Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1970)
- David Antrell (aka David Antrobus) (RIP 1995) -- vocals, piano,
- Mike Anderson -- trombone
- John Audino -- trumpet
- Ben Benay -- guitar
- Harold Bemko -- cello
- Hal Blaine -- drums
- Larry brown -- bubbles
- Al Casey -- guitar
- Gary Coleman -- percussion
- Bill Criss - oboe
- Mike Deasy -- guitar
- Jim Decker -- French horn
- Assa Drori -- violin
- Jesse Ehrlich -- cello
- Harry Hyams -- viola
- Las Johnson -- flute, sax
- Carole Kaye -- bass
- Bill Kurach -- violin
- Sid Miller -- bassoon
- Ollie Mitchell -- trumpet
- Ted Nash -- flute
- Joe Osborn -- bass
- Tom Scott -- clarinet
- Sid Sharp -- violin
- Tibor Zelig -- violin
- The 5 Arcades
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: David Antrell
Grade (cover/record): NM/NM
Comments: sealed copy
Catalog ID: --
I'm not sure why this album has begun to attract attention. I'm not implying the set isn't enjoyable; in fact I really like it. That said, there are scores of early-'70s singer/songwriters just as accomplished as the late Mr. Antrell. Maybe this one's appeal has a little to do with his early demise. Only 46, he passed on in 1995. Similar to the art world where a painter's death frequently sees the value of his catalog increase, perhaps Antrell's early death had something to do with interest in the album? Nah, I don't think so.
David Antrobus (aka David Antrell) started his musical career in the mid-'60s working for producer Gary Paxton's Garpax label. Hired as a songwriter he enjoyed some minor successes placing material with the Bakersfield Poppy Pickers, The Black Box and recording some solo sides. Antrell continued to dabble in music, but by the later 1960s he was attending Stanford as a premed student. In 1970 he signed with Kenny Myers' Amaret Records. Amaret was a curious choice given they label was best know for signing psych bands like Fresh Air and mid-Western rockers like David Wagner and the band Crow. Regardless, Antrell was ushered into Hollywood's Sunwest Recording Studios with Jerry Styner serving as producer. As was common, Styner brought in the cream of L.A. studio musicians talent pool to provide support to Antrell in recording1970's "David Antrell." That wasn't a big deal given the famous Wrecking Crew played on hundreds of songs. What made this album different from most of the competition was the fact Antrell was allowed to record all original material and he was allowed to play his own keyboards. Both were major accomplishments in an era where studio time was money and the goal was to get acts in and out of the recording studio as quickly as possible. Not only was Antrell allowed to record his own material, but these sunshine pop tunes were almost uniformly good. (Kudos to Styner and Antrell for listing the sessions players in the liner notes.) Judging by these eleven tracks Antrell was kind of a pop chameleon. You could tell he'd been listening to lots of late-'60s and early-'70s radio. That made for one of those spot-the-influences collection; my ears picking up influences that included early Neil Diamnd ('Midnight Sunshine'), sunshine pop like The Left Banke ('Her World of Sweet Pretend'), David Gates and Bread ('Lost In a Dream'), The Grass Roots (' I'm Taking No Chances') and even a touch of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. While Antrell had a very nice voice and a gift for sweet melodies, the set wasn't perfect. Exemplified by material like 'For Isiah 2:4' and the the sappy ballad 'Sunset' about a third of these tunes were hopelessly MOR.
Antrell" track listing:
1.) Straight from a Rainbow (David Antrell) - 2:55 rating: *** stars
To my ears 'Straight from a Rainbow' sounded like a slice of late-'60s bubblegum pop. Jeff Barry and Ron Dante could easily have been inspirations. The song was super bouncy and it wasn't hard to picture The Archies, or some other fabricated studio group recording this one. That wasn't meant as a slam, since the song was very commercial and radio friendly. Amaret even released it as a promotional single:
- 1970's Straight from a Rainbow' b/w 'The Clock Strikes Twelve' (Amaret catalog number 45-122)
2.) Her World of Sweet Pretend (David Antrell) - 2:48 rating: **** stars
Not sure this is going to make much sense, but hearing Antrell's harpsichord powered ballad 'Her World of Sweet Pretend' was like hearing someone out-Left Banke the Left Banke. That, or maybe you could compare it to Jimmy Webb at his most precious and commercial. Very fragile and pretty ballad.
3.) Midnight Sunshine (David Antrell) - 2:30 rating: **** stars
I'm sure it was unintentional, but 'Midnight Sunshine' sure sounded a lot like early Neil Diamond. Antrell's voice, his delivery, the melody and even the orchestration all bore a resemblance to 'Sweet Caroline' era Diamond. Of course, what's the old saying? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ... The song was released as the LP's first promotional 45:
- 1970's 'Midnight Sunshine' b/w 'I'm Taking No Chances' (Amaret catalog number 45-124)
4.) Karen (David Antrell) - 4:04 rating: *** stars
A pretty and fragile ballad, I've seen 'Karen' tagged as Baroque pop. I'm not sure of the differences between Baroque pop and Sunshine pop. Maybe its enough to tell you this was another tune that would not have sounded out of place on a Left Banke album. A touch too precious for my tastes, but still nice. Steve Martin would have approved of the harpsichord.
5.) Lost In a Dream (David Antrell) - 3:25 rating: **** stars
Again not meant as a criticism, the ballad 'Lost In a Dream' bore an uncanny resemblance to a cross between Bread's David Gates and '70s singer/song writer Lobo. Like the best of Bread's catalog the song was hopelessly pretty, reflecting a melody that just kind of floated along in the breeze. Antrell's voice was perfect for the genre. Gates and Bread made a career out of recording stuff that wasn't as good as this one. This (and the refrain) were easily the album's highpoints.
6.) Lost In a Dream (See the People Going Down) (David Antrell) - 1:08 rating: **** star
I'm at a loss to explain the reprise since it sounded like a continuation of the main song's fade out. Well, I guess producer Jerry Styner added a flange effect to the mix.
A mild disappointment, 'The Clock Strikes Twelve' was another catchy pop ballad, but Antrell sounded uncomfortable with the song's range. It sounded like he was straining to stay in-tune on this one. The song was tapped as the "B" side to Antrell's 'Straight from a Rainbow' single.
2.) For Isiah 2:4 (David Antrell) - 4:39 rating: ** stars
Apparently intended as a "big" statement, the ballad 'For Isiah' was too precious for it's own good. Pretty, but ultimately forgettable. By the way, the biblical reference reads: "He will judge between the nations. The will beat the swords into plowshares. Nations will not take up sword again nation." Sweet sentiments. One can only pray.
3.) Children of the Sun (David Antrell) - 2:57
4.) Sunset (David Antrell) - 3:28 rating: ** stars
Sunshine pop can quickly turn mawkish and the heavily orchestrated and sickly sentimental 'Sunset' quickly cross that threshold. Not even the catchy chorus could save this one.
5.) I'm Taking No Chances (David Antrell) - 3:07 rating: *** stars
Geez, did I slap on a Grass Roots song by mistake? Well, at least it was a good Grass Roots song. Upbeat and catchy, Anrell seemed to effortlessly capture the Rob Grill and the Grass Roots sound. It would have made a nice single.
There was one last non-LP single:
- 1972's 'Lookin' for Love' b/w Friends, Give Me the Strength To Carry On' (Amaret catalog number 45-144)
After releasing the album Antrell went back to school. He graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Medicine in 1974 and started practicing in Southern California. He stayed interested in music, continuing to write and record with a special interest in doo-wop. He also became an avid record collector and set up his own Antrell label. In the early 1980s Antrell's interest in '50s music saw him team up with Bruce Patch's Classic Artists Recordings label. Patch and Antrell released a string of some forty 45s that matched original Doo-wop artists including The Blossoms, The Channels and The Cleftones with new doo-wop material that Antrelll had written for them. In some cases Patch and Antrell managed to reunite the original groups. In other cases the brought the original lead singers together with The Calvanes on backing vocals.
Antrell died of liver failure in 1995.
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