Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Hello People - Fusion (1968 us, sensational sunny baroque psych, 2013 remaster)

Late-'60s concept band Hello People was put together by New York producer Lew Futterman. Basing his concept on French mime films, Futterman assembled a group of Ohio musicians to make up the group, dressed in full face paint and performing wordless mime routines between their songs during their live sets. The first lineup of the band consisted of guitarist and singer W.S. Tongue, bassist Greg Geddes, keyboardist Larry Tasse, drummer Ronnie Blake, guitarist Bobby Sedita, and flute player Michael Sagarese. Taking on stage names like "Goodfellow" and "Much More," the band was born and recorded its debut, self-titled album in 1967. 

The Hello People were one of the more interesting also-rans of their day, never really scoring a hit record but turning heads for a moment with their gimmicky mime motif, dressing in full face paint and performing wordless skits between songs while performing. A convoluted back story and one best ignored when examining Fusion, the second of eight LPs produced in the group's lifetime, and arguably their brightest moment. 

More or less the creation of New York producer Lew Futterman, the band reached out in several directions at once to cash in on various musical trends at the inception of their Summer of Love. Watching mimes tune in, turn on, and drop out may have been a little harder to swallow at the time, but with decades of hindsight, the various attempts at counterculture significance on Fusion are pleasantly comical, surprisingly inspired, and often weirdly deep. Beginning with the moody, Baroque pop of "White Winged Doves," the album switches gears with almost every song. 

The Free Design-esque flutes and social commentary of "Anthem" are bizarrely mismatched, and abruptly fade into the proto-prog horns of the instrumental "Jelly Jam," and then into the electric Dylan rip-off of "How Does It Feel to Be Free?" Beatles-via-the-Monkees pop, psychedelic folk, and rootsy road ballads round out the album's diverse ten songs, bringing together a vaguely conceptual album about fusing ideas and styles from a vaguely conceptual band. Buffered by nostalgia, the ten completely processed stabs at appropriating styles of the day hold some weight and feel enjoyably odd as tuneful reminders of strange days past. 
by Fred Thomas
1. White Winged Doves (Peter Weston) - 4:11
2. Anthem (W. S. Tongue) - 4:01
3. Jelly Jam (Bobby Sedita, Greg Geddes, Larry Tasse, Michael Sagarese) - 4:00
4. If I Should Sing Too Softly (W. S. Tongue) - 3:16
5. How Does It Feel To Be Free (W. S. Tongue) - 3:41
6. Pray For Rain (Peter Weston) - 2:53
7. A Dream Of Tomorrow (Peter Weston) - 4:18
8. Everything's Better (Bobby Sedita, Larry Tasse, W. S. Tongue) - 3:17
9. Come And See Me (W. S. Tongue) - 6:38
10.I Ride To Nowhere (Peter Weston) - 3:06

The Hello People
*W. S. "Sonny" Tongue "Country" - Vocal, Guitar
*Greg Geddes "Smoothie" - Bass, Vocal
*Bobby Sedita "Goodfellow" - Guitar, Vocal
*Larry Tasse "Much More" - Keyboards, Vocal
*Michael Sagarese "Wry One" - Flute
*Ronnie Blake "Thump Thump" - Drums

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