Saturday, April 25, 2009

HP Lovecraft - Two Classic Albums

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Featuring two strong singers (who often sang dual leads), hauntingly hazy arrangements, and imaginative songwriting that drew from pop and folk influences, H.P. Lovecraft was one of the better psychedelic groups of the late '60s. The band was formed by ex-folky George Edwards in Chicago in 1967. Edwards and keyboardist Dave Michaels, a classically trained singer with a four-octave range, handled the vocals, which echoed Jefferson Airplane's in their depth and blend of high and low parts. Their self-titled 1967 LP was an impressive debut, featuring strong originals and covers of early compositions by Randy Newman and Fred Neil, as well as one of the first underground FM radio favorites, "White Ship." The band moved to California the following year; their second and last album, H.P. Lovecraft II, was a much more sprawling and unfocused work, despite some strong moments. A spin-off group, Lovecraft, released a couple LPs in the '70s that bore little relation to the first incarnation of the band.

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1.Wayfaring Stranger2.Let's Get Together3.I've Been Wrong Before4.The Drifter5.That's the Bag I'm In6.The White Ship7.Country Boy & Bleeker Street8.The Time Machine9.That's How Much I Love You, Baby (More or Less)10.Gloria Patria

11.Spin, Spin, Spin12.It's About Time13.Blue Jack Of Diamonds14.Electrollentando15.At the Mountains of Madness16.Mobius Trip17.High Flying Bird18.Nothing's Boy19.Keeper of the Keys20.Anyway that You Want Me21.It's All Over for You

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H.P. Lovecraft

With the exception of a couple of badly dated tracks, this is one of the best second-division psychedelic albums, with strong material that shows the immediately identifiable Edwards-Michaels vocal tandem at its best. According to the LP notes, the songs were largely inspired by novelist H.P. Lovecraft's "macabre tales and poems of Earth populated by another race." It's more haunting than gloomy, though, with deft touches of folk, jazz, and horns.

H.P. Lovecraft II

Much more progressive than their first effort, the album also showed the band losing touch with some of their most obvious strengths, most notably their disciplined arrangements and incisive songwriting. The arrangements are more swirling and far denser on this follow-up. Unsurprisingly, the more concise, dual harmony numbers that bear the closest resemblance to the first album work best, especially "At the Mountains of Madness."
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