The Millennium

The Millennium Continues

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As the number of Millennium compilations grew each year, it became harder to find compilations that didn't overlap somehow. Completists will find much to rejoice over in this compilation that gathers a multitude of pre-production tracks recorded in California between 1968 and 1969. This compilation is mostly split down the middle with Michael Fennelly's tracks taking up the first half and Lee Mallory's tracks taking up the second half. The collection manages to showcase the two sides of the band -- both the wistful pop side and the more blustery rocking side. The wonderful introduction of the harpsichord-led "Prelude" segueing into "To Claudia On Thursday" is stripped down, lacking the drum-kick in the latter track and the backing vocal harmonies in the former. The jaunty, acoustic "I Just Need to Be By Your Side" is just plain fun, while "Share With Me" is an echoing, light love song with some aching slide guitar buried in the mix. "Sunshine Girl" is a beautiful, summery ode to love that -- even in its acoustic, stripped-down state -- shows the pop glories that this band were capable of attaining. Mallory's songs showcase this best -- his "The Word" and "All That I Am" are impassioned, heart-spilling, romantic, acoustic demos that owe much to his heavy, plaintive voice. As for the more rocking tracks, songs such as "Breakdown" and "Such a Good Thing" are fiery, barnstorming tracks with a tint of the blues and a whole lot of country-rock. The band find their country-rock apex briefly during "The Blues Is Just a Good Woman Gone Bad" as their distinctive harmonies fade in and out. These songs are just sketches, but they are enough to give you an idea of what their version of The Notorious Byrd Brothers would have sounded like. As the album ends, Curt Boettcher takes over the vocal duties on the reflective and sublimely sweet "Once Upon a Song." It's a testament to the beautiful pop the band could have created, and it works to round off this occasionally uneven collection of demos and unfinished pop business.

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