25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
She wanted someone else that I couldn't be...,
This review is from: Around Grapefruit (Audio CD)
One of the greatest crimes in the history of man is that this album and the band that made it are so unheard of. They formed in 1967 and were signed to the Beatles' Apple label, and were dubbed "Grapefruit" by John Lennon. The chief songwriter was a Scotsman called George Alexander Young, who came from a very musical family (brother George was in The Easybeats, and brothers Angus and Malcolm were in AC/DC!). George Alexander was an incredibly gifted songwriter, his songs are very whistful and romantic. Around Grapefruit is psychedelic/baroque pop at its finest. The production (by Terry Melcher) is incredible, with mellotrons, flutes, organ, phashing, weird sound effects and full, rich harmonies galore! What more could you ask for?
Another Game starts us off, an upbeat bass heavy song with some exquisite flute sections and an excellent chorus. The highlight of the song is the bridge which hints towards some of the other songs to come, with its whistful vibe and melancholy lyrics; "Living in a cave can be so lonely...". Excellent start to the album, great vocal effects too!
Yesterday's Sunshine follows on very well from Another game. Its got the same melancholy feel to it, and the flutes at the start tie the two songs together well. There are some amazing background vocals on it too, they have some strange effect on them that makes them sound like they are underwater or something, very trippy! The lyrics are very poetic and again a touch melancholy. It's just so damn well written, I love the chord changes during the last half a minute of the song, very emotive! What a track!
Elevator comes next, its not one of my favourites on the album but its still a very good psych pop song. It was released as a single from the album. It is much more upbeat and poppy than the first couple of songs, and it lacks their lush orchestral feel. There are some interesting effects on the song too, I cant work out if they are guitars or what they are! The next song is called Yes, and it is similar to Elevator, another upbeat poppy effort. It in fact was released with Elevator as a double a side. I much prefer Yes, but it again lacks the sort of production given to other tracks on the album. Definately worth a listen though! I love the bass playing in it. Sounds vaguely like Honeybus to me actually.
The next song is a bit odd, its a cover of The Four Seasons song C'mon Marianne. It was actually released as a single and was a small hit in the UK. I personally love it to bits! Its amazing. It contains some of the best harmonies on the album, and the addition of a brass section works so well (a bit like Touch Me by The Doors). Its such a great sing along song too. Man I love it, its swingin', thats the word for it. Swingin'. And the high pitched oo's at the end, how does he do it? I have wrecked my voice so many times singing along to that in the car.
Another great song follows up, taking the album back into the territory of the first couple of tracks. It is the beautiful dreamlike Lullaby. Its a very delicate song (as you would expect), with beautiful vocals and subtle but extremely effective orchestration, including oboe and flute. The oboe parts work very well, oboes and 60s pop go very well together it seems (check out I Can't Let Maggie Go!). This is quintessential British Psychedelic pop, it sounds quite like a Paul McCartney tune at times (I believe this was the song that got The Beatles interested in them in the first place!).
The next song is to me a very special song. I would say that it is one of my favourite songs, certainly one of the best songs to come out of late 60s britain, but maybe thats just a personal opinion because I don't think that it's even widely acknowledged to be one of the best songs on the album! But anyway, it's called Round Going Round, and it alone is worth the price of the album! It starts you slow with some great bass and Harpsichord, then takes you on a swirling psychedelic journey! Round going Round is a perfect title for it, because throughout it you just feel like you are spinning! Its a very upbeat, joyous song, it ALWAYS cheers me up when I listen to it. I think the lyrics are beautiful, its essentially a love song mixed in with some trippy, dreamlike lyrics, a winning combination it seems:
Round Going Round in a multicoloured haze
Now I can fly round the world, I can see the milky way
And the cold December turns to early May
For she promised all her loving for tomorrow today
The melody is perfect, the harmonies are perfect, the production is perfect, and the best surprise comes in at the end of the song when everything just drops out and it all comes crashing back to reality. Please listen to this song!
Im sure after listening to this for the first time I was in a state of shock after Round Going Round, but that wasn't enough for old George Alexander! Oh no, he had to once again blow us away, this time with Dear Delilah, their most famous song, and a top 20 hit back in 1968. Why it wasn't a top 10 hit I will never know! It starts off in a hauntingly beautiful fashion with just voice and a churchy organ. I love the way this song alternates between the melancholy/whistful verse with is lyrics of lost love and heatbreaking string backing, and the uptempo singalong chorus complete with phased drums (a-la The Small Faces). Just after the chorus there is a really beautiful sort of bridge with a gorgeous melody which one of the highlights of this track (and album), complete with sorrowful lyrics "she wanted someone else that I couldn't be". Then there's another round of the chorus, and THEN theres this little woodwind interlude (which reminds me of the hobbit, strangely) which just comes out of nowhere but is so fitting and it just adds so much to the song. Anyway, words cannot express how beautiful this song is, its just a very special song.
Following up Dear Delilah was no easy task, but George again rises to the challenge with the flute and strings driven This Little Man. Another hauntingly beautiful track, with a very fragile and delicate feel. Once again the oboe is prominent, with a very well realised oboe solo! The lyrics are amongst the best on the album too; "it's not easily seen that the heart of a man/ in a world without love can be cruel". This gentle song almost reaches Dear Delilah territory but falls just short. I very much love it though.
Ain't It Good comes next, another great track, quite rocky compared to the rest of the album. It's quite quitar heavy, but it again has its moments of beauty, especially the bridge when the flute makes a welcome return. This song is follwed by the unusual "Theme For Twiggy". It's an instrumental track consisting of a wah wah guitar playing a melody over mellotron and harpsichord. It's a very relaxed song, but I get the feeling when listening to it that it's the backing track to a song that vocals were never added too. It could possibly have been great with vocals given the standard of the songwriting elsewhere on the album. As it stands it is quite a haunting track, very mellow, and somewhat pretty.
The album closes with another haunting song, Someday. It's another lovely song, up there with This Little Man. Its got quite an ethereal quality, possibly due to the reverb effects on the vocals. There is quite a surprising saxophone break towards the end. Really, theres not much too the song, but I do think its quite a majestic way to end the album...... That is unless you have the extra track Dead Boot, which was the B side of Dear Delilah. An odd song about an unwanted item of footwear (although its actually probably a metaphor or something...). Its not at all a bad song, but not up to the standards of some of the rest of the album.
So there you have it! That is Around Grapefruit. Unfortunately after this the band veered away from pop and moved into more rocky territory with their next album Deep Water, and they lost a lot of their appeal. The band then split up in 1969. They did leave behind some excellent BBC sessions which I may review at some point though! Around Grapefruit is (in my humble opinion) a masterpiece in its genre, and one of the most essential pieces of 60s pop that Britain produced, and definately in my top 5 favourite albums. It is criminally under-appreciated, and if you enjoy The Beatles, Tomorrow, Kaleidoscope, The Hollies, The Zombies, The Beach Boys, you MUST go and get this album.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Dec 2009 22:09:16 GMT
A. R. Bird says:
Couldn't agree more. The album is fantastic, a real lost masterpiece.
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Feb 2010 13:49:30 GMT
Mister Kite says:
Great review - encouraged me to buy this album. Agree with you about the oboe's place in British sixties pop - check out Something Better by Marianne Faithful, and also Handbags and Gladrags, by Rod Stewart. The oboe adds a very British melancholy sound. I think it was also used in the theme for the Likely Lads, which I am still searching for on CD!
In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2011 21:56:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2011 21:58:59 BDT
I still have a single of "Elevator" and "Yes" - I thought those were both excellent tracks. Perhaps I will get this album to see if I like the rest! Thanks for the steer on this one.
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