Although a respected television and radio host throughout the late '50s and '60s, Les Crane will perhaps best be noted for this long player which garnered the voice-over talent a Grammy for "best spoken word recording" in 1971. "Desiderata," however was not penned by Crane and its' origins have been the subject of much erroneously perpetuated mythology. While space prohibits an unexpurgated account, the author of the text is Indiana native Max Ehrmann (1972-1945) who, in addition to being a poet, was also a barrister. In his surviving diary, Ehrmann prefaced his version with the words "I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift -- a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods." It was not until 1959 when the Reverend Fredrick Kates -- rector of St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland -- included "Desiderata" in a compilation of sacred devotionals gathered for his parishioners. It was here that the text was erroneously dated as being penned circa 1692 -- which was in actuality when his church was founded, rather than the date of the text. Crane's dulcet toned reading became an anthem for those wishing to perpetuate the message of peace and love that had seemingly been abandoned in the wake of the '60s. Joining the proceedings throughout this long player are an unusual gathering of noted studio musicians under the collective moniker of the "Crane Gang." These include Jim Horn (flute), Joe Porcaro (percussion), Louie Shelton (guitar), Michel Rubini (keyboards) and Emil Richards (percussion). Equally seasoned vocalists Evangeline Carmichael and Carol Carmichael lend their efforts as well -- with the former being the soloist on the title track. The long player also includes nine other original compositions -- such as "Friends" -- and adaptations of well-known poetry from Henry D. Thoreau's "Different Drummer," titled "Independence" for this release and "Wilderness" which is renamed "Nature"." The arrangements for the entire album are credited to Fred Werner who boasts a lengthy list of Broadway and cinematic works including Sail Away, Skyscraper and High Spirits. All said, Crane's Desiderata is an inspired timepiece with an ageless message, rather than the one-hit wonder novelty that history will undoubtedly remember it as.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer