Sounds Orchestral

Sounds Chartbound: The Easy Project, Vol. 7

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Sounds Chartbound is a strange record for the mysteriously eloquent Sounds Orchestral. The healthy 20 tracks on this compilation maintain the elegance; it's just that the mystery is missing. Johnny Pearson's piano pauses and hesitations that made for great and eerie pop music -- the Sounds Orchestral version of "Louie, Louie" is just one example of their unique approach, another being their most famous, the number one adult contemporary hit "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" -- are audio treats that are "sounds missing" from this exercise. Instead, listeners have Pearson and his collaborator, producer/director John Schroeder, playing it safe and delivering a pleasant run-through of familiar 1960s Top 40 standards that run the gamut. Starting with the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" all the way to a version of Ketty Lester's lovely "Love Letters" that fails to capture the mood of the original (something Pearson and company could easily have accomplished), listeners get a color-by-numbers group of songs that range from "God Only Knows" to "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" and a variety of other familiar hits. Just listen to Sounds Orchestral's Impressions of James Bond collection to see them at the peak of their powers. Oh sure, the Beatles' "Michelle" has its "Sounds Orchestral" moments, but for the most part this collection is simply pleasant background music. The problem is probably compiler Tony Currie, who also wrote the extensive liner notes. "Love Letters" ends up sounding like an audition for Mantovani, sadly missing the dark tones Pearson is so skillful at combining with that exotic interplay his musicians always provided. The string arrangement is straight out of "White Christmas." "Simon Says" is cute, but what's the point? Ferrante & Teicher would crank out album after album, but that duo added so much cleverness to its approach that each experience was a bachelor pad delight. Perhaps that's the disappointment here -- the hip "bachelor pad" style that was the trademark of Sounds Orchestral is traded in for Muzak. "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus" comes close, by borrowing liberally from the Sandpipers' "Guantanamera." Sounds Chartbound is for hardcore fans of this group -- and for those who like lush and non-offensive elevator music.

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