John Davidson

Goin' Places

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John Davidson has always been there, just a happy guy in a turtleneck with a trillion-dollar smile. Long before co-hosting That's Incredible, a TV show that made him a cultural icon, the wholesome hunk was busy singing and strumming through various TV specials, living as a bachelor in the San Fernando Valley and acting in such memorable films as The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. Goin' Places encapsulates some of Davidson's upward momentum from the time, featuring familiar and not so familiar tracks, like Neil Diamond's fictitious vixen, "Flame," which has about as much sizzle as a glass of milk by today's standards. (It's actually a little embarrassing, like trying to add sex appeal to Mister Rogers.) The album's producer, Jerry Fuller, included some of his own material, like the wistful yet lyrically anxious "Minstrel Man" and "Visions of Sugarplums," co-written by Glen Campbell (from one of Campbell's own albums released the same year). Fuller produced several albums in the '60s, so Davidson's album followed the routine formula, even if some of the selections haven't aged gracefully. "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is told with unfolding melodrama, like a carefully placed tear on the singer's cheek. Later, Davidson skims the surface value of the song "Just as Much as Ever," as he croons with the confidence of someone who's done his fair share of musicals -- but with just a slight turn of the head this song could be the theme to a codependent tiptoeing through the backyard with binoculars. The one-two punch of "Goin' Out of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" is handled with modest flair, but like most songs on this LP there's a sense that he's trying the songs out for size rather than really committing to them. The introspective nail-biter "Theme From Valley of the Dolls" is included, which depending on your perspective is either a bright spot or a question mark. If anything, it reveals the singer's penchant for Hollywood, much like the two uncomplicated songs from the aforementioned The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band. "Dakota" plays more like a jingle from the bureau of tourism or a license plate tagline, as the lyrics boast "Dakota...where a man stands tall." The other piece is "The Happiest Guy Alive" -- a practically soulless exclamation mark to close out the album. John Davidson was indeed "goin' places," but where he ended up in the music industry doesn't seem very memorable now.