Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chris Britton - As I Am (1969)

As guitarist for the Troggs, Chris Britton made important contributions to the raw British Invaders' sound with his crunchy, wiry style. Though Reg Presley was the Troggs' principal lead singer and songwriter, Britton also took occasional lead vocals and wrote a bit of material on their records, the odd primitive buzzing psychedelia of "Maybe the Madman" and the sultry midtempo rocker "Say Darlin'" (both used on 1968 B-sides) being the highlights in that respect. It's not even too well-known by many big Troggs fans that Britton did an obscure solo LP in 1970, As I Am. Though it betrayed his modest gifts/limitations as a singer/songwriter, it was an agreeable, varied batch of period British psychedelic pop songs, sung by Britton in his idiosyncratic, diffidently cool and amused style.
1 Sit Down Beside Me
2 Will It Last
3 That Was the Time
4 No Sense in Fighting
5 Maybe Time Will Change You
6 Fly with Me
7 If You Really Care
8 Run & Hide
9 How Do You Say Goodbye
10 Sleep My Love
11 Why Did I Let You Go
12 Evil Woman
13 Learn to Love Life You'll Be Living
Chris Britton's rare solo album sounds much like you would expect if you're familiar with his very occasional singing and songwriting outings within the Troggs. It's fairly pleasant psychedelic-tinged late-'60s British pop/rock, delivered with understated, almost laconically sly vocals. Plenty of the period trimmings of British psych-pop (sometimes echoing those found in the Troggs' own gentler efforts) can be heard: chirpy Baroque-tinged string arrangements, harpsichord, hints of Eastern exotica, buoyant romantic lyrics, melodic acoustic folky guitar, the odd vaudevillian flavor, Swinging London brass, and the like. There's also Britton's own version of a song the Troggs had recorded for a flop 1969 single, "Evil Woman" -- the only tune here, in fact, that Britton didn't write himself (and a notably inferior version to the Troggs' own). In common with many solo efforts by important-but-secondary figures within major bands, however, the material's not outstanding enough to demand attention beyond that band's hardcore faithful. As records within that category go, however, this is above average, so Troggs freaks won't be disappointed.

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