Sandy Salisbury

Sandy

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Sandy Salisbury was the shy romantic of the loose group of musician friends who formed the legendary studio combos Sagittarius and the Millennium. He was also the one to eschew drugs entirely, a distinction that could not necessarily be made based on the evidence of this previously unreleased solo album, originally recorded for Together Records in 1968 and newly unearthed by British label Poptones. Like the music his bandmates made both solo and collectively, Sandy Salisbury is a heady, trippy, captivating concoction. In fact, of the first series of sensational albums that Poptones cobbled together or excavated from the Sagittarius/Millennium vaults, it is the finest, most complete work of the lot, nearly on a par with even the classic albums officially released by the collective. The album is a showcase for a talent who could sometimes get submerged in the shuffle of the group. Salisbury wrote or co-composed most of the songs in collaboration with various of his Millennium cohorts, and drenches them in one of pop music's most angelic tenors, a voice that is nearly identical in creamy, heavenly grace and elegance to that of Curt Boettcher, who co-produced the album along with future Fleetwood Mac engineer Keith Olsen.

Musically, the album is luminous, hallucinatory, and full of typically cherubic sweetness. The collective's signature romantic fervor surfaces throughout, most characteristically on the lovely ballad "Cecily" and the marimba-and-vibes peppered island groove of "Once I Knew a Little Dog." But while the album has all of the familiar Boettcher hallmarks, the production diverges in some minor but intriguing ways. Cosmetically, songs such as "Cecily" and "The Hills of Vermont" take on an almost country cast (as driven by Red Rhodes' pedal steel), and make the subtle stylistic shift convincingly. More substantially, Sandy Salisbury is unexpectedly muscular, even soulful at times, on songs such as the breathtaking harmonica-led "I Just Don't Know How to Say Goodbye" and the jubilantly kaleidoscopic "Goody Goodbye." The meaty "Spell on Me" is punctuated by waves of brass, a surprising progression that occurs several times on the album, while garage-punk guitar riffs bring the falsetto vocal hook of "Do Unto Others" back down to earth. The album is simply joyous and celebratory, nowhere more than on the bouyant cover of the Beach Boys' "With Me Tonight" (renamed "On and on She Goes"), reputedly aimed at administering a helping of therapy to Brian Wilson to bolster the sense of diminishing artistic self-worth he was experiencing at the time. Salisbury's performance is just as bouyant and accomplished throughout, and if it threatens to burst the album at its seams, it is also what makes this such a satisfyingly unforeseen delight.

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