I would like your opinion Harry? I agree that the CSG processing is annoying however the Pickwick version of this album for me sound wise when compared to the original was a disappointment in your opinion which version would be worse the CSG'D Those were the days. Or The Pickwick version? I'm just curiousLooking through a box of LPs that got shipped south with us, but never unpacked, I found an odd variation of the THOSE WERE THE DAYS album. It's a white-label promo of the album, but it has CSG processing on it. My stock LP does not have that, nor does the CD version from Japan.
The jacket one of those gold oval stickers on it bragging of the CSG processing being able to be played in stereo or mono, but there's nothing about it on the white label. The run-out groove however does have the "CSG" in the numeration.
Those are exactly what mine looks like. I took a listen to "Flyin' High, and sure enough, it's got that uncomfortable altered-phase sound to it. The LP itself has seen better days, as it was stuck in the jacket with no innersleeve where it's probably been rattling around for years. It's possible that a good cleaning could make it serviceable, but then all you'd end up with is an annoying CSG recording!
I'm not sure where this came from. The outer markings don't look like any radio station I've been involved with. I do recall getting a bunch of Alpert and Baja albums from some eBay purchases that were just thrown in the package. Probably from when I ordered a big lot of TjB monos, the seller probably had tons of these and threw them in. I keep my "good" A&M albums out in the main record shelves; these were packed away as extra copies that I haven't had the heart to dispose of.
On Do You Know the Way to San Jose? the ensemble seemed to reinvent itself with new found vigor. Although it remains unclear what occurred at that time, it’s aurally obvious that the momentum carried forth into the group’s 1st LP of 1969. The arrangements, the playing, the writing — in short the overall musical activity has manifested into something far greater than the sum of the individual contributors. One change I’ve noticed is that we’re hearing less of the "marimba + flute" sound the characterized the BMB sound from 1964-67; in place we’re hearing more dynamic and diverse arrangements. This could be a result of having Nick De Caro co-arrange the LP. Additionally, by 1969, given Herb’s international stardom, one could argue that Herb and Jerry were decreasingly concerned with plausible adverse financial consequences of TjB—BMB sales rivalry — recognizing that both groups were now mutually exclusive from an LP sales viewpoint. All of this leads to speculation that by 1969 Julius was able to downplay formulaic BMB arrangements while opening up the arrangements into new areas and both San Jose and the new LP, Those Were The Days, seem to support that notion.
Tom Wilkes delivers yet another stellar BMB cover (one gets the feeling he really liked these BMB assignments relative to the more conventional covers he did for most A&M artists). For this project, he parodies those countless cheap airbrush jobs seen all over magazines and other commercial media of the day — all the more cleverly filtered trough trendy late ’60s "pop art" stylings. The technique is surely dated, nonetheless the overall presentation is quite amusing — like having Charlie provide the entertainment on a charango for the voyage…I surmise they’re still on their way to San Jose…at least they’ll get plenty of fresh air on the voyage…
The Songs and Performances…
- Flyin’ High. As was the case with the previous LP, from the first note the band is straight away up and at it. Julius’ arrangement as a wordless vocal surely fits the ensemble with its spirited minor/major groove. (Unless some of the BMB members are formally trained singers, the voices are most likely supplied by other studio cats.) The structure is simple: AA’ AA’ [A=16; A’=12]; the Intro is recycled to link all A and A’ sections as well as to close the piece as a vamp for Julius to solo. A+
- Dream a Little Dream of Me: A tailor-made cover for the BMB if ever there was one, all it needs is some of the Julius’ arranging magic, which happily is in ample supply on the LP. I particularly like the New Orleans style clarinet/trumpet/trombone ensemble interplay — tasteful, wholesome and from the heart (unlike all those anonymous musical technicians in The Biz that simply cop a sound). Also note Mel’s use of subtle pick-up notes to drive the swingy sway of the piece. Frank’s definitely having fun with the dynamic drum part. A+
- Big Red: De Vito gives us the creme de la creme of BMB performances and proving once again that the group could bridge musical gaps far and wide — arguably more so than the TjB. One could not ask for a finer number than this: With its immediate cure-all antidote for the blues, the piece and performance is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of even the most stoic of musical grinches — what with Frank’s animated double-tracked drums and those drunken electric guitar zzziiiingsss! Certified pop perfection. The piece is impeccably ageless. A+
- Here, There And Everywhere: Another ageless piece was McCartney’s instant standard, which was one of numerous crown achievements that adorned the Beatles’ magnificent 1966 LP, Revolver. Charlie’s tremolo-laden guitar lead is calm and graceful and even when the horns drop in briefly Julius scores it just for the perfect amount of lighthearted BMB-isms without adversely impacting Charlie’s delicate read. De Vito’s simple 8/8 and De Caro’s Walk On By rhythmic chirps propel the arrangement. A+
- Those Were The Days: Yet another tailor made cover for the group...this time out we get the klezmer treatment. Given the voice quality, I’m confident the BMB is providing the vocals. Anyone know whose playing banjo (also heard on Big Red)? Dig Mel’s walking bass and Frank’s swing on the fade (one can just see Mel and Frank eyeing each other prior to making that break!).
- (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me: One thing that distinguishes the BMB from the TjB are arrangements like this: where Herb arranged to support his lead trumpet, Julius arranged for ensemble interplay. Case in point, here the melody is recurrently handed off among various instruments. Charlie’s mandolin lead is beautiful and dig that memorable fade with Dave’s moaning low bones. The arrangement also calls for voices and piano. (Piano/organ are the only substantial "pop" instruments not represented by a group member. I’ve always wandered who contributed these parts — some of which are quite significant like on the 1969 non-LP single, Can You Dig It?)A+
- On a side note: ever wonder how it is so that Bacharach’s 1960s songs are so uncommonly different, yet Top-40 accessible? Check out the diagramming for this song:A(A+A’)BC A(A+A’)BC D A(A+A’)BC [A=13(5+8); B=8; C=9; D=10]Although the song detail is complicated with several odd-bar lengths it’s actually all contained within an overarching routine AABA form. Bacharach employs the basic AABA formula; however, each A is further detailed into additional melodic fragments, which was highly atypical for pop music up until the mid 1960s. (For example, the 1st A of the standard AABA form is actually A(A+A’)BC in Burt’s piece here.) Next, Burt dispenses of the 8-bar fragment 32-bar form (much like Lennon/McCartney did), resulting in more unpredictable and dynamic music. If that wasn’t enough note also the two odd numbered fragments (A and C) — which throw off the normal balance of pop tunes (which typically come in 2-, 4-, 8-, 12-, or 16-bar fragments) …but, lo, because mathematically two odd numbers always sum to an even number, Burt preserves the overall form balance! Clever with a Capital "C" (and that, my friends, is why Burt is Burt, and the rest of us…are, well, just the rest of us).
Those Were The Days is another five-star effort from the BMB — arguably bettering Do You Know the Way to San Jose and in doing so, to some this may be their piece de resistance. In any event it’s the second of four solid LPs that represent the 1968-71 artistic peak of the BMB’s A&M recording career. Of all the non-R&R A&M offerings during the classic era (1962-70), this is surely one of the finest overall offerings. I’m confident Julius, Allan Stanton, Nick De Caro and the group were quite proud of this LP upon hearing it mastered and sequenced for the first time.
- Les Bicyclettes de Belisize: Given the English name on the composing credits, I’m guessing this is from Broadway… (I mean, no one’s gonna title a song in French and expect to get top-40 AM airplay, no?) One thing that distinguishes pop music during the 1965-70 period is the use of substantial minor/major sections — which helps to build and release tension. This is the sad/happy aspect that Herb championed for the TjB and a songwriting aspect that Sol incorporated in much of his work. The use of calliope (or at least an organ "tibia" stop devoid of tremolo or Leslie to best approximate that notorious musical monstrosity) lends a circus-waltz air to the festivities. Again, more low bone. Man, Dave is all over this LP. A+
- Peru ’68: This piece always struck me as the distant peppy cousin to Panama (from Herb’s BOTB). I like the unison lines between Lee and Dave and how they weave with Julius, Charlie, and Bernie. The ensemble just cooks it. A+
- Knowing When To Leave: The first LP misfire to my ears. Julius’ arrangement is quite detailed, but the piece drags too much. Perhaps if this was the only version I ever heard my opinion would be different; but, knowing Burt’s own version, this one just doesn’t do much for me.
- Happening To Me: Julius moves to vibes, which together with spatial single note piano and legato violins suddenly aim us toward Verve/A&M-CTi territory circa 1967. This sounds like a Nick De Caro arrangement…I can hear Claudine wisping her vocals over this. A+
- Elenore: While a good closer, for some reason it’s a bit of a let down — perhaps because its overall feel recalls Dream a Little Dream of Me and Those Were The Days, yet it’s not quite in the same league with those pieces (but we’re probably splitting hairs at this point).