Thursday, January 22, 2009


Biography by Bruce Eder
A late-'60s band that anticipated Prelude's highly commercial harmony vocals, Harmony Grass evolved out of Tony Rivers & the Castaways. They were signed to RCA a year after being formed in Essex, and scored aTop 30 British hit with "Move in a Little Closer Baby." They were unable to repeat this success, despite which they still got one LP released (This Is Us) on RCA (U.K.). They were good enough to rate supporting act status at the Marquee Club in London, but by 1970, the group had broken up. Lead guitarist Tony Ferguson and bassist Kenny Rowe went on to join Capability Brown in 1973, appearing on the album Voice (1973) for Charisma Records, while Tony Rivers sang on albums by ex-Searcher Brian Bennett, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, and Roger Daltrey.
1 Move in a Little Closer Baby Capitanelli, O'Connor 2:43 2 My Little Girl Rivers 3:18 3 What a Groovy Day Rivers 3:32 4 I've Seen to Dream Rivers 3:15 5 (It Ain't Necessarily) Byrd Avenue Smith 2:00 6 Chattanooga Choo Choo Gordon, Warren 2:22 7 Good Thing Capitanelli, O'Connor 2:42 8 Mrs Richie Rivers, Rowe 3:45 9 Summer Dreaming Rivers 2:17 10 I Think of You Rivers, Thompson 2:13 11 Ballad of Michael Rivers 2:36 12 Tom Dooley Traditional 2:20 13 What Do You Do When Love Dies Ubonsky, Weiss 2:48 14 Let My Tears Flow [*] Rivers 3:15 15 You and I [*] Rivers 4:13 16 Summer Dreaming [*] Rivers 2:04 17 Walk on By [*] Bacharach, David 2:04
Review by Richie Unterberger
Harmony Grass' sole LP has a few songs from their late-1960s singles (including "Move in a Little Closer," their only British hit), and it's also filled out by a few Tony Rivers originals and an assortment of covers. This odd, occasionally impressive and sometimes saccharine mix of pop/rock casts the group among the few British exponents of sunshine pop. Sometimes the airplane-commercial harmonies and cheeriness is vacuous. On the other hand, Rivers proves himself a competent emulator of the Beach Boys' most upbeat material on "Summer Dreaming" and "My Little Girl," as well as the Pet Sounds era on "I've Seen to Dream." On yet another hand, with "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "Tom Dooley," and the weird "(It Ain't Necessarily) Byrd Avenue," the group sounds like a college glee club, here to entertain for your social function, backed by extremely competent studio musicianship. On "Ballad of Michael," Rivers grapples with somewhat more serious lyrical themes in a tale of a philandering bachelor, but the song also finds him trying to squeeze too many words into too little space. All of the pieces included here, as well as some non-LP single sides and three 1968 tracks by Tony Rivers & the Castaways, are on RPM's
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