Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wayne Fontana - Wayne One (2004)


Wayne Fontana's first album following his split with the Mindbenders, 
1966's Wayne One, is a curious affair. 




Wayne Fontana - Wayne One  1966

Wayne Fontana's first album following his split with the Mindbenders, 1966's Wayne One, is a curious affair. While the Mindbenders' releases followed the same British Invasion/blue-eyed soul path, Fontana made a headlong rush into the pop world. Featuring the smooth Les Reed Orchestra and top sessioneers like Big Jim Sullivan as backing musicians, the record is a mix of covers of Gershwin tunes, pop ballads like "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" and "Perfidia," a nice version of "The Entertainer," and some fine self-penned soul weepers. Fontana wails like a man breaking loose from his past and really puts his heart into the songs. When the slick backing is scaled down a bit and the additional vocalists show some grit, like on "Come On Home" or "My Friend and I," he works up quite a head of steam. The best song on the record, where his easy pop aspirations reach their Scott Walker-style apex, is his massive cover of the Bert Berns/Jerry Ragovoy ballad "It Was Easier to Hurt Her." It makes up for the couple of duff tracks like the corny Gershwin song "Please Stop the Wedding," which includes some incomprehensible (and reprehensible) voice-overs, and the melody-free "Internal Circle." Despite the failure of the record at the time, it sounds like a very noble and entertaining effort many years later.
and
Bonus tracks 1965 -70

While the Mindbenders' releases followed the same British Invasion/blue-eyed soul path, Fontana made a headlong rush into the pop world. Featuring the smooth Les Reed Orchestra and top sessioneers like Big Jim Sullivan as backing musicians, the record is a mix of covers of Gershwin tunes, pop ballads like "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" and "Perfidia," a nice version of "The Entertainer," and some fine self-penned soul weepers. Fontana wails like a man breaking loose from his past and really puts his heart into the songs. When the slick backing is scaled down a bit and the additional vocalists show some grit, like on "Come On Home" or "My Friend and I," he works up quite a head of steam. The best song on the record, where his easy pop aspirations reach their Scott Walker-style apex, is his massive cover of the Bert Berns/Jerry Ragovoy ballad "It Was Easier to Hurt Her." It makes up for the couple of duff tracks like the corny Gershwin song "Please Stop the Wedding," which includes some incomprehensible (and reprehensible) voice-overs, and the melody-free "Internal Circle." Despite the failure of the record at the time, it sounds like a very noble and entertaining effort many years later, certainly worthy of reissue, especially when it is paired with a disc of Fontana's singles from 1965 to 1970. The 22-tracks are a mix of ballads, soul, and Baroque pop that didn't do much on the charts, but as with the Wayne One album there is much to enjoy here. The highlights are the two Graham Gouldman-penned tracks "Pamela Pamela" and "The Impossible Years," the self-penned "I Need to Love You," the cute Bee Gees-esque "The Words of Bartholomew," and his last single of the decade, "I'm in Love." Played in a row, the singles make a case for Fontana as one of the buried treasures of the '60s pop scene. His place in history aside, it also makes for fine, fun listening. If you love Scott Walker but his heaviness wears you down a bit, turn to Wayne Fontana and this excellent collection.
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