Band members Related acts
Line up 1 (1967)
- Donna Byrd -- vocals
- Jerry Carego -- vocals, guitar
- Jodie Cline -- vocals
- Ron Joelson (RIP 1997) -- vocals
- Jimmy Barden and Donna Byrd
- Starbuck (Jerry Carego)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: The Collage
Country/State: Los Angeles, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: stereo pressing
Catalog ID: 5873
In spite of the cool, timepiece cover art, I didn't have high hopes for this one thinking it was going to sound like Mamas and the Papas castoffs. Turns out I was only partially right.
Mercury/Smash Records were clearly interested in finding an act that could capitalize on the same market that ABC/Dunhill had uncovered with The Mamas and the Papas, or perhaps Project 3's success with The Free Design. Introducing The Collage ... Judging by the limited liner notes Smash certainly invested some big money in this anonymous quartet (only listed by their first names), teaming them with producer Steve Douglas and arranger Perry Botkin Jr. At least from a marketing standpoint these folks seemed perfect - four young, somewhat hip looking peeps, including an attractive blonde (Donna Byrd), an attractive dark haired woman (Julie) and a pair of slightly scruffy looking bearded longhairs - the late Ron Joelson and Jerry Carego, the latter who could at least hold a guitar. Smash management seems to have put the group together. Byrd had been singing on the L.A. club circuit, Carego had a background in R&B, Joelson was a classically trained musician, while Jodie Cline had a background in musical comedy.
"The Collage" featured a mixture of original tunes (penned by Joelson and Carego) and a series of interesting covers that avoiding top-40 material in favor of lesser known writers including The Stone Ponies' Bobby Kimmel ('Driftin'') and a then- largely unknown Curt Boettcher ('Would You Like To Go'). Exemplified by tracks like 'Rainy Blue Memory Day' and 'Any Day's a Sunday Afternoon' the predominant sound was harmony rich sunshine pop, but the album wasn't perfect; on occasion the quartet came awfully close to MOR pap ('Virginia Day's Ragtime Memories'). At the other end of the spectrum, the acid tinged 'My Mind's At Ease' was one of the album's highlight.
Far from the perfect collection, but the unusual mixture of radio-friendly pop and Free Design-styled MOR was quite likeable.
Collage" track listing:
1.) Lookin' At a Baby (H. Vickberg - W.Henderson) - 2:05 rating: *** stars
Classic sunshine pop, 'Lookin' At a Baby' served to showcase the quartet's wonderful harmony vocals. Yeah, Botkin's heavy orchestration gave the song an MOR-ish feel, but it still managed to capture that unique mid-1960s feel.
2.) Driftin' (R. Edwards - Bobby Kimmel) - 3:00 rating: *** stars
'Driftin'' was a very pretty, but MOR-ish ballad. The vocals were heavenly, easily as good as anything The Free Design ever did, but this was simply too pedestrian for top-40 radio. Shame ...
- 1968's 'Driftin'' b/w 'Any Day's a Sunday Afternoon' (Smash catalog number S-2150)
3.) Rainy Blue Memory Day (Ron Joelson - Jerry Carego) - 2:15 rating: *** stars
The first Joelson - Cargeo original, 'Rainy Blue Memory Day' underscored The Free Design comparison. Cool, almost jazzy group vocals that you'll either love, or totally detest ... very 1968.
4.) Any Day's a Sunday Afternoon (Ron Joelson - Jerry Carego) - 2:30 rating: *** stars
Another original, 'Any Day's a Sunday Afternoon' took The Free Design influences and added a large dollop of acid to the results. Easy to see why it was tapped as a single in an attempt to attract the hip crowd.
- 1967's 'Any Day's a Sunday Afternoon' b/w Lookin' At a Baby' (Smash catalog number S-2135)
5.) My Mind's At Ease (Ron Joelson - Jerry Carego) - 2:17 rating: ***** stars
Opening up with some cool organ and electric keyboard, 'My Mind's At Ease' sported one of the album's best melodies while also being the trippiest song. Not sure if Carego, or Joelson handled the lead vocals, but the acid soaked performance was easily as good as anything John Phillips did.
Side two opened with the first real disappointment - 'Virginia Day's Ragtime Memories'. Way too cutesy for anyone's good ....
2.) Can I Go (R. Nicholas) - 2:40 rating: *** stars
'Can I Go' managed to out-Free Design The Free Design. Yeah, this was pure MOR fluff, but it was so goofy that it was actually engaging.
3.) She's Just Laughing At Me (Dick Addrissi - Dan Addrissi) - 3:19
Written by the Addrissi brothers, 'She's Just Laughing At Me' was bad MOR. One of those saccharine woe-is-me ballads, complete with lush orchestration and angelic backing vocals, this one could easily put some folks into a diabetic coma. Hideous. rating: * stars
4.) Ragged Clown (Ron Joelson - Jerry Carego) - 2:50 rating: *** stars
'Ragged Clown' offered up more Free Design. This one had one of the album's better melodies, but the deep and insightful lyrics were a different story. rating: *** stars
5.) Would You Like To Go (Curt Boettcher - G. Alexander) - 2:29 rating: *** stars
'Would You Like To Go' was originally written and recorded by Curt Boettcher and Sagittarius. My nod would go to the original, but I have to admit that this cover wasn't bad at all. Again, very Free Design-ish.
One last non-LP single and they were history:
1968's 'Story of Rock and Roll' b/w 'Virginia Day's Ragtime Memories' (Smash catalog number (S-2170)
Joelson apparently stayed active in the music business as a writer, placing material with the likes of a post-Van Morrison Them ('Take A Little Time'). Sadly he died in 1997.
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