The Poor

The Poor

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Although the Poor have been portrayed as a great lost band from the 1960s, the evidence on this short collection, which brings together the four singles they recorded between 1966 and 1968, as well as two singles released by the Soul Survivors, a nascent version of the band, between 1965 and 1966, suggests that the talent certainly was there, but unfortunately not the material. Randy Meisner (who went on to play a key role in both Poco and the Eagles), Pat Shanahan, and Allen Kemp (who both ended up in New Riders of the Purple Sage) were all members of the Poor, and the tracks here show definite potential, with beautiful, high harmonies that fall somewhere between the folk-rock feel of the Beau Brummels and the sunshine pop of the Association. All that was really missing in the mix were some quality songs, and it's telling that a pair of Shanahan compositions, "I Can't Stand to Be in Love with You" and the delicate "Snow Man," both recorded before the Poor existed, are two of the more memorable moments here. Kemp's "How Many Tears," which sounds like a watered-down version of the Byrds (circa Gene Clark), also has its moments, as does the mildly psychedelic "My Mind Goes High" and the ornate, orchestrated "Study in Motion No. 1" (drawn from the soundtrack for Hell's Angels on Wheels) that closes the disc. But nothing really lingers in the mind after this album ends, and while the potential of this band is clear, they ultimately didn't even come close to realizing it. By all accounts the Poor were an amazing live band, but their recorded output reveals a gifted but fairly generic group without a strong personal identity. Fans of late-'60s sunshine pop and the first stirrings of what would later become L.A.'s version of country-rock may well enjoy this set for its historical and archival value, however.

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