Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1968-69)
- Sharon Alexander -- percussion
- Tom Pacheo -- guitar
- Roger Penney (aka Roger Becket) -- vocals, electric autoharp,
- Wendy Penney (aka Wendy Becket) -- vocals, bass
- Pacheo & Alexander
- Tom Pacheo (solo efforts)
- The Raggamuffins (Tom Pacheo)
- Roger and Wendy
- Roger Penney (solo efforts)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Catalog ID: 884
This album's been sitting in my to-listen-to pile for about five years. Every time it floated to the top the goofy cover ensured it got shoved back down. Anyhow, lookin' for that record that encapsulates that magical '60s spirit ? Well, 1969's does pretty well in capturing the spirit, even if the magical aspect is missing.
Roger and Wendy Penney started their entertainment careers as actors, working with Boston's Theatre Company. Using the stage name Roger and Wendy Beckett, by the mid-'60s the pair had turned their attentions to music, becoming fixtures on New York's Greenwich Village folk club scene. By the time they released their 1967 debut collection, they'd followed the crowd into a more electrified folk-rock sound with Roger jammin' on electric autoharp, while Wendy had picked up electric bass.
1969 saw The Beckets join forces with another entertainment couple - singer Sharon Alexander and guitarist Tom Pacheco. Pacheo already had been a member of the New York-based Ragamuffins and had already recorded a solo folk album - 1965's "Turn Away from the Storm". As Euphoria, the quartet captured the attention of Jerry Ross who signed them to his newly formed, MGM-affiliated Heritage label. Produced by Ross, 1969's cleverly-titled "Euphoria" featured a collection of tunes largely written by Pacheo. Musically the album found the group working in a sunshine-pop/ folk-rock genre that could be charitably described as derivative. Material like '' and '' echoed the likes of The Mamas and The Papas, Spanky and Our Gang, and even The 5th Dimension. In fact, if not for their East Coast bohemian image, you would have been hard pressed to tell Euphoria from anyone else in the sunshine pop sweepstakes. The group did make occasional excursions outside of their comfort zone. The opener 'There Is Now' had a distinctive psych edge that made it one of the album standouts. In contrast, 'Sitting In a Rocking Chair' sounded like a bad Free Design tune. Unfortunately for the group, they were confronted with a couple of problems. 1.) Their material wasn't particularly original, or impressive. As mentioned, you could easily have mistaken them for lots of the competition, though their harmonies weren't nearly as smooth as some of those other groups. 2.) By the time the album was released, this kind of folk-rock already sounded hopelessly outdated - way more 1967 than 1969. 3.) Ross and Heritage Records had absolutely no idea what to do with these guys and as a result there was next to no promotion for the band, the album, or the singles.
"Euphoria" track listing:
1.) There Is Now (Tom Pacheo) - 4:16 rating: **** stars
'There Is Now' opened the album with one of the better performances - what appeared to be one of those apocalyptic lyrics (along the lines of 'Wooden Ships' with kind of a nifty West Coast sunshine psych vibe (with a xylophone solo at the end). Yeah, there were lots of Mamas and Papas comparisons, but this one sounded like something John Phillips and company might have recorded after spending a weekend with Grace Slick and the Airplane. Quite commercial, but with a distinctive lysergic edge. Pacheo provided some nice acoustic guitar throughout.
2.) What a Day (Tom Pacheo) - 2:08 rating: *** stars
Very commercial top-40 sunshine pop. Pleasant, it not particularly memorable.
3.) Seldom Seen Slim (Tom Pacheo) - 4:26 rating: ** stars
I've always detested old-timey tunes on sunshine-pop albums which means this one was a turkey. Seriously what in the world was this generation thinking when they recorded this kind of stuff ? (If you have a hankering to hear Roger's electric autoharp, this is a good tune to check out.)
4.) Sun and Shadow (Tom Pacheo) - 2:22 rating: *** stars
'Sun and Shadow' showcased the women, underscoring the fact one of them had a shrill, semi-operatic delivery. Can't say I was a big fan and the horn arrangement was also distracting.
5.) Sitting In a Rocking Chair (Rowland Barter) - 3:33 rating: ** stars
One of two non-originals, 'Sitting In a Rocking Chair' saw the group shifting over towards Free Design-styled pop moves. About all I can say is they didn't make the transition very gracefully.
Hopefully nobody was expecting Steppenwolf-styled hard rock, since 'Ride the Magic Carpet' was a breezy slice of Free Design styled anti-establishment rhetoric. Very 1967-ish for which I'll give it an extra star. (Not sure if it was Alexander, or Penney, but when the female singer hit the high notes she made my fillings ring.)
2.) You Must Forget (Tom Pacheo) - 3:37 rating: *** stars
Released as one of the singles with Roger on lead vocals, 'You Must Forget' was a straightforward folk tune. Pretty and helplessly naive which gave it a goofy charm that just sounds so old school today.
3.) Tucson (Tom Pacheo) - 3:02 rating: *** stars
Probably the album's prettiest folk number with a cute got-to-get-out-of-this-small-town lyric.
4.) Calm Down (Tom Pacheo) - 2:25 rating: *** stars
Probably the album's most mindlessly commercial tune 'Calm Down' was tapped as the leadoff single. for anyone interested, the song found the group tapping into The Mamas and The Papas-styled MOR pop. I'd also suggest their vocals didn't blend nearly as well as John Phillips and company, but that's might uneducated opinion.
5.) Sleep (Tom Pacheo) - 2:24 rating: *** stars
Clearly meant to showcase the group's vocal harmonies, 'Sleep' surrounded them with an interesting and surprisingly elaborate arrangement. Can't say it was a great tune, but the inter-weaving voices were actually pretty cool.
6.) Walkin' Through the City (Tom Pacheo) - 2:20 rating: ** stars
While 'Walkin' Through the City' had one of the album's better folk melodies, the female lead vocals came off as shrill and irritating. Good example of the irritating, quasi-operatic delivery one of the women employed.
Heritages released a couple of 45s:
- 1969's 'Calm Down' b/w 'What a Day' (Heritage catalog number )
- 1969's 'Ride the Magic Carpet' b/w 'You Must Forget' (Heritage catalog number PB35005)
- 1970's 'You Must Forget (Part 1)' b/w 'You Must Forget (Part 2)' (Heritage catalog number HE6 831)
And that was it for the band. Roger and Wendy went on to release an obscure duo project and in the mid-'70s formed the band The Bermuda Triangle.
Pacheo continued on in music, recording a 1971 album with Sharon Alexander ("Pacheo & Alexander" - Columbia catalog number C 30509). He's continued on with a lengthy and prolific solo career and has a website at: http://www.tompacheco.com/
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