gullbuy music review





La Troisieme Note

various artists CD

Love CD coverMore like a mix cd you'd get from a friend taken from old soft pop records from the 60s (with vinyl crackle still intact), the Love compilation released on La Troisieme Note features some lesser known cuts from soft pop groups like Harpers Bizarre, The Turtles, The Zombies, The Hollies, Ars Nova, and The Free Design. Along with these soft pop groups are lesser known tracks from artists Donovan, Bill Fay, Margo Guryan, Blossom Dearie, Jackie & Roy, and Harry Nilsson. Unlike most compilations filled with soft pop gems, these aren't really hard to find gems not available on cd.

This compilation was compiled by Catherine Piault (from Crammed Discs sub-label Selector; Piault also compiled the Jungle Vibes compilation in 1994, one of the first compilations of Jungle music; she also ran a bi-monthly jungle night in Paris) and Guillaume Sorge (a member of the Dirty Sound System along with Clovis Goux and Benjamin Morando, a collective that also compiled all three volumes of Dirty Diamonds on Diamond Traxx).

It's split into 4 sections with modern spoken interludes between each section which have a hippy vibe, but that don't really add all that much (these interludes are at least tracked, so they don't really ruin the songs). I wouldn't say this is a crucial compilation, but it is a wonderful summer mix impeccably chosen that will definitely bring back memories from when you first encountered these lesser known songs.

For the most part then we're treated to soft pop chestnuts like:

  • Harpers Bizarre's Witchi Tai To and Feelin' Groovy
    These two songs bookend the disc's beginning and end, respectively, with Witchi Tai To showing Harpers Bizarre's stellar studio production, while their version of Simon & Garfunkel's The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) test each soft pop listeners endurance for tweeness and light.
  • The Turtles's You Showed Me
    Here's a Gene Clark song never released on any Byrds albums, which was eventually compiled on the Preflyte Sessions. Amazingly, it was later covered by Salt and Peppa in 1990 and more fittingly by The Lightning Seeds on the Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery soundtrack in 1997. The Turtles have the definitive version.
  • Donovan's Get Thy Bearings
    A mystical, trippy Donovan tune from The Hurdy Gurdy Man, with a killer down tempo styled beat, echoed downer vocal from Donovan, and a classy bluesy sax solo.
  • The Zombies' Summertime
    A song that never really gets old, no matter how many different versions were recorded, The Zombies' version has their moody electronic piano sound and Colin Blumstone's breathy vocal style which most people know best on their hits She's Not There and Time of the Season, but is just as compelling on this oft covered tune.
  • The Hollies' Butterfly
    A song from an album of the same name (released in the US as Dear Eloise/King Midas in Reverse with some tracks missing) released in 1967, Butterfly actually is reminiscent of Colin Blumstone's solo work with stringed orchestration.
  • The Free Design's If I Were A Carpenter
    Another oft covered song (and a Tim Hardin song that was a hit for Bobby Darin), but The Free Design lift this usually dour examination of class differences with biblical allusions thanks to their sweet sunshine harmonies.

A couple of singers best known for their songwriting have cuts included here like:

  • Harry Nilsson's The Wailing of the Willow
    A Harry Nilsson song best remembered in the Astrud Gilberto reading found on her 1969 album I Haven't Got Anything Better to Do, The Wailing of the Willow was originally recorded and released on Harry Nilsson's Aerial Ballet from 1968 (it was later covered by Percy Faith & His Orchestra on the 1971 album Black Magic Woman, and can be found on the Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass rarities collection Lost Treasures released in 2005). Harry Nilsson was one of the few songwriters in the late 60s writing songs with a bossa pop sound, and The Wailing of the Willow is a great example of this, which you may not have heard in its original version.
  • Margo Guryan's Sun and Sunday Morning
    Margo Guryan finally got her recognition when Take a Picture was reissued and her 25 Demos was released in 2001. Both Sun and Sunday Morning are taken from Take a Picture, and are two of her best songs. It's too bad that her b-side version of Spanky and Our Gang (the song) still hasn't been released on cd yet.

There were always some older jazz musicians willing to update their sound in the mid 1960s from the jazz sound of the 50s and early 60s to the soft pop sound of the late 60s. In that vein, included here are:

  • Blossom Dearie's Long Daddy Green
    Blossom Dearie coupled her jazz backing with a groovy lounge 60s sound on tunes like Long Daddy Green, when she recorded That's Just the Way I Want to Be in London 1970.
  • Jackie & Roy's Didn't Want To Have To Do It
    A married, singing jazz duo who were delightful even when they weren't recording 60s soft pop gems and Beatles' covers, Jackie & Roy were hip enough even after working together 15 years to record this soaring rendition of The Lovin' Spoonful song. The Verve label is foolish for sitting on these stellar Jackie & Roy recordings which either you need to find on vinyl or Japanese reissues.

A couple of cult favorite obscurities do round out the compilation:

  • Bill Fay's Some Good Advice
    This is a downer of a song originally released along with Screams in the Ears as Bill Fay's first single on the Deram label in 1967, which was produced by Peter Eden (who also produced Donovan's early albums Catch the Wind and Fairytale in 1965). It's a piano led, Dylanesque diatribe against the 60s swinging mentality.
  • Ars Nova's Walk On Sand
    Here's a lengthier, breezy, bossa inspired folk pop nugget with a jazz rock sound ahead of its time, originally released on the second Ars Nova album Sunshine & Shadows from 1969.

---Patrick, September 8, 2006