Saturday, August 24, 2019

Batteaux - Batteaux (1973 us, excellent free soul aqua space groover, 2002 japan remaster)

A notoriously jaw-dropping folk-funk classic, long treasured by the Balearic fraternity, the self-titled LP from the brothers Batteau nevertheless remains a criminally underheard gem. Appealing to fans stuck on Ned Doheny's scorching blue-eyed soul as well as Gene Clark's rich country-rock, it's an honour to present the reissue of this undoubted masterpiece of proto-Yacht-Rock.

Like a forgotten piece of baroque folk caught in 1973, Batteaux's eponymous album somehow sounds magically timeless. A full 45 years after the fact, it remains a mystery as to why they weren't better known. The lush production and virtuoso playing conforms with the ruling aesthetic of the time - well-crafted, melodic songs performed with precision and balance - whilst the shimmering AOR atmosphere and sun-dappled vocal washes align neatly with the best Crosby, Stills & Nash records.

Throughout, the beautifully penned tracks hold traces of Jimmie Spheeris, America and Seals & Crofts. The immaculately orchestrated percussion and additional instrumentation (electric piano and fiddle to name a few) are performed by perennially celebrated West-Coast cats including Tom Scott, John Guerin and Andy Newmark.

It's no surprise that the heavenly "High Tide" is such a Balearic touchstone. A free soul aqua-space groover, its sophisticated rhythms predict the swing of CSN's canonical "Dark Star" by a full four years. An alternative measure of its enduring magnificence can be gauged by MF Doom sampling Paul Horn's wonderful version, subsequently used by Ghostface Killah.

The highlights are many and memorable. Gorgeous opener "Tell Her She's Lovely" is the perfect example of the addictive, melody-driven songwriting which really should have earned them stardom. Moody ballad "Living's Worth Loving" is nothing short of heartbreaking whilst the chugging elegance of "Wake Me In The Morning" showcases their bewitching harmonies. The hypnotic yearning of "Lady Of The Lake" is an exquisitely string-drenched, piano-laced favourite that achieves a peculiar strutting-funk. It's that good.

This lovingly curated reissue enables a long overdue reappraisal of the hitherto buried genius of Batteaux. The serene aqua artwork which their father worked on a dolphin-human communication project in Hawaii, hence the infamous design.
1. Tell Her She's Lovely (David Batteau) - 2:38
2. Living's Worth Loving (David Batteau) - 3:13
3. Wake Me In The Morning (Robin Batteau) - 2:42
4. Mirror (David Batteau) - 2:58
5. Joe Arnold (David Batteau) - 3:15
6. Dig Up The Love (David Batteau) - 2:50
7. Katy (Robin Batteau) - 2:00
8. Lady Of The Lake (David Batteau, Henry Lewy, Stuart Alan Love) - 2:23
9. Treat Me Right, Treat Me Wrong (Robin Batteau) - 2:47
10.High Tide (David Batteau) - 3:51
11.Wishing My Father (Robin Batteau) - 1:15
12.Maybe I'll Run Away (David Batteau) - 2:59

*Robin Batteau - Lead Vocals, Violin, Guitar
*David Batteau - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Melodica, Cello
*Doug McClaran - Keyboards
*Peter Freiberger - Bass
*Andy Newmark - Drums
*John Guerin - Drums
*Tom Scott - Flute
*Milt Holland - Percussion
*Jackie Ward, Robin Lane, Sally Stevens, Shelby Flint - Backing Vocals

1970  Compton And Batteau - In California (2017 remaster)

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