Unit 4+2

Concrete & Clay: The Complete Recordings 1964-1969

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This 29-track CD combines the contents of both Decca Records LPs by the Hertfordshire, England sextet, plus seven additional tracks that were never on either of their albums. The result is a somewhat uneven collection that is melodious enough at various times but often lacking in excitement and drive. The group treads a fine line between delicacy and blandness as they go through various originals, spiced by covers of such familiar fare as "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," "Cotton Fields," "500 Miles," and "La Bamba." Their elegant vocal textures can be startling and even revelatory, as on their cover of the then-new Bob Dylan song "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." They got better as they went along, but they were never able to come up with a song to match the attractiveness of "Concrete and Clay," from their own pens or in the form of covers of other authors' work. Their legacy, presented virtually in full here, is a body of soft acoustic pop/rock that's only interesting enough to sustain itself about half the time. The remastering is superior to the sound on Decca's vinyl collections of their material from the late 1970s, although -- for reasons that are unclear -- apparently everything that the group ever recorded, even as late as 1967, was issued in mono only.

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