Album review: THE EXPLORERS CLUB – To Sing And Be Born Again

THE EXPLORERS CLUB - To Sing And Be Born Again

Goldstar Records [Release date 16.10.20]

This covers’ album, simultaneously released with “The Explorers Club”, is a mixture of the obscure and the enduring. The picks self evidently come from an era that embraced bubblegum pop and sublime pop artistry at one and the same time. Which means we have the magnificent Frankie Valli/Walker Brothers’ monster worldwide hit ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’, and Dylan’s ‘The Mighty Quinn’ (a hit for Manfred Mann) on the one hand. And we have the lightweight, marshmallow pop of ‘I Wonder What’s She’s Doing Tonight’ (Boyce and Hart) and the sickly saccharin ‘Roses And Rainbows’ (Danny Hutton), on the other.

Too often though, Brewer adds nothing really new, making this more of a tribute album. But maybe that was his intention.

Even if no singer is ever likely to match Howard Kaylan’s richly toned, perfect weight sixties’ pop vocals, Brewer shows exquisite taste in covering ‘She’d Rather Be With Me’ (The Turtles). His cover version is reverential, probably out of respect and nothing more.

Some of the out-of-time material remains surprisingly roadworthy. Especially when Brewer does add something, like beefing up the production and arrangements, transporting the material from the past into the present.

The compact sophistication and fabulous guitar motif of ‘Kicks’ (Paul Revere & The Raiders) gets a full-on production treatment, with Brewer teasing up the middle eight very sympathetically. And the much covered (Jackie DeShannon, Peggy Lee (!!!)) ‘Didn’t Want To Have To Do It.’ (Lovin’ Spoonful) gets a sparse but gloriously romantic arrangement.

Of course, no sixties/seventies covers album will ever do those eras justice. But indulging in trivial pursuit can be fun. The Monkees: Boyce & Hart wrote almost all of the band’s early material (inc Last Train To Clarksville). At one point The Lovin’ Spoonful were being considered as the band to play the Monkees role, but the deal fell through over song copyright. Danny Hutton, singer of ‘Roses And Rainbows’ (and later to join Three Dog Night) auditioned, but lost out to Peter Dolenz. ***

Review by Brian McGowan



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