Gerry Beckley
   
Gerry Beckley's Happy Hour
   
   

Release Date: December 09, 2008
Produced by: Various
Format: CD

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03/25/2009
Mark Squirek


 

As half of America, Gerry Beckley has created some of their softest love songs and their biggest hits. Outside of the group he created a pair of solos albums that brought out his experimental nature and mixed it with the pop sensibilities that you would expect from the man who wrote Sister Golden Hair and I Need You. Over the years he has collaborated with Carl Wilson, Jeff Larson, Robert Lamm, Jeffery Foskett and Bill Mumy on a good number of wonderful songs and CDs that seem to sadly disappear into the pop wilderness. On Happy Hour, Beckley takes the best of his solo catalog and adds new mixes, live tracks and a couple of new songs.

Opening with a quiet guitar and a muted trumpet, Sunrise/Sunset starts on a plaintive note that quickly gives way to the joyous pop, hooks and experimentation that course through the rest of the compilation. Emma is a wonderful tune that echoes the best of California pop. The backwards wash of sound  that floats inside Kiss of Life adds a quiet sense of mystery to the harmonies. The classical sounds of Van Go Gan could be Brian Wilson working alone at night in the studio after Smile fell apart.

If  pop as infectious as Hang Your Head High was being created by four 19 year olds in a basement outside of Washington DC, Rolling Stone would have them in the new faces section of it’s next issue. Vocal work and harmonies shine all over the place. Some of his work, especially on Goodbye Highway ’09, echoes the experimental pop and vocal work of Godley and Creme after they left 10 CC.  Occasionally slices of other radio broadcasts slip in and out of the song creating a displaced sense of time. You seldom hear anyone trying to experiment this much inside of a pop song. .

Beckley’s always present sense of humor comes out most in Playing God. Submerging his voice in the mix while harmonies swirl around him, he give the legendary comedian and actor Phil Hartman (who also drew the cover for America: History and designed the Poco Running Horse logo) carte blanche to go crazy as a TV Evangelist. It is a shining moment for both.

Among the tracks are two highlights from the CD he did with Wilson and Lamm. Beckley starts to close the CD with a couple of live versions of hidden gems from the America catalog, Submarine Ladies and Til The Sun Comes Up Again. He follows them with a the solo track Monster. Before these three songs end the CD on a such a positive note, he gives a hidden hint at where Beckley may have found his start. His cover of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile sounds like it must have sounded to the young son of an Air Force Officer watching his parents at an on-base dance in 1963. You an almost see the kid leaning against the wall, wondering what he is going to be as he gazes at the streamer hanging from the ceiling.

Happy Hour is a fantastic showcase for anyone who loves their pop mixed with a little fun and a challenge.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 



 
     
     
     

 

 

   
 
     

 

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