Saturday, September 6, 2008
THE NEWBURY PARK, "GREEN TAMBOURINE" (from the 1968 LP NEWBURY PARK, Cream)
Every so often, you come across an album that just kinda stops you in your tracks. Not because it’s great music or anything, but because there on the front cover, staring right at you, is an absolute total sixties BABE. One that you just KNOW you’re destined to meet, provided you could somehow muster up a word or two while in her presence. I mean, let’s be honest, you didn’t REALLY like the Shocking Blue THAT much, did you? But yet you bought every album you found because that smokin’ hot chick with the deadly eyeliner called to you from every album cover, practically begging you to take her home (in Dutch, probably, but you somehow understood). And hey, for $5.98, you didn’t have to listen to it – you just propped it up on your dresser and used it when necessary. Likewise those two babes in the Love Generation who looked like they’d rather be sauntering around the Playboy mansion in sheer pink teddies than singing – I’m sure their photo on the cover of every album didn’t hurt sales. And when we discovered that Ruth Copeland and Gal Costa actually put out some GREAT records, well, that was just a bonus. I mean, I had ‘em for three YEARS before I ever bothered to listen to ‘em.
Now, I’m not about to tell you that Newbury Park’s album is great. It’s good sunshine pop, full of breezy melodies and sumptuous girl-on-girl…er, I mean girl and boy harmonies. Or so I’ve been told. I still haven’t gotten past that cover. Speaking personally, and this is just my own opinion of course, but that right there is my 60’s dream come true. Two of the most AMAZING hotties in folk pop history, the perfect pair of hippie chicks – and if I were alive back then, I’d have gone to EVERY ONE of their concerts, even if they sang nothing but old sea shanties. I don’t know what’s BEST about this photo – the sexy come-hither look of the slightly-sluttier version of Michelle Phillips, the impossibly perky, gravity-defying shirt on the button-cute brunette, or the fact that these mega-babes are actually hanging out with two guys I KNOW I can take. I mean, LOOK at those guys! They HAVE to be the girls’ brothers, right? There’s no way in H*#@ a love goddess in tight striped pants would EVER hang out with Kevin Costner’s dad, right? Where’s my time machine, forgodsake?
Should you ever go so far as to actually PLAY this album (while staring at the cover), you’ll find some very pleasant gentle soft pop and breezy summershine grooves. But again, there’s four band members on the cover and one instrument – an acoustic guitar – so what were you expecting, speed metal? “Afternoon Sky” is a great calliope circus ride of soft pop, while “I Wanna Come Home” is a slightly drunken-sounding Mamas and Papas clone that tells the story of a soldier writing home to Mom. And Newbury Park’s cover of the Lemon Pipers’ “Green Tambourine” is breezy soft pop heaven – with four-part “ba ba ba” harmonies replacing the original sitar. It’s all deliriously happy, swinging sunshine pop bliss – just the kind of stuff you’d probably play if you were trying to get into a hot young brunette’s tight-fitting striped bellbottoms and you happened to look like Kevin Costner’s dad with a bad comb-over. Hey, don’t laugh – it looked like it worked.
Now, I’m not trying to reduce Newbury Park’s album to just another slab of T&A – okay, maybe I am – but look, this stuff’s just as good as any other soft pop coed harmony pop outfit – the Green Lyte Sunday, for example, or the Love Generation, or the Free Design, for that matter. But if you got two hot babes in your band, it’s just Smart Marketing 101 that you take advantage of it. But lemme just reiterate, Newbury Park is MORE than just T and A – even when the T is as mesmerizing as it is on the brunette – rest assured all you sunshine pop Fading Yellow Soft Sounds for Gentle People lovers will find a bounty of beautiful new tunes on this record. These ladies DESERVE to be taken seriously as musicians, and as talented vocalists who, together, create a sound that’s as smooth and breezy as a summer’s day in 1968. Now ladies, please. Give me a call sometime, okay?
SQUID POP METER SEZ: A Solid Ten (...he wishes)
BEST TAKEN WITH: Patchoulli, Weed and all the Rufies You Can Find