The New Christy Minstrels

New Kick!

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Few pop groups were as irrelevant in 1966 as the New Christy Minstrels' extended acoustic folk aggregate. Although the title New Kick! (1966) projects an optimistic future, internally the combo was split between its consistent demand as a live act and creatively disappointing outings such as this. By the mid-'60s none of the founding Christys remained in the fold. The lack of a central musical force or direction left them at the collective mercies of their management team, who owned the name and admittedly knew more about the Christys' payroll than their play list. The steady stream of new talent infuses the material with a fresh perspective, although some arrangements are inevitably better than others. Unfortunately, the album opens with a less-than-inspired overhaul of Paul Simon's "Homeward Bound." The melodramatic ensemble reading all but removing the intimacy of the original and is certainly incongruous given the introspective lyrics. Here, it is akin to a Mitch Miller singalong or an Up With People presentation. A slow and moody cover of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" follows to equally erratic results, recalling the Sandpipers' swipe at "Things We Said Today" -- the latter of which would be considered comparatively successful. The tide turns however for an affective "Highflyin' Bird" (aka "High Flying Bird") as Bob Buchanan's husky lead harks back to Fred Neil or Hoyt Axton and similarly shines on "A Corner in the Sun." Sadly, any goodwill is rescinded by the inappropriate galloping pace and feigned drama on the overhaul of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" or the worst (or best, depending on how you're keeping score) offender, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." So unconvincing is the Christys' borderline farcical and socially out-of-sync interpretation, it easily makes a case for co-dependant relationships. The New Christy Minstrels continued for several more years, even scoring a final entry on the Top 200 LP chart as late as 1970. Yet undeniably, the soul of the Christys had dissipated to the point of the unit becoming nothing short of a caricature of its former glory less than a half-decade earlier.

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