The Association Song Reviews
And Then...Along Comes
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Enter the Young 10/10
Now, these guys can play a great pop song. Seems exactly like it belongs in that aftermath of Rubber Soul (which is no coincidence, 'cause it was). The melody is pretty nice here although not with deathly hooks. That said, it's probably the album's second finest melodic example. What's important is they're making my day bright (which is amazing, because it's about nine minutes 'till midnight). The fact they get more passionate and louder by the end proves what nice guys they were. They care about their music! Yay!
Your Own Love 9/10
The bouncy pop song! You almost detect a sitar playing around, but I really just think that's an acoustic guitar being plucked in a low register. (They're going to be comparable to the Beatles no matter what they do.) OK, the melody lacks here but they make up for it with the creativity and the 'moods.' They bring in a pretty fun bongo drum and there's a neat little explosion at the end. Yay!
Don't Blame it On Me 8.5/10
The harmonies are Beach Boys here as they bring in a ballad. The melody really is pretty awful when it comes down to it. The creativity in the instrumentation wins me over. The vocal "Bah-bahs" add to the aesthetics and rhythm too. The jangly instrumentation and the pleasantly played guitar contributes to the good feeling. Despite their melodic shortcomings these guys really have their fingers on their songs' pulse.
Less inspired to me ... Again, the melody is *hmhmhhm* and the instrumentation isn't nearly as clever. This is more of a driving rocker (with a constant hand clap). It's also a lot more flooded than the other songs and for some reason that doesn't positively contribute to the mood. The song's ending seemed a bit sudden too. The spirit of this manages to help it. It's hard to hate it.
I'll Be Your Man 7/10
Nothing too original here and we're left with a fairly bland melody. The melody is pretty complex, but it's missing those hooks! The instrumentation is fine, but the crassness is missing. HHhm.
Along Comes Mary 10/10
OoooooooooooooooOOOOOooooooooooooooOOooooooooooooOOOOoooo! Here's some tastiness. The groove they come up with that tuba is too easy to fall in love with. Who needs women? The song has a mood that is instantly drawing. A charmingly '60s flute comes in and delivers a little solo. The melody is another story ... they do seem to be singing the same note an awful lot of times. But they're completely convincing.
This song is better than breakfast! This is the most instantly recognizable hit of the album (to me anyway). As far as hooky melodies go, they run across a few good ones. OK, I suspect that it was accidental and just because of the chord progression, but let's forget about that now. Again, they really manage to nail the mood of this one. The pleasantly placid drumming and those characteristic "bum-bum's" with a bell lend the song a very sweet atmosphere. They also get pretty damn convincing with their Beach Boys harmonic imitations in the middle of this. This is a great song and easily the best of the album. I don't say that without reservations, though.
Standing Still 8/10
Yeah, standing still. These guys are so dang dependent on those moods that when they don't run across such a compelling one, their song suffers a bit. (Naturally, if they had a catchy melody to being with we wouldn't be talking about this, hmmm??) Well it's a good natured song at least.
Message of Our Love 7/10
Getting in Beach Boys ballad territory here ... kind of pale when you think of how awesome the Beach Boys are at this type of song. They try to tap into that heavenly vibe, but they didn't quite make it. It's like they're in harmonic purgatory and nobody's praying them out! The result is a fairly boring song ... but at least some of the instrumentation was pretty nice. The goofy space age sound-effects (that seems to have been produced by some sort of synthesizer) don't actually add anything constructive to the track, but they are pretty damn interesting considering the year this came out.
Round Again 8.5/10
They say the word 'groovy.' HAHHAH!!! I LAUGH AT YOU!! YOU'RE FROM THE '60s!!!!!!!! Anyway, the melody is more involved and the instrumentation is absolutely adorable. The song starts with some piddly dorkiness (but effective) and the drum is happily upbeat. There's some sort of explosion at the end as some circus music pipes up. Hm!!
Testing my patients again. The song is very slow and boring, and they don't do anything with the melody to help ..... so ... hm. The thump-thump of a timpani-like and some twinkly bells help lend to the atmosphere, but even then it's still pretty dull. Funny, I turned up the volume on this in the middle of it during a listen, and it seemed like a great effect ... well ... Maybe I should be a sound engineer!
Ch-ch-ch-ch- ... No, it's not the David Bowie song! It's the Association song! It's a more upbeat and percussion heavy song, which usually seems to benefit this group. (Not that that's a surprise ....) The melody continues to be pretty bland. But the song at least has good development. It begins dull more or less, but there's an exciting 'interlude' of sorts, and then a classical inspired electric guitar solo. I really don't think this is a great song, but it's pretty fun.
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I'm the One 8.5/10
And they start the fun effort with a solid rocker. It's a mid-tempoed rocker that utilizes some Beach Boys esque vocal effects in the background as someone delivers some serious lead vocals singing something about being 'the one.' I do hope he's not referring to that horrible Jet Li movie! These guys manage to prove that they are solid songwriters although I do wish they had better melodic talent. I suppose that's why they aren't among the more recognized artists of their day. Well, this is enjoyable, but the lack of catchy hooks puts it at a disadvantage as does most of these guys' work.
Memories of You 7/10
This isn't so great. They try to work on building up the atmosphere with this one (recognizing their melodic short-comings) but it comes off as an utterly bland affair. Their harmonic vocal work is OK, but they would have had to be more beautiful to pull this off. That flute they bring in tries to give it some life, but it just doesn't do much. I'm sorry.
All is Mine 8/10
This track comes off as pretty clunky. It not only has another rather dull melody, but the instrumentation is just sloppy. On the other hand, maybe sloppiness is all this group needed! Hm, I'll think about that one. They seem to try to cover it up by layering on those harmonizing vocals. The result is a mess, but a glorious and melodically barren mess.
Pandora's Golden Heebie Geebies 9/10
Much better this time, although I take issue with the song title! It sounds too dang self-conscious! ... OK, it's the '60s so they can do whatever the hell they want to. This is intrinsically the most interesting song of the effort so far. It's a crazy psychedelic rocker that actually manages to work. The spaced out melody is convincing enough and I also like their instrumentation ... very flooded but actually constructive to the effort. It holds together well, and their vocal harmonies do something generally constructive in the background. Mmm!
Well, they certainly know how to put their best songs in the middle of the frikin' album. This is a goofy psychedelic love ballad. Funny for such a dated product, but still enjoyable in its own way. The lead singer gives a goofy, baritone, operatic performance singing about some girl! The vocal harmonies still could have been more, oh, harmonic, but that's no matter. This is a goofy ballad for the ages.
Songs in the Wind 7.5/10
This works again in that goofy psychedelic way, but this one just doesn't seem to hold together as well. The melody surfaces too well as a mediocre thing, and they don't manage to come up with some sort of novelty to make up for it. The record company shouldn't have rushed these guys so ... surely they could have come up with something silly to do with it. As it stands, it's just a regular psychedelic rocker with a lot of back-up vocals, and it goes nowhere.
You May Think 5/10
This is a real mess this time. It seems like it's played too fast ... it wouldn't have worked that well as a ballad if it were played slower. Talk about rushing out an album! They're rushing out the songs! Oh, those bland harmonies!! Yikes!!
Looking Glass 8.5/10
MUCH better... It's a nice little ballad this time and the melody manages to grab a few hooks. It's still utterly cheap if you compare it to the Beatles, but this one works on their terms quite well. The instrumentation is straitlaced again ... that's so disappointing since they were so creative much of the time in their debut!
Come to Me 5/10
Yikes!!! This sounds like they were singing a calm vocal ballad, but the rhythm section thinks its a regular British Invasion rock tune. It's very awkward ... Tack that onto the song's usual lack of melody and you get a pretty bad mess. It's not even a *glorious* mess.
No Fair At All 8/10
This is much more solid. They are singing a ballad, and the rhythm is slow like it's supposed to be! The flute melody they have at the beginning and in the middle was a nice idea that comes off well. Their layered vocal work isn't as such... They really made that idea work in "Cherish," but they're just doing it without feeling here.
You Hear Me Call Your Name 8/10
Hey, look! This isn't anything so radically different from the other songs, but they do manage to pull off one or two good hooks. The furious rhythm section seems right on target here up until the final third in which I have no freaking idea what crazy drugs that guy was on. But up until then, this has been an enjoyable number!
Another Time, Another Place 8.5/10
Well, at least they do a nice job in closing the album. This is a happy and upbeat number that rings of The Lovin' Spoonful (except the group's usual "Aaahs" in the background). The melody is strictly OK and it has a few hooks scattered here and there. The thing that'll get to you is the happy mood, and they do a great job there. They should try this sort of thing more often!
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Wasn't It a Bit Like Now 9.5/10
The Association proves they can keep up with the times --- or rather the 1967 idea for rock bands to combine Brit-pop with older styles of music. In this case, they deliver a snappy bit of jazz. The instrumentation is nearly perfect, but the real kicker is the melody! It's catchy and quite fun. They have an unusual idea of bookmarking this song with a bit of riff-rock. I'm not sure why they did it, but it's a good riff.
On a Quiet Night 8.5/10
A pretty ballad, and I like the melody! It's nothing I'm going to remember tomorrow morning, but it's well written. The instrumentation is also very nice with their twinkling dulcimers. I like their vocals --- there's an echo effect that was put to especially good use. They even go Beatles-esque at the end with their crazy fade-out involving reverse drums and a sound effect reminiscent of "Tomorrow Never Knows."
We Love Us 8.5/10
Another enormously pretty ballad --- the mood is utterly pretty and it's easy to get caught up in it. The melody is fine although I still think these guys are weak melody writers. It's their crippling flaw, but one that their good naturedness often makes up for. This is another fine track.
When Love Comes to Me 7/10
This is alright, though something seems out-of-whack about it. The melody is the usual blandness that was very present on their previous album, Renaissance. It has a rhythm section that doesn't seem to fit with the slower, more sweeping vocals. Hm.
This was a big hit for them, and I'm not sure why! It's not really a catchy song ... maybe it came at a lull in between Beatles albums or something. Well, I do like this song. I like the way it's structured --- it's pretty complex. The instrumentation is quite solid, and the complex vocal harmonies are put to great use. This is an entertaining song, but it's not so great.
This one seems out of touch only because it seems more at home in 1963 instead of 1967 --- that probably wasn't too cool for the time. But listening to this with 21st century ears, this is one of the more entertaining tracks of the album. It's a good old rocker that sounds exactly like "Cool Jerk." The instrumentation is complex enough for them to justify recording it in 1967, and that's certainly worth something. (The tempo increases slightly, and the harmonica playing in the background was an almost brilliant touch.)
Never My Love 9.5/10
This was another hit for them, but not as much as "Windy." This sounds more inherently likable than "Windy" though, and it's definitely my vote for the best song of the album. The melody is great (for once) and their vocal harmonizations almost seem heavenly. The instrumentation isn't unusual this time --- but it's perfect. The drums are fabulous, and I also like that noodling organ. The song structure is solid though varied enough to not be too repetitive. This is good '60s pop music; case closed!
Happiness Is 8.5/10
Here is a song that'll put a smile on your face. That's getting to the point where even I (one who can generally take unrelenting cheese) am getting to the point of vomiting. Nonetheless, this is a well-written song --- they even throw in some ukulele to give it the proper mood! (This sounds like they're trying to emulate "Happy Together" by the Turtles .... they came surprisingly close.)
A bit of a mess I'm sorry to report. It's another example of relatively hookless melody writing and it just comes off as bland. The instrumentation is fine, and completely usual for the time period. Some of the vocal back-ups are weird, though the song unquestionably would have benefited if they omitted it. Meh.
Requiem For the Masses 8.5/10
And the album closes with this, which possesses another unusual musical idea. It's a hippie ballad combined with a religious, Medieval chorus. It's interesting though the melody is too bland for this to ever be considered a classic. The instrumentation and the Medieval vocals are the attraction here, and it's unusual enough to warrant a listen!
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Come On In 9.5/10
The Association start this effort up with the utterly lovely and energetic "Come On In." The bass groove sounds a little familiar to me (they could have lifted this from somewhere for all I know), but that hardly matters 'cos it's an catchy groove. The happy melody is also catchy, and that's complimented with their signature choral work. They manage to sound positively glorious and angelic. This track both surprises and delights me. The Association never sounded this carefree before.
Rose Petals, Incense and a Kitten 9.5/10
This psychedelic ballad is much lighter and more contemplative this time, but it doesn't succumb to silly, dated cliches that you could be dreading. It's such a happy sunshine song --- it's absolutely corny but it was done so tastefully that you don't have to feel too guilty for enjoying it. The instrumentation consists of a great balance of their choral vocals, violins and the usual soft-rock rhythm section. The melody is beautiful, and their vocals are engaging.
Like Always 9/10
Ah, they don't keep that up completely, but this is another glorious composition from this band. The melody contains so many effective hooks that you almost forget that much of their previous work wasn't, melodically, up-to-snuff. The instrumentation is a little bit busier and more creative than the previous works. The swinging rhythm section is closer to bluesy rock 'n' roll, which could mean that this won't have a hard time finding fans.
Everything That Touches You 8.5/10
This is still a great song that's instantly likable. It doesn't leave a lasting impression on you, quite as much, because the melody isn't their most durable. Again, this groups utterly lighthearted, sunshine vibes will not fail to put a smile on your face. There's nothing about this song that you can hate. It'd be like smacking a bunny or something.
Here is a more delicate ballad with some nursery rhyme posturing. The moment I think they're going to slip back into their melodic mediocrity, they end up proving me wrong. There are some chord changes in here that are undeniably wonderful. This track might not be their most successfully melodic, but its completely engaging. I also like how the song is orchestrated --- that was their big strength from the very beginning.
Barefoot Gentleman 10/10
I like how this begins. It's an omnimous and almost dark beginning, but you do get the feeling that they're not serious about that mood. It doesn't take too long for them to grow more hopeful. I have to point out that this melody doesn't really contain too many pop hooks, but the sheer optimism in this seems about as genuine as anything short of a Stevie Wonder composition. For that reason alone, I find this to be real masterpiece. Who the hell knew this group was capable of this.
Time For Livin' 8/10
Here is another happy song --- it sounds like a Lovin' Spoonful song. Though I like the happy vibes, this one ends up striking me as a tad bit sloppier than the rest. The song structure is interesting, but it doesn't quite capture me as some of the other songs. The melody isn't that memorable either--- But screw it. I like this song. Who can't?
Here in Here 8/10
A very upbeat pop rocker ensues. I love the mood of it, but that opening chord progression is freaking awful. The chorus is much better. What really seems to be the trumping factor with this song, again, is its mood. I might not care for their melodies and harmonies here, but that joyous mood is undeniable. They even show a bit of gall and actually deliver a convincing electric guitar solo in here. This is far from a wasted moment.
The Time is Today 7.5/10
I'm almost relieved to hear this track in an almost perverse way. It's the first and only song on this album that doesn't capture me in any significant sense. It's just a pleasant track with a mediocre melody --- much like the music they would come up with previously to the album. It makes me remember that this isn't like a lost Beatles album or anything. Yes, this is easily the weakest track of the album. But may all albums have a weak song like this!
The Bus Song 9/10
A strange song. It starts out as a pleasant and tuneful piano pop song with an enjoyable chord progression. It seems like a bit of a rip off of "Happy Together," but it's a decent one! The melody absolutely soars. But that all suddenly stops in the middle and they start to sing a barbershop quartet. ... Um ... Okay................... Well I'm all for weird ideas. Maybe this one was clunky, but it catches me off guard. (Interestingly, Brian Wilson had something similar in his Smile album. That's what this reminded me of.)
Birthday Morning 8/10
I might have hoped for something slightly more conclusive and glorious, but this'll do nicely. Well, I think they thought they were making something as great as I was hoping for, but they weren't. Don't make any mistake about it --- The Association really wasn't that great of a group. Anyway, this hippie ballad is a perfectly nice one. The problem is the melody doesn't get to me. They nail the mood, however --- it's so pleasant and happy. There's nothing better than that if you enjoy feeling those emotions (if you don't then there's something weird about you). The vocals are especially nice here.
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Goodbye Columbus 9.5/10
It's one of those upbeat sunshiney tracks that might be good enough to but a good ol' smile on your face. That's what The Association was good for, you know! They're happily strummed acoustic guitar, spirited vocal performances and a very subtle, twinkly piano. The melody is quite catchy and memorable, and the flow of the track is varied and has excellent flow. Great old optimism here. My only complaint is that it's too short. I want it to go on for a *little* bit longer!
How Will I Know You? 9/10
And now here's Charles Fox's soundtrackey stuff already that The Association had nothing to do with. "How Will I Know You" is pretty decent though. It's a happy, upbeat track. Thankfully, it's not as cheesy as these type of songs can get. It's is assuredly rock music --- with a backing beat, bass guitar and guitars. The 'vocal' is a nice horn arrangements (he was evidentially a Burt Bacharach fan). The very nice aspect of this composition is its addition of more slower and contemplative sections. Quite nice for the soundtrack, but it also makes a good listen.
Dartmouth? Dartmouth! 8/10
A fairly generic R&B beat is the center of Fox's work although he at least makes decent use of it. The instrumentation is spirited and varied --- a great old organist is playing, and a fun saxophone delivers a few lines of melody. This was probably a bit out of date for 1969, but I don't think the composer is really a rock musician.
Goodbye Columbus 8/10
And now a pretty instrumental rendition of that song we've already heard. You don't hear the lead vocals, but you hear the backing vocals. I docked a few points for the redundancy! Plus, this is nowhere near as good as the vocal version --- it's like The Beach Boys' Stack-O-Tracks. It's OK, but --- why???
Ron's Reverie: Across the Field / Carmen Ohio 5/10
Entirely unnecessary. Who even knows who this track is for... It consists of a very murky production of a male choir singing what sounds like an alma matter. And then a sports announcer and football game sound effects are heard amidst some traditional college brass band stuff. The editing of all this is fine (again, I haven't seen the movie), but this sort of thing ought to stay out of soundtrack albums...
It's Gotta Be Real 8/10
Not too soon do the Association come up with another original single, but it's a far cry away from matching their title track! The melody isn't such an instant classic, and the instrumentation doesn't do anything that's too special. When the lead singer does falsetto, it gets annoying. That's probably just me, though.
A Moment to Share 7/10
It's back to Fox's soundtrack pieces. This one is more incidental compared to his previous, more rocking tracks. I think it's pretty nice --- it's very moody and there's some gradual progression. Perfect for a soundtrack --- and it's pretty good listening as background music. It's a little boring if you're paying attention to it directly like I am now. That freaking tambourine player goes a bit too far, but --- I've met a few tambourine players, and you don't want to get on their bad side.
Love Has a Way 8.5/10
Fox seems to be a pretty good composer. I should try to watch the movie and see how these tracks fit. Here is a very good track to listen to directly anyway. I like its trumpet melody, and the lavish instrumentation is kinda nice. I'm continuing to get the feeling that he wasn't meant to be a rock composer, because those drums are awful... Seriously, he should have just left that track off --- it would have been much better without it.
A Time For Love 7/10
An OK instrumental. It doesn't have as many ideas as Fox's other tracks, so it's a good thing that it's not even 90 seconds long. The melody isn't that memorable, but I guess that's OK since it's supposed to be incidental! We get some nice textures here, but that's it.
So Kind to Me 8/10
And the final track is a lovely Association song! I like the mood of it, but it's unfortunate the melody isn't that capturing. Oh well... I never though they were great songwriters to begin with. They just do nice things!!
To make this album slightly longer (at a whoppingly huge running length of 27 minutes) they include the single version of "Goodbye Columbus" as a bonus track. Real fans will appreciate it --- nobody else will!
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Look at Me, Look at You 9/10
I really enjoy this song even though it just sounds like a pretty generic folk-ridden country song. But the melody is pretty good and the instrumentation is slick and solid. The banjo plucking was a good (though typical) touch. The song has some nice dynamics as it crescendos in the middle of it. It doesnít dare to push any boundaries and it doesnít want to. Itís totally inoffensive and kind of fun too.
Yes, I Will 8/10
This song has a pretty nifty groove there! Itís kind of bubbly and bouncy with some dark, distorted electric guitar lightly in the background to give it some body. The melody isnít so good and the songís lyrics are pretty corny, but Ö this isnít a bad listen at all.
Love Affair 8.5/10
I like this song. I appreciate the atmosphere and feel of it more than the melody. This sounds like a pretty lightweight version of psychedelia. The song is kind of dreary, but the group canít help but give it good flow and make it sound happy. Ö Yet not overly happy to make it sound corny. Itís an appealing song that you may or may not care to remember.
The Nest 9.5/10
This is more of a vocal song along the lines of a Beach Boys composition. (Hey, I donít think anyone ever accused these guys of not being artistically associated with every single important pop band of the Ď60s!) What they do with their influence here is particularly nice, though. The vocal harmonies are heavenly indeed. Thereís definite heart here, but their primary purpose is to make music that you can sit back and enjoy. So I say just sit back and enjoy the dang song!!
What Were the Words 7/10
Itís another country-rock song that sounds a lot like ďLook at Me, Look at YouĒ except thereís no banjo, more slide guitar and the melody isnít too catchy. Itís as inoffensive and tame as all the other songs on the album Ö this one is almost boring, though. Thereís a vocal crescendo at the end of this, but itís forced.
Are You Ready 8/10
Maybe this should be the only time this group should try gospel. They arenít heavy enough to do this genre effectively! Ö They give it a good shot, but the closest the vocalist can get to James Brown is a much weaker version of Dennis DeYoung. The instrumentals have nice spirit, but itís clear that gospel isnít their field. But for some reason I can still appreciate their effort. Itís kind of like watching a third-graders put on a show of ďA Streetcar Named Desire.Ē The show would suck, but you canít bear to dislike it, because they put their hearts into it.
Dubuque Blues 7/10
The melody seems like a normal old thing from an ordinary old folk musician. This folk-rock song is too dang nice to dislike. I like the flow and energy thoughout the song. The Association definitely didnít get lazy for thisÖ But why does the melody have to be this bland? Itís not so bad, though.
Under Branches 7.5/10
This is another Beach Boys influenced vocal track. Parts of this song are about as smooth and likeable as ďThe Nest,Ē but this track isnít overall such a great listen. The song is almost heavenly in spots but other parts seem rocky. The melody isnít too wonderful. Some of their ideas here didnít really work it seems.
I Am Up for Europe 7.5/10
ÖOK, Iím not going to make the obvious sexual joke about this title! Ö This song attempts to go for the Jimi Hendrix style of hard rock. Itís generally better executed than their gospel song, but itís almost as embarrassing. The guitar solo is nice, but this all seems standard in a way. Theyíre better off with country-rock, but this isnít a bad effort. Itís not as embarrassing as you might think.
This is the kind of thing Spinal Tap was making fun of in their song ďCups and Cake.Ē But this isnít really corny. Itís just a silly, two-minute song about the titleís vegetable. Thereís some silly high-pitched background vocals, and it ends with some dreamscape noise Ö This is silly but the tune is kind of catchy. (Oh and the album cover features a likeness of Stone Henge Ö oh dear.)
Goodbye Forever 7.5/10
Thereís been about 8 billion songs with a very similar chorus to this, Iím sure, but Ö I think weíve already established that this band isnít original. But thatís OK, I guess. Thereís nothing particularly wrong with this song. In fact, itís very agreeable. The melodyís bland, but the instrumentation is nice. Itís another solid track.
Boy on the Mountain 9.5/10
The electric guitar in the middle of this song sounds exactly like Queen!!! But other than that, this is a very spirited number thatís fit as the end of the album. Itís kind of epic and anthemic in a way. It sounds a lot like a hippie song, but itís tuneful and it sounds like the singers believe in what they sing. Thatís always a great quality of a band!
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This is the kind of nonsense studio chatter that doesn't actually have much value. The sound is canned and you can hardly hear what they're doing anyway. Just get to the concert already. Luckily they get around to it, and the audience applause...
One Too Many Mornings A
They start their concert with a great Bob Dylan cover! This was originally on his straight protest folk album The Times They Are A-Changin' and of course this version is much more lush. It might even be better, but I can't commit to that opinion right now. This is a rabble rousing concert song for such a wimpy band!
Along Comes Mary B-
Now that they acknowledged their roots, it's time for them to start playing their BIG HITS. And what better one to play than this classic? The group sounds crisp and energized live. Honestly, this is to the point where I think this is quite a bit better and more crisp than the studio version. How lovely! ... But the worst thing about this track is EASILY the chatter. What a load of ridiculous nonsense! They make their audience touch their neighbor and tell them "I love you." I always hate it when performers make me do this audience participation crap. It's one thing actually being in the audience, but it's a completely different thing having to listen to this. It's utterly pointless. This wouldn't be so bad if any of the band members were witty, but they're not. What makes it worse is they think they're witty. ... Oh, just do the freaking music.
I'll Be Your Man D+
This is their Byrdsian knock-off from their debut album. I'm not a huge fan of this, but I like hearing their vocal stylings. I didn't like the melody in the studio version, and it hasn't appreciated with time! The song was average enough, but they screw everything up at the very end by going through these awful psychedelic vocal ramblings (consisting of every member mumbling off whatever into their microphones). That was enough for this to be knocked down several points! ... Just play the hits, guys, and I'll smile politely.
Goodbye Columbus A
That great title-song from that pleasantly useless soundtrack album! This is certainly one of the group's finest songs, and they play it almost exactly like the single version. This version is slightly rawer and more energetic, but it's sloppier. There's an equal trade-off there!
Let's Get Together C+
Is their take on the Youngbloods' smash hit. It's quite a bit more slow than the original version is and it's full of their frilly vocal embellishments. These new changes, I assume, were meant to make the song sound more contemplative, but it's just annoying. Sorry...
Wasn't it Bit Like Now A-
This time, they start their track with their unwitty repertoire. They talk about the weird connections between the '20s and the '70s. Yeah, just sing the hits guys! All that said, this little bit is marginally interesting. Except they contradict themselves when they say that alcohol was illegal and marijuana was legal in the '20s and it was the opposite in the '70s. I thought they were talking about things that are different? ... OK, let's talk about the live version of that great song from Insight Out. They perform this one particularly well. They even have a great live horn player! There's a bit of sloppiness here (and a pretty bad bit of distortion), but it ain't supposeda be perfect.
Never My Love A-
For my money, this was the best song from Insight Out. The melody is completely intact here, and their vocal styling are surprisingly fun and bold to hear them perform like this live. The original was much more touching and personable, but this seems more energetic and vibrant for some reason. (Not that the live version is actually better than the studio cut.)
Goodbye Forever D+
This is a very sloppy rendition of a song that I wasn't too hot on to begin with. Granted, I do appreciate that this is more of a heavier rock song, and these guys are (of course) more known for their soft-rock. Well, maybe that was the problem! The melody isn't that interesting to me, and their guitarists don't do much to make this sound delightful in the instrumentation sense. Hm.
Just About the Same C
This song didn't appear on any of their studio albums --- it's a highly percussive work that they did with their original producer in hopes that it would get chart success. The single version is OK but it's trite and bland. These guys introduce the song with annoying studio chatter consisting of some members of the band saying the song title as fast as they can. They sound like they're being cute --- tell me, does anyone like hearing that??
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You B+
This is an old folk song that Joan Baez once covered. I know this, because I reviewed a bunch of Joan Baez albums for no apparent reason. Oh their corny sense of humor --- one guy says they've been performing this song for five years, and another guy responds "It's a long song." That sounded unrehearsed, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. I think the reason they had to introduce the song like that was because super-famous rock band Led Zeppelin also covered this song for their debut album. So they want to make it clear that it was their idea first! Somehow this version uses more electric guitars than the Zeppelin version throughout! Plus, there's the inclusion of jazzy horns, funny rhythm guitars --- it's very psychedelic. Zep-heads would certainly find this interesting.
Seven Man Band (A.K.A. Six Man Band) B+
Apparently one of them reproduced! Isn't it bad karma to change around the lyrics of your songs? Especially if that means adding in another syllable where it doesn't belong? Anyway, this track never appeared in a studio cut --- it was a single. This must be one of their better songs --- I like that Bealtes-esque bass-line, and the melody is quite good, I think. The studio cut is considerably more clean and well-cut. They also don't seem to be able to adequately reproduce the original guitar solo with the same verve.
The Time is Today C-
This was the worst song from their best album. Why they chose this over any of the other songs is beyond me! It begins with some very monotonous drumming, and some guy plays a flute. Talk about snooze-fest!! ... Yeah, it's the same old boring song... You can use this three minutes to catch up on your sleep or something.
Dubuque Blues B-
Oh gosh. Quit making jokes. You're not funny. Even the audience seems to be laughing out of politeness. Some one starts off by telling us that this song is about a town in Iowa, in the United States, in the world ... That sounds like an obnoxious joke I would make! Fortunately, they start to sing. Again, this is a funny pick for the album... the melody isn't very inspiring and they just repeat the same freaking thing over and over again. Granted, this live version rocks quite a bit more than the studio version, so at least this has that going for it. The gruff vocal performance sounds pretty passionate, which is a stark contrast to the more vocal harmony oriented original. For once, this is a slight improvement.
OK, this was just a BAD pick for the live album. They're playing what they think are good choices, but the original version was bland and unexciting. This version is bland and SLOPPY. To make matters even worse, they make some more horrible jokes, and the audience isn't even laughing much... Geez...
What Were the Words D-
This was their attempt at country-rock from their epyonymous 1969 album. That was a bland song anyway without much of a compelling melody. What made this turn from a mediocre to a *bad* song was a really really really really horribly played slide guitar. It grates on my ears. What were they thinking?
They're making such strange picks. Why this obscure song from their debut album and not one of their wonderful tracks from Birthday? Is there any reason they're doing this to me? I know it's late, but I'm not ready to go to sleep yet!! The melody is overly simple and devoid of hooks. They're keeping the instrumental quiet and calm hopefully to make this sweet and captivating, but you sort of need atmosphere and interesting chord progressions for that...
Are You Ready For That? C-
I'm not sure where this song came from --- I don't think it's very good. The melody is heavily involved but nothing catchy at all... mhmhmhmhmhmhmhm... The instrumentalists try well enough to make this hard-rocking, but there aren't exactly any Jimi Hendrixes or Jimmy Pages in this group. There's a guitar solo, but it's pretty bland and generic... Yeesh. The best thing about the song is the trumpet we hear lightly in the background. If that's any hint at all, maybe pure rock 'n' roll wasn't your real specialty.
OK here's the proof! Remember their big old, beautiful hit from the debut album? Yeah, that's here in all its glory! As you might have guessed, the only reason this particular track doesn't get a higher score is because of the long-winded introduction. They're telling us that it's a "beautiful love song." Thanks --- I never heard this song before, so I really needed you to tell me that. It's also not too modest to compliment your own song before you sing it, but whatever... Anyway, the studio version is so much more superior. The most compelling aspect of the original was the thick atmosphere, so this live version is that much less compelling.
Requiem for the Masses C+
This isn't one of their best songs either, but it's kind of fun to hear them sing that Medieval chorus bit live. They do vocals much better than they usually do their instrumentals. It was an interesting song that was featured at the end of Insight Out. It's another questionable choice, but at least I don't feel the need to complain about it much here. It gets pretty boring at the end, and it sounds much more pretentious hearing them do this live...
At least this was one of their big hits. I just happen to have the opinion that this wasn't a great song for them either. Certainly much more appropriate for this album than "Requiem for the Masses" and "Remember" for example. So, I'll give them a mild thumb's up here.
Enter the Young B+
This is one of the group's best songs, but this isn't nearly as invigorating as the studio cut. They don't do anything differently except this is much sloppier and the instrumentation sounds less compelling.
Stop Your Motor
Read the full review:
Bring Yourself Home 9.5/10
Here is a pleasant song in the same old spirit that they've always managed to exuberate. It's filled to the brim with great moods and packed with their signature style of packed-vocal harmonies. The instrumentation is simple and organic consisting of a piano, acoustic, bass guitar and drums. It sounds exactly like something they would have penned in 1966, but that's not so bad listening to them with '00s ears. Hey, it's pretty! I love the chorus. It's like "Goodbye, Columbus" all over again!
Funny King of Song 7/10
Well, this one isn't so great. When they don't have their finger on a melody with potential, it becomes a little too obvious! The instrumentals are as solidly performed as the previous track, but this is just dull. There's no excuse for a dull song!!
That's Racin' 8/10
This is their tribute to old-style country I guess. Oh how out of touch they were! Everyone was doing country-rock by now... you know Lynyrd Skynyrd and that nonsense. Anyway, this song features lyrics rattled off like a Bob Dylan song from 1965 and well it's not too bad. A little too cutesy for my taste, but I like those hoe-down violins they incorporate!
P.F. Sloan 7.5/10
This is rather dull unfortunately... Despite that it has their usual sense of spirit, but not the sense of melody that I know they've been capable of. The instrumentation is quite nice. They sure know how to play their instruments! That doesn't save my incredibly lackluster feeling toward this...
Silver Morning 8.5/10
I like this song. It has quite an orchestral quality that I like. They introduce a thunderous brass section in the middle that briefly makes it very exciting. Not that the rest of it's not good! Yeah, it's duller, but it has nice flow and a sweet though unmemorable melody.
It's Gotta be Real 8/10
Geez, it's so nice that they're still writing these happy sunshiney songs, and I enjoy what they did to the "chorus" of sorts. It's not so great that their melodies are just middle of the road and so is the instrumentation this time, to be honest.
The First Sound 9/10
This is one of those ultra-dramatic, classical oriented songs that generally makes their music fun to hear. It seems like they're most effective when they're being ultra pretentious. If they believe in themselves, then maybe they're more convincing that way. The melody is fine, but it's the mood that's the real selling point for me.
Along the Way 9/10
Now this is pretty. It's features a sweet melody and some very pretty, operatic vocals. It sounds like it could be a show tune or something. It features a full scale orchestra, and the arrangements were especially well-done. I won't say it's soul-shattering, but it'll leave an impression I'm sure.
Traveler's Guide (Spanish Flyer) 7/10
Geez, after that previous song, it's a shame they're reverting back to these goofy type songs. I suppose they were trying to adopt a Spanish edge to this one, but it's just silly and obnoxious. The instrumentation is too clunky although the brass section was a nice touch.
Seven Virgins 7/10
Seven virgins? This song is more rockin' and it's kinda nice getting into the spirit, but the hook is pretty bland and they seem to repeat it an awful lot. I'm afraid I can't be too constructive. This is so middle-of-the-road that the band members' attempts to sound spirited seem kind of silly. Maybe some virtuosity would have helped here, but I think that live album firmly established that no one was really capable of guitar solos or anything.
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