The Free Design

Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1966-68)

- Bruce Dedrick -- vocals, guitar, trombone
- Chris Dedrick -- vocals, guitar, trumpet, recorder 
- Sandy Dedrick (aka Sandy Zynczak) -- vocals, keyboards


  line up 2 (1968-75)

- Bruce Dedrick -- vocals, guitar, trombone 
- Chris Dedrick -- vocals, guitar, trumpet, recorder 

- Ellen Dedrick -- vocals 
- Sandy Dedrick (aka Sandy Zynczak) -- vocals, keyboards


  line up 3 (2001)

- Bruce Dedrick -- vocals, guitar, trombone 
- Chris Dedrick -- vocals, guitar, trumpet, recorder 
- Ellen Dedrick -- vocals



- Chris Dedrick (solo efforts)

- Ellen Dedrick (solo efforts)

- Enoch Light

- Star Scape Singers (Chris Dedrick)




Genre: pop

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Kites Are Fun

Company: Project 3

Catalog: PR 5019 SD

Year: 1967

Country/State: Delevan, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+//VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5672

Price: $50.00



I'll readily admit that it took me awhile to figure out charms The Free Design deliver with their chirpy, upbeat, and MOR-leaning.  I also understand that the same characteristics I now find charming drive many others to distraction.  That said, these guys are a must for anyone into The Association, The Cowsills, early Carpenters, or what is now commonly referred to as sunshine pop.


Living in and around New York City, 1966 found siblings Bruce, Chris and Sandy Dedrick holding down a variety of day jobs (Chris attending the Manhattan School of Music). Earning pocket change as a folk act, they began performing at various Greenwich Village clubs. Their father Art Dedrick (who had played trombone for Vaughn Monroe), helped the group record a demo which promptly attracted the attention of Enoch Light and his newly established Project 3 label. 

left to right: Bruce - Sandy - Chris Dedrick

Produced by mentor Enoch Light, 1967's "Kites Are Fun" showcased a largely original set of material (mostly penned by Chris).  Selections like the title track, 'When Love I Young', 'My Brother Woody' and the stunning ballad 'Don't Turn Away' were highly orchestrated and polished (but never overbearing)  - probably explaining why rock audiences wanted nothing to do with the group.  Thematically most of the thirteen songs were 'feel good' pop, but the Dedricks certainly weren't above adding mild social commentary to their repertoire - check out 'Make the Madness Stop', 'Don't Turn Away' and 'Never Tell the World'.   The handful of covers were also interesting.  Their drastically slowed down cover of Paul Simon's '59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)' was surprisingly enjoyable, while their pseudo-jazzy cover of The Beatles' 'Michelle' was far from the worst version I've ever heard.  In fact the only truly horrible offering was their lame cover of Francis Lai's 'A Man and a Woman'.  The album certainly wasn't hurt by the fact all three siblings were gifted with wonderful  voices and they were even better harmony singers (check out the way they intertwine their performances on the should've-been-a-hit 'Umbrellas').  The detailed song-by-song liner notes were also great.  As you'd expected from an Enoch Light produced collection, the sound was fantastic making this one of those great headphone albums ...  Elsewhere the set was tapped for a series of singles:


- 1967's 'Kites Are Fun' b/w 'The Proper Ornaments' (Project 3 catalog number PR-45-1324-SD)

- 1968's 'Umbrellas' b/w 'I Found Love' (Project 3 catalog number PR-45-1336-SD)

- 1968's 'Make The Madness Stop ' b/w 'Eleanor Rigby' (Project 3 catalog number PR-45-1345-SD)


"Kites Are Fun" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Kites Are Fun   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:34

2.) Make the Madness Stop   (Chris Dedrick - S. Zynczak - Sandy Dedrick) - 3:07

3.) When Love Is Young   (Stephanie Zynczak - Sandy Dedrick) - 2:49

4.) The Proper Ornaments   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:45

5.) My Brother Woody   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:34

6.) 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)   (Paul Simon) - 2:50


(side 2)

1.) Don't Turn Away   (Chris Dedrick) - 3:55

2.) Umbrellas   (Bruce Dedrick) - 2:21

3.) Michelle   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:08

4.) Never Tell the World   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:28

5.) A Man and a Woman   (Francis Lai - J. Keller - P. Barouh) - 3:02

6.) Stay Another Season   (Chris Dedrick) - 4:31



I've never owned a copy, but there was also a limited release seasonal 45:


- 1968's 'Close Your Mouth (It's Christmas)' b/w 'Christmas is the Day' (Project 3 catalog number PR-45-1347-SD)


Genre: pop

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  You Could Be Born Again

Company: Project 3

Catalog: PR 5031 SD

Year: 1968

Country/State: Delevan, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4325

Price: $50.00




With the release of 1968's "You Can Be Born Again" the group expanded to a quartet with the addition of recent high school graduate/younger sister Ellen Dedrick.  


left to right: Bruce - Sandy - unknown (guitar) - Ellen - Chris Dedrick


While the addition of Ellen fluffed out their harmony work (check out 'Like the Sunrise), musically the change did little to tamper with their unique sound.  Offering up another mix of Chris Dedrick-penned originals ('You Could Be Born Again' and 'A Leaf Has Veins') and popular covers ('California Dreamin'' and The Turtles' 'Happy Together'), the package was characterized by their tight knit sibling harmonies (check out their pseudo-accapella cover of The Beatles 'Eleanor Rigby'), their distinctive MOR sound, and producer Enoch Light's crystal clear production (which made the set a delight to listen to with a good set of headphones).   Elsewhere, given their MOR orientation it was interesting to see the group taking a step in the direction of political commentary - check out their cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's 'The Windows of the World' and the ominous, dirge-tempo original 'An Elegy' (the latter baring a dedication to "Dwight Arthur Dedrick killed in Viet Nam January 31, 1968").  Perhaps because their activism was so subtle, at least to my ears it was far more effective than some of the shrill rhetoric that characterized the era.  On the surface you probably wouldn't think this set would have much to interest psych collectors, but it was charming in a strange and bizarre fashion that you simply can't aptly explain.  You also had to wonder if anyone could be this positive and uplifting without a major boost from various illicit substances ...   By the way, Phil Ramone's fawning liner notes were simply hysterical. 


"You Can Be Born Again" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Could Be Born Again   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:38

The sound was instantly recognizable; the harmonies impeccable. The fact of the matter is no group came close to sounding like the Dedricks.  That said, 'You Could Be Born Again' wasn't one of their most creative efforts.  In fact, this one's always reminded me of a '70s sitcom theme - must be the horn arrangement.   'Course the harmonies were simply to-die-for gorgeous.  That didn't stop the track from being tapped as a single:


- 'You Could Be Born Again' b/w 'A Leaf Has Veins' (Project 3 catalog number PR 45-1350 SD)   rating: *** stars

2.) A Leaf Has Veins   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:30

'A Leaf Has Veins' was so goofy that you had to smile and just let it carry you away.  The complex, inter-weavingg vocal arrangement was a treat to hear on a god stereo system.  Not only that, but Whenever I hear it I find myself wondering if the '60s really weren't a better time - certainly simpler.      rating: *** stars

3.) California Dreamin'   (John Phillips) - 2:25

The decision to cover John Phillips' 'California Dreaming' was an interesting choice.   The Mamas and the Papas is almost an iconic composition which left you wondering what the Dedricks would do with it.  Well, they kept the original melody, but sped up the easy-going pace (this was more a sprint that a walk); added some punchy horns, and basically kicked the crap out of the song.   rating: **** stars

4.) The Windows of the World   (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 2:33

My humble opinion (other than Dionne Warwick), you'd be hard pressed to find an act better suited for the Burt Bacharach and Hal David treatment than The Free Design.  The Dedrick's sound simply screamed for the Bacharah-David touch and as exhibited on their sweet cover of 'The Windows of the World', it was a wonderful match.  The heartbreaking lyric was a perfect match for Sandy's voice.  rating: **** stars

5.) Eleanore Rigby   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 2:44

I'll readily admit that I was never a big fan of The Beatles' original.  Maybe because the song's been played to death, or the fact it reeks of psycho-babble, I've reached the point where I cringe whenever a local radio station plays it.  On the other hand, talk about a song that was perfect for The Free Design ... Seriously 'Eleanore Rigby' was just a wonderful fit for the group's unique stylings. Their arrangement restores a sense of fun to the song and I've always loved the oddball percussion effects and fluttery background vocals.   rating: **** stars

6.) Quartet No.6 In D Minor   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:40

Given the title, I was expecting to hear a pretentious classically inspired instrumental segment.  'Quartet No.6 In D Minor'.   Wrong.  Instead the result was one of Chris Dedrick's most attractive melodies (almost a slice of country-rock with those unique vocals).   rating: **** stars

(side 2)

1.) I Like the Sunrise   (Duke Ellington) - 3:37

Well, if nothing else, you have to admire their confidence in taking on a Duke Ellington composition. And here's the funny thing; their arrangement of  'I Like the Sunrise' was very MOR-ish, but not nearly as bad as you would have thought.  Sisters Ellen and Susan acquitted themselves with honors.  Nice trumpet solo too boot.   rating: *** stars

2.) I Found Love   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:42

Easily one of their most commercial and feel-good performances, I guess it's funny that most folks know 'I Found Love' from the fact it was featured in an episode of Gilmore Girls.  if you're into rap, or death metal, this one would probably kill you, but to my ears its cute and uplifting.  One of those rare songs that simply makes you feel better whenever you hear it (not that you'd want to hear it everyday).   rating: **** stars

3.) Daniel Dolphin   (Chris Dedrick) - 3:27

Dolphin and human interaction songs have never done a great deal for me and even though 'Daniel Dolphin' was one of Chris Dedrick's prettiest compositions (and the song had a beautiful harpsichord and acoustic guitar setting), it failed to win me over.   rating: *** stars

4.) Happy Together   (Gary Bonner - Alan Gordon) - 2:54

Maybe because I have a special place in my dark heart for The Turtles cover of  'Happy Together', I hate to see anyone try to take it on.  To their credit The Dedrick's didn't really mess with the song; essentially staying true to the original arrangement with the addition of some punchy horns and some of their trademark vocal twirls.  Not an essential addition to their catalog.   rating: ** stars

5.) Ivy On a Windy Day   (Chris Dedrick - Sandy Zynczak) - 2:39

Originally I found 'Ivy On a Windy Day' too busy and fussy for my tastes, but ultimately Ellen's vocals won me over.  Not the album's best track, but worth hearing.   rating: *** stars

6.) An Elegy   (Chris Dedrick) - 3:22

'The Elegy' was easily one of the group's strangest and most disconcerting efforts (after all these years I've never quite figured out what the cows in the barn reference has to do with the plotline).  Kicked along by some truly scary organ, spare drums, and Sandy's painfully low vocal, it'll give you the chills.  I've always wondered what Chris Dedrick's inspiration for the song was.  (Postscript - the song takes on an even more ominous feeling in the wake of Chris Dedrick's death.  Having struggled with cancer for a couple of years, Dedrick passed on in August 2010.  He was 62 years old.  for anyone interested,  Dedrick's website remains active:    rating: **** stars



Maybe a shade less impressive than the debut, but still four stars and it stands as an album that I play every couple of months.  Well worth looking for.



I've never seen or heard it, but there was also an Ellen Dedrick solo 45: 

- 1969's 'Nature Boy' b/w 'Settlement Boy' (Project 3 catalog number PR 45-1352 SD)




Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Heaven / Earth

Company: Project 3

Catalog: PR 5037 SD

Year: 1969

Country/State: Delevan, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; still in shrink wrap

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5673

Price: $50.00


Continuing their partnership with producer Enoch Light, 1969's "Heaven / Earth" wasn't a major departure from the group's two earlier album.  Needless to say that consigned the collection to the same fate their first two LPs enjoyed - namely instant oblivion.  Brother Chris Dedrick was again responsible for the majority of material and under his guidance these folks simply epitamized the summer pop genre.  Exemplified by tracks like 'My Very Own Angel', 'Girls Alone' and 'Hurry Sundown' the collection brimmed over with amazing melodies, glistening vocal harmonies from all four siblings, and complex, but radiant arrangements - be sure to check out the stunning 'You Be You and I'll Be Me'.  They were simply a unique act.  Imagine The Association, or perhaps The Mamas and the Papas after overdosing of happy gas and you'd start to get an idea what this was about ...  There were plenty of highlights with my votes going to 'Summertime' (which was simply the most dazzling cover of a George Gershwin tune I've ever heard - acid guitar introduction, hardcore jazz moves, and killer vocals all in one package) and '2002 - a Hit Song' - the latter showing the Dedrick clan still had a sense of humor and were capable of dealing with their inability to catch a commercial break.  That's not to say their blissed out sound was going to appeal to everyone.  The album certainly had a trippy feel (doubt that comment then take a listen to the monks-tipping-on-acid-jazz 'Dorian Benediction'), but anyone looking for hardcore psych needed to keep their distance, or risk going into a diabetic coma.  Elsewhere, as you'd expect from anything released on producer Light's Project 3 label, the arrangements and sound were simply pristine - listening to the album on a good stereo system, or through a good pair of headphones remains a major treat.  Elsewhere Project 3 tapped the album for a series of three instantly obscure singles:


- 1969's 'Where Do I Go ' b/w 'Girls Alone' (Project 3 catalog number PR 45-1356 SD)

- 1969's 'Dorian Benediction' b/w 'Summertime' (Project 3 catalog PR 45-1358 SD)   

- 1969's '2002 A Hit Song' b/w 'Hurry Sundown' (Project 3 catalog PR 45-1366-SD)


promo shot

"Heaven / Earth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) My Very Own Angel   (Chris Dedrick) - 3:00

2.) Now Is the Time   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:14

3.) If I Were a Carpenter   (Tim Hardin) - 3:17

4.) You Be You and I'll Be Me   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:34

5.) Girls Alone   (Chris Dedrick) - 3:55

6.) 2002 - a Hit Song   (Chris Dedrick) - 2:34  

(side 2)

1.) Summertime   (D.B. Heyward - George Gershwin) - 3:36

2.) Where Do I Go (From Hair)   (G. McDermont - J. Rado - G. Ragni) - 2:14

3.) Hurry Sundown   (B. Kaye - H. Montenegro) - 3:04

4.) Memories   (B. Strange - S. Davis) - 3:29

5.) Dorian Benediction   (Chris Dedrick) - 4:27



Over the next three years they released four more studio sets before take a thirty year hiatus:


- 1970's "Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love" (Project 3 catalog number PR 5045 SD)

- 1970's "Sing for Very Important People" (Project 3 catalog number PR 4006 SD)

- 1971's "One by One" (Project 3 catalog number PR 5061 SD)

- 1972's "There Is A Song" (Ambrotype catalog number 1016)


I've got them in my to-listen-to pile and will eventually get around to adding them to the listing.


For anyone interested, Robbie Baldock has a nice Free Design website at:




Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Redesigned: The Remix E.P. Vol 1

Company: Light In the Attic

Catalog: LITA 12-003

Year: 2004

Country/State: Delevan, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: 5 track EP

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6376

Price: $15.00


In 2004 the Light In the Attic label undertook an extensive reissue program that saw all seven Free Design albums reissued in vinyl and CD formats.  Along with the original studio albums were a series of three remix EPs.  



Given how time had largely overlooked the Dedrick siblings, I guess you couldn't complain about the reissue program, but the remix EPs were a different story. First out the door was 2004's five track EP "Redesigned: The Remix E.P. Vol 1". If you loved the original compositions, then these updates were going to take a little bit of time to get accustomed to. I can't say I loved all of them, but a couple were were simply stunning in their creativity. 

"Redesigned: The Remix E.P., Vol. 1" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Where Do I Go   (Madlib remix)

To my ears Madlib's remix of 'Where Do I Go'' came off sounding like an Everything But the Girl tune.  The song was certainly given an Everything But the Girl adult contemporary rock sheen and the vocal even bore an uncanny resemblance to Tracey Thorn, though the end-of-the-song freak-out segment left me at a total loss.  As a big Tracey Thorn fan I enjoyed the remake quite a bit/  rating: ** stars

2.) Kites Are Fun  (Mellow remix)

Mellow took what was probably their best known song 'Kites AreFun' and turned it into a trancy, almost psychedelic tinged slice of bliss.  Very peaceful; very mid-1960s complete with jangle rock guitars and harpsichord ...  I hate to say it, but the track actually had a Beatle-esque flavor to it complete with some great fuzz guitar at the tail end.   rating: **** stars

(side 2)

1.) Umbrellas   (Peanut Butter Wolf remix)

Reinventing 'Umbrellas' as a neo-soul number took me a couple of spins to warm up to, but once I got over the initial shock, the Marvin Gaye-meets-Steve Miller, via The Free Design was pretty cool.  Wonder is Miller was aware that they borrowed huge chunks of 'Fly Like An Eagle' for this mashup ...  rating: *** stars

2.) Don't Turn Away   (Sharpshooters remix)

Perhaps the most enjoyable of the five remakes, 'Don't Turn Away' was reinvented as a bass-heavy ballad that was actually even more commercial than the original version.   rating: *** stars

3.) 2002 - A Hit Song  (Chris Geddes of Belle & Sebastian and Hush Puppy)

Remixed by Belle & Sebastian's Chris Geddes, the first part of '2002 - A Hit Song' didn't differ all that much from the original, though the second part of the song morphed into a real remix project.  The funny thing is the first couple of times I listened to the track it sounded like my stylus had swallowed a dust bunny,  The fact of the matter is Geddes seemingly added that weird, distorted fuzziness into the mix.    rating: *** stars