Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Farquahr - Farquahr (1970)

Farquahr were mainstays on the Boston and New Haven folk scene in the 1960s and '70s; blending humor with music, they cut an album for Verve in 1968 as the Fabulous Farquahr, and shortened the name to Farquahr when they recorded their second (and last) album for Elektra in 1970. The group's deliberately silly stage names disguised the fact that three of the members of Farquahr were actually brothers -- Bobby McGowan (aka Hummingbird Farquahr), Dennis McGowan (aka Condor Farquahr) and Frank McGowan (aka Flamingo Farquahr), with Doug Lapham joining them as Barnswallow Farquahr -- and they also performed as a Celtic folk combo known as the McGowan Brothers. Unfortunately, Farquahr's comic side often gets lost in the shuffle on this album, though "Dear John Deere" and "Holy Moses" display a keen wit. With Jerry Ragovoy producing the set, the polished arrangements (often dotted with strings) are prime examples of early-'70s folk-rock (though "Dear John Deere" leans towards a ragtime flavor), with the quartet's harmonies and Lapham's songs clearly the main attraction here. While Farquahr's playful side is certainly visible, Lapham was an intelligent and perceptive lyricist when he had something to say, and the draft dodger's tale "Streets of Montreal" and the philosophical "My Island" are compelling stuff. Longtime fans looking for a reminder of Farquahr's days as the Clown Princes of New England Folk will have to wait for the Verve album to be reissued some day, but this set confirms that they were fine singers with a gifted songwriter in their ranks, and deserved wider recognition outside their home base.
 1 Hanging on by a Thread * Farquahr, Ragovoy 2:45
  2 My Island * Farquahr 3:30
  3 Peace in Mind * Farquahr 3:16
  4 Holy Moses Farquahr * 3:18
  5 Much Too Nice a Day * Farquahr 2:32
  6 Just for Kings * Farquahr 2:48
  7 Dear John Deere * Farquahr 3:04
  8 Babe in the Woods * Farquahr 2:52
  9 Start Living Farquahr * 2:42
  10 Moonrider Farquahr * 2:48
  11 Silver Spoons * Farquahr 2:37
  12 Streets of Montreal * Farquahr 2:40
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