Yet another useless comp - press 'back' now for the real dea
J P Ryan | Waltham, Massachusetts United States | 03/01/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First, for Collectables to call this unforgiveably skimpy (10 songs) collection "Crimson and Clover" is deceptive since that is the title of one of TJ & the Shondells' best known studio albums (from 1969, it reached the top 10 in "Billboard" and spent 35 weeks on the album chart), one that is still available on a Rhino two-fer CD, paired with the underrated followup "Cellophane Symphony." These are two of the group's best albums, and Rhino's "Crimson & Clover/Cellophane Symphony" is packed with 20 somgs, hits like 'Crimson & Clover' (in its long version), 'Do Something To Me', 'Crystal Blue Persuasion', 'Sugar On Sunday' (actually never released as a single, but a smash that same year thanks to the Clique's cover version - which can be found on that band's solid 1998 Verese Sarabande comp, along with both sides of a 1970 single Tommy James produced for them), along with tracks that could have been hits. "Crimson" is both psych and pop, with strong melodies and infectious upetempo grooves. Despite the bubblegum image, James was atb his peak, experimenting with a wide range of styles both in terms of material and production, usually successfully, yet with his pop instincts intact, hence the long string of hit singles.
The followup album is even more adventurous. "Cellophane's" nine-and-a-half minute moog-dominated title track is throbbing and hypnotic, a trippy instrumental that would have listeners calling to find out who that last band was were it played on some college radio's adventurous '60s show, and several other tracks on the same (largely forgotton) album are equally remarkable - haunting, soulful, well performed and (self-) produced. 'Evergreen', 'Loved One', and 'Love Of A Woman' are reminiscent (and worthy) of Brian Wilson's best work from the same period; 'Changes' is a slow, soulful simmering groove with fascinating textural details and a superb melody. "Sweet Cherry Wine", the gospel/psych top 10 hit is also included. Together, the two albums on the Rhino set are marred by perhaps 3 weak tracks (the 'comedic' ones, which are predictably flat and dated). For a "lightweight" singles oriented band, not bad.
The group's next and final album, "Travelin'" (1970) is an strong and enjoyable (if sometimes derivative, in a good way) set that returns to a more straightforward and rocking approach - I used to see scores of the original vinyl gatefold album for 99 cents in used record stores.
If you want a good career overview, the recent "Definitive Collection" (2 CDs with 30 tracks, all the hits from 1966 to '71 or so) is pretty inexpensive and likely (I just ordered mine) worthwhile for the new remastering job. In any case, forget this shabby, very brief collection (marred, of course, by the label's predictably mediocre mastering) that serves no good purpose and is another example of the Collectables label's indifference to the music it reissues."
A bit disappointing
John-music sampler | here & there | 06/08/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although Amazom lists this has having the long version, the CD I received has the short version of Crimson & Clover. The last five songs are live rather than the studio versions I was looking for. I think it's back to the drawing board for me. This is a fine, short best of CD, but I would recommend another compilation."