12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An Underappreciated Gem,
This review is from: Everything Playing (Audio CD)
The generally-accepted view is to give Everything Playing short shrift in the Spoonful catalog due to the absence of founding creative force Zal Yanovsky and the baroque nature of the recording which some seem to believe sweetened the Spoonful's "good-timiness" into something more saccharine. I don't think this is fair or accurate.
Indeed, I think that the presence of strings, horns and other orchestral dressings are a true strength of this album, adding a lot of texture and variety to the band's two- to three-minute pop songs. It's obviously the group's reaction to such then-relatively new masterpieces as Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper, which presented a much denser, diverse sound to the rock audience. No doubt the effects of psychedelics also play a part.
Despite the loss of Zal, and an emphasis on experimentation, the band's identity still comes through. Sebastian remains a force. "She is Still a Mystery" (one of his all-time best), "Six O'clock" and "Try a Little Bit" match up to anything he's written. "Boredom" and "Younger Generation" are intimate songs in simple settings, providing effective contrast to the thicker production on surrounding songs.
With more of an opportunity to contribute as composers than on previous releases, the rest of the band makes a good accounting of themselves. Steve Boone's "Forever" is an pastoral instrumental reminiscent of a soundtrack, showing new member Jerry Yester's considerable strengths as an arranger, and while we're speaking of Yester, while his vocal is certainly rough on the self-penned, "Priscilla Millionara," somehow it adds to the tone of this catchy, if somewhat off-center song about mismatched lovers compelled by a natural force to make a go at romance. "I don't know what it is, but it sure is something strong," indeed.
Joe Butler turns in a couple of notable compositions, the somewhat maudlin, but moving "Old Folks" and "Only Pretty, What a Pity", the closest thing the album has to a rocker. He has a clear, somewhat sweet voice that is pleasant to listen to.
I bought this on the original vinyl when it was first released. I was in grammar school and wore it out quickly. I recently re-purchased the remastered CD and find it hard to tire of. Some have intimated that the songs are slight, but the Spoonful was never a particularly heavy band and that's not what I expect from them. I don't consider any cut to be weak. This is one of those albums that work for me as a unified whole.
Maybe this isn't the hippest record, and "Hums" certainly stands as the band's creative pinnacle, but I would rank this as second best in their cannon. If you're looking for something positive and well crafted, you won't go wrong here. They don't make pop like this anymore, and that's a shame.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 5, 2011 6:16:14 PM PST
T. Horsefat says:
I fully agree with your views regarding the material and performances on this album. However, as I already have it on LP and two different versions on CD, what I would really like to know is how this particular release of this material sounds. It is pricey and I want to know, before I shell out the green stuff, whether or not this specific version is worth it.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 18, 2011 11:09:12 AM PDT
Margaret Brundage says:
I would say not. The bonus material is mostly alternate versions that aren't that different from the original versions. I bought it because my original vinyl was 40 years old and played out. So it was good for me. But for you, probably not.
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