With this record the trio were, in their halting fashion, making some concessions to or trying to keep up with the times. This was the first Peter, Paul & Mary album to include significant additional instrumentation other than the usual acoustic guitars. It wasn't exactly folk-rock, as there were drums on just three tracks. It was more folk-rockish folk, particularly as the rotating cast of backup players included musicians who had played with Bob Dylan (Mike Bloomfield, Kenneth Buttrey, Charlie McCoy, Bobby Gregg, Al Kooper) and Ian & Sylvia (bassists Bill Lee and Ross Savakus). The group was also leaning more toward contemporary songwriters, and made some astute choices in that regard by covering Laura Nyro's "And When I Die" (when that singer was barely known), Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life," and Richard Farina's "Pack Up Your Sorrows." For those who wanted the "classic" PPM sound, there were a few cuts in that mold, such as "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine." On the couple of occasions on which they actually tried to play rock music, they sounded, well, uncomfortable, as on the overlong "The King of Names" (with several members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band) and Paul Stookey's odd "Norman Normal," an apparent psychedelic parody of "Secret Agent Man" on which he played all of the instruments and multi-tracked all of the vocals. They would have been better off just being themselves (and Mary Travers' absence from both of those cuts seemed to indicate that she wasn't totally into that direction herself). What the group couldn't control, however, was the unavoidable fact that the times were starting to pass them by.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger