Darius

Darius II

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Darius was one of the better obscure late-'60s psychedelic singers who did only one album. So this release of 15 previously unreleased songs -- all recorded between 1967-1971, though not many other details are given on this disc -- is quite welcome. The material's pretty good, too, though not as sharply refined and hard-hitting in its impact as the sole, self-titled Darius album. Darius really did have an unusual mix of flavors, leaning toward folk-rockish tunes and philosophical lyrics of tense introspection and confusion. Yet he had quite a blue-eyed soulful voice, one capable of both a hurtful quaver and keening screams, and also had a good knack for romantic pop melodic hooks. Though the production quality and songwriting are uneven, all of these qualities are out in force through most of Darius II, whether it's the gutbucket soul-folk of "Don't You Get the Feelin'" (heard here in two versions); the foreboding acoustic acid folk of "New Start," "Best Girl," and "No One Like You"; or the comparatively jubilant soul-pop of "I Don't Mind" and "Summer Is Over." "44th Floor" borrows very liberally from the soul classic "I've Been Loving You Too Long," but enjoyably so, while "Beauty" is breezy, downbeat jazz-soul/pop, if that doesn't sound like too many adjectives to fit into one tune. "For Now I Love You" is excellent, moody late-'60s acid folk-pop, melodically similar to Three Dog Night's "Easy to Be Hard," but texturally far more similar to the bent, orchestral psych-folk-rock of his friend Bobby Jameson. And the cover of Barbara Lewis' classic "Hello Stranger" is quite cool, with its imaginative, unclassifiably weird organ-synthesizer-like sounds. Only intense collectors are going to end up hearing this record, but unlike the bulk of such collections, this really is worth hearing by less-specialized listeners who'd like to catch up on a significant -- and accessible -- late-'60s talent who somehow missed getting his music out in significant numbers.