As I’ve mentioned already, I love the Red Telephone 66 blog. A finer source of late ‘60s psych pop I have not yet found (mind you, that could be because I’ve not really looked). That said, I admit that I do normally ignore anything on there that was released later than 1969. Yes, I know there were some fine records released in the early 1970s, it’s just that I’ve yet to discover very many. I’m exaggerating of course, but still… it certainly seems to me to be a period of diminishing returns. For me, at least. I’m sure if I adored prog rock I’d feel differently, but whatever. You just don’t find many soft pop or bubblegum classics from 1973.
Having said that, I did take a stab at the eponymous Gunhill Road set from 1973 and discovered a real gem. The record was most famous for the inclusion of the re-recorded ‘Back When My Hair Was Short’; a kind of comedy number about growing up. I reckon it would have been kinda cool in an episode of Freaks & Geeks. The first, 1972, recording has edgier lyrics with drug references, and is also well worth hearing. That number really does stick out on the album as an oddity. A cute oddity, sure, but an oddity nonetheless. When I heard it I immediately thought of They Might Be Giants, which I should point out is no bad thing. Made me want to go and dig out those first couple of albums, and of course the big hit ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’. I hadn’t played that song for so long. It does still sound wonderful.
But Gunhill Road. Yes. What a lovely record. There are some exquisite moments on there. Gorgeous harmonies and some sweet guitars. Some tunes on there really took my breath away: the glistening sunrise on Malibu beach softness of ‘Sag Harbor’; the five and a half minute lush meander of ‘Callin’ Atlanta’; the enchanting ‘My Antoinette’. And all produced by Kenny Rogers! Yes! That Kenny Rogers. I’ll never think of 1973 the same way again.