I'd heard of these guys and wondered why a number of crits were so effusive in their praise of what was, as far as I could tell, only a pop unit. Don't get me wrong, in the right hands, pop music is another great form…but so damn few know how to do it right. My all-time favorite such LP is the almost totally unknown LP Touch by Barnaby Bye, then there was Chas Jankel's equally anonymous but way the hell cool Byzantium, followed by latterday Rare Bird, Capability Brown, The Hollies, and a number of others but…Smokie? Blue Ash? The Records? Really? Are ya kiddin'? Even the well-lauded Raspberries and Eric Carmen were highly hit and miss, Dwight Twilley, Moon Martin, and similar writer-performers vastly superior, so, as you can guess, when the term 'pop' floats around, I tend to grab a can of Raid.
Well, after all those jaw-dropping Rockpalast DVDs and, much earlier, the killer Catbone Unreleased CDs, MVD slid The Legal Matters my way, and, yeah, I can see what the buzz is about 'cause these guys go back to the roots, to Peter & Gordon, the Beach Boys, Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Turtles, Illinois Speed Press, Emitt Rhodes, and similar groups but with a modern edge and power-pop holdover. The harmony vocals are excellent while the lead vocals give away just where The Rise of the Geek (Elvis Costello, etc.) began. Mary Anne, in fact, reminds me of Capability Brown wed to The Hollies.
Every single cut here is pure pop and, in many senses, purist pop. It's Not What I Say, my favorite cut, has a very Brit timbre, as though Gerry and the Pacemakers had listened somehow to the future Sniff 'N the Tears (now THERE was great novo-pop!) with a bit of the early mellifluous Beatles thrown in for good measure within the atmosphere of America's first LP. On the radio, this song would either be a chart pick or else spell the end of civilization: after all, if people can't get hip to something this well done, then, yeah, bring on the chart crap all at once in a draconian deluge, drown us all, and let's have an end to the farce. While that's happening, though, play this CD as the soundtrack.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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