Band members Related acts
- Shaun Harris - vocals guitar
- Hal Blaine -- drums, percussion
- John Guerin -- drums, percussion
- Danny Harris -- guitar, backing vocals
- Johnanna Harris -- keyboards
- Carol Kaye -- bass
- Larry Knechtel -- keyboards
- Michael Omartian -- keyboards
- Joe Osborn -- bass
- The California Spectrum
- The Grand Concourse
- The Laughing Wind
- The Rogues
- The Snowmen
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Shaun Harris
Country/State: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 31000
Starting with the surf-rock oriented The Snowmen, singer/guitarist/bassist Shaun Harris has a recording catalog that stretches back to the early-'60s and covers a lengthy list of groups. He's best known for his work with The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and the short-lived follow-on entity Markley.
By the early 1970s Harris was paying his bills as a sessions player and working for Michael Lloyd (ex-WCPAEB) on the business side of the house, arranging recording schedules and handling associated contractual matters.
In his spare time Harris continued to write and record material. With a helping hand from Lloyd, Harris released a one-shot single for Verve under the name Brigadune.
'I'll Cry Out From My Grave (God I'm Sorry)' b/w 'Misty Morning'' (Verve catalog number VK-10655)
With Lloyd's continuing support, in 1973 Harris signed with Capitol, releasing the largely self-produced "Shaun Harris". Lloyd was credited with producing two tracks. To be perfectly honest, the first time I played this one, the heavy pop orchestration (courtesy of David Davis and Shaun's father Roy Harris) had me double checking to ensure I hadn't put a Lobo album on by mistake. Combined with Harris' lightweight, fragile voice, this sure wasn't the WCPAEB sound I was expecting. Luckily I was willing to give this one a couple of spins and as is so often the case, it turns out my initial impressions were largely off base. Admittedly, anyone expecting WCPAEB-styled psych was likely to be disappointed by the album. Also, be forewarned that exemplified by tracks like 'Color of Your Eyes' the Lobo comparison wasn't totally off kilter. Okay, now that I've scared away most potential buyers, what's worth hearing on this set? Harris originals such as 'I'll Cry Out' and 'Underachiever' were considerably more pop-oriented than his earlier catalog. Elsewhere, 'Empty without You' introduced a modest country-rock flavor to the proceedings. Interestingly the top-40 sheen was punctuated by some of the year's most personal and darkest lyrics. Tracks such as 'Underachiever', 'Today's a Day' and the glistening ballad 'Love Has Gone Away' showcased a young man who seemingly had more than his share of personal demons. Given WCPAEB's reputation as a "troubled" band, those dark streaks might not have come as a total surprise to listeners, but some of these lyrics were serious let's-sit-down-on-a-couch-and-discuss caliber material. Certainly a strong and enjoyable collection; one that would have been even better with a bit more variety; perhaps one or two true rock performances. by the way, talk about a family affair - brother Dan (also ex-WCPAEB) and Harris' mother and father all played and worked on the LP.
With the LP proving commercially stillborn (it had the luck of being released the same day Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" hit the streets), Capitol quickly dropped Harris from it's recording roster. Harris returned to the business side of the house, reappearing as the president of Barry Manilow's publishing company. As far as I can tell, he's now largely out of the music business, having moved his family to the Northwest where he's become active in children's education issues and working on a play.
I also know Harris was still alive as of 2004 since one of his daughters called trying to find a CD copy of her dad's LP.
"Shaun Harris" track listing:
1.) Empty Without You (Shaun Harris) - 2:47 rating: *** stars
expecting to hear WCPAEB-styled psych was
going to wonder what they'd stumbled on to given the light, radio-friendly
country-rock tinged ballad 'Empty Without You'. To my ears this
one sounded like a cross between David Gates and Bread and Poco ...
With an abbreviated title, 'I'll Cry Out' was a remake of Harris' previously released Brigadune single. It was one strange offering. A pretty, lightweight pop song it also showcasing some deeply disturbing lyrics. I've seldom heard a song that was as confessional and disturbing. Harris clearly had some major issues along with a sense of guilt and shame - hopefully Suzanne forgave him for whatever transgressions were experienced. Capitol floated the song as a single:
1973's 'I'll Cry Out' b/w 'Color of Your Eyes' (Capitol catalog number P
3.) Underachiever (Shaun Harris) - 2:36 rating: **** stars
up with some tasty lead guitar, 'Underachieve' found Harris trying to
toughen up his sound . And while the results were quite nice, they
also served to showcase what a lightweight, fragile voice he had.
Imagine The Association recording a rock tune and you'll get a feel for this
one. The chorus and guitar solo were sure nice.
of Your Eyes' was a sweet, sappy ballad (with another set of dark and
disturbing lyrics), that wouldn't have sounded out of place on early-'70s
top-40 radio that was playing the likes of Lobo, Sammy Johns and Andy
Kim. The track would have been even better had Roy Harris'
orchestration been minimized.
A gorgeous atmospheric ballad, the opening of 'Canadian Ships' has always reminded me of something David Crosby might have written for CSN&Y. Roy Harris' orchestration was even more prominent on this one; the instrumental ending suite sounding like it had been crafted for a film soundtrack.
1.) Today's A Day (Shaun Harris) - 3:09 rating: **** star
up with another round of soundtrack orchestration, it took a while for
'Today's A Day' to kick in. And when it did, wow, let me just warn
folks this wasn't one of those get-up-and-dance-around performances.
Another highly commercial ballad, you could just feel the sorry and regret
dripping out of Harris' performance. Great track, though it was far
in an uncomfortable falsetto and all but drowning Harris in a tidal wave of
orchestration, the ballad 'Highest Dream' was certainly better as a concept
than in reality. Kind of a castoff Beach Boys vibe here.
'Love Has Gone Away' was the album's most conventional and commercial performance, probably explaining why it was tapped as the leadoff single. Sporting a nifty chorus, it was certain pretty, if almost fey which may also be the reason it didn't click with listeners.
1973's 'Love Has Gone Away' b/w 'Highest Dreams' (Capitol catalog number
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