Friday, July 15, 2011

Flo & Eddie by Flo & Eddie

Flo & Eddie would be the Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman of 60s pop band The Turtles.  At the end of The Turtles, they began calling themselved The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie.  The gained some hip cred by fronting The Mothers of Invention with Frank Zappa.

More info can be found here.

This is their 1974 second album.

Let me just say that Howard Kaylan has got to be one of my all time favorite singers, so he's one of those who could sing a restaurant menu and make it pretty.  Take one listen to The Turtles' "Eleanor" or "Lady-O" for further proof of the sweetness of Kaylan's voice. 

The album opens with a classic, soaring vocal in the driving "If We Only Had The Time."  Long-time fans will be pleased, but this definitely not poppy Turtle soup.  A stinging electric lead guitar and a thumping horn chart throws this more into a rock vibe.  There's even a cliched organ swell thrown in for good measure. 

Ray Davies produced The Turtles, so the guys repay him by offering a rendition of "Days."  Davies is one of the greatest rock writers, so nothing has be really said about the song itself.  There's a big, echoey production that might put the tune into Phil Spector/Brian Wilson territory.  It's big.

So, if you've been waiting for a classic Turtle thing, "You're A Lady" would have fit right in with that material.  You could have easily stuck it onto one of those later albums.  Short and sweet.

Next is the inessential "Original Sountrack from 'Carlos and de Bull.'"  Perhaps this was included to play into their association with Zappa or maybe it's because Flo & Eddie are funny?  Needless to say, it's a narrative about a matador with a generic Spanish chorus and melody.  It's confusing, but at least it's not too long.

We get back to the big rocking with a cover of The Small Faces' "Afterglow."  While these guys are certainly capable singers, they lack the grit and substance of Steve Marriott.  A little too reserved for a song that requires a fair amount of soul.  It's still a worthy cover of a fantastic song.

A wacky doo wop follows with a cover of "Best Part of Breaking Up."  The guys are showing their early influences and giving it their own twist.  It's a little silly for my ears, but it segways into...

..."Sanzini Brothers."  If you're a fan of The Mothers' "Billy The Mountain," then you'll probably love this.  If you're a fan of music, then it will not matter.  Again, at least it's not overly long.

A scream kicks off the commentary of "Another Pop Star's Life."  Think if Todd Rundgren had written "Money for Nothing" instead of Mark Knopfler.  It's a driving rock number with a heavy backbeat and a wash of more big production.

"Just Another Town" is almost out of place.  Starting out with an acoustic strum, you might mistake it for a Neil Young song.  It's a "life-on-the-road" lyric coupled with a breezy tune.

So, now we get the fully orchestrated epic "Marmendy Hill."  Of course, everything about an epic is in the build up.  This one is no exception.  Sounding like a motion picture score at first, the drums and guitars finally kick in for little piece of pop.  It's bombastic and appropriately dramatic, but it's a little overreaching.  The results aren't quite as rewarding as the build up.  This sounds like it could have been leftover from a rock opera they were working on, but never completed.  There's even some Roger Daltrey screams!

It's not a terrible record, but it never quite makes its point.  Side One is pretty concise, but Side Two just wanders all over the stylistic playground.  After seeking these records out, they are finally available again, but you'd do better to start elsewhere.


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