Band members                          Related acts

- Guy Masson -- vocals, guitar, percussion (1967-69)

- Tom Smith -- vocals, guitar (1967-69)

- Tony Van Benschoten -- vocals, guitar (1967-69)



- Harvest (Guy Masson)

- Pinnochio & Puppets (Guy Masson, Tom Smith, and

  Tony Van Benschoten)

- The Teddy Bears (Guy Masson, Tom Smith, and

  Tony Van Benschoten)




Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Mortimer

Company: Philips

Catalog: PHS  600-267
Year: 1968

Country/State: Hyde Park, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: white label demo

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5910

Price: $40.00


I owned this album for years and never knew they were from Hyde Park, New York !  All these years I thought the were Brits ...  so much for keen ear and musical insight.


Singer/guitarists Guy Masson, Tom Smith, and Tony Van Benschoten started their professional careers as late inning members of The Teddy Bears.  When that outfit called it quits in 1967 they continued their musical partnership as Pinnochio & Puppets, recording an obscure one shot 45 for Mercury ('Fusion' b/w 'Cowboys and Indians' (Mercury catalog number 72659).


It may be nothing more than urban legend, but supposedly a Spring 1968 appearance by John Lennon and Paul McCartney on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, led to a brief meeting between The Fab Two and Mortimer which in turn led to the trio recording some demos for Apple Records.  Regardless of whether it took place that way, an Apple connection exists.  Apple reportedly bought out the band's Mercury contract, signing them to Apple Publishing with the band going on to record some 30 demos with Peter Asher for the label.  They were originally scheduled to release the Paul McCartney penned track 'On Our Way Home' (aka 'Two of Us'), but for whatever reason the band ultimately ended up signing with Daniel Secunda's British BB&D Productions.  Produced by Secunda, 1968's "Mortimer" showcased an engaging, but unoriginal collection of commercial pop.  All three members were credited with vocals and guitar (though Masson was actually a drummer).  Curiously, since all of the songs featured harmony vocals, you couldn't really distinguish any of the three voices.  That said, they turned in some extremely pretty harmony vocals.  The album's pop orientation shouldn't have come as a surprise given their prior work with The Teddy Bears (though the Pinocchio & Puppets single was actually quite psychedelic).  While pop tracks like 'Dedicated Music Man' and 'Would You Believe' were quite nice, the group were far more impressive on those isolated tracks where they tried to break away from their commercial roots.  To my ears the highlights included the psych-tinged ballad 'Where Dragons Guard the Doors' and 'To Understand Someone'.   


- Tapped as a single, 'Dedicated Music Man' found the trio trying to find a balance between top-40 pop and a slightly cooler sound.  With a great melody, sunshine vocals that would have made The Beatles proud, plenty of strumming acoustic guitars, and a killer bass line, this one was great.  Should have been a massive hit for the group.   rating: **** stars

- The shimmery acoustic ballad 'Where Dragons Guard the Doors' benefited from a distinctive lysergic edge.  Once again, the big selling point came in the form of their amazing harmony vocals.    One of the album highlights.  rating: **** stars.

- 'Would You Believe' retreated to more conventional pop/bubblegum territory.  The exception was the midsection segment where the song took a weird detour into mid-Eastern territory, before returning to the melody and then fading out with a continuation of the mid-Eastern theme.  Sweet and radio friendly, but a little too pap for my tastes.  rating: *** stars

- 'Singing To the Sunshine' was even sappier, sounding like a Peter and Gordon outtake.  Mildly pretty, but thoroughly forgettable.  rating: ** stars

- The acoustic instrumental 'Mortimer's Theme' sounded like an unfinished demo for something that could have been quite good.  With a pretty melody and wordless harmonies, it actually sounded like something that Paul McCartney might have included on one of his mid-1970s solo albums.  rating: ** stars

- 'Take Your Troubles' started side two started another pretty acoustic ballad, though this one had the benefit of some really good acoustic guitar solos.   rating: *** stars

- The closest they came to recording a rock song, 'To Understand Someone' was also another acid-tinged performance.  Strong melody and you got to hear Masson on percussion.  One of the better performances.   rating: *** stars

- The first couple of times I heard the ballad 'Waiting for Someone' it just didn't make a great deal of impact on me.  Certainly not the stand out performance, the song has a subtle charm that grows on you given a chance.   rating: *** stars  

- 'Life's Sweet Music' served to showcase the band's strengths and weaknesses.  Another up-tempo number, like the rest of the album it featured group vocals backed by strumming acoustic guitars.  The song was actually quite good, but there simply wasn't a great deal to distinguish it from the rest of the album.  You wanted to yell at them to throw in a lead guitar solo; geez even a drum solo for goodness sake.   rating: *** stars

- 'Yes, We Know' was probably the weakest performance.  This one actually showcased a solo vocal (not sure which of the three), but the performance was so stilted and fey and the lyric was so lame that you were left to wonder if they were taking their cues from Mr. Rogers.  Not a good way to end the album.   rating: ** stars


The album was also tapped for a single:



-1968's 'Dedicated Music Man/' b/w 'To Understand Someone' (Philips catalog number 40524) 


Shame the trio couldn't break out of the norm with the inclusion of a couple of more adventuresome efforts.  With a little variety and one of two guitar solos this could have been a classic release.

"Mortimer" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Dedicated Music Man   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 3:38

2.) Where Dragons Guard the Doors   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 3:35

3.) Would You Believe   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 2:43

4.) Singing To the Sunshine   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 3:26

5.) Mortimer's Theme (instrumental)   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 2:57


(side 2)
1.) Take Your Troubles   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson -
Tony Van Benschoten) - 3:18

2.) To Understand Someone   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 2:25

3.) Waiting for Someone   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 2:40

4.) Life's Sweet Music   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 2:35

5.) Yes, We Know   (Tom Smith - R, Ronga - Guy Masson - Tony Van Benschoten) - 2:49



One last non-LP 45 and they called it quits:


- 1968's 'Slicker Beauty Hints' b/w 'Ingénue's Theme' (Philips catalog number 40567)