Andy Kim

How'd We Ever Get This Way

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Andy Kim's 1968 debut How'd We Ever Get This Way showcased his knack for commercial pop music, pitched partway between bubblegum and Brill Building tradition, often recalling both the effervescence and moodiness that marked Neil Diamond's '60s work for Bang. Brill Building mainstays Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich produced those recordings, and after their partnership soured, Barry started writing with Kim on a regular basis, eventually signing him to his fledgling label, Steed. How'd We Ever Get This Way was Kim's debut, consisting entirely with material he co-wrote with Barry, and it's an excellent example of hooky mainstream pop from the late '60s: bright, melodic and well-constructed, from its composition to its productions. At times, it may sound strikingly like Diamond -- "Just Like Your Shadow" recalls "Solitary Man," right down to the mournful horns that come in on the second verse; "Love That Little Woman" bounces along on handclaps and maracas just like "You Got to Me" -- it does so without ever sounding imitative; it sounds like the work of a singer/songwriter with similar gifts, sharpened and honed by Diamond's producer. That producer also happened to be a producer for the Monkees, and there are echoes of that group as well; it's easy to imagine "Circus" as sung by Micky Dolenz and the skipping "Shoot 'Em Up Baby" is just gimmicky enough to work well on TV. At times, the music edges toward the middle-of-the-road (the swelling strings on "Pretty Thing") and sometimes it bears traces of psych-pop, but it never goes too far in either direction. With the exception of the dreamy, dramatic closer "Resurrection," which is notable and excellent in its own way, this is late-'60s pop at its lightest and brightest, and cut for cut it's one of the strongest records of its kind, thanks to songs as irrepressibly catchy as "How'd We Ever Get This Way" and sweetly understated as the McCartney-esque "Ordinary Kind of Girl."

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