Cherry Red Album Reviews – July 2013 (2) by Scenester

The Association


The AssociationDeluxe Expanded Edition New Sounds  – CR/Now 43

As the UK luxuriates in its hottest summer for years, this writer settles back in his deck chair, long tall orange juice in hand, and takes in the sweet summer sounds of 1969. Otherwise known as their ‘Stonehenge’ LP, due to the perhaps ill-advised cover artwork, The Association’s self-titled fifth LP is all the better for its CD release. Augmented with a carefully chosen selection of mono singles, from original master tapes, these tracks avoid the pitfalls of being produced for a modern audience with an up to date sensibility.

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Opening track ‘Look at Me, Look at You’ has some of the sweetest harmonies heard, always a strength of this West Coast band, and ‘Yes I Will’s buzzsaw guitar is the only note of tension in this open, honest declaration of love. ‘Love Affair’s close harmonies approach that of another famous West Coast band, and ‘The Nest’s slow lament of a familial break-up touches where it should, but manages to turn hopeful toward the end.

‘What Were the Words’ has a country feel, as it runs through its meditation on indecision and inaction. It’s followed by the upbeat, challenging ‘Are You Ready’, all about seizing the day before it’s gone, filled with street slang, brass and a bold soul feel throughout.

‘Dubuque Blues’ could hardly be more different, a gorgeous, country tinged melody with all the longing you’d expect of a fondly remembered childhood home. Its subtle tempo changes and that touch of bitterness toward the middle are sensitively handled in this masterly evocation of a distant time and place.

‘Under Branches’ has a quiet, subtle intro in the style of ‘It’s Too Late’, and those spot-on harmonies, fitting the mysterious poem perfectly. Skirting around the subject of regret, and exploring the suppression of honest impulses, the track doesn’t resolve, but has enough wordplay to keep the listener guessing.

‘I Am Up For Europe’ and ‘Broccoli’ are a little hippie jokiness to lighten the mood, the former an affirmation with a tight drum tattoo keeping it company, the latter a bit of nonsense about a favourite food with the band’s perfectly blended harmonies making it difficult to resist.

‘Goodbye Forever’s urgent love affair and the inevitable sorrowful aftermath are well realised, even if the language has a little too much distance. ‘Boy on the Mountain’ builds to a great crescendo with exciting guitar bends after its ‘Fool on the Hill’ style opening, and closes the original LP well with its striking effects.

Among the singles included here, ‘Just About the Same’ has a nimble bass line, great harmonies, hand claps and an overall feel-good vibe that is hard to beat. ‘Six Man Band has fuzzy guitar, solid electric backing, and is otherwise a typical ‘travellin’ man’ type of song. ‘Seventeen Jewels’ loud swell carries it up beautifully, and ‘Enter the Young’s very ‘English’ guitar sound suits this song of youthful feelings. It is a complete mystery to this listener as to why this single was withdrawn. A completely worthwhile accompaniment to a hot summer’s day. Please do Buy HERE!

The Electric Prunes


Mass in F Minor/ Release of an Oath The Kol NidreThe Electric Prunes  – (Morello Records MRLL 16)

This summer sees the re-release of The Electric Prunes’ ambitious third and fourth LPs in one tidily packaged CD. That these complementary LPs followed mainstream chart success by the band they are credited to , but were substantially the work of session musicians, will come as no surprise to anyone with a little insight into the machinations of the roaring-lion 60’s music business.

Based on the Latin Mass and steeped in the then prevalent psychedelic style, the LP’s opener, ‘Kyrie Eleison’s fuzzy staccato guitar and organ blend with Gregorian chanting to produce something that would come to be regarded as a classic. Cinephiles among you will be aware of its presence in the superlative biker/stoner/road film ‘Easy Rider’.

‘Gloria’s liturgical organ intro soon gives way to a twangy guitar solo, throbbing bass and drums in support, and leads out to spacey woodwind effects. ‘Credo’s organ and triumphant horns herald an altogether more upbeat piece, soon diverging into psyche territory, finally turning into a waltz of guitars and horns, all the while ‘Credo’ (‘I Believe’) chanted insistently over the music.

‘Sanctus’ climbing-the-stairs rhythm is pleasing enough, but it’s ‘Benedictus’ that emerges as the standout of the LP, a Celtic reel on guitar mixed with an Asian playing style, the organ carrying it up until we reach the triumphant horns and the unending chant of ‘Gloria In Excelsis’.

Closing track ‘Agnus Dei’ opens with measured chanting, feedback screaming over a pedestrian backing with drums and guitars, the bass creating tension with up and down strokes over twangy, screeching guitar and a slightly unnerving glockenspiel in the background.

‘Release of an Oath’ has a fabulous opener in ‘Kol Nidre’, its Eastern melody played teasingly on woodwind, later taken up by guitar and carrying the song ever upwards into some mystic ecstasy. ‘Holy Are You’, over simple piano chords, subtle drum and cymbal work, shares an Eastern feel with its predecessor, further enhanced by deft psychedelic guitar.

‘General Confessional’s short organ chords backed by drums shape the tune, violins whining their disagreement, with fuzzy guitar making its inevitable appearance later on. ‘Individual Confessional’ s urgent, ‘wake up’ two-note piano chords turn up the tension, until we reach ‘Our Father The King’, its piano and violins playing in a similar vein, supported by bass and horns, turning into a more conventional rock and roll tune with an exciting bass run.

‘The Adoration’s hesitant bass, with organ playing counterpoint, offers an unexpectedly upbeat tune, leading into ‘Closing Hymn’s bells, drums and rising guitars, all combining and letting go to a pleasing resolution.

The use of session musicians in creating great music is long established, and given that much of it is made by the young and musically naive, arguably necessary for its continuance as a popular form. It’s the music that’s important, so let’s not fall out over personnel. Just listen. Buy HERE!


Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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Originally posted 2013-07-29 12:25:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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