Just the Right Sound: The Association Anthology
Previous to this, the only available Association compilation was a musty 13 track quickie that’s been out since the early days of CD (and before that on album). What the world needs is a well chosen, classy package of remastered hits with sufficient liner notes that does justice to this enormously popular West Coast band in compact form. This though, ain’t it. Not with 51 tracks clocking in at almost two-and-a-half hours of music, much of it extremely marginal to all but the most ardent fans of the group’s psychedelicized harmony driven folk/pop. With their sumptuously interwoven voices and intricate, mellifluous arrangements, The Association fell somewhere between The Beach Boys, The Mamas and Papas, and Peter, Paul and Mary on the chirpy music meter. When the elements melded together as on their most popular songs like “Cherish,” “Windy,” and “Along Comes Mary” (amazingly their first single, and arguably best song), they truly found “just the right sound,” as this double disc’s title implies. Otherwise, even though their direction seldom wavered, the song quality was inconsistent at best, leaving lots of album filler around a few quality tracks. So after disc one — which includes all their best known hits — closes on the decidedly eerie Gregorian chant “Requiem For the Masses,” a near operatic, spooky, and rather grisly description of a bullfight gone wrong, and the first third of disc two, most of what you need to know about the vocal group has been told. Yet there remains a certain passé charm in even the failed experiments here, and since all were obviously meticulously produced with the noblest intentions, even the sappiest ditties, like the cringing, overblown ballad “Along The Way,” won’t send you screaming from the room. “Pegasus,” a solo track from member Russ Giguere, with its lumbering, awkward, and tuneless prog-folk will certainly have you lunging for the “track forward” button, though. A closing trio of 1981 tracks recorded by the remaining group members for a never finished comeback album are no worse than say, Air Supply, whose own adult-pop owes a lot to what these guys were putting down. But hopefully, Rhino will condense the best 75 minutes of this mildly trend setting band (and one whose current popularity can be measured by the frequency you hear their tunes spun on oldies radio) on a single CD that collects The Associations’ often dated yet intriguing mélange where it can be best appreciated and enjoyed — in compact form.
Rhino Records: http://www.rhino.com