Dave Berry

68

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Berry's fourth and final 1960s album was the sound of a man falling behind and out of step with the pop trends of the day, even as he strained to keep somewhat abreast of them in a fashion that wouldn't alienate his mainstream constituency. That's the kind of "having your cake and eating it too" strategy that rarely works, and Dave Berry '68 is, like his previous '60s LPs, a weird hit-and-miss hybrid of styles, though without as many good songs. The biggest problem was the inclusion of too many mediocre middle-of-the-road pop tunes, as well as MOR arrangements that diluted a cover of Buddy Holly's "Maybe Baby." Interpreting Jay and the Americans' "She Cried" wasn't a good idea in 1968 either, though Berry did a better job with that one. Yet at the same time, he tossed in odd, spooky, orchestrated pop tunes that made it impossible to write the album off, like "The Coffee Song," which vaguely recalls the early Bee Gees (without the high voices and harmonies), and the breezy "And the Clock in the Steeple Struck 13," whose bittersweet melody makes it the album's highlight. Elsewhere, "Baby's Gone" has the kind of good-time Sgt. Pepper bounce that infected even mainstream British pop tunes such as this in the late '60s, while "Dying Daffodil Incident" had daft psychedelic lyrics and a Kinks-ish melody. The album bottoms out, though, with the cry-in-your-beer country-pop of "You Were Gone," and, most egregiously, the mostly spoken kiddie morality tale "Stick to It Ivity," one of the worst songs ever released by any '60s British pop/rock singer. For reasons known only to Decca Records, Berry's hard-rocking cover of "My Baby Left Me" was thrown in as well, even though that had been a minor U.K. hit single back in 1964, four years before this album's release. While it did boost the energy level a bit, it only emphasized the overall lack of cohesion and direction of this album in particular, and Berry's recording career in general.

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