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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 10. 1967.

Sgt Pepper plus platoon of pops

Sgt Pepper plus platoon of pops

After a prolonged period of stagnation when groups churned out seemingly unending amounts of uninteresting material, pop music has begun to develop once again —there is still a large amount of trash being released but there is also much original music.

The British scene is still holding its paramount position—the Beatles are still God; the recent wave of protests about the jail sentences imposed on Mick Jagger and Keith Richards did not stem from the teenage "trendies" only, but also moved such august journals as "The Times"; The Hollies, Alan Price Set, Small Faces, Kinks. Yardbirds, Cream, and the Who are all turning out interesting records. In London's "Town" magazine, Julia Dobson comments that the lyrics "are often refreshing, titles even more so. Have you seen your mother baby standing in Strawberry fields waiting for Mathew and Son, is an inconceivable improvement on Carolina Moon Catching a falling star."

Many of the groups established during the early days of "Beat" music have recently split up and some of these changes have resulted in a progression in the type of material —since the Yardbirds lost Jeff Beck they have reestablished themselves and Beck has also shown promise with Hi Ho Silver Lining, the "newlook" Tremeloes (without Brian Poole) have jumped right to the top with Silence Is Golden, Stevie Winwood's new group "Traffic" sound promising although what the Spencer Davis group will do without him no one knows. All in all 1967 is definitely a year of rejuvenation.

The Beatles—what can anyone say about them? After careful listening to Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Para-phone PCSM 7027 Stereo) I am convinced that the allbum even supersedes Revolver. The tunes are more complex, the orchestral backings are extremely colourful—ranging from sitar, tabla etc, to old musichall style, to Tchaikovskylike brass chords, but the performances never seem pseudo or hackneyed.

It is rumoured that this LP will be one of the most expensive ever produced. Gone are the days when a track would be run through, rehearsed, arranged and a master tape recorded, all In two hours. Now they frequently arrive at the studio with only a vague thought or rough set of lyrics, which they then proceed to play about with, for hours, or often days.

The Love Me Do lyrics have certainly disappeared—

"Read the news today, oh boy About a lucky man who made the grade and though the news was rather sad well I just had to laugh I saw the photograph He blew his mind out in a car He didn't notice the lights had changed."

The record has been issued in stereo only, the recording is exceptionally good, as is to be expected with EMT's "princes of Pop."

With the Beatles having achieved such musical heights, it is difficult for any other group to even contend for runner-up, as most other pop music scunds so trite in comparison to Sergeant Pepper. As long as one doesn't play Between the Buttons (Decca SKLM 4852 Stereo) too soon after the Beatles, the true worth of the Rolling Stones comes through. While not possessing the melodic inventiveness of Lennon and McCartney, the group certainly manage to come up with slightly controversial subject matter, and of course they would never think of disappointing—for example Who's Been Sleeping Here?

"What'd you say girl,

Who'd you see that night...

Don't you look like a Goldilocks.

There must be somewhere you can stop...

... Whose been eating off my plate—

was it the soldier, the sailor,

and then there's the three Musketeers,

So tell me now,

Who's been sleeping here."

Cat Stevens would definitely be the most promising newcomer of the year—it is not his vocal qualities that are so startling, but a combination of these and his ability as a composer. He wrote all 14 songs on his first LP Mathew & Son (Deram DML 1004 Mono). His repertoire is surprisingly varied — the tunes range from the catchy Mathew & Son and Here Comes My Baby (the Tremeloes hit) to beautiful, wistful ballads Hummingbird, Lady. Also included is his first hit I Love My Dog, soon to be released on a single in New Zealand. The recording made by Decca's offshoot Deram, is very good although only in Mono.

I sometimes wonder what the Lovin' Spoonful would do without John Sebastion. He composes their tunes, sings them very well, and plays autoharp and rhythm guitar. The Spoonful is one of the few American groups that is composed of musicians (not forgetting the Byrds, the Momma's and Papas, and the Jefferson Airplane).

Recently there has been a spate of their LP's released—the sound track to What's Up Tiger Lily? (Kama Sutra NPL 28080 Mono), The Best Of The Lovin Spoonful (NSPL 28081 Stereo), and Hums Of The Levin' Spoonful (NSPL 28081 Stereo). The pick of these three is the latter with Darlin' Companion, Bes' Friends, Rain On The Roof, Nashville Cats and Summer In The City on it. The music varies from New Orleans style to Hillbilly to more orthodox country and western to ordinary pop. The Stereo recording is excellent.

"The Electric Prunes" is one of the 'other' American groups as can be witnessed on their first LP (Reprise RS 6248 Stereo). The only good feature of this disc is the dynamic recording I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night is quite a catchy tune for the first few hearings only, their other USA hits—Get Me To The World On Time and Are You Loving Me More (but enjoying it less) are terrible.

Soul Of Mann (Hmv Csdm 3B94 Stereo) is an unusual departure for Manfred Mann —a strictly instrumental album. I Got You Babe, L.S.D., My Generation, Frere Jacques (alias Brother Jack) and others receive the Mannmade treatment. Once again the group reverts to the Jazz idiom with a certain amount of success.

There is no sleeve note to give any indication of recording dates; as it is on the HMV label it must have been recorded before October 1966, when Mann was experimenting with a larger, more brassy, line-up. The trouble with the disc is that it falls beween two schools—it is too commercial to appeal to Jazz fans and too progressive for pop types. Once again a good recording.

Finally a first solo LP from an ex-Mann —namely the enigmatic Paul Jones. My Way (Hmv Csdm 3586) would be one of the most disappointing record releases of the year. Since his break with Manfred & Co. Jones has proved to be an individual of considerable talent—successful tours as a solo act, a co-starring role with Jean Shrimpton in Privilege, appearances on several TV shows. Two hits High Time and I've Been A Bad, Bad Boy have helped him retain popularity, however it is doubtful if this disc will, He has forsaken blues, except for two tracks, and attempted to be a hiptype Andy Williams cum Engelbert Humperdink cum Matt Monroe.

—Don Hewitson