Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Holy Mackerel S/T CD (Collectors’ Choice)

What if Keith Partridge were twins? Go with me on this: in this alternate TV universe there’s two older Partridge brothers, one of whom is the sappy, poppy “I think I love you” Keith we all know and (pick your verb), while his twin is a wanna-be Dillard in a fringed vest and desert boots. That’s the scenario I was picturing while piecing together the disparate threads on this, Paul Williams’ first appearance on record. On the strength of his collaborations with Biff Rose (see “Fill Your Heart” on Hunky Dory), Paul stumbled onto a Reprise deal with Tiny Tim producer Richard Perry. Feeling shy, he put together a band featuring his brother Mentor, one-time Airplane bassist Bob Harvey and ex-Turtles drummer Don Murray. The imaginary band came together in the studio, but hadn’t a clue what they wanted to be. Still, strip off the clunky c&w tunes Paul wrote for Mentor to sing and the sub-Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake fairytale spoonerisms of “Prinderella” and damned if there isn’t a terrific little lite psychedelic pop record here, catchy and spooky like the best of the Association or Grass Roots. “Bitter Honey” is a spot-on hate-to-love-you tune with a lovely, longing vocal, “Wildflowers” is a fuzzed-out Eastern trip and “1984” (not the Spirit tune) evokes a cynical hopefulness that seems very much of 1968. This reissue comes in tandem with Paul’s marvelous solo debut Someday Man, also recommended. -Kim Cooper

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