The Tony Rivers Collection Vol. 2

Harmony Grass

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The Tony Rivers Collection Vol. 2 Review

by Richie Unterberger

After leading off with Tony Rivers & the Castaways' 1968 single "I Can Guarantee You Love"/"Pantomime" and an outtake by the same group, the rest of this CD is devoted to the output of Rivers' subsequent outfit, Harmony Grass. Essentially a continuation of Rivers & the Castaways under a different name, Harmony Grass apply a similar focus on harmony-driven pop-rock, heavily influenced by the Beach Boys and American sunshine pop. Indeed, this might be considered the most respectable British sunshine pop of all -- not as much of a compliment as that might seem, since they had such little competition. It's lightweight, if well-produced, late-1960s pop with some touches of sophistication. At their best, which was usually on Rivers' original tunes, they offer some decent melodic pop/rock with intricate harmonies and melodies, as on "I've Seen to Dream" (which shows a 1966-era Beach Boys fixation), as well as "Summer Dreaming" and "My Little Girl" (which show their debt to the Beach Boys' slightly earlier, more fun-based sound). At their worst, they present cloyingly sweet and hollow music for true goodie-goodies, to be harsh. In general, their sound is too bouncy for its own good and not imaginative enough to inspire consideration of Harmony Grass or Rivers as notable overlooked artists. The disc might well double as a Harmony Grass best-of, since it includes everything they did, containing both sides of all of their singles, plus all the non-45 tracks from their sole album, 1969's This Is Us.