Saturday, April 25, 2009

Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies - The American Metaphysical Circus (1969)

Mp3\123Mb
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As a "conductor" and organ/electronic synthesizer player, Byrd is very much the leader of this circus. With a couple drummers, a half dozen horn players (including a young Tom Scott), three female vocalists, and a half dozen or so other musicians popping up over the course of the album, there are a lot more people involved in this project than there were in the (relatively) stable lineup of the United States of the America. Despite the ambition of this LP, it ultimately serves to illustrate just how Byrd benefited from the unique synergy provided by the other members of the U.S.A. There are all kinds of adventurous electronics and eclectic ideas bouncing back and forth, but the songwriting is simply not nearly as strong as Byrd's previous group. The best songs are the ones which most strongly recall the U.S.A. in their spacy melodicism ("Moonsong: Pelog") and driving psychedelic pulse ("You Can't Ever Come Down"). Unfortunately, the female singers on these tracks are no match for The U.S.A.'s Dorothy Moscowitz, although they seem to be aspiring to the same dreamy, icy quality. Byrd himself is quite a mediocre singer, as his attempts at taking the lead on straightforward rock material prove. Otherwise, there are some bad takeoffs on gospel and old-time music, haphazard primitive early synthesizer, and dated social commentary/satire. As ambitious in its scope as Byrd's first rock project, this album is not nearly as successful.
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1 Kalyani Byrd 3:51 2 You Can't Ever Come Down Byrd 3:01 3 Moonsong: Pelog Byrd 3:46 4 Four Dreams for a Departing President: Patriot's Lullabye Byrd 2:49 5 Four Dreams for a Departing President: Nightmare Train Byrd 3:19 6 Four Dreams for a Departing President: Invisible Man Byrd, Pot 3:32 7 Four Dreams for a Departing President: Mister 4th of July Byrd, Kindred 1:47 8 Gospel Music Byrd 4:29 9 The Sing-Along Song Byrd 4:04 10 The Elephant at the Door Byrd 5:13 11 Leisure World Byrd 2:35 12 The Sing-Along Song (Reprise) Byrd
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