Design

One Sunny Day: Singles & Rarities 1968-1978

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After putting out Design's first four albums on two separate CD two-fers, the RPM label went the extra mile with this 20-track compilation. Five tracks appeared on 1972-1974 singles; two were on a 1973 German single (sung in the German language); one surfaced on a 1978 Australian B-side, and the others were gathered from outtakes and demos, including a solo demo each from group members Tony Smith and Jeff Matthews. Within the terrain of male/female vocal harmony-oriented pop/rock, Design explored a fairly wide territory, and the odds and ends here reflect this. Some of it is clean-cut sunny pop (including a version of "Day by Day," from Godspell, that Design was unable to finish before Holly Sherwood's version became a hit). Some of it's close to haunting British folk (particularly "Children of the Mist"), a direction they should have pursued more, though Design were never going to be that freaky or folky. "(All-Purpose, Omni-Directional, Black and White) American Sun Shades" (a Tony Smith solo demo from 1968) is something like a cross between the early Bee Gees and Californian folk-rock. "Island of Love" is close to calypso; "You Take My Breath Away" recalls early solo Paul McCartney; "As It Was" is so close to early-'70s Elton John that it brings to mind Neil Innes' Elton John parody "Godfrey Daniel" (from the U.K.'s Rutland Weekend Television series). "Never Been a Love Like This," from 1975, almost goes pop-disco. It's a little like listening to a rock variety show of sorts with the edges sanded off to present a wide repertoire at schools and community organization lunches without any authorities objecting. It's hardly brilliant, yet as unnervingly eclectic as any middle-of-the-road pop/rock group. For all that, it's usually listenable, though the mileage you get with individual tracks will vary widely according to your specific tastes. Like RPM's previous Design reissues, the packaging is exceptional, with vintage photos/graphics and detailed track-by-track liner notes from Design singer/keyboardist Barry Alexander.

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