on 5 May 2014
This is another excellent reissue from the superb Now Sounds record label. The Cryan' Shames were a mid-late '60's Chicago based pop-rock combo who were big in their locale but were never able to expand that popularity countrywide. They moved with the times and when things went paisley during the '67 summer of love they duly went psych(-ish) whilst keeping a pop focus.
The best tracks here are those with a strong relatively 'hard psych' sound like "Mr. Unreliable" (with overtones of The Beatles 'Rain'), The Sailing Ship (with lashings of backwards guitar and bagpipes!?!), The Town I'd Like To Go Back To (with a very cool extended raga-ish fade-out), Sunshine Psalm (which rips off significant bits of The Byrds 'I See You' but just about gets away with it...), and Dennis Dupree From Danville (with more strong Beatle-esque 'Revolver' overtones).
The remaining tracks are much more Sunshine pop focussed and therefore a bit of a mixed bag - the better ones ('The Warm', 'It Could Be We're In Love', 'I Was Lonely When', 'In The Cafe') mine an Association / Lovin' Spoonful vibe without quite reaching the level of their inspirations. The poorer Sunshine tracks; 'Up On The Roof', 'A Carol For Lorelei' & 'Young Birds Fly' fall prey to being too twee and saccharine, sounding more like late-60's airline commericals with a similarly toe-curling effect.
The propensity of bonus tracks include a few non-LP singles; some good, some less so and single versions of LP tracks which frankly don't add much since they are mono and as the album versions are also mono any differences are negligible. Consequently there is about 35 minutes of good listening and about 10 of take it or leave it stuff and another 10 of repetition (the single versions of LP tracks).
As ever with Now Sounds the packaging and liners are superlative and so I think four stars is a fair mark even though on purely music terms I'd have probably erred towards 3.5 stars just for those 3-4 songs that were too "saccharine" for my tastes.
on 22 October 2014
I'm surprised it took me so long to discover this abum, maybe because I've seldom seen it mentioned on peoples' lists of favourite psych albums. I haven't heard it in stereo - but this mono version has been mastered fantastically, demonstrating the Shames' skill to full effect. What you find here are great psychedelic melodies, a dreamy atmosphere and overall a captivating album if you like the psych genre. It sounds like a lot of effort was put into this and they were aiming high. It might have missed the target with many at the time, but it's nice to see it belatedly getting some of the praise it deserves. Written off by some as one-hit wonders with Sugar And Spice, by this album they'd progressed to the point where any of the tracks on here easily surpass the track for which they are most famous.