Primarily John Fred and the Playboy Band is remembered for a lone #1 hit, "Judy in Disguise with Glasses," but completely skews the memory of the kind of music they did. John Fred had an absolutely first rate soul voice, and he was completely capable of wailing with the best of them. He was superb at up tempo pop, slow and wailing laments, and gritty rock, and on top of all that was a very gifted songwriter. The band itself was highly competent and could produce a remarkably wide range of sounds. The arrangements, however, are often fascinating. Although employing the full panoply of 1960s musical gimmicks, the music has aged exceedingly well. Instrumentally, they use absolutely everything, from guitars to organ to horns to all the unusual and unexpected instruments they tried in the wake of the Beatles' experimentation.
This is just flat out great rock by a performer who was never as well as he ought to have been. The great songs just keep coming and coming, from the great "Judy in Disguise" that starts the disc to "Agnes English" (from the eponymously named album) to the upbeat "Can't I Get (A Word In)" to the Animals-like "Outta My Head" or the great "She Shot a Hole in My Soul," with its great horn arrangements. And although "Judy in Disguise" was their lone huge hit, I can honestly say that "Up and Down" is very nearly as good, with amazingly good vocals by Mr. Fred. The review below that stated that the album contains only one great song is utterly nutzoid.
I won't guarantee that anyone will enjoy every cut on this album, but I can absolutely assert that anyone who loves great pop soul will find plenty of good or great songs. If you want to hear some great but sadly neglected music, most of which will be completely fresh to you, give this sucker a shot.