Monday, May 6, 2013

The Astral Projection - The Astral Scene (1968 us, lovely, delicate baroque psych pop, Gear Fab edition)

 Bernice Ross and Lor Crane had enjoyed some mid-1960s successes as songwriters (Danny White's "White On White") and as producers.  Crane produced several of Chad and Jeremy's hit singles and albums.  1968 saw the pair dipping their creative toes into psych via the studio project The Astral Projection.  Musically "The Astral Scene" is an oddity falling somewhere between Curt Boetcher-styled sunshine pop, Association-styled top-40 and Animated Egg styled exploito.
Ross and Crane wrote all of the material but it was performed by an all star cast of sessions players including guitarists Al Gorgoni and Hugh McCrackin. Thematically tracks such as 'The Sunshine Seekers' and 'Plant Your Seeds' were highly orchestrated tying together as a full-fledged concept piece.  If you waded through the extensive back panel liner notes by Barbara Christensen, the plot line had something to do with the concept of escaping the physical body to experience spiritual embodiment. 
Certainly something many of us ponder day in and day out ...  In spite of the goofy titles and lyrics ('Today, I saw The Sunrise') and the fact the arrangements were full of rather spacey instrumentation, virtually of the songs were quite commercial. It's easy to imagine stuff like '(Mind Flight) ... Overture The Airways Of Imagination' or 'The Happening People' having been adopted for some sort of 1960s television theme song.  

This has absolutely nothing to do with the music, but the album's also kind of interesting in that it carries a dedication to 'Oric Bovar'.  Bovar's best known as a guru who attracted a following in Broadway circles.  Folks such as Carol Burnett, Marsha Mason, Bernadette Peters and Neil Simon fell under his spell and helped him to become quite popular for a short period of time. 
Originally renowned for generating accurate astrological charts and prescribing medications that could provide one with inner peace, Bovar was actually a nut case.  Convinced he was Jesus Christ, he instructed his followers to start celebrating Christmas on August 29th (his birthday).  He started arranging marriages between followers, mandated strict diets for them and forbade extramarital sex among his followers.  Bovar also attracted attention in the Fall of 1976 when he tried to resurrect the body of a 29 year old disciple who had died of cancer. 
Nothing wrong being positive, but Bovar and a couple of followers spent two months chanting over the decomposing body in a New York apartment.  Someone finally called the cops and he was arrested for violating city health ordnances.  In April 1977, a couple of hours before he was to appear in court Bovar decided he would jump of of a 10th floor window with the intention of appearing in court cloaked in resurrected glory.  Needless to say Bovar missed his court appointment.

1. (Astral Projection ... Leaving The Body) Overture / The Sunshine Seekers - 3:00
2. Plant Your Seed - 2:48
3. (Mind Flight) ... Overture The Airways Of Imagination - 3:23
4. The Happening People - 3:15
5. Accordion Pleated Mind - 2:32
1. (Astral Exploration) ... Oveture Dreams, Shadows And Illusions - 3:09
2. Whatta We Gotta Lose - 2:56
3. Something To Believe In - 2:47
4. Today, I Saw The Sunrise - 2:11
5. (Spiral Interiorization)...Overture - The Astral Scene - 4:07
All compositions by Berncie Ross and Lor Crane

*Syemour Barab - Cello
*Eugene Bianco - Harp
*Jay Berliner - Guitar
*Seymour Berman - Viola
*Lor Crane - Percussion
*Al Gorgioni - Rhythm Guitar
*Louis Haber - Violin
*Harold Keinz - Woodwinds
*Harry Lookfsky - Violin
*Hugh Mccracken - Lead Guitar
*Joseph Macho Jr. - Bass
*Boris Mnidney - Clarinet
*Dominick Mobardo - Trombone
*Joseph Newman - Trumpet
*Frank Owens - Keyboards
*Alan Raph - Bass Trombone
*David Sackson - Viola
*Buddy Saltzman - Drums
*James Sedlar - Trumpet
*Irving Spice - Violin

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Tom Rush - The Circle Game (1968 us, beautiful orchestrated folk)

 A candid and charming collection of songs that glisten as beautifully as a clear mountain stream. Singer/songwriter/poet Tom Rush had a wonderful idea in mind for a concept album, working with music business greats Arthur Gorson and Paul Harris to blend the best of the time period's songwriters.

The effort results in a splendid achievement of emotionally and lyrically gripping material. Taking advantage of his resonant tenor voice and the majestic talents of a stirring crew of musicians, Rush performs wistful and ethereal versions of some of his favorite songs. Material selected includes deeply lyrical tunes such as Joni Mitchell's "Tin Angel" and "Urge for Going," and romantic songs like James Taylor's "Something in the Way She Moves."

The album, titled The Circle Game, features Mitchell's radio hit single of the same name. Certainly during the '70s this album was marketed well and fared with great success among the listening public, inviting Rush into an elite group of solo singer/songwriters of the decade.

Just to prove to the world that he is no fluke himself when it comes to arranging and composing, Rush succeeds with two beautifully crafted works of his own, masterfully woven and spun on the acoustic guitar, along with an endearing work of lush production featuring the brilliant efforts of conductor Paul Harris and orchestra.

A must-listen for those who are sincerely curious and are seeking a good singer/songwriter talent from this period.
by Shawn M. Haney
1. Tin Angel (Joni Mitchell) - 3:22
2. Something In The Way She Moves (James Taylor) - 3:25
3. Urge For Going (Joni Mitchell) - 5:50
4. Sunshine, Sunshine (James Taylor) - 2:55
5. The Glory Of Love (Billy Hill) - 2:22
6. Shadow Dream Song (Jackson Browne) - 3:24
7. The Circle Game (Joni Mitchell) - 5:12
8. So Long (Charlie Rich) - 2:55
9. Rockport Sunday (Tom Rush) - 4:34
10.No Regrets (Tom Rush) - 3:50

*Tom Rush - Guitar, Vocals
*Hugh Mccracken - Electric Guitar, Keyboards
*Don Thomas - Electric Guitar, Keyboards
*Jonathan Raskin - Acoustic Guitar, Bass
*Bruce Langhorne - Acoustic Guitar
*Eric Gale - Electric Guitar
*Joe Grimm - Saxophone
*Joe Mack - Saxophone
*Bob Bushnell - Saxophone
*Paul Harris - Keyboards, Orchestra Conducted
*Buddy Lucas - Saxophone
*Herb Lovelle - Drums
*Bernard Purdie - Drums
*Richie Ritz - Drums

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