Affinity

Affinity

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The self-titled album by the short-lived outfit Affinity displays a lot of potential, which if not wholly successful has an individuality separating them from their more jazzy and progressive peers. If Linda Hoyle's talent for fusing the vocal traits of Bessie Smith, Grace Slick, and Sandy Denny together semi-successfully is the defining point, then Lynton Naiff's pounding Hammond workouts fall somewhere between the exceptional and the overdone. With the addition of John Paul Jones' fine brass arrangements, which are to the fore throughout, a very soulful feel reminiscent of the latter work of Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll & the Trinity is created. And the album's variety of moods sustains interest throughout. "Coconut Grove" (the Lovin' Spoonful song) is given a similar slow treatment to Donovan's diversions into jazz on Sunshine Superman, notably "The Observation," while a heavier element is supplied by a few heavy Hammond numbers, with a take on Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" being the most impressive. Although over 11 minutes long, some complex progressive organ work similar to Caravan's David Sinclair is displayed, preventing it from becoming predictable. A forlorn baroque Harpsichord interpretation of the Everly Brothers' "I Wonder if I Care as Much" adds a haunting quality to the set with Jones' string arrangements and Hoyle's vocals working hand in hand, and "Mr. Joy" allows the young singer to pay patronage to her heroine, Grace Slick, in which the Jefferson Airplane comparisons can really be heard. At times overambitious. And a plethora of cover versions given the progressive treatment instead of Affinity originals is a major letdown. But as an early work of post-'60s progression, this album is a pleasurable experience recalling the days when musicians and singers really worked hard at what they did.

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