Roy Wood

Mustard

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Unlike Boulders, Mustard is designed as a full-fledged album instead of a collection of pop vignettes. Outside of Wood's love for Brian Wilson there's no concept, yet it flows smoothly and attractively, since each song sounds like an epic pop extravaganza in miniature. In a typically perverse turn, Wood opens the record with a scratchy parody of the Andrews Sisters, tackling the harmonies with sped-up vocal tapes, but as soon as "Any Old Time Will Do" kicks off, it's clear that this is a shining, glittering pop record. There isn't much of his signature absurdist humor or quirky studio effects, apart from the jaw-dropping "You Sure Got It Now," a masterwork that Wood claims "sounds like the Andrews Sisters backed by John Mayall," yet it isn't missed since the studiocraft on Mustard is quite alluring. Where Boulders felt homemade, almost pastoral, Mustard is unabashedly grand, bolstered by endlessly layered harmonies, chiming keyboards, and cavernous productions. The Beach Boys influences shine brightly on "Why Does a Pretty Girl Sing Those Sad Songs" and "Look Thru' the Eyes of a Fool," and are inescapable on the gorgeous ballad "The Rain Came Down on Everything." Wood never really rocks out until the multi-segmented closer, "Get on Down Home" and even if it's the one misstep, it hardly detracts from the pop wonders that precede it. Mustard might not equal the brilliantly maverick Boulders, yet it's easily one of the best, most cohesive records Wood ever made and one of the few to capture him as a (relatively) focused pop craftsman. [Edsel's 1999 CD reissue of Mustard is graced by no less than seven bonus tracks, all A- and B-sides of non-LP singles, highlighted by "Oh What a Shame" and "Indiana Rainbow."]

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