Bobby Darin

If I Were a Carpenter

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Bobby Darin has been praised by some critics for his courage in moving to folk-rock in late 1966, at a time when his core audience would probably have been much happier if he'd continued to be the all-around mainstream pop singer. But let's get this straight: this is much more a pop album of folk-rock songs than it is a pure folk-rock album. In addition, the scope of Darin's folk-rock repertoire at this time was almost wholly limited to songs by Tim Hardin and John Sebastian; indeed, five of the 12 songs here are Hardin compositions, two (the hit title track and "Red Balloon") of which Hardin had not yet released. What's more, there's some reason to believe -- no pun intended -- that the record would not have taken the shape it did had there not been something of a conscious effort on his part to emulate Hardin's approach. Hardin himself was convinced that Darin had copied his vocal style by listening to his yet-to-be-issued version and the album as a whole boasts a production similar to the orchestrated folk-rock heard on the debut album in question, though it sounds like an inferior copy. Leaving aside the issue of whether Darin was trying to cop Hardin's style, this is a fair but unexceptional record. Darin falls short of the originals on Buffy Sainte Marie's "Until It's Time For You to Go" and the Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream." In fact, aside from "If I Were a Carpenter," the standout is the odd low-charting single "The Girl Who Stood Beside Me," with its odd muted psychedelic bagpipe effects constantly buzzing in the background of an actual fairly strong folk-rock tune.

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