Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Track of the Week: Elenore by The Turtles

The Turtles had already struck it big with a few hit singles by the time it came to make their new record. Of course, the record company wanted to duplicate the success of "Happy Together," which reached number one. And of course the band wanted to do their own thing and did not appreciate the labels insistence a song very similar to "Happy Together." So, what do they do? They make a record where they get to pretend to be a different band on each track, using a different musical style on each one (The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands). And they also write a parody of the song the label wanted, complete with over-the-top, sugary-sweet sentimental lyrics. And it became another hit. [Songfacts]

That does not mean the song was produced like it was a throw away. Bongos set up a really cool, laid back beat for the first verse. As the chorus approaches the song picks up and explodes in the least serious expression of love in a song ever. Nobody could seriously write or sing, "Gee I think you're swell." And imagine telling your supposed love, "You're my pride and joy, et cetera." It is as if the singer just gives up on trying to come up with words! That also happens to be my favorite part of the song. (Like, oh well, just...I love you or whatever? And...um, yeah, that you're my pride and joy, et cetera. So, you wanna go out or what?)

The second verse introduces an eerie organ for a few bars. It fits in well because the whole song is so strange. And to top it off, a falsetto voice screams "One more time!" as the song is coming to a close and they repeat "Elenore, gee, I think you're swell. Ah, haaaaa!" A perfect comical ending to a perfect comical song.



Lyrics
You got a thing about you
I just can't live without you
I really want you, Elenore, near me
Your looks intoxicate me
Even though your folks hate me
There's no one like you, Elenore, really

Elenore, gee, I think you're swell
And you really do me well
You're my pride and joy, et cetera
Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better

I really think you're groovy
Let's go out to a movie
What do you say, now, Elenore, can we?
They'll turn the lights way down low
Maybe we won't watch the show
I think I love you, Elenore, love me

Elenore, gee, I think you're swell
And you really do me well
You're my pride and joy, et cetera
Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better

Elenore by The Turtles

Review: Kaleidoscope "Tangerine Dream" [1967]

Essentially, this 1967 record from Kaleidoscope combines psychedelic-pop whimsy with early Procol Harum-lyrics, Zombies-harmonies and a touch of Procol Harum. In fact the high points of the record rank right up there with Odyssey and Oracle and any other record of the period. I would not go as far as saying this is a legendary album, but it is amazing at points and maintains a high quality of music throughout, interesting no matter how many times one may listen to it.

On the whole the lyrics on Tangerine Dream are either haunting or nonsense. What keeps them from venturing into the "trite" category is lead singer Peter Daltrey's delivery. He whispers, to great effect, at least parts of each song. Add to that the reverb drenching every syllable and you have something beautiful and relaxing and psychedelic. No matter that he sings on "Please Excuse My Face"
Blushing, smiling through the tears
Please excuse my face/ I feel dead
I'll hide myself away.
This could easily turn rather pathetic quickly. However, the beauty of the acoustic-driven song and the earnest voice of Daltery allows it to come off pleasant, if a sad song can be so (and they can be).

Other very good tracks include "Dive into Yesterday" and "(Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion," both of which feature time signature changes and uber-psychedelic, "I Am the Walrus" lyrics. Take "Dive into Yesterday,"
Battalions in navy blue are bursting beige balloons
The water pistols are all filled with lemonade
The jester and the goldfish have joined minds above the moon
Oh, please kiss the flowers and you, too, will be safe
What does that mean? And does it matter if the answer is nothing really? The images, as incredible as they are, could be in another language. It would not matter because the overall effect of the music serves to take the listener to another place. And I believe that to be the main point of music in general and psychedelic music in particular.

But my favorite lyric on the whole album is uttered on the awesomely named "(Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion." Sounding overwhelmed, which I think if one were to travel around in the world of this record would be perfectly understandable, the singer manages to half-sing
My God, the spiders are everywhere...
If you dig 60's psychedelia you will dig "Tangerine Dream," certainly. If not, you may enjoy some of the songs, but eventually become annoyed with some of the sillier songs. But I highly recommend a listen.

Videos



Tracks
  1. Kaleidoscope
  2. Please Excuse My Face
  3. Dive into Yesterday
  4. Mr. Small, The Watch Repair Man
  5. Flight from Ashiya
  6. The Murder of Lewis Tollani
  7. (Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion
  8. Dear Nellie Goodrich
  9. Holiday Maker
  10. A Lesson Perhaps
  11. The Sky Children
  12. A Dream for Julie [bonus]

Sample