The success of Richard Harris as a pop singer may seem sort of strange in retrospect. Sure, he was the star of films like "A Man Called Horse" and "Camelot" -- and the sight of him on the cover of this 1970 collection in full hippie regalia may point towards either high camp comedy or at least, some sort of counter-cultural mockery -- it is, in fact, neither. Harris had a distinctive voice that is far from being in danger of being captured on some Golden Throats collection. Its' distinctive waver and steady, crooning delivery are what anchor some of these songs to the ground -- keeping them from simply floating off into the world of flowery, sixties ephemera. Most of the tracks here were written and produced by Jimmy Webb -- who at times, is an equal star of the show. Managing to combine a mature vocal pop approach with the hazy, starry-eyed, funky instrumentation of the time -- these songs come off as some kind of grand, beatnik cabaret. Webb and Harris' biggest collaboration, "MacCarthur Park" is included here in all of its' lyrical inexplicability. The shuffling drums and harpsichord-led rhythms of "Hymn from the Grand Terrace" are wonders of overblown orchestration -- but it's precisely this overblown quality that that makes these songs work. The balance of the rich layers and heavy orchestration countered with something like the light, piano hook of "What A Lot Of Flowers" is what keeps this collection afloat. It's a constant shuffling of schmaltz with the sublime that really pays off after a few listens.
Share this page