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on 5 April 2012
Brewer & Shipley mean nothing in the UK and little more in the US having had only one hit over the pond in the early 70's ('One Toke Over The Line') however they did produce some excellent music in their time in a folk-rock / soft-rock vein. Their most renowned albums ('Weeds' & 'Tarkio') were reissued by the now defunct Collectors Choice Music a few years ago and I thought they made good listening with strong playing and superb harmonies but were occasionally let down by slightly weak, sentimental songwriting. It is therefore a pleasant surprise to see this reissue of B&S' '68 debut album from the estimable Now Sounds label and it turns out to be better listening than either of the B&S albums mentioned above with better songwriting (plenty of minor key folk-rock with occasional psych tinges) and playing from members of the legendary 'Wrecking Crew'. None of the songs are widely known apart from perhaps 'Keeper of The Keys' which was covered (well) by the psych combo; "H.P. Lovecraft" but all the songs are good to excellent with haunting melodies with arrangements primarily based around acoustic guitar (which they wisely stuck to throughout their career since this sound has aged well; think "Kings Of Convenience" and the like from the noughties).

In conclusion a very worthy reissue of some fine music and a welcome return to form from Now Sounds after their recent unwise detour into 'marshmallow-pop' by reissuing the first Harpers Bizarre albums which haven't dated nearly as well as the album reviewed here.
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on 18 October 2012
I was happily surprised to find this album existed after all. After years of looking through bins and record fairs, I had long given up and even doubted the record really existed. Now I found it did, and the reason I could not find it was that it was not distributed worldwide.

Very often, with long lost treasures recovered and long sought after items, finally uncovering it brings greater pleasure than actually listening to it. The music sounds dated and is easily surpassed by later recordings. However, this does NOT hold for this record. Since I own all Brewer and Shipley records, I think I am able to compare the music. The music on this CD brings out a fully flowered duo, not just an early promise. Sure, it may contain some naïvity following from a shortage in life defining events, but this only increases its charm. I would recommend this record to all Brewer and Shipley fans, and Simon and Garfunkel fans, and serious singer songwriter fans of today. Nice instrumentation and good harmonies over good songwriting, this is a classic.
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on 3 July 2012
I only knew B & S from 'one toke over the line' but this was a genuine surprise. it does reek of its times - late 60's early 70's - but the lyrics are very interesting and the title track itself is actually about being depressed in California, not the usual trite stuff you might expect. sometimes the music isn't as startling as you want it to be but I was more than pleasantly surprised by this and recommend it.
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on 6 December 2012
Brewer and Shipley were new to me, and only just recently I got their second and third albums, which I thought were both excellent late 60s West Coast rock. Next I got this one, and I think I like it even more. Great hooks, melodies and guitar playing, and very memorable songs. Fans of this genre who haven't heard the album yet are in for a treat.
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on 2 December 2012
This is an absolute gem. Their very, very best album. Beautiful harmonies and incredible musicianship from some of the best session musicians around at the time. If you buy one Brewer And Shipley album this is the one. A classic.
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on 11 October 2013
This is a decent album, worth it alone for me with a more mellow version of "Keeper of the keys". I'd previously only heard the psych version by the great H.P.Lovecraft. The second half of the album is strong, the rest still growing on me.
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Brewer and Shipley were a close-knit US Folk-Rock duo who achieved some notoriety, and indeed, commercial success with their US hit, 'One Toke Over The Line', much loved by hippies and the counter-culture of the time. 'Down In LA' was their debut, recorded for A&M Records, and very fine it is too. Utilising session musicians including the likes of Jim Messina, Jim Gordon, Hal Blaine and others, Brewer and Shipley put together a fine set of songs, broadly similar in feel to that of the Buffalo Springfield. Their close-harmony, very melodic style is at times almost transcendentally gorgeous, and their lyricism occasionally oblique, but always thoughtful and engaging. I am amazed that this album has not been reissued before - it's a bit of a lost treasure. Once you get away from the bigger acts of that era - Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, etc, there's some wonderful music to be discovered, acts that never got their commercial due - The Merry-Go-Round Listen Listen are one such, for example - and this album is another. It's a real breath of fresh air, nicely remastered and comes with a good sleeve note. Highly recommended.
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