The New Gary Puckett and the Union Gap Album contains that band's final two Top 20 hits, Gary Usher's "Don't Give in to Him" and "This Girl Is a Woman Now," closing out a two-year run on the Top 40. With a front cover photo from 1862 courtesy of the Library of Congress featuring the staff of General Fitz John Porter with lieutenants George A. Custer and William G. Jones, well, it isn't the Union Gap and the back cover snapshot of a solitary Gary Puckett gives this album the feel of a solo recording from the singer with the powerful voice. More consistent than the Incredible disc, there is only one track constructed under the aegis of mentor Jerry Fuller, and it seems like a sequel to a song of Fuller's from the aforementioned Incredible disc, the not-so-ambiguous "Give In." Perhaps feeling guilty, the answer tune is from the pen of '60s cult producer Gary Usher, a warning not to take the previous advice. "Don't Give in to Him" was the only one of Gary Puckett's half-a-dozen hits to not go Top Ten, and the final one from Fuller. It went to number 15 in March of 1969 six months before "This Girl Is a Woman Now" hit in September. Usher co-wrote with the Beach Boys, and producer Dick Glasser worked with the Ventures, Andy Williams, and the Everly Brothers -- not too much of a contrast from Fuller's work with the Knickerbockers, Mac Davis, Johnny Mathis, and Doors exiles the Butts Band. Both producers having worked with '60s pop/surf acts and middle of the road singers; Puckett was clearly a combination of the two. Perhaps conscious of all the songs sung for and about the fairer sex, there are two distinctly masculine titles here, "My Son" and "Simple Man." It's a fine and listenable effort from Puckett and company, with a smooth production and some good material. Keyboardist Gary Withem (again with the moniker "Mutha" Withem) and bassist Kerry Chater write better tunes here than on previous outings with "Hard Tomorrow," "My Son," and Chater's co-write with D. Allen, "His Other Woman" -- thankfully limited (they got to write five on the previous outing) -- their efforts don't come close to the majesty of the orchestrated "This Girl Is a Woman Now" The soft "Lullaby" is one of Puckett's two songwriting contributions; he co-composed "A Simple Man" with E. Colville, but why they didn't bring on some major songwriting from Goffin/King, Mann/Weil, or Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich is really the question. Puckett's voice cries out for such tunes, and material Gerry Goffin and Barry Mann eventually recorded solo would have fit Puckett perfectly.
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