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Bryan Maclean / Chad and Jeremy | Candys Waltz / Distant Shores (both Sundazed)
There's so much music out there that's not only indifferent but so finely worked or rather overworked that to hear aged, sparse demos of this quality is a breath of Alpine air. Candy's Waltz is not outakes from the great ifyoubelievein CD from two years ago (see CWAS#3) but further revelations from similar sources. Indeed it may be an overall stronger and more even collection. The vocals are fuzzy at the edges belying the tapes thirty years existence in damp or dusty garages and the songs are probably one takes. And it's great. All the observations I made about the former collection remain relevant here: the Crosby inspired jazz/folk guitar with its Spanish tinges; the flighty Tim Buckley exuberance of the vocals, so rich and romantic, so much rounder and bigger than Arthur Lee's often mumbled delivery. Again it is a matter of taste if one prefer Bryan's idiosyncratic phrasing or Arthur's more normal arrangements. Probably a band arrangement could not handle such enormous and sudden changes in tempo and phrasing and, anyway, the daCapo Love could bring a warm sunshine to Bryan' music. Well whatever here's seventeen new Bryan Maclean songs! Assuming Arthur had it in him to write another Forever Changes (and it seemed not) Bryan could have submitted about half a dozen Candy songs. The tunes really get inside you. Opener I can'tremember was written, like Orange Skies in 1966 age 17 and is similarly effortlessly inspired. I had to find this and several other beautiful tunes like Always I Wanted, Claudia and the title track on the piano to marvel at the Brian Wilson-like complexity of the melodies. It has been suggested that Arthur, though passing over many BM songs took more than a little inspiration from them. Castle Waltz from 1966 bears a huge resemblance to DaCapo's The Castle. A 1969 tune Father and Husband conversely sounds like several Forever Changes epic passages. There are two live songs replete with charming banter and track 20 is a telling BM radio interview for all Love fans. For many of us this album will again open the overgrown door to the magic garden. Chad & Jeremy's Distant Shores, despite several flaws which I shall not shrink from describing, is a worthwhile purchase and good old fashioned fun. For all its folkiness Candy's Waltz may have a universal appeal whereas Distant Shores derives from a chronologically older 1960s and a culturally different time and may take some getting used to but it does seem to improve on successive plays. C and J are early examples of the Fixx syndrome â?? stars in the USA but not at home in England. Duos were a bit like today's boy bands without the crap music. David and Jonathan, Peter and Gordon from the U.K. and two American hopefuls Simon and Garfunkel (formerly Tom and Jerry) and the Everlys were all big deals. Chad and Jeremy have simple Francoise Hardy-type, sparse group backing and gentle orchestral accompaniment. The songs are faintly folksy-ballad-pop and soft rock with all the edges planed off. The lovely yellow and orange cover suggested such a duo cautiously entering a Byrds /Mamas & Papas folk rock psychedelia but not so. (That apparently happened on the next LP Of Cabbages and Kings). Released in mid 1966, half of it derives from 1965 but many pieces recall a 1963 Freddie and the Dreamers English beat group world before the Stones said 'wot?' instead of 'pardon?' on the telly and when Cliff had a thrilling edge. Fortunately, however simple or predictable this music now feels the ripest strawberries in the basket are fruits to relish and with thirteen bonus cuts at least as strong as the original eleven, is a dessert feast. The best tracks - Distant Shores, Last Night, You Are She, When Your Love Has Gone, Morning - recall the softer, early Association, early S&G and even the Turtles, all tinged with a certain cream tea and croquet Englishness. There are a few howlers, especially amongst the covers. The traditional cockney song Sixpence is performed with cutesy added Englishness and feels like a great moment of Lionel Bart. Everyone's Gone To The Moon emulates the original as does Early Morning Rain. Nice. But Love Is Strange is cumbersome and Homeward Bound is mannered and daft. Ornate Baroque harpsichord accompanies two Cuthberts practising their diction. So either laugh or programme them out and enjoy the rest. The graphics and liner notes are, as ever, just the best. Check out the Sundazed web site- its v. good.
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001