A founding member of Utopia and a former songwriter/producer for Bette Midler, the enigmatic Mark "Moogy" Klingman fills this compilation of mid-'70s recordings to the brim with superb melodies and heartfelt emotions. "Your Move" is not the Yes song, but it takes the double entendre sentiment that Yes first hit upon in the early '70s and tells it Moogy's way -- pure pop with help from Luther Vandross on backing vocals. "A Clown & a Stranger" has Todd Rundgren firming up the backing vocals; this song is everything Billy Joel tries to be (but artistically Joel falls short of this mark). Too bad Three Dog Night didn't follow up "The Show Must Go On" with this potential hit. Rundgren again adds backing vocals to "The Kid's Got Heart"; lyrically and musically, this song seems to be a prequel to Carole King's 1975 hit "Nightingale." "Never Give Your Love" brings a funky change to this pop maestro's buffet, with Ralph Schuckett's bass adding a Jonzun Crew feel. As with Buzzy Linhart's release on Moogy Music, these journeymen have a handle on the styles that shaped the '70s and '80s. "Sister Bessie" features Randy Brecker on trumpet and Rundgren again on backing vocals. If you've ever felt that Steely Dan dipped too far into the jazz bag, this is what Fagan and Becker could have done -- Moogy adds a touch more pop to the genre they forged. Nice fade on the hook too. "Do the Slop" is not the Little Joe Cook & the Thrillers tune "Let's Do the Slop" from 1956; it's another Steely Dan-style production with Rick Derringer and Rundgren adding the guitars and Randy Brecker and Pete Panzel on horns. This is a monster lineup here -- Moogy, Rundgren, Derringer, and Brecker -- and their enthusiasm is obvious. This is superior stuff that radio should be playing day in and day out. Brecker and Panzel add horns to Moogy's biggest hit, the tune he and Linhart wrote for Bette Midler and which she immediately released in three versions: two on The Divine Miss M and a third on the single release from that album. "(You Gotta Have) Friends" is a classic, and the all-girl band Fanny joins Rundgren and Mark Rosengarden on vocals for this version. Unlike Linhart's live track on his Moogy Music release, certainly a bookend companion to this collection, Klingman goes off with ad libs as the track fades -- funny stuff, and totally classic. Derringer picks up the banjo for "Out on the Town," which changes the song's mood to -- believe it or not -- almost a New Orleans kind of rag. Perhaps the most bizarre twist to the recording comes from the songs about mother and father; there are five songs in all, and they segue from one to another, although lyrically the moods change and one gets the feeling there is a little dysfunction at play here. These titles bring the disc into a different area, with Moogy circling around some inner feeling. A subdued John Lennon primal scream. "Dust in the Wind" is classic preacher pop. When Neil Diamond sang "Brother Love," his commanding voice had a touch of pretension. There is none of that here with this mix of gospel and pop. Klingman's voice on "Mr. Freedom and I" is what '70s radio needed. These songs, written from 1972-1976 and recorded between 1973-1977, feature superior musicianship, and, on the last three tracks, Rundgren's engineering skills. What a diamond in the rough! This and Linhart's disc are two collections of important popular songs by two brilliant writers who have certainly not been given their due. As a founding member of Utopia, Klingman has been nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But popularity shouldn't be the biggest factor when making such a decision. Listen to "Save a Dance for Me," where Klingman provides all the voices and plays all the instruments, and his induction will be justified on the strength of this CD. These are hooks, melodies, and musical passages that many popular artists have no clue exist. Old Times, Good Times is a truly spiritual experience that whispers different things each time you put it on.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione