Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Love, Luck N' Lollipops - The Bells
Love, Luck N' Lollipops
Polydor PD 5503
The third album by the Canadian pop group, the Bells. I'm a little embarrassed by my fondness for the Bells, I can't even explain why I like them so much. I do have a thing for Canada, I sometimes think I must have been switched with a Canadian baby at birth: I like cold weather, maple syrup, hockey, bacon and above all Canadian pop groups. Like most Americans I first encountered the Bells via their hit single "Stay Awhile" when I was a kid. I thought that Jackie Ralph had the sexiest voice and that song really sent me. Many years later I came across their second album "Fly Little White Dove" and jumped on it. It is a really good record and I thought I had all the Bells music that I needed until I came across this at a flea market. Despite the cheesy album cover, I decided to get it and I have no regrets, but I'm not all that impressed by it either. I could make a claim that their second album was sunshine pop, but this is basically soft-rock. It is dominated by cover songs and their choice of covers is pretty spotty. Mac Davis' "Half N' Half" is basically bubblegum and as annoying as most of Davis' songs. They do a medley of Kris Kristofferson songs as well. Kristofferson was an infinitely superior songwriter to Davis and an infinitely worse singer than the Bells so the medley should be worthwhile but I think it is too pretty. This music sounds better with a little roughness. Their cover of John Sebastian's "She's A Lady" is typically lovely but adds nothing to the original. I dislike their slow version of Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound" which I find totally lifeless. The only cover I have much use for is their version of Phil Spector's "To Know You Is To Love You" which they deliver in a surprisingly gritty version. It is still sappy, but it has a rock feeling to it. Instead of all these dull covers, I wish there were more songs like "Gifts" and "Lady Dawn" which play more to the band's strengths. They are gentle, quiet songs made memorable through the group's sweet vocals. "Lady Dawn" was the single off the album. It was a stiff, but more because of its lack of commercial appeal than its lack of quality. The leader of the Bells, Cliff Edwards, came up with the best song on the record, "Easier Said Than Done" which sounds a bit like latter day Paul Revere and the Raiders although the instrumentation is softer, I could do without the strings and brass. Ex-Bell Frank Mills contributed two songs to the record. "Sweet Sounds of Music" is given an oddly funky treatment, I don't think it works but it is does vary the record's texture a bit. "For Better For Worse" is more successful, it has a more convincing rock flavor and is one of the more appealing songs on the album. I can't really say this is a good record, but it has its virtues and if you have a taste for soft-rock you probably will find it enjoyable. Recommended for people who prefer the Carpenters to the Cowsills.