Sunday, July 7, 2013

Neon - The Cyrkle

The Cyrkle
Columbia CS 9432

As a younger person, I was a fan of the Cyrkle's debut album which features their two hit singles, "Red Rubber Ball" and "Turn Down Day."  I still like it, although it is a bit too sugary for my taste nowadays.  This is their second album which is less sugary although it doesn't stray too far from the folk-rock/sunshine pop of their debut.  It flopped when it came out and when I first got into record collecting I often used to see cut-out copies of this in the bins so obviously nobody wanted it, but I think it has its merits.  The only song I really dislike is "Problem Child" which sounds like something you'd hear in a Broadway musical or music hall.  It was written by Toni Wine and Carole Bayer who would later become famous as Carole Bayer Sager and write a bunch more songs that I don't like either.  My favorite song is "Don't Cry, No Fears, No Tears Comin' Your Way" which is a hard driving folk-rocker with mildly psychedelic overtones (including a sitar) written by band members Tom Dawes (guitar/bass/sitar) and Don Dannemann (guitar.)  Dawes and Dannemann also wrote the jangly "Our Love Affair's in Question" which is nearly as good and "Weight of Your Words" which is pedestrian folk-rock.  Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley (of the Seekers) wrote "Red Rubber Ball" and offer "I Wish You Could Be Here" this time around.  It was a flop single for the band and it is easy to see why it tanked.  It is too low-key to make much impact on the radio, but I like it a lot, it is melodic and has that collegiate earnestness characteristic of Paul Simon's early work.  Susan Haber wrote the other single on the album (also a flop), the bouncy chamber pop flavored "Please Don't Ever Leave Me."  It recalls the sugariness of their debut album.  Chip Taylor's "I'm Not Sure What I Wanna Do" is also in a sunshine pop vein, it reminds me of the Monkees.  Fans of the Cyrkle's debut album will probably like these two songs the most.  The rest of the album is mostly filler.  There is a cover of Ricky Nelson's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  I like the upbeat poppiness of this arrangement, I never would have guessed it was a Bacharach/David song hearing the Cyrkle's version which I prefer to Nelson's.  Their sitar-driven chamber pop cover of the Beatles' "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You" isn't nearly as successful.  It sounds awkward and pretentious to me although there is no denying that it is unusual.  "Two Rooms" by the band's drummer, Marty Fried and "The Visit (She Was Here)" written by Bodie Chandler and Edward McKendry are soft rock akin to the Association.  They bore me.  Despite its flaws, I find this album's blend of folk-rock and sunshine pop to be appealing and I think fans of either genre will find stuff to appreciate here.  Recommended to fans of the Sunshine Company. 

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