The Best Of Climax: Precious & Few
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Audio CD, July 8, 2014
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Climax was an Americanband formed in 1970 in Los Angeles, California, most noted for their 1971-1972 hitsong Precious and Few, which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and #1 on Cashboxmagazine's Top 100 singles chart. This disc sold over one million copies and was certifiedgold by the RIAA on February 21, 1972.
Climax came out of the ashes of the 1960s hit band The Outsiders. A few singles were released under the Outsiders name, but when Tom King of the original band threatened legal action, the name of the band was changed to Climax (singles released under The Outsiders name included Lovin' You/Think I'm Fallin' and Changes/Lost In My World). Following the name change, the album Climax Featuring Sonny Geraci was released. The band is often considered a one-hit wonder because other than Precious and Few, no other releases gained much widespread success.
Precious and Few, the band's biggest hit, was actually first recorded in 1970 with producer Ron Kramer. It was later re-worked by producer Larry Cox, who was assigned by label owner Marc Gordon to re-tool the band's material. Cox urged the band to re-record Precious and Few and encouraged lead singer Sonny Geraci to capitalize on his extraordinary abilities to perform high-powered ballads.
Many industry insiders felt Climax should have been far more successful than they actually were. The lack of a solid, powerful marketing and managing organization hurt the band when their follow-up Life and Breath was not given enough attention and funding to break through. After Life and Breath fizzled, the label was not ready to release the band's only album, Climax featuring Sonny Geraci during Precious and Few's climb up the charts, which eroded the band's popularity and market edge.
Top Customer Reviews
To my ears, most of this sounds like it was recorded from worn-out vinyl records. In fact, probably two of the most muffled, grainy-sounding tracks on this CD are the band's only hits: the smash "Precious and Few" and its follow-up, "Life and Breath".
"Life and Breath" may have been a smaller hit, but in no way was it a lesser hit. It featured a beautiful, heartfelt vocal from Sonny, and a breathtakingly (pun intended) gorgeous melody and arrangement. It also contained perhaps the sweetest sad lyric ever committed to record, opening:
"If you believe in dreams enough/then they'll believe in you/that's what you used to tell me/so I know it must be true/So day after day/I'm dreaming you'll come back to me..."
Beat that for a heartbroken pop lyric! Anyone.
"Life and Breath" was written by George S. Clinton, not the P-Funk guy but a prolific composer of film and TV scores (and one-time leader of a band called Volunteers). It should have been a smash, and I was very much looking forward to hearing it for the first time on CD remastered from the original tapes. Nope. And not just from vinyl but from a worn, scratchy copy with dropouts that was run through something to take out the pops and clicks but which also severely cut off the high and low ends. And you can even hear rumble from the turntable motor. It sounds like it was recorded underwater from an old Fisher-Price toy phonograph. Well, actually, it sounds a little worse than that would.
At least you CAN get the original "Precious and Few" on CD in very high audio quality: it's found on the "Have A Nice Day" '70s hits series from Rhino, remastered from the original tapes by the great team of Bill Inglot and Ken Perry. That one track is worth this entire CD.
What's really infuriating is that the justly uncredited compilation producer here couldn't even be bothered to get a fresh, clean copy of the album or any of the singles to take these songs from. The dropouts positively tell you that these tracks are from used vinyl copies. This travesty claims to be produced under license from the official owners of this music. If this substandard CD is the best they can offer, there should be some warning on the product.
Some of the songs sound somewhat better in audio quality, and these are mostly the unreleased ones which never came out on vinyl. But the fan-pleasing, similarly-styled big ballad singles such as "Rainbow Rides Are Free", "Picnic In The Rain" and "Caroline This Time", all good songs and all from "P&F" writer Walter Nims, are all also from dull vinyl.
The good thing about this compilation is that it contains a lot of very hard to find tracks by this appealing band: non-LP sides, songs released only on a rare vinyl compilation, and songs that were entirely unreleased until this CD. So if you really like Sonny Geraci and Climax, this is probably worth it. You won't find these tracks anywhere else.
One interesting track here is the actual original version of the Righteous Brothers' hit "Rock and Roll Heaven." The song was written by Climax's keyboard player Johnny Stevenson with pop maestro Alan O'Day. It's quite good, and more energetic than the hit version.
There are in fact a lot of good songs on this collection, with surprisingly few turkeys. Climax was a good band which deserved a much longer and more successful career. Pretty much their entire output is here, including some outstanding highlights. Just not the high END. And that's too bad.
Fun Climax sidetrack: the background singers on "Precious and Few", "Life and Breath" and the other big ballads are a group of session singers called the Ron Hicklin Singers: Ron Hicklin, Tom Bahler, John Bahler, and Jackie Ward. This group was the permanent provider of backing vocals for EVERY TRACK recorded by the Partridge Family throughout their entire recording career. You can even distinctly hear that Partridge sound on some of Climax's singles. This vocal group was estimated to have appeared on at least one thousand hit singles from the '60s to the '80s. One record that really jumps out to me as being them is "Birds of a Feather" by the Raiders, which quite a few people said sounded like the Partridge Family behind Mark Lindsay's excellent lead. Now they know why!
They were also the singers on numerous television show themes, including "Love American Style" (Tom Bahler sings lead "And on this star-spangled night my love..."), "Happy Days" (that's Ron Hicklin himself singing "Goodbye gray skies, hello blue"), Laverne and Shirley (backing Cindy Grecco and singing the fill-ins like "We're gonna do it"), and many others. They sang hundreds of TV and radio commercial jingles, many of which you know by heart, including the famous "You Deserve a Break Today" from McDonald's. Anyway, this prolific foursome are indeed the fabulous sweet singers you hear on "Precious and Few" and other Climax songs. The actual vocal arrangements on almost all their work were done by member Tom Bahler, who is indeed credited for it on this Climax collection. Which means they did at least one thing right on this CD!
The sound quality is fair. Not from vinyl, that I can tell. Complaints about "Precious and Few" and "Life and Breath" seem valid. There are MUCH better re-mastered versions of these songs available, and it's too bad they don't seem to be on this disc.
Another complaint is the price. Too bad Rhino didn't get ahold of this and make it an even better release.
Overall though, it is the best you will find of this one-hit wonder group.
Nice to have the expanded version of this album
This is the cd to purchase. I originally had the vinyl version upon it's release. And somewhere it got lost.
I had previously purchased the same album on CD. From a company I can't remember, because I have long discarded it..because
the sound was incredibly "muddy".
This new release from Fuel is outstanding is audio clarity. So, if you are looking for this original vinyl version on compact disc.
THIS IS THE CD FOR YOU !!!!!