John Carter

As You Like It, Vol. 1 (The Denmark Street Demo's, 1963-67)

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Like many pop tunesmiths of the '60s, John Carter circulated his compositions on professional, high-quality demos that had full arrangements and were only slightly less polished than typical officially released singles. The 26 culled for this anthology are mostly Carter-Lewis compositions, although other writers were involved on a few, and Carter alone wrote "Am I Losing You"; the important thing is, he was involved in the writing of each track. Only three of these will be familiar to the general listener: "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," "Sunday for Tea," and "Is It True?," the last of which has an extended bridge missing from Brenda Lee's hit version. It's pleasant but lightweight period mid-'60s pop/rock, often with echoes of the Beach Boys, the Four Seasons, and the milder British Invasion groups; "Mad" even sounds a lot like Pete Townshend's poppiest mid-'60s Who songs. The ears really prick up, though, for "Am I Losing You," a nice "Caroline No" soundalike that might be considered a must for Beach Boys fans, so well does it approximate the Pet Sounds era. Sound quality and packaging are excellent, but in no way could it be considered in the same league as the writing of the best American Brill Building songwriting teams from the same era.

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