3's a Crowd

Christopher's Movie Matinee

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3's a Crowd's album is notable for the involvement of several names who had done or would go on to do significant things. On its own merits, though, it's an average, melt-into-the-crowd pop-folk-rock album, somewhat similar to the Mamas and the Papas and the We Five (though closer to the We Five). The big names? Well, Mama Cass Elliot herself co-produced, with Steve Barri, who wrote and produced (often with P.F. Sloan) so many California pop/rock classics in the mid-'60s. Ken Koblun, who had played in bands with Neil Young before Buffalo Springfield, and had actually been in Buffalo Springfield for a very brief time, played bass. And Bruce Cockburn (who does not play on the album, although he later joined the group) wrote four of the songs, including the best ones, "The Way She Smiles" and "Gnostic Serenade"; these were graced by unusually numerous and pleasing melodic progressions, as well as a generally more serious and thoughtful breed of composition than was present throughout the rest of the album. There still isn't much distinction to the LP, though, in either the quality of the material or the persona of the group. It's typical of the good-time California pop/rock of the era, rarely getting too deep, often staying too chipper for too long, and not possessed of the strong songs needed to put over that style with an impact.

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