The Free Design


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1969's Heaven/Earth is the Free Design's third album. It carries on the tradition of excellence the group's first two albums had firmly established. It was also very much of a piece with the rest of their output -- no big changes. The record is overflowing with beauty and weirdness and lush arrangements with plenty of groovy touches that instantly date the record but also give it a hipness that is lacking in other MOR vocal group records. However, the true genius of the band is the fresh clear voices of the Dedrick siblings and the way Chris Dedrick arranged them. Tunes like the swinging "Now Is the Time," the witty and alarmingly cynical "2002 - A Hit Song," and the quietly inventive version of "If I Was a Carpenter" have sublime and unusual vocal harmonies that soar and swoop like psychedelic eagles, always surprising and often breathtaking. Some of the other tracks here worth mention are the sweet samba of "My Very Own Angel, Girls Alone," which features Sandy and Ellen harmonizing over a full big-band arrangement, and the moody and quite amazing "Dorian Benediction," which manages to sound like the Electric Prunes with Miles Davis sitting in and the hippest monks on earth chanting along. Heaven/Earth is worth a listen by anyone who likes vocal harmony and the sweet, innocent sounds of sunshine pop.

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