over Stuart's music: sawing wood, quacking ducks, madcap laughter, siren, a Ping-Pong game and, of course, a toilet flushing. The album was produced by Beach Boys collaborator Gary Usher. Perhaps Stuart had a chance to hear some of Brian Wilson's Smile. The suite definitely has some similarities.
The album is presented in Sundazed's usual sterling sound and is rounded out by some outtakes and contemporary singles. The release should come as a delightful surprise to Beach Boys, Zombies, Beatles, Kinks, etc., fans who think they've tapped out the best that magical decade has to offer.
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