Saturday, July 25, 2009

Old music: Chad & Jeremy's 'Distant Shores' (1966)

So, maybe it's the summer heat spell and the endless high desert 100°+ Fahrenheit temperatures that's done it to me.

But, whatever it is, I've just been wanting to hear some of that melancholy sunshine pop lately.

You know, that sort of music that is totally overproduced, overtly pretty and just downright melodic, great and timeless.

Chad and Jeremy initially came to mind because of their perennial classic 'A Summer Song' and how it managed to capture the dynamic of that brilliant moment that we all experience at the end of summer where we realize that it's done... the warmness, the simple meals, the long days, the extended walks that venture off into dusk past the point when the street lamps illuminate, the basketball game that somehow lasts until the middle of the eleven o'clock news, the video game match that sees the beginning of the sunset and the overall feeling of camaraderie and community that just seems to take up a comfortable residence from the middle of May until the middle of September. A fantastic song from a couple of Brits that somehow managed to resonate more here than they did there.

But that was their early stuff.

What happened after that?

Well, according to Chad, the duo's British label had them working like slaves and they didn't really feel like the material they were recording was fully representative of what they were as musicians at the time.

Fair enough.

A temporary move from London to Los Angeles and a committed move to Columbia records produced a couple good, but predictable albums that showed a lot of potential but not a lot of willingness to branch out.

Well, nobody sees the truly good ones coming.

Because, a year later, Chad and Jeremy released one of the most underrated (to this day) and most well-rounded pop albums of the 1960's the very next year.

Truly, Distant Shores is amazing. Easily as good as any other acknowledged pop classic of the mid 1960's.

The whole thing is absolutely lush. I guess, for most people, it would be most accurate to say that the music on this album is most closely related to a sort of folk and vocal pop hybrid. The string arrangements, the lush 'now sound' leanings, the irresistible duo harmonies all mixed with a strumming, acoustic melancholy base makes for a transitional album that is absolute magic. They were perhaps a little too restrained before this and maybe not restrained enough afterwords, but for this moment, they were at their peak.

Starting with the wonderful title track and venturing through the longing 'When Your Love Has Gone', the Paul Simon pre-fame composition 'Homeward Bound', the amazing harpsichord-laced original 'You Are She', through the amazingly lush highlight 'Everyone's Gone to the Moon' and ending up at the accepting breakup anthem 'Don't Make Me Do It', this album is one of the most well-rounded, cohesive and solid albums of its era. The songs take minor turns, effectively use woodwind and string accompaniments and ultimately end up as Chad and Jeremy's most repeat-worthy album that still stands up today.

Truly, the influence this album has had on the C-86 and twee pop scenes cannot be understated. I'm sure most of the kids affiliated with those scenes would classify this as a guilty pleasure, but the truth is: Bob Wratten and Jim and William Reid have all thoroughly enjoyed this album at one point in time. Don't think they haven't.

For fun, here's the original back cover on Columbia:
The labels:

The great thing about this album is that, despite its amazing deluxe edition on the unbelievably cool Sundazed label, it's an incredibly easy find on used vinyl. And the original eleven track album is definitely worth hearing. Sure, the expanded edition will be of interest later on, but as an album, released on a major label in 1966, it stands up incredibly well.

It's been on constant rotation for me over the last month or so and I highly reccommend it.

It gets the official Austin seal of approval:

Check it out, if you can. Satisfaction guaranteed. Especially in summertime.


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