Marvin, Welch & Farrar

Second Opinion

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The eerie rocks in blue fog on the cover of their Capitol self-titled release are replaced on the cover of this Sire Records collection, Second Opinion, by a brown cover with the artists walking on what looks like cracked Earth. It is more great folk/pop from these minstrels -- as with all their releases -- a goldmine of melodies, harmonies, and clever chord changes. "Ronnie" is the Beatles meet the Hollies while "Far Away Falling," one of four Peter Best/John Farrar compositions, is a nice mellow diversion before "Let's Say Goodbye," a total Beatlesgem with vocals that swell like a gospel choir. Alan Parsons is one of the tape operators along with Richard Lush, but this trio probably didn't need his input to emulate the Fab Four as they do. Brian Bennett from Cliff Richards' Shadows, of course, adds percussion, and the super studio musicians craft nugget after nugget, like "Thank Heaven I've Got You," a light pop tune, followed by the slightly harder chant "Lady Of The Morning," the second of two compositions by the three singers, Marvin, Welch & Farrar. It is interesting to see the songwriting combinations, "Come Back to Nature" and "Black Eyes" written solely by Olivia Newton-John producer John Farrar, "Ronnie," "Lonesome Mole," and "All Day, All Night Blues" by the team of Hank Marvin and Welch, while they draw from all sorts of inspirations -- Marvin and Farrar's "Time to Care" would fit nicely on a Crosby, Stills & Nash album while the guitar riff in "Lady of the Morning" could have been derived from Badfinger. These men craft folk/rock the way ABBA crafted rock, and that Olivia Newton-John, Helen Reddy, Leo Sayer, and other artists of the day didn't mine these treasures remains a mystery. That pop radio didn't embrace them the way ABBA garnered hit after hit, is a sin. They are a few notches above England Dan & John Ford Coley, but failed to match that success on this and their other wonderful platters.